This semester, I decided to switch PR Publications, the Gaylord College course I teach, around a bit. I spoke about this in a previous post, but the main idea was that the final project students used to do, which was a web portfolio, was going to be moved to the beginning of the course, and the student’s would now be leveraging the blog portion of their portfolio to chronicle the course itself.
I decided that there would be three different types of assignments students would do: 1.) weekly reflective posts for an ebook I had assigned called “Designing for Emotion” 2.) a design “blitz” were they would go across campus and document design concepts in real lifeand 3.) reflection posts on each design project, which will ultimately reside in their end-of-class portfolio. Additionally, I would create a separate blog that aggregated all of the student’s RSS feeds. To see each of these assignments, you can go to http://jmc3433.adamcroom.com and click the appropriate assignment tag in the sidebar.
So far, my favorite portion of the blog has been reading the ebook chapter reflections. My prompt for them was short and sweet: tell me your biggest takeaway from the chapter and something, if any, that you disagreed with. I made it a point to encourage them to not simply summarize the chapter (since I had already read the book!). Very quickly, students were no longer just writing to that prompt but going above and beyond. Quickly students were using the blog as an outlet to connect the text to the design work they were doing inside, and sometimes even outside, of the classroom. Here are some of my favorite blog quotes from the first half of the semester:
“This chapter was one of my favorites so far. I loved the examples it gave on how to attract the customer and make them feel special. I have never thought about using surprise, delight and anticipation in such strategic ways. As a PR professional, giving one’s brand a personality is so important. This is something I will always remember once I get out of college and starting putting these strategies into play.” – Taylor Jurica
“This chapter was really just a big ‘agh haa’ moment for me because it explained the way we think about design and what appeals to us as humans the most. It made me reflect on what designs I like the most and why. I realized I do use sites that have a more human element to them, or even an element of surprise that makes me invested.” – Makenna Rogers
“That is when it started to click with me that I need to figure out before I begin my designs what persona I want it to have. Is it going to be my supervisor who is very uptight, but provides hard, factual information or is it going to be my college buddy who I can laugh with and trust?” Tyler Mahoney
“Something I have recently noticed and enjoy about this book is how everything Walter says is true and applies to Public Relations. For example, when he mentions that our goal is not to trick the public and “Your audience will catch on to your game and not trust your brand if you are deceitful,” this is extremely relevant to our field of study (Walter 49). In addition, I have always liked learning about new things, and this chapter is chalk full of them, such as Photojojo and Wufoo. I had never heard of these before, so it was interesting to read about them.” Megan Young
“I really enjoyed this book a lot. Usually, it’s really hard for me to pay attention while reading books (especially for school), but Walter did a great job at catching and keeping my attention throughout the entire book. I thoroughly enjoyed the examples that he used for each topic he talked about because I was able to picture it and relate it back to how I could personally use it.” Sarah Spence
My hope is that other courses (especially in the College of Journalism) considers a blog style format to their course. While students can be hesitant at first, they really seem to appreciate picking up the hard skills that come along with managing a blog. I’ve had multiple students who have since gained confidence in their web skills and have taken on roles in their clubs and organizations that give them website responsibility. Additionally, they’ve been able to watch other student’s work progress in the class and pick up tips and vocabulary from their peers.
Starting in two weeks, the students will be beginning their final project which will be to convert their blog into a portfolio-style presence. I’ll be sharing examples of those final projects when the semester is over. And, by all means, if you like what you see, I don’t think they would be mad if you hired them.