Last quarter, I completed BISMCS 333: Media and Communication Studies, the core class for the UWB Media & Communication studies major. Taught by Amoshaun Toft, the class covered many different aspects of communications, media, and policy, all while putting them in a 21st-century context. As part of our final project, each group created a communication object to share with the rest of the class, also to be showcased to the public in a way of our choosing. Initially, groups were assigned to research and discuss topics of gender, race or class within the media. The research turned to analysis, which then turned into the object, presentation and reflection. Communication objects groups chose to create included Twitter accounts, memes, informational/satirical posters, and web sites–which I’d like to take a moment to discuss.
All of the student work was creative, impressive and fantastically put together. Although, working in Learning Technologies made me automatically pay close attention to the sites some groups created using WordPress and Wix. Usually whenever these sites appear in the classroom, they are being used as the course website (a great example of this is Professor Toft’s site for that class). Using these sites and others like it for student projects is a bit less common. However, all of these groups pulled it off and created some great sites. If you are wondering how to use blog hosting sites in your classroom, or if you just want to be inspired by awesome student work, read on:
Here are the student-created sites, as well as a little bit about their content:
- Class in Prime Time – this site examines how class is represented in current prime time television programs on top cable networks. Each group member examined a different network (ABC, NBC, CW, CBS and FOX), covering shows such as The Office, Modern Family, The Middle, Gossip Girl, Raising Hope and Two and a Half Men. While the text is engaging and interesting, the group was able to enhance it by presenting their information as a website. With each analysis, they were able to show video examples, images, and hyper linked text to support their arguments. This made for a very strong case and presentation.
- Working Hard, or Hardly Working? – similar to Class in Prime Time, this site also examines television sitcoms and how they portray class. However, the analysis focuses more on how the working class specifically is portrayed. This group chose to analyze television shows from the last few decades–All in the Family, Married…With Children, Raising Hope and Roseanne. I haven’t had much experience with Wix, the tool the group used to make the site, but I understand that it is a simple website creator for those unfamiliar with HTML. The final product looks polished, informative and organized…proving you don’t need to be a code whiz to make an awesome website.
- The Controversy Over Contraception – covering a completely different topic, this site discusses how the debate on birth control is discussed in mainstream media. The group set out to discover who (men or women) controls the discourse surrounding the issue. This group decided to analyze ABC News, CBS News, MSNBC, Fox News Network, and a few other articles from various online news sources. Again, this site looks great! Although it is hosted by WordPress, the group managed to make it have more of a website-navigational feel. Paired with a great design, this site effectively conveys the group’s message and makes the reader want to learn more.
Bonus! This next site wasn’t a part of BISMCS333, but a collaborative effort between BIS410 at UW Bothell (also taught by Toft) and COMLING470 at UW Seattle:
- Change the Discourse – the sites listed above use WordPress as a platform for a traditional website layout. However, Change the Discourse is a great example of using WordPress in its originally-intended format: a blog. The site as a whole analyzes many different aspects of the Occupy Wall Street movement, focusing mainly on the coverage it gets by the media. Each post is written in an essay format and covers a different topic related to the Occupy movement: student’s role, celebrity endorsements, representation of police & protestors, portrayals by different media organizations, and many other things. Because it is a collaborative effort involving many students (2 courses!), the site is full of well-written, interesting information that doesn’t stop at the end of the page. These posts could have been turned in as papers to the professor, graded, and never seen again. However, publishing their findings allows information and awareness to be spread and seen by anyone in the world.