Opening up my practice 5/5

“Only open journalism reveals the whole picture.” The Guardian

I spend a lot of classroom time talking about open journalism practices, discussing how digital technologies have changed forever the relationship between journalists and the “people formerly known as the audience.” (Rosen 2006). No longer can journalists lock themselves away in closed newsrooms, acting as gatekeepers of information. (UK PSF K1, K2, A1, A2)

But when it comes to my own educational practices, how open am I?

I certainly make use of other academics’ openness. For example, Mindy McAdams is a professor at the University of Florida, where she teaches courses about online journalism. A lot of what she teaches is cutting edge and there aren’t many academics qualified to cover it (eg multimedia journalism, coding) but she is generous enough to share her syllabi, materials and lots of blog posts about her teaching. That’s a great resource and helpful in achieving UKPSF A5, K1, K2, V3, V4.

I don’t feel I have enough that is of value to share in this way. However, I do want to be part of this Community of Practice, using social connections to collaborate rather than struggling to produce resources on my own (Tosato and Bodi 2011). So a first step is to engage in the comments section on key blogs, which I’ve already started doing in a small way. I also engage on twitter and note that it doesn’t take long for people with similar interests to find and follow me.

On December 10th, PBS’ MediaShift hosted the first #EdShift Twitter chat about how  students and teachers build collaborations and community in journalism classrooms. It’s been Storified and, again, is a great resource emerging from an open community of like-minded professionals. Next time, maybe I’ll join in!

I do share my teaching materials with other HPLs new to teaching at Salford. This feels a little awkward. I only have a few more years’ experience than they have so I explain that by sharing I’m not claiming to be the last word on the subject or to have the most stylish slides! But they might be a helpful starting point.

Are there opportunities to be more open at course or institutional level? I was interested in David Wiley’s experiment in creating a minimalist online course in parallel to his campus-based course (Hilton III, Graham, Rich & Wiley 2010). It made me think about what institutions can gain from opening up and sharing for non monetary gain. They might gain prestige and enhanced reputation from the wider recognition their teaching programme would get. They might also futureproof themselves from possible competition from MOOCs and other innovations (Weller and Anderson 2013). However, the study into Wiley’s experiment was very small-scale and responses from students were limited making it hard to draw useful generalisations.

As part of my research for this reflection, I came across a Data Journalism MOOC starting early 2014. I’ve signed up! (UK PSF A5) It’s taught by data journalism experts whose work I already know so I’m excited to be part of their project. It’s a whole new niche area of journalism so I need to skill up (and pass these skills on to students) but can’t afford the £100s normally charged for f2f courses in this subject. I’m also intrigued by the whole MOOC experience.

In 2007, Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of New York, came up with a new rule for journalists in his blog, Buzzmachine  – “Cover what you do best. Link to the rest.” (Jarvis 2007) It’s a call for newspapers to stop replicating each other’s stories and instead concentrate dwindling resources on finding their unique value and producing something special. Perhaps this is applicable to universities too.

Maybe HE institutions have the resilience to use technology in a way which enables them to adapt their practices whilst still keeping their core function and surviving (Weller and Anderson 2013) – something which the newspaper industry has largely failed to do.

References Accessed 15.12.13.

Guardian Three Little Pigs advert retrieved 13.12.13.

Hilton III, J. L., Graham, C., Rich, P., & Wiley, D. (2010). Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance. Distance Education31(1), 77-92.

Jarvis, J. (2007) Buzzmachine blog. Retrieved from Accessed on 13.12.13.

McAdams, M. Retrieved from Accessed on 13.12.13.

PBS MediaShift (2013). Collaborative Journalism Education: #EdShift. Retrieved from Accessed 15.12.13.

Rosen, J. (2006) Huffington Post. Retrieved from Accessed on 13.12.13.

Tosato, P., & Bodi, G. (2011). Collaborative Environments to Foster Creativity, Reuse and Sharing of OER. European Journal of Open and Distance Learning (Special Edition OER) available electronically from: http://www. eurodl. org.

The Higher Education Academy (2011) UK Professional Standards Framework. Available from:

Weller, M., & Anderson, T. (2013). Digital resilience in higher education. European Journal of Open, Distance and Elearning (EURODL)2013(1).


3 thoughts on “Opening up my practice 5/5

  1. Hi Liz,

    Thank you for an open account of your open practice! I was interested in your account of resource sharing. When I began teaching last year I found the creation of resources so draining and time consuming and I suggested a bank of teaching material be created for staff and students teaching in the department, even if these materials are not deemed to be the ‘best’ as you imply I think it is a useful starting point for collaboration through openness and sharing which may be beneficial to students. Hunt et. al. (2012), found that enabling graduate teachers to share resources in this way, through what they call Teaching Community Networks (TCNs), helped to prepare students for an academic career where balancing teaching and research is vital. I have also found subject-specific teaching journals such as, Teaching Sociology, to be a great resource for evidence-based practice and it seems that papers and research on open resource sharing could usefully be included in this publication. In terms of openness and practices relating to teaching resources and resource sharing this type of activity addresses A1, A2, A5, K1 & K2, of the UKPSF guidelines (HEA, 2011) and I propose that a more structured approach to openness in resources sharing could only develop this further.
    Thank you for your timely and useful feedback and reflective posts during this course, it has really motivated me and engaged me further with the literature and topic area.

    All the Best

    Hunt, A., Mair, C. A. Atkinson, M.P. (2012) Teaching Community Networks: A Case Study of Informal Social Support and Information Sharing among Sociology Graduate Students. Teaching Sociology 40(3). Retrieved from:

    The Higher Education Academy (2011) UK Professional Standards Framework. Available from:

    • Thanks, Juliette. Due to the word count, I had to delete the paragraph where I discuss the fact that although I shared my resources my colleagues did not reciprocate! I guess everyone has to open up practices at their own pace in a way they feel comfortable with. Or should departments make it mandatory, as you suggested? I do find a lot of material that sparks ideas for activities, at least, in the online community of journalism educators but I agree a lot of time is wasted stressing over creating resources which can easily be shared for the greater good. Let’s start a revolution!!

  2. Hi Liz.
    I enjoyed reading your final post and your description of where you see opportunities for opening your practice. You already appreciate the value of OER’s and have been lucky enough to find a valuable resource in Mindy Mc Adams. Have you considered communicating that resource to others via your Twitter account? You might be interested in reading Lewis & Rush’s (2013) paper on using Twitter to build a community of practice for the purpose of professional development. I found it enlightening and will use it as a basis for my own experimentation with Twitter. (UKPSF: K4, V3)
    Your reference to Jeff Jarvis’s blog made me think of my own profession. There are examples of OER’s in Radiography;, and which act as repositories of established examples of good practice and core texts. They are produced by solo practitioners (Tosata & Bodi, 2011) and support the ‘supply push’ mode of learning described by Seely Brown & Adler (2008), students use them extensively for acquiring basic knowledge and I have used them to check my own knowledge of a topic area, but the content is neither unique or creative and they do not contribute to raising the quality of education or promote innovative educational practices (Conole 2012) (UKPSF: K1, K3, K6)
    Conole, G & De Cicco, E. (2012) Making open educational practices a reality. Adults Learning, 23 (3) p.43-45.
    E-radiography (n.d.) retrieved 5th January 2014 from
    Lewis, B., & Rush, D. (2013). Experience of developing Twitter-based communities of practice in higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 21.
    Seely Brown, J., & Adler, R. P. (2008) Minds on Fire, Open Education, the long Tail and learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 43, no.1 (2008) pp. 16-32.
    Tosato, P., & Bodi, G. (2011). Collaborative Environments to Foster Creativity, Reuse and Sharing of OER. European Journal of Open and Distance Learning (Special Edition OER) available electronically from: http://www. eurodl. org.
    WikiRadiography (n.d.) retrieved 5th January 2014, from
    Core Knowledge K1, The subject material
    K3, How students learn, both generally and within their subject/disciplinary area(s)
    K4, The use and Value of appropriate learning technologies
    K6, the implications of quality assurance and quality enhancements for academic and professional practice with a particular focus on teaching
    Professional Values V3, Use evidence- informed approaches and the outcomes of research, scholarship and continuing professional development

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