TechFlash on UWTwitterBook and “Firsts”

by Kathy Gill on 4 September 2009

in Book

In the wake of DePaul University’s announ­ce­ment about its forth­co­ming jour­na­lism class focu­sed on Twit­ter, John Cook at Tech­Flash has writ­ten about the Uni­ver­sity of Washington’s graduate-level sum­mer course focu­sed on Twitter.

DePaul University’s College of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions got natio­nal press atten­tion this week when it announ­ced plans to offer a college jour­na­lism course on Twit­ter, with the The Wall Street Jour­nal repor­ting that the class is being tou­ted as the first of its kind. DePaul’s press release also made the claim of being first. But Uni­ver­sity of Washing­ton com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sor Kathy Gill says not so fast.

As John notes in his post, the true pio­neer here — whether we are tal­king about Twit­ter in the class­room or Twit­ter in jour­na­lism clas­ses — is Howard Rhein­gold. Howard inte­gra­ted Twit­ter into his Win­ter 2008 jour­na­lism class at Stan­ford. It was this class that ins­pi­red me to fully inte­grate Twit­ter into my Spring 2009 Digi­tal Jour­na­lism class. That class, in turn, ins­pi­red our sum­mer offe­ring in the UW Mas­ter of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion in Digi­tal Media pro­gram.

Few inno­va­tions hap­pen spon­ta­neously, without influence from others. That’s the rub behind Isaac Newton’s oft-quoted line about “stan­ding on the shoul­ders of giants.”

I’m hear­te­ned that an ins­ti­tu­tion many think of as hide­bound and slow to change — “the Aca­demy” — is embra­cing the real-time Web. Of course, an ins­ti­tu­tion is the sum of many indi­vi­duals wor­king together, and there have always been indi­vi­duals acting as change agents in uni­ver­si­ties (as well as other less-than-nimble organizations).

A quick search of Twit­ter + sylla­bus leads to these other clas­ses and demons­tra­tes the fact that inno­va­tion does not hap­pen in isolation:

In addi­tion, there are lots of sug­ges­tions on how to incor­po­rate Twit­ter into the classroom:

Neither of these lists is exhaus­tive. Hope­fully the com­mu­nity will add to it via comments.

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