Signing up for a 3000 level English course as a freshman had me quite nervous. I knew there would be upperclassmen in the same class, but I did not know I would be the only freshman. I bought the required materials for the class and waited to learn about convergent journalism and writing in a new world for modern media.
Instead of a lecture type of classroom setting, I learned that it was the exact opposite. We started the course by doing a “speed dating” activity that allowed us to get familiar with various types of media. I wrote about this experience in one of my earlier posts to this blog. We created a blog and started to work on our individual projects immediately. With help from our textbook, we learned about various concepts of journalism applied to our projects.
Each of us had to choose from the given topics, choosing what we would work on over the course of the semester. All of the topics had links to civil rights or racism in some way, which also was something I was not expecting out of this course. Although unexpected, I did enjoy getting to research Farish Street and its history, as well as its potential that is waiting in the future. Through Writing for New Media, I was able to learn about a portion of Jackson’s history that this Memphis native would have never known.
The most difficult aspect of this course was finding the time to complete such huge assignments that involve others. We completed podcasts that required an interview or spoken word from another person. I had planned to see a current Farish Street business owner, but due to his sudden schedule change I had to completely rewrite my idea for my podcast at the last minute. Roadblocks like this made the course work even more difficult than it was probably meant to be.
I did have some great experiences with most of the assignments. Specifically, I enjoyed our final project. The group assignment allowed me to work with some hard-working girls with a passion for education, especially in the state of Mississippi. Recently there was an initiative proposed that, if passed, would force legislature to follow laws that are already in place to fully fund public schools. Unfortunately Initiative 42 did not pass in the recent elections, but that created a project for us. What would Mississippi do next? We got to interview the campaign manager for Initiative 42 which was an awesome connection formed through one of our group members and my very close friend, Emily Hussey. We also created a podcast, where we interviewed a Miss Mississippi candidate that endorsed the initiative as part of her campaign. In addition to these two large portions of this project, we completed an infographic and an article. The group assignment allowed me to develop my collaborative skills.
Something else I also gained from Writing for New Media was knowledge of means of creation. I never knew how people made infographics until this course. Dr. DeRouen showed us websites that we could use to create an effective infographic, and the sites made it much less complex to make them. I also learned how to use GarageBand while making my podcast about Farish Street. This fresh knowledge of this common application will benefit me in the years to come at Millsaps College as well as in the years beyond.
In conclusion, I am thankful to have challenged myself by entering a 3000 level English course as a young Millsaps student. I gained so many skills from Writing for New Media that I would have never come across during my first semester. I feel better prepared for media work that I can use in other areas as well as journalism.
(revisions for final portfolio: edited navigation menu for blog, added needed information to infographic, added new photos to photoessay)