Using Medium as a Storytelling Tool in a Multimedia Journalism Workshop
Curiosity. Love. Dare. Hope. Are just couple of words students in my four-day digital media workshop at Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP) used to describe themselves.
From June 20–24, 18 students from the BUAP Communication Department plus five faculty members attended my course in Puebla, Mexico. Over the course of four days, they gained practical skills and learned about principles of multimedia storytelling. The end result was a Medium publication “Nuevo Estudiante Bienvenido a Puebla” in Spanish that was reported, written, conceptualized, designed and produced by the students.
The course was a mix of lectures, demonstrations and most importantly practical, hands-on sessions. Course participants were communication students interested in multimedia including design, photography, video and audio production, and data visualization. The students already had an experience with reporting for print, online media or broadcast and had an advanced knowledge of English.
They were encouraged to research, pick their own topic and use their own equipment (smartphones) for reporting.
Using multimedia to enhance the stories
After introductions and an icebreaker exercise, we dived right into the principles of multimedia storytelling. The need for stories and reports will never change, but how we tell those stories is equally important. We looked at multimedia storytelling examples, trends and discussed what and how it’s being done nowadays.
Due to the short duration of the course, I introduced the students and faculty to Medium. Everyone opened an account and tested the features.
I also shared free and open source storytelling tools and platforms, such as TimelineJS, StoryMapJS, Silk.co, and SoundCloud to name a few. All these tools were pre-tested making sure they are compatible and can be easily incorporated within Medium.
Acceptance, adaptation and understanding
Students were divided into four groups and they all brainstormed project ideas. The idea that got the most votes was a guide for new out-of-state BUAP students. The words that best describe the project are: acceptance, adaptation and understanding.
The class decided to report on four stories:
- Why there are so many out of state students at BUAP?
- How to survive living in Puebla on a budget?
- What are some cultural differences?
- What are useful resources and tips for studying at BUAP?
Over the course of two days, the groups were out reporting, doing video and audio interviews, and searching for data. Back in the computer lab, they worked on writing the stories, and creating and producing the multimedia pieces. On the last day, we put everything together in Medium.
The end result “Nuevo Estudiante Bienvenido a Puebla” was a wonderful collaborative project and a resource for future out-of-state students as well as local students to overcome differences and communicate better.
Passing the torch
The last day of the workshop was on June 25 at the BUAP campus in Tehuacán. One of the students who attended my class in Puebla, came with me and helped the students in Tehuacán set up their own Medium publication. His knowledge and practical skills enabled him to train the other students in Spanish.
The words that the students used to describe themselves really resonated throughout the workshop. I loved seeing all the curiosity, hope and love for learning everyone had. My goal was to inspire, share the knowledge, engage and enable the students to come up with their own ideas, encourage them to be curious and try new tools.