This project designed aspects of a brand new unit in an emerging field: MECO826: Data Journalism. The unit aims to give students hands-on experience with data-driven reporting techniques and producing data visualisations. Learning in the unit is collaborative and student led, reflecting some of the principles of an online community of inquiry, with a strong element of discovery.
The learning environment created for the project is underpinned by WordPress. It is flexible and highly interconnected with the web, allowing students to develop a communication network with each other, to easily find and share stories, and to curate and aggregate examples of data journalism practice. In addition, students can select and use some of the content generated in the unit as part of their professional portfolio.
The sequence of learning activities and assessment tasks builds in regular student contributions to the WordPress site, including the progressive development of “critical portfolios” (collections of blog posts, annotations and examples), as well as a final project. Scaffolding for students around how to use and participate in the Collaborative Learning Environment is also built into the learning design.
A number of WordPress plug-ins were trialled and chosen through project, for instance BuddyPress allows students to have discussions and communicate with each other privately via messaging and forums; social media integration is provided by Jetpack, Twitter, and Storify plug-ins.
This project was led by Dr Margie Borschke and managed by Lucy Arthur, with the educational design services of Ollie Coady and Victoria Taylor.