When Baruch College re-opened after Hurricane Sandy left the campus without power for a week, several of the school’s journalism and photography professors asked students to recount their own storm experiences in blog posts and pictures. These assignments gave glimpses of the tumult in different neighborhoods across the city. Taken as a whole, they provided as clear a picture of New York City during and after the storm as anything I’ve seen in mainstream media.
Much of this work was published on Blogs@Baruch course blogs, many of which are viewable outside of the class and some even outside of the Baruch community. But the stories received further exposure when the faculty editors of Baruch’s student-written online magazine, Dollars & Sense, put together a package of photographs and excerpts with the help of Schwartz Institute Multimedia Fellow Emily Johnson.
By culling vignettes from blog posts and packaging them with photographs from Professor Fran Antmann’s Basic Photography class, Dollars & Sensewas able to create a relevant and moving multimedia package.
I’ve heard from several people – both inside Baruch and out – who said they found the students’ work to be heartfelt and compelling. This response is a tribute to the hard work of the Dollars & Sense faculty editors, professors Joshua Mills and Carl Rollyson, as well as the students who shared their stories.
It is also further reinforcement of the value of open blogging platforms outside of the classroom.
Historically, school assignments have been treated as transactions between student and professor, rarely if ever seen by even a third set of eyeballs. As more and more professors use course blogs to teach students not only about writing but also about the responsibilities and values of having their work available for all to see, those students are hopefully finding opportunities to use their best work for professional development purposes — or even just a bit of self promotion.
While almost all of the Sandy coverage published in Dollars & Sense came from class assignments, the attention it received shows how coursework can — and often should — reach beyond the classroom walls.