Best Snow Day

COMM-535-007 Online News Production at American University
A citywide snowstorm. Metro’s barely running, and don’t even think about driving. So: A whole day in bed watching marathons of Law and Order: SVU and raiding the fridge, right? Unless you’re a student, in which case it means classes online: hours and hours of PowerPoint presentations as professors lecture in monotones. But American University Professor David Johnson brilliantly weaved social media—none of that Blackboard crap—into his class for producing American Observer, the online magazine for AU’s journalism graduate school. Students—the ones who still had electricity—logged in as production started at 9 a.m. Copy-editing schedules and notes were shared through Google Docs. The staff conversed in Google Chat chat rooms and on Twitter (#aosnowissue). Johnson broadcast himself (with cameos from his kids) on UStream as other AU professors tuned in. In explanation of his bundled attire, a coat and hat, indoors, Johnson tweeted “my home office has no heat in it.” Students who’d lost power conversed via text messages. The Feb. 10, 2010, issue launched a half hour before deadline. Who knew so much productivity could come from bed?