By Linda Austin, Reynolds Journalism Institute
Linda Austin is the project director of the Associated Press Media Editors’ NewsTrain and an RJI Fellow. She was vice president and editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader from 2007 to 2009.
A free mobile-microlearning course — The 5 C’s of Writing News for Mobile Audiences — has launched on a mobile learning app, EdApp. Think Babbel or Duolingo for digital journalism.
I created the course as part of my nonresidential Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute fellowship in 2017-18. Thirty-five journalists tested the course, and all said they would recommend it to other journalists. Eighty percent increased their test scores in an efficacy study conducted by the Information Experience Lab at the University of Missouri in 2019.
When asked what they would tell other journalists about the course, here was a typical response: “That it provided excellent tips and insights for writing for mobile in a fun and non-time-consuming format.”
Now, the course has been tweaked and improved based on feedback from the journalists in the study and is available free to the public.
The course’s topic was inspired by a survey of 710 journalists that I conducted with the University’s Information Experience Lab in 2017. The respondents identified “presenting stories better for mobile audiences” as their most urgent training need.
The idea behind using mobile microlearning for the course was to overcome the biggest obstacle to training for journalists — lack of time — by providing learning in five-minute chunks. In the past decade, bite-size lessons consumed on the phone while on public transit or waiting in line have taken off in other industries but not yet in journalism.
The free course is available on the Ed mobile app as part of its partnership with UNITAR, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. The goal of this #EducateAll initiative is to “empower and educate millions of learners around the world, notably providing access to those furthest behind, with limited opportunities.”
To complete the self-paced course — six lessons, two reviews and final test — should take about 45 minutes. You can also download a handout that reviews the course, plus lists free, easy digital-storytelling tools and provides tips on further reading.
If you would like to access a more intensive version of the course that includes six additional exercises and the chance to earn a certificate of completion, please email me.
Many thanks to RJI, the University’s Information Experience Lab, the Associated Press Media Editors (now the News Leaders Association), the Ed app and the many mobile-microlearning experts and journalists who helped me put the course together!
To access the course
Follow these instructions (PDF).
Do you have ideas on how to finance more mobile microlearning for journalists?
Now that we’ve established that mobile microlearning works for journalists, I am seeking funding to create more courses in digital journalism taught in micro-lessons. Please email me with your thoughts on possible funders and topics for these new mobile-microlearning courses. Thanks for your interest!