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Welcome to Advanced Online Media

Spring 2015 - The Advanced Online Media course will be handled via the site.  

Final projects

The final projects for this class were really the culmination of a few semesters in the program. Students were to create a multimedia site using Wordpress on a topic of their choice. They were to use a variety of sources in telling their stories and incorporate data presentations in any way that we had discussed this semester. The Syllabus page has more detail on the requirements. The students worked in teams of two, creating and sharing content, but each developed his/her own site.

After Spring Break - Programming

We spent a lot of time before Spring Break laying the foundation. We needed to get a basic understanding of programming, form processing and data techniques that we could apply to later, more advanced topics. While we started talking about Fusion Tables before the break, we discussed the broader area of Google Charts after. This allows students to customize charts via the Google Charts API. But this is also a basic introduction.

Advanced Online Media Topics

The semester has flown by, but I wanted to check in with how things have shaped up over the course of the semester, with a first post on the topics we covered before Spring Break. Having moved out the SXTXState project into its own class, I was able to more fully dedicate this class to data and programming topics. I mostly ran it as a series of workshops. Students in this class already have a foundation in Web design. They have basic html/css and multimedia skills and some exposure to responsive design. So, when they hit this class, I really need to provide them with broad exposure to a variety of topics. It is up to them how they might use in a final project. They need to develop skills that allow them to use their own judgment in deciding which tools to use and how to learn and implement new tools.

Please view the course outline to see the handouts and readings associated with this topic.

A New Approach to Advanced Online Media

I have been teaching Advanced Online Media for several years. In the past, we have used this course as the platform for our SXSW coverage, adding advanced content. This year, we have a new class dedicated to the SXTXState Project, and this class has taken a complete Programming and Data emphasis. On this site, I will be chronicling our progress. We've already met twice this semester and are well on our way.

The students in this class have all taken my basic Online Media Design course, a beginning web design class. So on the first night of class, I had them dive right back in with a refresher on Responsive Design and the application of some HTML5/CSS3 concepts. It was a little rocky at first, as students cleared the coding cobwebs from their brains, but by the end of the evening, I think all felt a sense of accomplishment. There were some problems, but I think the main issue is FOCUS and understanding. I will continue to emphasize that students should think about why they are coding what they are coding, rather than just typing things in from my handouts. And they will need to learn how to solve their own problems and help one another.



On May 21, our class was included in a program for the local groups of Hacks Hackers and Online News Association on Student Innovations in Data Journalism. The first presentation was from Jake Batsell of SMU discussing their Campus Crime piece for the Light of Day Project.  I, along with several of my students - Sara Peralta, Shannon Delaney, Ashley Hebler and Joe Vasquez - presented our project. It was a great opportunity for us to show off our work to professionals and to reflect on the skills and experiences of the semester. You can see video of the event below and more photos and detail on the Hacks/Hackers site.


Fostering Student Creativity and Collaboration


This article was cross-posted from the Observations section of the Texas State of Change Project.

We have had quite a semester in the Advanced Online Media course. Fourteen students set out to push the boundaries of Web design and to learn as much as they could about programming and data journalism. We embarked upon not one, but two, extensive, experience learning projects this semester. The first, covering SXSW at is really a major endeavor. Students had the chance to gain exposure to a broad range of technology professionals and ideas. It was the perfect catalyst for launching into this second project, Texas State of Change. The project was conceived when I learned of the AEJMC/Knight Building a Bridge grant during the AEJMC conference last August. I was excited to learn we had received the grant that would allow us to work with the VIDI data visualization modules provided by the Jefferson Institute in developing a site around Texas State's recent designation as Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). You can see more about the grant activities on the Advanced Online Media course site, including details of our visits by some stellar professionals, but you can see the result of our efforts here.

Dante Chinni, Patchwork Nation, Telling Stories with Data Speaker Series


On April 11, Dante Chinni of Patchwork Nation visited the School of Journalism and Mass Communication as our final speaker in the Telling Stories with Data Series, sponsored by AEJMC and the Knight Foundation. Chinni is affilated with the Jefferson Institute, the Knight News Challenge winner we teamed up with the receive the grant.

Thomas Levine of Scraperwiki, Speaker Series


Thomas Levine of Scraperwiki visited with the Advanced Online Media class on March 21, as the second in our Telling Stories with Data speaker series. Thomas went through a presentation on scraping data from the Web and then went through a hands-on exercise.

Drupal Views and VIDI


It’s been a while since I last blogged about this project. We’ve had a very busy semester. Along with our SXSW project (, we began working on our Telling Stories with Data project. We had three incredible guests, and I will post video of those events soon. We continued learning Drupal and exploring the VIDI modules that were developed by the Jefferson Institute. And we are now developing out our site, which will be called Texas State of Change, doing our reporting and working with the data associated with Texas State’s status as Hispanic Serving Institution.

To continue with our Drupal training, I did create a handout on Drupal Basics that covers most of what I discussed in my last post. Now, I want to go into a little more detail on exactly how we plan to implement the VIDI modules.

Aron Pilhofer - First Guest in Speaker Series


Just before SXSW began, we were able to persuade Aron Pilhofer, the Director of Interactive News, to visit with us on March 8. I have known Aron for a few years and have been fascinated by the work his group produces. He has visited with us in the past, sent people from his department to speak to our students and even allowed me to visit his group in NYC for a week so I could do a research project (the result of which has recently been published in the ISOJ Journal). We are very fortunate to have him as a friend to our program, because his group is doing some of the most progressive work in data journalism. It was appropriate that he would be our first speaker in the series.


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