Online Journalism: Spring 2011

the class blog

Collaboration Empathy!

with 10 comments

In class today, we kicked off the College Communication project. It focuses on collaboration among students, and how we can build a system to facilitate that in a way that people will actually use and that will (added bonus) help to foster community among Columbia students.

The first step in figuring this out is to gain further empathy about the subject. So I want you to interview BY MONDAY NIGHT two students about how they’ve experienced collaboration in the college–what successes have they had, what failures have they had. How do they find people to collaborate with? What types of things to they evaluate someone’s skills by when deciding to who to collaborate with? Etc.

POST YOUR INTERVIEWS TO THE COMMENTS OF THIS POST NO LATER THAN MONDAY NIGHT, so that we all have access to them. Use these to drive brainstorming and prototyping–there will be lots and lots of experiences to draw from.


Written by sinker

February 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Assignments

10 Responses

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  1. I interviewed two students for the collaboration exercise.

    1. Interview #1: Joe Mandel is a journalism major.

    He says that Columbia doesn’t have anything in place for students to collaborate with others. Although Columbia preaches it, they don’t implement it; there’s just a lot of talk about multi-media collaboration.

    He personally does not collaborate. He uses other journalism students in class for projects. He does this because the in-class assignments require that he use his classmates, for example, to shoot while he conducts the interview.

    However, he is in Newsbeat and sees how the journallism students work with the other production and television classes to put the whole show together.

    He says that the school does not provide any means for collaboration to happen.

    Gen-ed classes, like New Millenium Studies, expose students to each other, but it is not a way to really assess other students’ skills.

    He says that if classes forced students of different majors to work together, maybe we would collaborate more.

    He says that students coming in as juniors are at a disadvantage because they aren’t going to be in many gen-ed classes, so they have a lessened chance of collaborating outside of their major.

    He thinks that when students sign up for classes, there should be a way to ensure that different majors are there. For example if a class has 15 students, there should be a way where the school could assign 5 different majors for that class, with 3 students to each major. Then the assignments in the class should be multi-media assignments where the students have to work together.

    He says that if he needs to collaborate, he’d like to know the student’s full skill set before contacting them, such as:

    Have they had at least 2 or 3 classes in their major?
    Can he see an example of their work?
    Can he trust them to work hard at their job?
    2. Interview number two: Cameran Battley is a film major.

    She collaborates quite aggressively.

    She looks for theater majors to act in her films, and music majors to write the score for her films.

    She finds them by looking at bulletin boards posted on campus. When she contacts them, she holds auditions to see if the theater students fit the character. In the case of the music students, she either asks to hear a sample of their work, or the music student will score a piece of work for her to see what their work is like.

    Another means is the Columbia page on Facebook. She has posted requests there, and students have responded by Facebook or via email.

    She says half of her search is by flyers on bulletin boards and the other half is by using Facebook.

    She has also met other students at Columbia events and has collaborated with them.

    The values that are most important to her when looking for a student to collaborate with are hard-working like herself; reliable; dedicated; and good quality body of work.


    February 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm

  2. Hi, I interviewed two people. Here are their interviews:

    Joe Mandel – Journalism major

    Joe says that he does not collaborate with students outside of journalism because the way classes are set up, he partners with other journalism classes for projects. For example, a classmate shoots while he conducts and interview.

    He says that while Columbia talks a lot about collaboration, there is nothing in place to allow this to happen. So there is hardly any interaction of any kind.

    He does see interaction in Newsbeat, however, where the journalism students work with television and production students.

    Although Gen-eds expose students to other majors, they do not provide an assessment of the students’ skills, so you don’t know who is good or not.

    He says that if classes required students to work with other majors in the same class, that would help.

    Students who transfer in as juniors have a disadvantage because they are not going to be exposed to a lot of Gen-ed classes, minimizing their chance to rub shoulders with students in other majors. He thinks that the classes that these juniors take should help: If for instance a class holds 15 students, there should be a way for 5 majors to be represented in that class, with 3 students to each major. Then the curriculum for the class should be a multi-media focus so that the students have to collaborate with one another.

    If he wants to collaborate, Joe says there are certain things that are important to him:
    1. He needs to know the student’s work to see if he/she is any good at what they do.
    2. Has the student had at least 3 classes in his/her major?
    3. Can he see an example of the student’s work?
    Interview #2: Cameran Battley – Film major

    Cameran collaborates very aggressively.
    She looks for theater majors to act in her films, and music majors to write the scores for her films.

    How she looks for them:
    *Flyers on billboards on campus
    *Columbia on Facebook

    When she gets a response from a theater major, she lets them audition to see if they fit the character she is casting for. When dealing with a music major, she asks to hear some of his previous work, or she lets him write a score for one of her pieces to see how well he does.

    The values that she looks for in a student”
    1. hard-working like herself
    2. Reliable – will they be on time? will they meet deadlines?
    3. Dedicated – have they stuck with projects in the past?

    She would like to see other students’ body of work ahead of time, and she would like there to be a way to go online and see a person’s reel, talent, skill-set, resume, and contact information, even references or recommendations.

    Yari Osborne

    February 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm

  3. My two interviews:

    Interview 1: Christy Lyons
    Journalism Major

    Christy Lyons says, “I find people to collaborate with in classes. Since I commute, its hard to find people except for during class since I don’t stick around or live in the dorms. But I got to know so many people through my classes.”
    “I’ve gotten to know so many students in journalism with different areas of focus, like broadcast, or fashion writing, etc. It’s cool to collaborate with people who are in the same field, but with different areas of focus.”
    “I think the only thing that’s been a problem with it is the fact that I commute and so many others do too. Outside of class, its hard to find time to meet up or decide where to do it.”
    When she is trying to decided what kind of people she wants to work with, Lyons says, “I always look at their work ethic in class. If they are someone who is always answering questions and participating, it comes off like they are passionate about their work. I’d rather collaborate with someone like that.”
    “I think Columbia does a really great job already honestly. I’ve never had any problems finding someone to work with!”

    Interview 2: Rachael Tsuji
    Journalism Major

    When having to collaborate, Rachel Tsuji says, “I’ve never really had to collaborate with anyone at Columbia yet, but I did take a class where we had to work on a project together. I worked with two film majors and a creative fiction major. We got the project done, I never saw the ending results. So we were successful. I wish we could have done different things but we didn’t want to put too much extra time into it.”
    When choosing people to collaborate with, Tsuji says, “I don’t really evaluate them until I see their skills in physical form. If I see a film major’s short movies, I can decide if they are good at it. I think there could be more collaboration in LAS classes, to help make it possible.”

    April Barkley

    April Barkley

    February 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm


    Name: Crystal Jackson
    Major: Film/Video
    Year: Junior

    When I spoke to Crystal about collaborating with other departments, she immediately understood what I was talking about and stressed the need for each of the departments to come together. In the past, she had worked with people in theater, music, and AEMM majors to help with her films.
    She said that she mainly found those people through friends or friends of friends and on Facebook.
    “If you don’t know somebody, then it’s difficult…” she said when thinking about the Film and Theater departments–two fields that must come together, arguably more than any others. She said she wished there was an easier way to find people to collaborate with.
    When looking for people to work with, Crystal looks for reliability and experience and likes to know what classes they’ve taken to measure their ability.

    Name: Willamena C.
    Major: Radio
    Year: Senior

    Willamena, a Radio major, has had less experience in collaborating with other departments–but she says it’s because radio is mainly a solo effort. However, she has worked with people in production and she usually found them through friends. She also mentioned “voxpots”, going out to get interviews, as a way of finding people to work with.
    Like Crystal, Willamena also looks for reliability when determining who to work with, but also their willingness to compromise and participate and their knowledgeability.

    Mariah Craddick

    February 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm

  5. Interview #1 Andrew Novak Photography Major

    ME: so how have your experiences been with collaborating with other students at columbia college?

    [Andrew Novak]
    Pretty good. There are always those first few weeks in class that you are feeling each other out, but usually by the end of each semester I walk away with at least 5 or 6 people I fee that I really connected with.

    Me: would you say that you collaborate often with students at columbia?

    [Andrew Novak]
    I suppose so. There are obviously different methods of interaction depending on the class, but even if I don’t interact in a typical group project I feel like I can talk to everyone in a class room and get some constructive feedback. I have become a much better photographer because of my fellow student’s feedback and support. I hope I helped them in the same way.

    Me: how do you usually find people to collaborate with on your projects? facebook….e-mail? do you use school websites?

    [Andrew Novak]
    I would say Facebook and email are the main forms of connection that most students at Columbia use. Columbia’s portals have their uses, but I feel they could be more constructive in terms of social media integration with Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. It would be especially great if classes each had their own page or location where those students could interact outside of class more easily.

    Me: so have your collaborations with students at columbia for the most part been successful?
    if not..tell me about a time where collaboration wasn’t very successful

    [Andrew R. Novak]
    Yeah for the most part they have been successful. The only times I’ve experienced any frustrations is with the integration of portals. I would love for every bit of information regarding class, projects etc to be on Oasis, and any other possible linking pages. The more information you have in more locations, the more people will stay in touch and really be encouraged to engage with each other.


    Interview #2 Acting Major

    Me: do you collaborate often with students at columbia?

    [André Robinson]
    yep I do actually

    Me: how so?

    [André Robinson]
    Mostly film projects. Most of my friends are film majors or photography majors so if they need an actor or model I’m in…or if I need there help with like head shots or making films.

    Me: so how have your experiences been with collaborating with other students at Columbia college?

    [André Robinson]
    Its been pretty special because most of the students here have goals and sometimes we aim for the same goals. so its pretty cool to collaborate with people on the same page as you and since we’re all “up and coming” artists it would be a hell of story to look back on one day.

    Me: how do you usually find people to collaborate with? Facebook…columbia flyers…etc?

    [André Robinson]
    Sometimes word of mouth but it’s weird because every year I’ve been at colum…all of my roommates were film majors or actors so it was almost like we were purposely put there for a reason. and then the more we collaborate and other people got involved then word would spread. or other cases a student could’ve seen something you’ve done in a class and ask you for help or something like that.

    Me: how do you think Columbia could help students collaborate more?

    [André Robinson]
    I personally see nothing but Columbia students collaborating all the time. But I think if professors would bring collaboration up more in class i think it would help because sometimes i think students act on last minute decisions and just immediately go for someone they know. but i think if the idea of collaboration within colum was brought up more by teachers then students would do it more. other than that i think colum students do it all the time even if is last min


    February 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm

  6. Bobby Anzaldi Jr., 32, Police Officer, Student at Concordia University, Melrose Park IL

    ME: How often have you had to work in groups for school, work, etc.?

    BOBBY: My entire school forum is a cohort, so my entire school experience is a large group. Everything is in groups. So, pretty much anytime I’m in school.

    ME: Has your experience generally been positive or negative?

    BOBBY: I don’t know. I’ve had positive experience because it allows for different perspectives and points of view. However, it also can hinder too because you can have a class or people within the class who don’t want to participate or who aren’t actually involved who can affect your performance too. It allows me to see things differently but I also don’t like having to do all the work either.

    ME: How have you chosen your group mates?

    BOBBY: I haven’t really gotten the opportunity to choose.

    ME: What are some characteristics that you look for prior to choosing someone to participate in a group project?

    BOBBY: I would want someone who was as motivated as I am, interested in learning as I am, as organized as I am. They’re point of view doesn’t have to be the same as mine, actually I’d probably prefer that. They’re basically going to just have to want to work.

    ME: When have you experienced hardships when working in a group? What happened?

    BOBBY: Peoples’ lack of dedication or commitment which has caused a total breakdown. We had to do a 15 page paper and PowerPoint presentation on the business structure of Google. All the deadlines were blown off by this one individual, and what she put together basically sucked. I had to go back reword and rewrite, and generate another page and a half of her work.

    ME: What are the benefits to working in a group?

    BOBBY: A delegation of job duties is pretty cool. Group work allows you to complete larger projects in smaller portions. You get more done.

    Jim Wall, 29, Columbia student, TV Production Assistant, Chicago

    ME: How often have you had to work in groups for school, work, etc.?

    JIM: I work in groups at work when I go on film shoots. (About 20% of time). Otherwise, the majority of office work is individual, with group meetings.

    ME: Has your experience generally been positive or negative?

    JIM: Generally, it has been positive because I have worked with professionals who take care of their individual responsibilities and know how to get things done efficiently. They are also nice people who are easy to work with and understanding if people make mistakes.

    ME: How have you chosen your group mates?

    JIM: They have been chosen by my manager.

    ME: What are some characteristics that you look for prior to choosing someone to participate in a group project?

    JIM: I prefer people who are experts in their field and are always willing to teach newcomers. I also like working with people who are open to suggestions.

    ME: When have you experienced hardships when working in a group? What happened?

    JIM: I have worked with people who do not pull their weight. In these cases, working alone would have been preferred over working in a group. I have also worked under very poor leaders who do not have solid vision for the future or who expect all of the innovation to come from their staff, without offering them much guidance or support. I also worked with a boss who was very unprepared and always procrastinated, so everyone on the team had to do fire drills to get everything completed in the short time frames she would give us.

    ME: What are the benefits to working in a group?

    JIM: The benefits are that more people working together can present ideas that I would not have come up with on my own. In other words, a group offers different perspectives and more potential opportunities for creativity.

    Becky Lerner

    February 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm

  7. Samantha Battle

    Interview 1
    Cori Woods, senior and media management major with a minor in dance.

    Me:Why do you collaborate with other students at Columbia?

    Cori: I collaborate with other students at Columbia for networking purposes and to work with other students that have the same passion in the arts as me.

    Me: What often times stop you from collaborating with other students?

    Cori: What stops me from collaborating with other students is the lack of commitment. One of the problems we have at Columbia is that people aren’t truly committed to WORK!

    Me: How do you find students to collaborate on projects with?

    Cori: I find students through facebook and other programs like the dance programs & theater programs.

    Me: What tools would you suggests to use in finding an easier way to collaborate and network with Columbia students?

    Cori: I think cyber networking is key. People to me communicate more through the internet. Its kind of sad but true.

    Interview 2
    Lucia Crespo, senior, magazine journalism major

    Me: Why do you collaborate with other students at Columbia?

    Lucia: I collaborate with other students at columbia to sometimes go over our assignments or study. Also talk about what we did over the weekend and just chit chat. I work at school therefore, I am constantly helping other students out.

    Me: What often times stop you from collaborating with other students?

    Lucia: I dont live on campus so thats primarily what keeps me from collaborating with other students.

    Me: How do you find students to collaborate on projects with?

    Lucia: When I have to do group projects I contact my group by calling them and making a time and date to meet.

    Me: What tools would you suggests to use in finding an easier way to collaborate and network with Columbia students?

    Lucia: I think maybe having a website catered to Columbia students only or having a group on facebook for us students.

    Samantha Battle

    February 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm

  8. Interview #1: JoAnn Neenan
    1. ME: Why do you collaborate on projects with other students?
    LRO: Collaborating allows you to learn and grow from others. It often turns simple thoughts and ideas into larger more complex ideas- making projects more interesting and fun.

    2. ME: If you’ve collaborated for reasons besides being forced to for a class, why did you?
    JN: I collaborate with others in order to gain knowledge, information, or skills. For example, I would want to collaborate with someone who excelled at my weaknesses and Vise Versa.

    3. ME: What steps do you take to seek others to collaborate with? (how do you find them?)
    JN: If I am not paired with someone. I usually collaborate with someone I get along with and work well with. Someone who will be driven and organized.

    4. ME: Once you’ve found potential collaborators, what is your evaluation process for deciding whether or not to work with them?
    JN: If someone shows no effort, excitement or interest in the project from the start I know I will not work well with them.

    5. ME: Give an example of what you would call a ‘good’ collaboration. (specifics would be great! ex: why did it go well?)
    JN: In my writing for managers class I was paired with someone who knew Microsoft Word like the back of her hand. This was a good collaboration because I had very little skills when it came to word and other computer programs. We also were good at communicating and making goals and sticking to them.

    6. ME: Give an example of what you would call a ‘bad’ collaboration.(specifics would be great! ex: why did it not go well?)
    JN: I have collaborated with people who put absolutely no effort into a group project. They would not show up to group meetings, ignore e-mails and not complete any tasks. They were more of a hassle than help.

    Interview #2: Logan Raino-Ogden
    1. LRO: In the past, I have not done a whole lot of collaboration. Maybe a single project per semester. This is done typically because a teacher wants to demonstrate how we will have to combine and share our ideas when collaborating in a work environment. Other times it is because a project is simply too big and has too many components to ask one student to complete them all.

    2. LRO: I once worked on a large programming assignment with two other students in my class. I was confused by the material and of the two I collaborated with, one was even more lost than I was, and the other was a highly skilled programmer and helped us out.

    3. LRO: In this one case, I briefly talked to these two students in class, and by coincidence we were all in the IAM lab at the same time working on assignments, so we decided to get together. The student who helped us was also working at a tutor in the lab at the time, so we were able to ask for his help.

    4. LRO: I have not yet had to collaborate with someone outside my major, or even outside on of my classes. So generally, during the course of the semester, I can evaluate the artistic style of other students and decide who I would most enjoy working with.

    5. LRO: Working with the student who was also a tutor in the lab was great, because he didn’t just tell me what code to write, he explained what each step meant, so the collaboration led to a greater understanding.

    6. LRO: I worked in a group of four designing a simple game. The group leader divided up the work load, but it did not go so well. The person whose job it was to code wound up doing WAY too much work, my computer crashed while doing the graphics, so I added the sound effects instead, even though there were others in the group who were more experienced with that aspect, they were too busy with their own work. The assignment was just difficult to divide between four creative students, who each had their own idea of how the game should look and be played.

    Alicia Plomin

    February 7, 2011 at 11:59 pm

  9. Michael Ranieri
    Online Journalism

    1. Frankie Migacz—Fiction Writing
    Migacz said that his most recent experience with collaboration involved trying to start up a fiction writing magazine at Columbia with students. He attempted to start it up with one other person, his roommate, and his collaboration was not a good experience. He says that many of the students in the class seemed interested at the time and displayed enthusiasm for the project, but it never took off the ground. He and his roommate talked to their classmates about the idea and obtained the email addresses of those who were interested.
    The biggest thing Frankie looked for in starting up the project with other students was their writing ability. He considers himself to be a good judge of literary skill and said he found a good group of people to work on it. However, many of them never followed up. Frankie believes this is a result of believing that the magazine would never get really big and thus, many students simply blew off their first meeting. With successful collaboration, Frankie said that classes within the department were organized, though he has no part in working with this aspect—the professors are in charge. He says students are much more likely to respond to a teacher with an assignment over a classmate with an idea because one of them is something they’ve been used to since grade school, while new ideas are new for people and entering the real world outside of college is a completely new experience. Frankie said that in the future, if he were to do it all over again, he wouldn’t exactly know what to do differently. He still believes that the most important part of starting a potential fiction magazine would be how good the writing would be, and that’s something easy to point out (good story telling, good word flow, good story ideas), but trying to find out whether or not someone is reliable and motivated is something that is experienced over time, and maybe there’s not enough of it with one semester of collaboration.

    Lester Morgan—Philosophy major
    Bri Ranieri—Undecided major
    Zak O’Connell—N/A

    I took a different direction with the second interview. Rather than ask one person what he/she thought about collaboration, I held a meeting of minds between myself and three others involved with a group called “The Movement Is.” The name is subject to change, because The Movement Is ________ is still in phase one, which is simply communicating over Facebook and emails. I was one of the creators of the group and started it so we could turn the ideas into a website and possibly a magazine dedicated to social justice and revolution… which would also be a platform for many other things, including a social networking site.
    There was some disagreement as to how effective our communication was. While Zak said we need to meet face-to-face, Lester disagreed and thought that Phase One was good where it was, as a “Digital Commune.” He said it would be hard to organize everyone… many of the group’s members live in Michigan, many live in Illinois, some live in Iowa, etc. For now, everyone has agreed that Facebook is the most effective means of communication, as email can feel outdated and distant—many do not use it.
    Bri and Lester and I agreed that online talk was the most effective way for now, but in the future, we need something more because “Facebook cannot be trusted.”

    This project made me realize that collaboration is a huge part of our goals.
    We agreed that the following things we’re vital in things we were looking for in people: Open-mindedness, passion, enthusiasm, love. We added many people to the Facebook group, so there are many who don’t do anything and there are some who post on a regular basis. Numbers, therefore, are a big part of attempting to explore unchartered territories. Finding people has been relatively easy—we have added many people on the site that comment frequently whom we have never met. One of the guys lives in Canada and gives many good ideas.
    One of the things that made my friends think we’re on a good path is that the ideas have been going around for a couple of months now

    There was talk of the plans of collaboration as well:
    Lester gave a blueprint of what he’d like the website to look like… a social community networking site that lets you connect with people in your community and organize with a calendar of opportunities for community development and possible protests and rallies. Everyone else agreed this would be a good direction for the site—an interactive map with spots of meet-ups and happenings across the U.S. and possibly the world if it gets big enough.

  10. Interview # 1
    James Kelly, Broadcast journalism
    He is on the production team of Metro Minutes. It’s a feature show with college stories, what interest college students, tuition and activities happening around campus.
    Kelly says collaborative effort is important because it teaches us skills while working on a production team, those skills you can use in the real world when you are going to broadcast.
    What type of things to they evaluate someone’s skills by when deciding who to collaborate with?
    If he is as passionate as I am about the project I’m working on. If I am spending the night working on my project I expect my partner to do the same.
    For good a collaborative effort you both have to have a good communication with each other– constant email sand phone calls just so that we know that we both are on the same page. We don’t have to work on every single step but we should work on every major step. And that’s the whole point of being in collaboration with somebody else.
    How do they find people to collaborate with?
    Mostly it’s in class we usually get to know each other by our majors. So if we start a good conversation, may be outside the class, about something that could be we like the same type of music or we have the same class with the same teacher one time. Just find small things that we have in common then build a working relationship out of that.
    How they experience collaboration in the college, success and failures?
    In groups where you find yourself doing most of the work and others nothing, that’s where the collaborative part fails. Sometimes you have to do it if you don’t want the project to completely fail. Sometime you pick up the slack for the other person. Actual partnership may have been a failure but I haven’t had any project that has failed as yet.
    Good communication is important to make sure everybody does his share of work and then we all work the biggest part of it together. Make sure also that we are going to meet in each big step. Only then everybody can pull his own weight, and also pull the weight together.

    Interview # 2
    Rishi Madhani, Broadcast journalism for radio
    Madhani says collaborating with people is not difficult but it’s not easy either. You have to make an effort. But then one thing you have been taught in journalism is that if you have a question, don’t be afraid to say it. So if you have to ask something just go and say it.
    He says for radio, its lot of fun doing collaborative work. It’s more towards editing and audio work. But other than that there’s not a whole lot collaboration going on. You just do your own stuff.
    The one quality he likes to see in the person he is going to collaborate with is organization. Having things in order makes everything go easier, he says.
    He calls his collaborative experience okay. He has had some bad experience but he doesn’t want to mention.
    Rating his collaborative experience, Madhani says, on the scale of 1 to 10 he will probably give it seven.

    Rubina Jabbar

    February 9, 2011 at 1:17 am

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