Collaboration Brings Bloom’s Geotagging Technology Into The Classroom As A Journalism Training Tool

June 19, 2019

In collaboration with San Diego State University and NBC 7 San Diego of California.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In collaboration with San Diego State University and NBC 7 San Diego of California.

SAN DIEGO – Since 2015, Bloom has had the pleasure of introducing location-aware technology to a variety of local news publishers and other businesses around the world. In 2019, for the first time, a collaborative program created by Amy Schmitz Weiss, Associate Professor at San Diego State University’s (SDSU) School of Journalism and Media Studies, brought Bloom’s technology into the classroom with journalism students and professional journalists. The semester-long program helped initiate discussions and exercises for gathering location data in news and using it to engage with local communities.

“This collaboration was a great opportunity for our students to experience journalism and cutting-edge technology with Bloom,” Schmitz Weiss says. “The students came out of this experience with a published story with NBC, knowledge about location-based technologies and the possibilities of doing spatial journalism work in the San Diego community.”

Amy Schmitz Weiss, Associate Professor, SDSU

Between February and May 2019, fifteen students enrolled in the journalism course and were assigned to independently choose a news topic to report about in San Diego. With the assistance of journalists from NBC 7 San Diego, the students planned their coverage and proceeded through the reporting and publishing processes to form their story. The students were then guided with Bloom to geotag the location where their story took place, allowing them to easily gather geographic data and to position the story on an interactive map. The map collectively showcased all stories from students and was embedded on NBC 7 San Diego’s website for their readers to explore.

“Collaboration between universities and technology companies is, personally, very special to me,” says Stephen Jefferson, founder of Bloom. “It was a great opportunity to bring modern technology and playful experimentation into the curriculum, encouraging the next generation of journalists with open-minded thinking and a more diverse skill set.”

Stephen Jefferson, Founder and Executive Director, Bloom

Throughout the program, students utilized Bloom in unique ways using their creativity to meet the needs of their story. Students were able to geotag from their computer or with their phone’s GPS to get their current location while reporting in the field. Based on the topic of their story, they were able to geotag one or multiple locations throughout San Diego, such as one student’s story about many farmers markets.

To obtain feedback and initiate thought-based exercises with the students, surveys were conducted before and after the program. The survey questions gave them an opportunity to think about how emphasizing locations in their story could connect with their audience on a more granular or personal level than it would on traditional mediums like broadcasting or social networking websites. When asked about the geotagging experience, all students responded saying that the process was “easy” and most said it made sense for their story. When asked for their opinion for showcasing their story on an interactive map, a majority of the students responded that they thought it likely helped readers better understand the places and surroundings where their stories took place. In the initial survey, only 1 out of the 15 students mentioned the use of location data to reach and engage their ideal audience, compared to the second survey where all students responded optimistically that they believe leveraging location data played a big part in how readers perceived their story.

We thank Amy Schmitz Weiss at SDSU for inviting Bloom to be a part of this special collaboration, and thank Sean Monzet, Director of Integrated Media, and Becky Stickney, Assistant Director of Integrated Media, at NBC 7 San Diego who were kind enough to assist the students’ reporting and give website space for Bloom’s interactive map to showcase all of the stories.

We hope the experience of Bloom in the classroom influenced the students to open their mind to more opportunities of how news can be gathered, delivered, and presented as they go about the rest of their education and career. We look forward to keeping Bloom’s technology available to schools, professors, and students who are interested in learning, training, or experimenting with this type of technology in their classroom. If you represent or know of a school that you think needs to be doing more experimentation with technology and journalism, we’d be happy to speak with you and encourage you to reach out to Stephen at steve@bloom.li.

To explore the locations of the students’ stories and read more about each one, visit Bloom’s interactive news map. Alternatively, as you read the stories on NBC 7 San Diego’s website, the interactive map is embedded below the story’s text to give you the chance to continually explore other geotagged stories nearby.

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