Students in J408: Mobile Media Production experiment with software used by Conde Nast and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’s iPad magazines.

SOJC’s J408: Mobile Media Production class is gaining nationwide attention in the journalism education and publishing technology worlds. The class has been featured in the Huffington Post, the Journal of Media Education and Adobe Featured Blogs.

In January 2010, when Apple announced it would be releasing an iPad, PhD student Ed Madison started brainstorming with faculty on working with undergraduate students on new iPad technology, before the product was released. In Spring 2010, the class was launched, and created app prototypes for the iPad. In Spring 2011, the class used pre-released Adobe Digital Publishing Suite to create OR Magazine, the first student-produced iPad-only publication in the nation.

Students, who created OR Magazine during the class, learned right alongside Chambers Distinguished Professor of Advertising Deborah Morrison and Graduate Teaching Fellow Madison in using the yet-to-be-released Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. At this time, Morrison is working to make the magazine (which will be part of an SOJC app) available for download from the iTunes store.

“(Spring 2011 J408 students) were the first to create a digital, student-produced iPad magazine using Adobe Publishing Suite software,” says Madison. “And that’s the same software that Wired, Martha Stewart Living and all the national publications are using. We were able to get early, beta-stage access to this software before it was even available for sale.”

“I learned anything I wanted to learn,” says Jason Bernert ’11 about the course. “Our instructors had confidence in us so they just let us go. It was this freedom that allowed me to push and learn as much as I wanted … I started researching tools to build iPad magazines. I learned how Wired magazine is made for the iPad. I learned the basics of interactive design and how to program with the Adobe’s Digital Publishing suite, while it was still in beta. I put more work into a class than I ever had before.”

Bernert served as OR Magazine‘s Senior Creative Director. “I created a style guide for the magazine, helped designers with their spreads, designed spreads myself, researched UI, and worked closely with the editors in chief to create what they wanted to see,” he says. “Though this was my main role, there was a lot of crossover for all of us. Photographers were designing, videographers were editing, etc.” Adobe Digital Publishing Suite allows video embedding in publications created for the iPad.

“The SOJC has some stellar publications, including Flux and Etude and Ethos,” says Madison. “The story of the University of Oregon is often focused around athletics and there’s a lot more going on at this university. Obviously, a lot of stories don’t get told, so what the students decided to do, this was their choice, was to focus on some of the research and some of the stellar things that are happening, like the Zebrafish Laboratory.”

J408 students were the first to record video in the Zebrafish Lab on the UO campus, using persistence and “good old fashioned reporting skills” to gain access. Students also produced a story on Instructor Dan Morrison’s recent trip to Afghanistan, where he reported on Marines serving on the front line.

“The people at Adobe were blown away by how quickly our students were able to learn and become proficient at software that wasn’t even available yet,” says Madison. “The way we chose to teach the course I think made a very distinct difference in that it was modeled on a collaborative instruction model, which means the students picked their own editors and they literally drove a piece of the class … So they were living in the lab. They were just so inspired and turned on because it was their project. It wasn’t just a class.”

—Katie Dettman