Educators continue to look for ways to "flip the classroom" through effective learning space design and adhering to the principles of Universal Design. The concept of Universal Design focuses on seven principles in designing spaces: Equitable Use, Flexibility in Use, Simple and Intuitive Use, Perceptible Information, Tolerance for Error, Low Physical Effort, Size and Space for Approach and Use. While each of these elements are closely related to learning space creation, they also have a relationship with the curriculum and how it's taught.
The key for higher education, is to research how new technology tools, and strategies can be incorporated into the learning space to make teaching and learning more authentic and relevant to the student. One of these tools for educators is the academic use of social media by students. This can open dynamic "windows of opportunity" by flipping the classroom through effective use of social media- in this case, through citizen journalism.
Through a series of class lectures in political science, English, and Communication Studies at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, students are exposed to the concept of creating digital stories through citizen journalism with CNN iReporting. The class quickly learns about the potential of a wider audience to view their work.
Students are encouraged to consider becoming iReporters to further enhance their writing and photojournalistic skills. Even faculty members can participate in this process. Currently there are over 1 million iReporters worldwide. As an iReporter, you become part of the iReport community, learning techniques and strategies from a worldwide cohort. The experience of being a citizen journalist can extend to almost any discipline. Once an article on CNN iReports is verified for its accuracy with appropriate clearances, it is becomes officially "vetted."
Jim Jorstad- CNN 2013 iReport Spirit Award Winner