Tag Archives: education

6 Low- to No-Cost Ways to Learn New or Improve Existing Skills

This post was published on First Draft, the Society of Professional Journalist’s Generation J’s Committee blog: blogs.spjnetwork.org/genj/2016/09/12/low-to-no-cost-ways-to-learn-tech-skills/

Education never ends for journalists especially those on the techy side. Understanding trendy technologies,  social sites, and learning new, necessary skills are all part of the job.
If you're looking for ways to learn how to use new technologies, then you'll love the blog post, 6 Low- to No-Cost Ways to Learn New or Improve Existing Skills.
But learning new or improving existing skills can be really expensive, right? Not if you know who to follow, what to learn, and how to find such opportunities:

  1. Stay-up-to-date with the latest technology and media news.

    By keeping up with the latest tech news and state of the media, then you’re less likely to be caught by surprise. One way to do this is by maintaining a semi-active Twitter presence and following related companies on LinkedIn to see most recent updates. There are many amazing sites that report on new technologies or the state of the media that you should follow. Here’s my take on four of the best media and tech news sites every digital journalist should know.

  2. Day-long workshops.

    Society of Professional Journalist's Journcamps.

    If you’re looking for a full day of training in the latest trends and technologies in journalism then you’ll love Society of Professional Journalists’ JournCamps. These events start with all of the attendees listening to a broad and relevant topic or issue in the media world. Afterwards, there are a total of four breakout sessions throughout the day where you can choose two sessions to take that cover specific topics.

    The Online News Association offers free sessions in their ONACamps, and check out the National Council for the Training of Journalistsresources, as well.

    Attending such low-cost workshops with top-of-the-line media experts is an amazing deal and experience.

  3. Volunteering increases your chances at finding a job. Learn why journalists should volunteer their skills to nonprofits.

  4. Volunteer your skills.

    Did you know those who are unemployed and volunteer have a 27% better chance of finding a job versus those who don’t? This is one of the many positives of volunteering your journalistic skills to a nonprofit whose mission you believe in. Not only does it allow you to learn new skills and become more experienced in existing ones, but you’ll also increase your network and improve your overall health.

  5. Free or low-cost apps for your smartphone.

    Smartphones are becoming more and more vital in the reporting world from professional lenses to video production applications. Practicing with such apps can definitely increase your expertise with them;Smartphone journalism requires knowledge of useful apps and more. if you’re reporting from the field and catching real-time video, you’ll be ahead of the curve. One of the free video apps for Android is KineMaster, which basically gives you a condensed production studio on your phone—from filming, planning, editing and publishing.

    Check out other top Android video editing apps recommended here. If you’re an iPhone user, check out some of your recommended video apps here.

  6. Online training in specific skills.

    Moz logo.
    Along with keeping up with the latest trends and news, finding sites that specifically train you in a desired skill are bountiful and extremely useful:

    • Moz offers countless trainings and blog posts about search engine optimization (SEO) and social. Diving into the SEO and understanding how it interconnects with other areas of a website is a very technical skill to undertake, but will vastly increase your knowledge and make you more competitive. Not only will you learn how SEO relates to a website and user interest, but you’ll have a deeper understanding of how the entire Web is connected.
    Google News Lab logo.
    • From teaching yourself HTML to C++, you’ll find it all in free coding sites, such as Codeacademy. Learning such skills will help you be more competitive and worldly in your skills. Here’s a great blog post about “45 of The Best Places to Learn to Code for Free” if you are looking for other sites.

    Google provides excellent training resources for its tools, and you can become certified in some of them (I recommend the Google Analytics one). Every journalist should know the basics of Google Analytics and be able to translate the metrics; however, some Google tools depend on what types of skills you want to learn. For example, Google recently developed Google News Lab, which includes various tools for journalists, such as Google Trends.

    adobe-tv-logo

    • If you want to create interactives or other types of visuals and have access to Adobe programs, then check out Adobe’s awesome training videos! Understanding widely used Adobe programs such as Premiere Pro and Photoshop, is extremely useful for any type of journalist. Check out the training videos here. Also, if you’re still a student, or still have access to your student email, then you can register for the student and teacher rate for only $19.99 a month for The All Apps Plan.

  7. Curriculum being taught at top journalism schools.

    What courses are future journalists being taught in the top journalism schools? Keep an eye on what courses are leaving, staying, or going and then compare it to new technologies, trends, and events. From there, you can decide if you should train in specific areas. When I entered UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism school, the sequences changed to more technical ones. Instead of following news writing as was my original plan, I chose the ever-changing world of multimedia and learned numerous technical skills.

It’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and the state of the media, but it can feel overwhelming at times; however, you’ll discover the types of training and frequency that fit your desires and schedules throughout your career.

First image at top from Jeremy Keith (Flickr: Device pile) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Better than a Paycheck: Why Volunteering and Giving is Worth it!

My experience with volunteering is relatively new in my life. It has given me much pleasure not only working with different kinds of people and organizations, but also using my journalism skills to help out awesome causes and spread their mission around. Many people asked me if I get paid or get anything out of it, and I always smile a bit and say of course there’s no pay, but I DO get something out of it: the experience, and the joyful feeling of completing a project or heightening the organization’s vision.

If you haven’t notice, I am a stress-loving, fast-paced and energetic individual who has a reputation for taking on as many projects and tasks as is physically and mentally possible. I learned more about multi-tasking and the glory of email communication as well as how passionate each organization is with their goals! In turn, in makes you passionate for their goals and see it as a just cause to help out.

Here is a list of my volunteer experiences that are ongoing:

Citiwide Vocational Center

Citiwide Vocational Center logo designed by Katie Corder in 2013.
Citiwide Vocational Center was the first volunteer experience I did using my journalism skills. So many people asked me how I got involved, and, to spread the word, I got involved with Volunteer Match. Citiwide was in need of a massive website clean-up and social media management. What’s nifty about volunteering for Citiwide is that they are located in Washington, D.C., and I am located in the Raleigh area, so I had to rely on email and phone communication with the founder. Citiwide Vocational Center offers computer training (hardware and software), GED completion, and other training related to career prep for technical jobs; it prepares residents for the computer workforce by offering them classes, skills and other educational opportunities.

My actions involved creating a new logo and name change, cleaning up a TON of HTML and CSS code on their WordPress site, organizing links and content, and revamping their social media accounts. I plan on continuing to volunteer for this amazing group whenever they ask for my services and hope to meet them face-to-face whenever I make it up to the D.C. area!

Health 2.0 NC Triangle

Health 2.0 NC RTP logo.Health 2.0 NC Triangle is my most recent and growing volunteer experience. I became involved with this chapter of Health 2.0 by attending a Sapient networking event in Morrisville, NC. I met Brent Anthony at the event, and he explained his idea of starting a Health 2.0 chapter in the RTP area. What place in North Carolina would be better than the Triangle for such an organization? It was a brilliant plan, and it continues to grow by attracting healthcare professionals, medical doctors, health data analysts, health communicators, students and anyone else interested in health, health IT news and ideas.

Since becoming part of the CORE group of Health 2.0 NC Triangle, I witnessed the group growing from four people to well over 200! My role involved reaching out to the community using social media—mainly Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, yet no website is available yet for our chapter (it’s in the works though!) As of now, I assist in communicating events, news and other topics on social media as well as photograph and live Tweet at events. We had our introductory event, “Blazing the Trail,” as the ‘launch’ of our organization, and it had a shocking turnout of over 110 people! As the group grows along with the upcoming website, I expect to play a more central role in helping this group take off in the fast-paced RTP health community!

All-N’ Together Services

All-N' Together Services logoAll-N’ Together Services was my first non-profit that I became involved with after college. With this organization, I helped lead donation drives for new and used school supplies for low-income, rural N.C. public school students. I’ve been working with them for over a year now and love to collect and buy school supplies knowing they’re going to such an amazing cause. North Carolina’s public schools were recently ranked the lowest in the country for public education, and because of this, students, families and educators need any help they can get more than ever! I learned, and continue to learn, how to motivate and lead people to donate and spread the word, which is great leadership, outreach, and non-profit experience.

Whenever I give donations to the main organizers of this non-profit, I feel an enormous feeling of warmth; however, I always find myself thinking: “I could’ve done more … I could’ve collected more supplies or reached out to more people!” But I tell myself afterwards—every little bit helps. I plan on helping them out once or twice a year for as long as I am able to, which reminds me since you are so lucky to be reading this post … if you are living anywhere in N.C. and would love to donate your used or new school supplies or backpacks PLEASE contact this amazing organization for more information. Any support would be much appreciated!

That about sums up my current volunteering experiences! I donate food as well as clothes to various organizations and groups whenever I get a chance and am looking into volunteering for Habitat-for-Humanity for the first time (I’ve always be curious about it). It just shows that you don’t need a 9–5 job to use your journalistic or communication skills as you can also learn and gain experience with non-profits. There was a study that found that helping out others and volunteering emits greater happiness within you than other things in life ,like materialism or money, and I am not only a believer of that, but am now living it.

Thanks for your interest! 🙂

Communicating an Air Quality Monitoring Park Bench

air-quality-monitoring-researchImagine a park bench that can conducts air quality monitoring of certain types of air pollutants and weather data while sending all the data directly to a website minute-by-minute! This nifty research project is called the Village Green Project, and was created by EPA scientists in RTP, N.C. It was placed outside of Durham County South Regional Library in June and is completely solar-powered.

I helped lead the communications campaign with it so as to bump up awareness and encourage people from local communities to check it out! This was a huge campaign and took many months to plan. The team and I worked with many people in different areas of EPA as well as outside partners including the library and Durham County. It was well worth it.

My biggest joy out of this communications campaign was designing the Village Green Project’s information sign that stands right next to the system itself. This sign explains how this technology conducts its air quality monitoring and allows those in the community to check out the data in real-time! I started from scratch and developed a bright and fun infographic:

I also assisted in writing and developing the press release, invitational letter to various officials, and the fact sheet. These items helped get the word out about the ribbon-cutting ceremony that took place in June as well as general information for those who visit the project in the future.

Village Green Project sign
I designed this sign using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and it currently resides beside this bench in Durham, NC, as well as other benches in other places that were installed later. Along with describing the who, what, why, how, when and where aspects of this research project, it includes an Air Quality Index (AQI) chart and QR codes that allow you to interact with the bench’s data on a smartphone. The most notable aspect is the LCD screen that informs you of the current AQI, meteorological conditions, and amount of energy the device is using.

Another area that I was very involved in was social media. I crafted many Tweets and even live tweeted at the event (@EPAresearch // #villagegreen). Ialso worked on posts for the EPA’s Facebook, Foursquare and Google+ accounts relating to the project. We are also watching analytics regarding the outreach with Google Analytics, Maxamine and social media outreach.
The opening day of the Village Green Project bench outside the Durham library in North Carolina.
When the day of the event came, I was filming various areas of the celebration while photographing, too. It was a huge hit with some media outlets appearing and officials making speeches and cutting the ribbon in front of the bench.

This campaign and research project allowed me to experience deadline pressures, the ability to work with internal and external partners in a timely manner, and the mastery of juggling many different tasks. This research project communications campaign gave me a real-life experience in the communications area, one that I know will help me in future situations.