Four JMSC Master of Journalism students ran the coverage of the Faculty of Education’s international Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Conference (CSCL), supplying live online coverage, streaming video and multi-media wraps of an event that drew participants from across the world.

MJs work during the conference. From left Eldes Tran, Heidi Yeung, Grace Lee and Tim Cheung

Eldes Tran, Heidi Yeung, Tim Cheung and Grace Lee (all MJ 2011) drew on the skills they had honed during their degree to work in collaboration with the Faculty of Education’s student-helper team to cover the event. The July 5-9 conference was part of the University of Hong Kong’s centenary celebrations.

Its theme was “connecting computer-supported collaborative learning to policy and practice”.

“The coverage consisted of live-streaming on UStream, an edited video package, photos on Flickr and live-blogging on Cover-It-Live,” said Tran.

“The Faculty of Education was interested in collecting a “community memory” of the conference — something that was organic but organised.”

Tran, who is from Los Angeles, managed the interactive Cover-It-Live platform, making announcements, updating details and pulling in tweets, comments, photos and videos from conference-goers.

Yeung, who is a Hong Konger, acted as photo editor and live-blogged with the Faculty of Education team.

Cheung and Lee, from Hong Kong and Qingdao in mainland China respectively, live-streamed portions of the conference for an international audience and also shot and edited a conference video that was played at the closing ceremony.

“We all worked well together and the conference turned out to be a lot of fun,” said Tran.

“There were more than 400 attendees from all over the world and they proved to be an interactive community that was open to what we were doing with all the social media tools.”

“Ultimately, this conference was a chance for all of us to practice and integrate all the different skills we learned at JMSC,” she continued. “With a few instructions from the Faculty of Education, we were working from an almost blank slate. I think we all found that exciting.”

“We were asked to present a slideshow flashback for the closing ceremony but Tim and Grace decided a video would have more flare. They put their video skills from Rob McBride’s class to work and, with the help of HKU’s Classroom Services Unit and JMSC’s Roy Ching, they also rehearsed, set up and streamed live footage from three venues: Loke Yew Hall; Rayson Huang Theatre and a Library Extension theatre.”

Tran was quick to credit Senior Teaching Consultant, Diane Stormont‘s Advanced Online Class for providing her with the skills necessary for the job.

She said the Advanced Online MAP course run by Stormont and Kevin Lau had enabled her to brush up on Ustreaming and Cover-It-Live skills specific to the conference.

Professor Nancy Law, Associate Dean (Development), Faculty of Education and Director of the Centre for Information Technology in Education said, “I was very impressed by the confidence, good sense, maturity and organisational prowess shown by the JMSC students.”

“The live coverage of the CSCL 2011 Conference helped to raise the impact and profile of the conference,” she continued. “This would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the JMSC students.”

The CSCL Conference speakers looked at whether and how CSCL practices can bring deep changes to formal and informal educational practices at all levels and contribute to education improvement at a system level by informing education policy.

It was hoped that the conference theme would contribute to bringing greater recognition to the field of Learning Sciences by drawing the attention of a wider public, including policy makers and the professional educational community to its research and development contributions.

This collaboration between the Faculty of Education and the JMSC is a fine example of cross-faculty skills exchanges.