Apparently news quizzes are difficult.
I wasn’t really aware of this until last academic year when I began giving weekly current events quizzes in my introductory public relations course. Some students did quite well on the quizzes and even said they looked forward to them. Other students struggled with the quizzes.
I had heard other faculty members grumble about students’ ignorance of news, but I naively assumed it must be their students, not mine. After all, I teach in a mass communications program. My students want to be media practitioners. They understand that being informed is key to their professional futures and important to their ability to function intelligently and actively in a democratic society. Right?
I even put a version of this statement on every syllabus I distribute:
Good media practitioners are well-informed news consumers. You should readThe Oklahoman (newsok.com) and The Campus (mediaocu.com) every day. I recommend you get into the habit of reading at least one daily metropolitan newspaper (ex: The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, etc.) and a weekly news magazine. I also recommend you watch at least one televised newscast each day. Good media practitioners and responsible citizens are avid news consumers. Information is the key to a democratic society. Develop the habit of daily news consumption now if you haven’t already.”
I assumed my students understood the importance of being informed. You know what happens when you assume, don’t you?
To assist my students in becoming more active news consumers, I developed a list of eight apps they could use to stay informed about current events. It easily could work for students anywhere.
1. USA TODAY
I’m not a huge fan of USA Today as a publication, but their app is well organized and a wonderful way to get a quick, easy buffet of the biggest news happenings.
NewsOK is the app for our state newspaper, The Oklahoman. Obviously, this would need to be altered slightly, depending on your university’s location. But it’s critical for students to remain up-to-date on local news in their region, state and city.
In the same way that students should be informed about local happenings, they also should be informed about hyperlocal (campus) happenings. MediaOCU is the app for our campus student media. I almost always ask at least one quiz question from campus news.
4. AP MOBILE
The Associated Press breaks news in real time and only reports on the most important issues. I recommend that students not only look at the AP Mobile app, but also allow it to send breaking news alerts to their phones.
Although I look at CNN, I find that most of the content there already has been covered by USA Today or AP. I could just as easily skip this one, since I read the others first. But it is a legitimate news source and a place for additional information.
Tech news is huge. Mashable does it best. I usually pull at least one quiz question from something I’ve read on Mashable. Many times, it’s also something covered in the Tech section of USA Today.
7. HUFFINGTON POST
Huff Po is becoming a more legitimate news source by the minute. I usually take a look at Huff Po just to see their take on things I’ve been reading elsewhere. Some of the unusual stories provide interesting classroom discussion fodder.
8. THE SKIMM
Ok, I sorta cheated on No. 8. The Skimm is not an app. It’s a website introduced to me by my students. All you do is log on and enter your email address, then you receive a daily digest of news (on email) in your inbox. It’s awesome!
Bonus: PR Daily
Since the students taking my news quizzes are in a public relations course, it’s important for them to keep up with PR news. I recommend that my PR students read Ragan’s PR Daily, which is a wonderful source for all PR happenings.
There you have it. The eight apps (or at least types of apps, plus a bonus) that can keep students informed on current events. Hopefully just being reminded of the list will prepare students for news quizzes and help them be more informed citizens.