Category: News

Access to social media still an issue for many journalism programs

Many school districts across the nation still restrict access to one or more social media platforms. Advisers say their students get around this by using their phones and data.



By Lisa Snider

Students learn to be journalists by doing journalism, so as the media world evolves with technology, it might make sense to most people that the student journalism lab evolve as well.

Unless those people are school administrators.

In many cases, the need to protect and guard against potentially disastrous situations vary greatly from state to state, and even district to district. Many advisers have fought to get restrictions lifted so their students can use social media the way professional media outlets do.

In Tempe, Arizona, Kris Urban, who has advised publications for 20 years, says that most platforms are blocked on student computers and that his administration clearly does not want students using social media, although social media is part of their CTE standards.

I’ve argued that it’s difficult to teach social media when students can’t access it, but it seems to fall on deaf ears,” Urban said in response to a survey posted to the JEA (Journalism Educators Association) listerv. “Therefore, students either use my computer or their phones when necessary.”

Having to work around restrictions is common. Darla Tresner of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, said everything is blocked at her school, but the students use their phones.

“It’s one of those situations where we do it, and we didn’t ask permission,” she said of students reporting through social media. Her administration is aware that the student journalists have established Facebook and Twitter accounts for Media Prime, the hub for their student newspaper and magazines; however, those platforms remain blocked on student computers.

Tresner said her students have benefited by learning to use social media in their journalistic pursuits, and the school has benefited as well. In the fall of 2015, a couple of students split duties, with one covering the football games, while another covered crowd reaction. This past fall, student journalists attended presidential candidate rallies and were able to post photos and reports to Facebook. An ambitious news reporter even covered breaking news from a school board meeting when she found out a contractor had incorrectly measured for tennis courts, which were a foot too short. Stepping out into the hallway, the reporter used Facebook Live.

“She got the word out real quick,” Tresner said.

Administrator fears are not unfounded. At Canton High School, not only are all social media platforms blocked by the district’s IT director, but so is cell phone usage. Adviser Meredith Barney said that even teachers have to go to the parking lot to use their cell phones.

“The principal came from a district where there was a lawsuit over Snapchat,” Barney said, explaining that the issue involved several students and was sexually explicit. She has hope, however, in the fact that the district is getting Chromebooks, which she thinks of as “training wheels”. She thinks she’s convinced administration to incorporate a digital citizenship class, which she hopes will lead to lifting of the restrictions. She would like to see students taught to use social media as a tool instead of a weapon.

Districts’ fears are not unfounded. Stories abound of students using poor judgment on social media; however, many advisers argue that teaching students to use the tools effectively, as well as the results of irresponsible use, is better in the long run than blocking them and limiting their learning.

The Essexville, Michigan, district lifted restrictions and embraced social media in recent years, with students using Chromebooks in a 1:1 program. Adviser Dawn Bromberg said the district has its own accounts with the principal running Facebook and Twitter. That positive outlook didn’t protect them, however, from irresponsible behavior, and Bromberg says administration is still wary.

“Earlier this year a student was given the choice to withdraw or be expelled after he made a fake Facebook page for a teacher,” Bromberg said. The student used his cell phone to take photos of family photos she had in the classroom.

“He assumed her identity and said many salacious and defamatory things about her, her family, and other students. It was awful and demonstrates that students don’t always have the ability to make good decisions.”

Though wary, the administration remains open to students learning to use social media. Many districts, however, have yet to lift restrictions or have restricted once open access due to malicious behavior.

For advisers who wish to go to bat for their students, San Jose, California’s Ellen Austin suggests preparing to go to administrators with a plan. When she arrived at her current school in 2013, there was no open access to social media.

“I submitted a proposal to admin and to [the] marketing department with justifications and with a developed social media policy, which we would follow,” she said. “The admin approved our policy and we have been online ever since.”

A sample social media policy for student journalists can be found on the Journalism Educators Association website.



It’s always darkest before the deadline

The frightening, but true saga of the evolution of a scholastic journalism adviser.

By Darla Tresner

There once was a land of enchantment and joy for teenager Darla Jones. This was known as College High School in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. During the early to mid 1970s, Col-Hi, as it was known, was the crown jewel of education on the Oklahoma Prairie.

During this time, Darla became involved in the journalism department at College High led by a phenomenal adviser by the name of Edith Hicks. Edith Hicks, or “Edith” as she was known to her students privately, was one of the top scholastic media advisers in the nation. Mrs. Hicks seemed the epitome of the wise, coffee-chugging, chain-smoking female reporter of the 1940s and 1950s.

Under her tenure, the College High Nautilus won national championship after national championship among high school student newspapers. It became a source of great pride throughout the community; the students who served on her staffs were forever proud of their paper and their department.

Bartlesville High School


During her senior year, Darla served as the assistant editor of the Nautilus. Here, she reviews the critique book prepared for the 1975 Nautilus with 1975 editors Steve Maple and Vincent Hennigan, also OU graduates. Not pictured is editor Daniel Hitzman.
By the time of graduation, Darla was headed to the University of Oklahoma to study journalism education.

While working for the Oklahoma Daily, Darla served as a reporter, copy editor, news editor, and then, in the spring of 1980, editor in chief of The Oklahoma Daily.

Darla claims it was the happiest time of her life. Under her, worked a staff of 45 students. The newspaper was a broadsheet which came out daily, Monday through Friday. Adviser to the Daily was Chuck House.






Today’s Daily office is quite different from that of 1980. Missing from today’s photo is the Associated Press ticker machine. A photo from 1980 would be almost clear of all computers. In the 1980s, only the rim had computers.

Accomplishments of the staff of 1980

  • Campaigned to repeal the boycott of the Olympics due to its detriment to career of OU student Bart Connor’s career.
  • Interviewed the Oklahoma Grand Wizard of the KKK. NAACP threatened to protest on campus.
  • Campaigned to acquire OU Trolley—first free on-campus transportation.
  • Daily editor makes national headlines by being pied in the face with a shaving cream pie ala Anita Bryant because editor would not publish list of alleged gay members of the public as purported by leader of recently formed GAA.

1980—Time to leave the safety of Copeland Hall




Time to return home to College High

When the passing of Edith Hicks, Darla Jones, now, urp, Tresner, returned home to take over her own school program. That was the fall of 1981, and she has never left. People often laugh about the seven-year itch in marriages. Seven years as an adviser brought the first computer in the classroom at Bartlesville High School. It also marked the year Darla was named the Lois A. Thomas Award winner and was granted her Masters of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications.







Thirty-eight years later, this is what I have learned:

The joy is in the relationships….

Former BHS journalist, now professional reporter Nathan Thompson, leads the editors of Media Prime on a day at the state capital.
Overwhelmed by the moment, Darla attends the wedding service of Tyler Bell and Katie McCarley Bell. Katie was editor of The Fourth Estate in 2012 and Tyler in 2013.
Passing the torch from EIC Lauren Szmutko to 2018 leaders Rachel Brown and Noah Estes.

Darla’s niece receives a new computer at Christmas from her parents and Auntie to encourage her to work toward medical school—not journalism.

    Despite Auntie’s warnings, Darla’s nephew Toryn, who graduated Valedictorian in high school, and highest honors from the University of Arkansas with a degree in Environmental Science: Soil and Land Management, began a Masters program there only to suddenly change and transfer to Wichita State University to become a Media Specialist with the school’s athletic program.

And the BEAT goes on…

…until 2022! 









Multimedia product for projects Keely Cox

Purpose:  The purpose of the project is to build a Rube Goldberg machine as a class to accomplish a simple task.  This year’s task was to light a candle.  Each student in class is responsible for a section.  Each section must interact with the section on either side i.e., section 1 must trigger section 2 and section 2 must trigger section 3, etc.

Link to find out what a Rube Goldberg machine is:

Apparatus:  Simple machines are combined into an arrangement for each section to interact together to accomplish the task of lighting a candle.  

There are six simple machines that combine to make complex machines:

All simple machine photos are courtesy of

Lever:  A straight bar or board that pivots on a fulcrum to move a load when a force is applied.

Inclined plane:  Any slanted surface that serves to move a load from a lower to higher surface.


Wheel and axle:  A Wheel that turns around a center post.

Screw:  An inclined plane that wraps around a center post.


Wedge:  Two inclined planes together to create a shape that is very narrow at one end and wide at the other. Used to separate two objects or stop an object from moving.


Pulley:  A wheel and a rope combined.  The rope sits in a groove on the outside of the wheel.  Used to lift things.

The first section of the Rube Goldberg contains the following simple machines:

2 levers

1 pulley

1 screw

2 inclined planes



The troubleshooting included adjusting the angle of the book and the distance between the dominoes.

Adjusting the pail to make sure the location of the pail allowed the domino to fall into the pail, and making sure that the pail moved with the weight of the domino.

Adjusting the string in the pulley to make sure that the string would move the lever when the string is moved by the mass of the bucket.

Finding the proper length of the flap/stopper to allow the marble to be released into the top of the screw once the lever moves the flap.

Alignment of the screw to allow the marble to drop onto the final inclined plane and fall through a whole and enter the next section.


Day 1  Brainstorming with Section to determine a design and get a rough sketch.

Day 2  Beginning to set up materials.  Need 2 ring stands to hold book in stable position.  Used cardboard to prevent book from falling off of ring stands. Cut hole in cardboard large enough for dominos to fall through to other side to land in pail.

Day 3  Adjusted position of pail to catch domino and start moving when the domino is added to the mass of the pail. Meanwhile, tweaking position(angle) of pulley and length of string.

Day 4   Adjusting length of flap on end of lever to release the marble or ball bearing. Also adjusting length of string based on the drop distance of the pail making sure that the flap will move enough to release the marble to fall onto the screw.

Day 5  Making sure that marble/ball bearing has enough mass to trigger section 2.  Large marble (shooter) appears to have enough mass to trigger section 2. Threads on screw need to be reinforced to consistently support large marble so that it doesn’t fall off before entering the last inclined plane.  Last inclined plane shaped with V in the bottom to guide the marble to the bottom to trigger section 2.

Day 6  Last minute fixes before setting up for trial run of entire machine. Trial run uncovered trouble spots in the machine and transitions that need to be fixed.

Day 7  Another trial run with fixes.

Day 8  Run for the grade…and lit the candle!! NO ONE recorded the final run. There is no video footage of the entire Rube Goldberg machine.


Conclusion:  The task that the class was to accomplish was to light a candle. At the end of the run, the candle was burning, so it worked.

Content and Experience: 2017 OSMI Theme Speaks to Current Media Trend

Each year I choose a theme for OSMI to indicate what our general focus will be for the week. Of course, we are always focused on teaching journalism teachers about digital publications and online media strategies, but each year something arises as a particular trend or philosophy that shapes the participants’ and instructors’ week together. This year that theme is: Content & Experience, meaning that the content and experience in online journalism are equally important. It is no longer enough to give your audience mere content; you must give them an experience, or the opportunity for an experience, as well.

For example, the idea of “conversational journalism” is listed in the predictions for what will be be big in 2017 media trends.

(Almost) Live at Sam Noble Museum

by Irene Runnels and Donna Deaton

Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of History in Norman has something for just abouIMG_1322t anyone who is interested in the life, earth and social sciences–including fossilized records, ancient peoples or world cultures.

SNOMoH is currently hosting Titanoboa: Monster Snake in collaboration with the Florida Museum of Natural History, the University of Nebraska and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

At 48 feet long and weighing an estimated one-and-a-half tons, a realistic replica of Titanoboa, the largest snake on record, is on display at the Sam Noble Museum July 2-September 25. Scientists believe that the snake lived in a hot tropical climate 60 million years ago.

Titanoboa was discovered in 2009 by scientists working in open-pit coal mines at Cerrejón in La Guajira, Colombia. To read more about the discovery and see how scientists re-created Titanoboa check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s article.

Permanent exhibits at the museum include Hall of Ancient Life, Hall of Natural Wonders, Hall of World Cultures.

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The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of History is a great place to visit whether for only a few hours or an entire day. The museum is open Monday through Saturday 10 AM-5 PM and Sunday 1-5 PM (closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day). Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children, $6 for seniors (age 65 and up). Children 3 and under are free.

Discounted admission is available for those who have a valid OU ID (faculty and staff, students and alumni association members) and active military and veteran family members. SNOMoH is a Blue Star Museum, which offers free admission to military personnel and families from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Follow Sam Noble Museum on twitter @SamNobleMuseum and like the museum’s page on Facebook.

Debbie Frankenberg

67283_449754847067_4199095_nDebbie Frankenberg is a librarian at Purcell High School and Purcell Elementary School. She is an adviser for The Torch, the Student Council, and the senior class. She enjoys working with the youngest students at the beginning of their literacy careers and also with teens who have mastered the art of reading and read everything they can get their hands on.

Amber Harp

10547796_10205237228191003_2067427954494620930_oAmber is the Business Technology teacher at Little Axe High School, located just east of Norman, OK. This current year she will be starting her fourth year of teaching. Some of the courses she offers to her students are: Fundamentals of Technology, Fundamentals of Web Design, Desktop Publishing, Fundamentals of Administrative Technologies. School year 2015-2016 she was voted by her peers as LAHS Teacher of the Year.

OSM grant encourages teacher interactions

By Derrick Miller and Haley Wilson

Oklahoma Scholastic Media brought together 18 Oklahoma teachers for advanced training in journalism media.

Teachers received special focus on videography, photography and editing. The teachers engaged in hands-on activities that can be taken back to use in their classrooms.

The training began with a weekend in September and ended with a weekend in October. The weekend trainings included interactions with the University of Oklahoma student body and the Norman community.

OSM selected teachers for Oklahoma Scholastic Media grants for either startup or improvement. Grants ranged from $1,000 to $7,000 and included the training at Gaylord College. The 2016 grant applications are due April 2016.

For updated information about Oklahoma Scholastic Media, visit the OSM website.

Derrick Miller is a journalism and yearbook teacher at Duncan Middle School in Duncan, Okla. Follow him on Twitter.

Haley Wilson is an English and newspaper teacher at Marlow High School.