Plans and Ideas: Instagram

As Bartlett describes, Instagram has become a staple in the daily routine of New York Times magazine photo editor Kathy Ryan. The photo-sharing app has allowed Ryan to provide behind-the-scene snapshots, promote content and/or front page previews and even locate new talent (2013).

“For me as a picture editor Kathy_Ryanalways looking for new talent, it’s been an incredible tool because I’ve actually discovered photographers’ work on Instagram, people I didn’t know,” Ryan said (as cited in Bartlett, 2013). “So it’s also just becoming a great tool for discovering talent, people who might not have come to our attention via the traditional routes of dropping off a portfolio or sending a link.”

From that activity, Ryan has amassed over 41,000 followers according to Bartlett, and represents how journalists can employ this medium to increase their audience (2013).

Below you will find assignment suggestions along with four lesson plans, all geared towards helping you teach your student reporters how to seize the journalistic opportunity that is Instagram.

Assignment Suggestions

Due to the brevity of a high school semester, a social media unit most likely needs to be concise. Therefore, it’s my recommendation to spend three to five days on the unit, with Instagram receiving a day of recognition.

I would also advocate introducing this unit within the first month of a course, and thereafter strive to integrate its teachings throughout the rest of the semester. For Instagram, that could be as simple as requiring a suggested image idea for each story or reporting assignment.

Lesson Plan Ideas

1) Introduction Videos

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to provide a concise, informative and entertaining introduction to Instagram.

Target Audience: High school and secondary journalism courses.

Time: The first video, “Is Instagram the best thing to ever happen to photography?”, lasts three minutes and 19 seconds while the second video, “New Instagram – the musical,” lasts two minutes and 22 seconds.

Objective: The objective of this lesson is to educate students on the creation and application of this platform.

Materials: The YouTube clips can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBw589H2XwI and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-waJH2lUJ5M respectively.

Organization:

  • Use a projector to show your students the videos. If your classroom lacks a projector or physical room (online courses), you can share the video link virtually with the class.
  • Utilize the short flicks as either a lead-in lesson or towards the beginning of a unit. The first video is more formal while the second is a little on the fun side.
  • If you wish to have your students answer questions during the presentation, three inquiries could be: 1) What year was Instagram launched? 2) What feature does the application include that can spice up a photo? 3) How many photos have been uploaded to the platform?

2) Posting Practice

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to teach students how to create a journalistic image on an Instagram account.

Target Audience: High school and secondary journalism courses.

Time: The lesson can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

Objective: The objective of this lesson is to educate students on the appropriate way to produce a journalistic image on Instagram. The lesson will also highlight submission ideas and creative practices to help reporters engage their audiences, as well as guidelines to adhere to.

Materials: A personal Instagram account. If a student lacks one, they could create one or partner up with someone who already possess one. Also, if a student lacks a cellphone to employ the platform, they could buddy up with someone who does.

Organization:

  • Provide the students with examples of quality Instagram posts. If you don’t know how to post an image, the application’s support team can help. Athas and Gorman give a wide assortment of local stories that drive user engagement, such as curiosity stimulators, major breaking news and crowd pleasers (2012). Bartlett also details seven creative ways reporters can employ the platform (2013).
  • Next, highlight the software’s video feature by displaying a portion of Knoblaunch’s creative video ideas (2013).
  • Finally, explain the potential journalistic pitfalls that Instagram may cause, which Sonderman lays out (2012a). Also, introduce the social media guidelines that you have selected for your courses and/or publications as Tompkins advises (2014).
  • Following this presentation, request that your students publish an image or video on their personal Instagram accounts. Captions will need to be required. If they don’t have an account or cellphone, they may either create one or partner up with someone who does.
  • Make sure the photos are journalistic in nature. They can be associated with a past story or a current piece of news. Once submitted, you can display and discuss in class, either over a projector or online message board.

 3) Metaphor Collage

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to present the students with creative ways to report through Instagram.

Instagram_snapshotTarget Audience: High school and secondary journalism courses.

Time: Lesson can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

Objective: The objective of this lesson is to have students learn how to create a grouping of Instagram photos through a journalistic lens. The result will be a deeper understanding of appropriate images for a reporter’s Instagram account.

Materials: A personal Instagram account. If a student lacks one, they could create one or partner up with someone who already possess one. Also, if a student lacks a cellphone to employ the platform, they could buddy up with someone who does.

Organization:

  • Provide the students with examples of quality Instagram posts. If you don’t know how to post an image, the application’s support team can help. Athas and Gorman give a wide assortment of local stories that drive user engagement, such as curiosity stimulators, major breaking news and crowd pleasers (2012). Bartlett also details seven creative ways reporters can employ the platform (2013).
  • Next, highlight the software’s video feature by displaying a portion of Knoblaunch’s creative video ideas (2013).
  • Finally, explain the potential journalistic pitfalls that Instagram may cause, which Sonderman lays out (2012a). Also, introduce the social media guidelines that you have selected for your courses and/or publications as Tompkins advises (2014).
  • After presenting this information, have your students publish a series of images or videos (four to six) that are associated with a past or current news story. Captions need to be required on each and variety is encouraged (close-ups, wide shots, different angles, etc.).
  • Display and discuss the collages in class, either over a projector or online message board. You will want to highlight quality journalistic submissions, as well as ones that need a little tweaking. Be wary of too much modification with the photos themselves (2012a).

4) Show and Tell Research

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to instruct students on how to search for images on Instagram.

Target Audience: High school and secondary journalism courses.

Time: Lesson can last anywhere from 15-30 minutes.

Objective: The objective of this lesson is to train students how to locate specific images on Instagram. The skill will be helpful for crowdsourcing, the reporting process and user generated content needs.

Materials: A personal Instagram account. If a student lacks one, they could create one or partner up with someone who already possess one. Also, if a student lacks a cellphone to employ the platform, they could buddy up with someone who does.

Organization:

  • Break students up into groups of three or four and present each group with a topic to research. Then instruct them to search for images and videos in regards to that topic through their Instagram accounts.
  • To do so, they can utilize the “Explore Photos and Videos” feature within the application, though this only can be done on their cellphones. If they don’t have an account or cellphone, they may either create one or partner up with someone who does.
  • Once they find a photo or image they think could be worthy of publication, have the students write down the name of the account and caption on a piece of paper or Word document. Three to five is a good list size.
  • Display and discuss the lists in class, either over a projector or online message board.
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