Bowie State University lecturer Allissa Richardson has been recognized as a 2013 Apple Distinguished Educator for her mobile journalism initiatives locally and internationally.
Richardson, a communications instructor, is the founder of MOJO MediaWorks, a business that hosts workshops for youth and educators and designs applications for students and nonprofits so they can report news with mobile devices like iPods and iPads.
She said that the recognition from Apple proves that mobile storytelling is a serious practice and “not just an experiment in the ivory tower.”
“It’s really fun to raise the profile of this kind of story,” Richardson said. “Students won’t be seen as amateurs with these toys. They’ll be seen as tools.”
MOJO MediaWorks began as the MOJO Lab in 2010, but quickly evolved into MOJO MediaWorks to serve a wider clientele. MOJO MediaWorks has trained aspiring mobile journalists in the United States, Germany, Morroco, and South Africa.
Richardson is one of 200 educators to be named an Apple Distinguished Educator. Through this program, teachers gain access to free Apple products they can use in their classrooms and join a network of educators who can share their work and receive feedback.
“I was really excited because I love everything Apple,” Richardson said. “They only choose 200 people internally, so to be chosen was a really nice treat.”
At Bowie State University, Richardson teaches a “Survey of Emerging Media” course, where she encourages her students to capture their experience at the university by recording videos on mobile devices.
“For these students it drives home that they’re not just making home videos, they’re doing something with a purpose,” Richardson said.
Richardson said that mobile devices are affordable educational tools at Historically Black Institutions like Bowie State, which may not be able to fund expensive equipment available at more wealthy journalism schools.
“I think an HBI is an important place to have a program like this because it shows people that you don’t have to have a lot of money to tell a story,” Richardson said, adding, “Mobile journalism allows us to get a device in each and every student’s hands.”
This is not the first time Richardson has been recognized for her work in the classroom. Last year she was named the 2012 National Association for Black Journalists’ Educator of the Year.
In July, Richardson will travel to Austin, TX to present her projects and participate in a weeklong professional development workshop hosted by Apple.
Richardson said she looks forward to learning how to code mobile applications at the workshop and integrating this skill in the classroom. Next year she plans to develop a location-based storytelling application with her students.
In addition, some of her students are working on a mobile journalism textbook that will be available in the iBook store by December, Richardson said.