Created by three University of Pennsylvania students, Coursekit is a free organizational program for instructors which operates on a course-by-course basis, according to the Coursekit website.
The Chronicle for Higher Education names Coursekit as the newest in a series of competitors to Blackboard, an educational program used by the majority of colleges in the US.
In addition to offering traditional instructor’s tools, such as gradebooks, calendars, and assignment submissions, Coursekit also features a new social networking tool: the Stream. The Stream acts as a pseudo-Facebook wall where students can start or comment on academic discussions, enabling them to simulate professional media curation.
Cofounder and CEO Joseph Cohen said in an interview with The New York Times Bits blog that the program aims to revolutionize the classroom experience by focusing on social networking tools as a means of encouraging conversation.
“We want to build what Facebook has done for your personal life, but for your school,” Cohen said.
Numerous journalism professors, including Carol Stabile of the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, said they found Coursekit to be engaging for students and felt the program succeeded in applying social media to academics, Poynter reported.
“If we’re going to be teaching social media we need to find a way to incorporate social media into our classes, and Coursekit facilitates that,” Stabile said.
Other professors noted that Coursekit streamlines various elements of social media, which can sometimes be overwhelming, into one simple source for more efficient student training, the article said.
Many journalists feel that a basic knowledge of social media is necessary for future and current reporters.
In a blog post about BBC’s new social media strategy, BBC English Regions social media lead Robin Morley stressed the importance of social networking for local and regional staff.
“We're not saying that every one of our people must tweet. But they all need to understand how key social media tools work, why they're important, and how to use them in a professional capacity,” Morley wrote.
As the newspaper industry transitions towards a “digital first” mindset, Coursekit may prove to be an invaluable tool for up-and-coming journalists.