Sounds like I've opened a can of worms up okay a web-based system creating random news stories? I'll see what I can knock up over the half term break? Or would you like this sooner?
What would you prefer for news stories anything you'd like to add to the idea?
I can host it on the schools system if you wish until either another site can be found or we can leave it indefinitely?
Last edited by wesleyw; 16th October 2008 at 10:35 AM.
Even got a spare domain for it which would be perfect tiktext.co.uk ..
PM me if that'd work... and yes I'll not claim ownership or anything... t'is a nix based system with Cpanel, etc...
OK as I seem to have created a monster I thought I'd give you a run down of how we use the software.
This project of for our year 10's. The whols year (about 100 pupils) is taken out of lessons for a morning for this project.
We use 4 classrooms, the main computer suite and our two computer clusters (37 computers in all + 5 in the rooms). Pupils are free to use their laptops if they wish. I setup 1 computer in three of the rooms with the "random news" generation software. The 4th room has two computers running the interactive story simulations. The availiable suite computers are divide up and given a group number. Thus each group is allocated a specific number of comptuers (normall less that the group size, which is deliberate).
The year is then split into groups. A small core of the brighter students are assigned to the two major stories (8 students total, 4 each story). The rest are broken down into groups of about 10 to form news teams (the staff decide who is in which groups, in the real world you can't choos your workmates! ). Students have to decide amongst them selve who are the editors, reporters etc etc.
The brighter students then have to interact with the major stories. They make descisions in a "choose your own adventure" style to determine how the story plays out (for better of for worse!). Their most important job is to produce press statements based on the news they are given and then conduct press statements including fielding questiuons form the "reporters", i.e. the other students.
The rest of the students task is to produce the the two newspapers (broad sheet and tabloid). They must pick up the random news from the computer in their classroom, attend press conferences and generally produce a newspaper.
The challanges lie in that 1: They need to be organised, get to press conferences on time (conferences don't wait for late reporters) and make sure they get all the information they need. 2: The flow of news is gradual and often contradictory, the software tries to simulate news stories in the real world, i.e. "there is a report of an earthquate in x" then "Early reports say 500 people are dead" then "Earthequake actually in y and 1000 people are dead" and so on. Also some stories are not appropiate for a boradsheet but they are for a tabloid. Pupils must decide what it relevant. 3: There are deliberately less computers allocated to a group than there are members meaning that they can't all sit down and work together. 4: There is always some (teacher introduced) late breaking news update that throws everyone's nicely prepared paper's into chaos with about 5 minutes to go. 5: The deadline is the deadline if you paper isn't submitted at the end of the exercise then it's tough luck, the real world is a harsh place.
The day starts at 9, there is approximately 30 minutes briefing (timescale, putting people into groups, where you are working, expectations, working out who does what role.). The day then runs through with a deadline around 3 hours later (with 10 minutes or so afterwards for cleanup!!!). Each major story has 5 press conferences scheduled throughout the day. Each paper must have a minimum of 5 stories.
I'm just running the random news software now to give me an idea how long it lasts and the stories it produces. I'll also try and give you an idea of the main story simulations. I'll update you later.
I don't mind really. I think I'd need to look at creating on the fly news items for the website then have some sort of clear utility to remove them all? Very easy in VB rather more difficult in PHP and MySQL.
Having read the PDF I'd say the hijack, murder and space would be easy but the random news story would be more challenging to code. Is the random story based on the other three categories or is it completely different?
The news that is outputted is always the same articles in the same order, this technically stops you having to generate "random" news. Some of the stories are single articles. There also seem to me a number of stories that are drip fed to the students and everything in intermingled. A couple of the stories are cut down versions of the major stories (hijack/Space)
It outputs a news items about every 2-3 minutes for the 2 hr period (yes I know that's a lot of articles).
Thought I'd add the day generally goes quite well and the pupils enjoy it. I just wish it wasn't such a pain to set up evey year.
Well I can easily write up a new version via VB for you to be getting on with then I'll convert it to PHP and MySQL over the next few weeks and we'll see where we get to. I can then get feedback from yourselves and others on the design and layout. Tickertape news feeds in the website should work well I'd have thought.
If you can get the content, decide how you want it displayed, when.. how other bits (teacher input headlines) should be handled, etc... then you can go from there.
It's always the actual structure that's the initial push and then unfortunately the User interface and sanity/data checks to protect the input and code that take the longest.
In terms of how to output the whole thing... tickertape, RSS... Might be worth considering how a newsroom might get it's news now too in terms of technology.
It would be quite amusing if you could get key staff members to act as news anchors with key stories as if on TV too.. Quite a bit of scope for the future.
is going to be the content...The whole idea sounds great - lots of potential for proper (finally!) cross-curricular use of ICT, making decent use of potentially limited ICT resources and/or (finally!) making proper use of all those projectors installed in classrooms across the country. The pre-made content could easily be filmed instead of typed, bring it in to the 21st century and all that. Hmm...Quite a bit of scope for the future.
If this was pushed to a web based RSS feed model a host app that prints off all new RSS feeds every 5/10/configurable minute interval would be very useful. You could also configure it to grab an external feed like AP if you wanted to try the same thing with real news as a more advanced activity to run for the year above or as a sequle to the initial one in that year.
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