Everybody Ready for the Big Migration to Online College? Actually, No

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/13/upshot/coronavirus-online-college-classes-unprepared.html

This article covers the story about online education during the coronavirus outbreak and provides critical information about the status quo of online courses. Though the content is interesting and well-structured, some improvements can be made to ameliorate readability.

  • Scannability

Comparing to another similar story published by The New York Times, the heading of this article is less attractive because it directly indicates the author’s strong criticism on online education. Therefore, my suggestion is to change the original one into “Coronavirus Outbreak: School Closures are Forcing Everyone to Adapt Virtual Learning”.

Also, subheadings are needed to organise the content and highlight group ideas, for example, “The latest update on online education”, “Students are forced to overcome technical difficulties” and “Unis are undertaking responses to make online courses better”.

  • Content

The story could be more attractive if first-person narration is included at the beginning (e.g. adding quotes from a teacher or a student describing the experience of distance learning). Quotes from interviewees can also be inserted within the paragraphs to provide opinions from different perspectives.

  • Effectiveness of audiovisual aids

The only image inserted at the beginning of the article basically has no relevance with the piece of news. Instead of posting ads to break up the text, it’s better to insert a screenshot of an online course (e.g. zoom meeting) or a video that includes an interview with current university teachers or students.

Credit: The New York Times
  • Audience engagement

Social media share buttons and the icon widget of comment section are embedded under the heading, which effectively improves audience engagement. To enhance user interaction, a section for a public-opinion poll can be attached at the bottom of the article. Questions such as “Do you think distance learning is helpful?” Or “Share with us about your experience of participating in online courses” can be asked.

  • Discoverability and functionality

Keywords can be added to category to improve the discoverability of this news article, and a section of relevant news report (e.g. Schools Close Over Coronavirus ConcernsHome-Schooling Tweens and Teens During Coronavirus Closings) can be added to the sidebar.


About Yitao Jin 5 Articles
A postgraduate student majoring in Media Practice at the University of Sydney.

1 Comment

  1. This isn’t strictly a news story, it’s a news feature, but your analysis and blog post are good (though you are way over the word limit at 340+ words – stick to the brief).
    Good suggestion for an alternative headline, with three key terms in the first three words, which would enhance the SEO. Also good suggestions for the use of subheadings in the NYT story, with excellent use of subheads and heading tags (as opposed to bold text) in your own post. Those and your use of shorter paragraphs and a screenshot to break up text make your post scannable and easy to read and understand.
    You have provided a credit for your image, but should also caption it. The preceding paragraph provides context for the photo, which is also very good.
    You have used relevant key word tags in your post, and some of the appropriate naming conventions for online journalism. In part 2 of the assignment make sure you use those terms, and refer also to Bradshaw and the other readings in your analysis.

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