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A Useful Tool for eTwinners: the MagazineFactory On-line Newspaper

The on-line magazine was my students' favourite external tool in the eTwinning project called "PLI. The Place We Live in". The project makes part of a Comenius project with the same name and the participation of five European countries: Spain, Poland, Romania, France and Italy. The partners' main aim is to explore and value the geographical, historical and cultural heritage of our provinces and to promote them by means of tourist guides. You can see our last year's work at http://www.gonzaleztablas.es/profesores/2006_2007/index.html and our magazine's address is: http://www2.edu.fi/magazinefactory/magazines/placewelivein/

The on-line newspaper is an interactive tool and it can be used in various purposes, including education, communication and at the same time for getting acquainted. For example, students in schools located in different countries can produce the newspaper together, and can thus improve their journalism skills, but also their IT knowledge .
The role of "journalist" and the simple way to publish are designed to motivate the students and make them enjoy this activity. Seeing their work published outside the Twin Space too, in a very visible place and getting feed-back are extremely motivating for them, while the general theme "The Place We Live in" is open to a wide variety of topics, new ones appearing every day and stimulating creativity. The on-line newspaper is a living being who receives new ideas each school term.

In our project, the goals of using this tool (along with others such as the eTwinning site, the blog, the project's web page) were: to find new ways of collaboration and mutual knowledge, to get the students more aware of their environment and the every-day reality by collecting the latest information published in media related to our project's theme, to increase their responsibility by giving them the opportunity to form and express opinions. We also aimed to enhance students' interest, by providing various working tools, pleasant and easy to use, to improve their communication in English, the language of our project, to reinforce their reading habits and to enrich our project with a new dimension, the "last minute news ".

Given that the goal of the project is to write a tourist guide, the newspaper provides students with an easy-to-use tool to explore their own city, their cultures and to interact in a cross-curricular way with students from the other countries in the project. It is a useful tool to learn in a different way and to take more responsibility for what they learn, to understand the importance of media in our society.

The on-line magazine is always led by a teacher who has the role of editor-in-chief. He or she is responsible for the content of the newspaper, as well as for the work of the other participants. The other participant teachers are in the role of editors, leading their own editorial group, while the students are journalists. The newspaper has a main article, there is an image gallery, the possibility of publishing image articles, sections for the forum, letters, reviews from readers, a section for participants' discussions one for their profiles, useful links etc.
The creation of electronic newspaper starts as one of the teachers accesses the MagazineFactory site, fills in a form and sends it. Within a few days, he receives a new link to the newspaper and a username, which will help him set the structure and appearance of the newspaper and create usernames for the other editors. They, in their turn, will do the same thing for their own students. From this moment, the creative process can start. Journalists write articles and send them to editors, who can edit, publish or send them back accompanied by feed-back. Recently, there were added new ways to enrich the on-line newspaper, using Google maps or adding Youtube videos.

For more information and for the very useful and clear chief editor's, editor's and journalist's manuals, you can access http://www.edu.fi/magazinefactory/

Irina Vasilescu, School no. 92, Bucharest, Romania


Are you sure Magazine Factory is still available? I tried to subscribe more than once but I have had no answer

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