TheJUMP+, The Journal for Undergraduate Multimedia Projects, is an electronic journal that publishes digital and multimedia projects from undergraduate courses. In addition to the student’s project, each publication includes an assignment description, project timeline, student reflection, instructor reflection, and two responses provided by editorial collective members. It also hosts a blog that publishes on digital rhetoric with the most recent posts including “How Multimodal Editing has Made me a Better Writer” and a review of Adobe Spark. The general editor of the journal is Justin Hodgson and the co-managing editors are Alison Witte and Crystal VanKooten.
A quick recap about TheJUMP+’s history. TheJUMP+ has gone through several iterations due to platform changes that have also resulted in rebranding. Founded by Justin Hodgson, the first issue was published in March 2010 under TheJUMP. In redesigning the journal’s infrastructure, TheJUMP 2.0 launched in November 2012. TheJUMP+ is its 3rd iteration/design, which launched with issue 7.1 in October 2017. While it continues the mission of earlier versions, the rebranding by adding the “+” is meant to reflect that TheJUMP+ is more than a journal. This iteration added the blog and increased social media activity as well as internship opportunities for undergraduate students.
I had the opportunity to talk with Crystal VanKooten at Computers and Writing in Virginia as well as Justin Hodgson via Zoom this past summer. Here are some of my takeaways from those conversations.
An Ecology & a Pedagogical Resource
TheJUMP+ was aptly inspired in Fall 2009 by a student video on Communism and Justin’s question of where do these undergraduate projects go? The result is an undergraduate scholarly outlet but packaged as a pedagogical resource. The pedagogical focus of the journal is perhaps what makes it most unique. Justin explains this as an ecology for each project. Included in each ecology, as mentioned above, is an assignment description with project timeline, student reflection, instructor reflection, and two responses. On one hand, readers get a much more complete view of the project with its pedagogical goals and materials: What was the assignment? How did the student react? How did the instructor talk about this in class?
On the other hand, it reminds me even more so of the conversations about our classes we instructors have in our offices or passing in the hall. As Justin shared the journal’s history, what stood out to me was his excitement. Hearing Justin talk about the student project that was a catalyst for this journal reminded me of the joy we as instructors get from our student’s work no matter how much time has passed. How do we, as instructors and as digital rhetoricians, then foster or simply spark such conversations in a digital environment? This journal serves as one means of doing so.
The second part I want to note is the respondents, which engages a participatory culture. The two respondents come from the journal’s editorial collective. The responses are just that, responses. Rather than critiques, the responses provide an opportunity to see how people are reacting to the publication. They often go beyond reacting though, engaging the piece such as with Kevin Gauthier’s response to Blake Washington’s “Worth Striving For”. Ultimately, Justin sees the pedagogical materials and this ecology as continuing to drive the journal and make it a success. It allows faculty across the country to get to showcase the work their students do.
A Flexible Attitude
Though the success may be credited to the pedagogical resource that this journal is, at its core it is an undergraduate journal. This means there is a different attitude as there is less of focus on the journal being perfect. As Justin shared the initial impetus, he explained how they do what they can the best that they can in the moment they have. This philosophy is what allows them to showcase current projects.
This also comes with the focus on providing an opportunity to both graduate and undergraduate students. There have been graduate students working with Justin almost every year: managing the journal, facilitating the work, and doing the uploads and the builds. And Justin explains that he does not try to fix everything. The students are learning digital publishing as this is happening and there will be breaks. The same mindset comes with the undergraduate students. They want to expose them to digital publishing, give them access, and publish the work that they do. For example, Crystal had a writing for digital media class develop blog posts for the website. These were reviewed by an intern and co-managing editor and the students received feedback on how their blogs could be improved to fit the journals’ expectations. Some are still in review, but, more importantly, this experience was the very catalyst for developing blogging guidelines and determining TheJUMP+ blog expectations. As Justin shares, he does not always know how something is going to work. However, flexibility allows for certain advantages even when it can be a headache. Particularly, this flexibility is what will help the journal to stay relevant.
Looking Towards the Future
With the rebranding to TheJUMP+ has come the focus towards developing a blog and social media presence. They are still figuring out their groove, including setting up guidelines for blog posts and considering how students should post on social media as a voice of the journal. The goal is also to maximize the student interns’ experience. As they go forward, the hope is to become more robust and continue to evolve.
One of the questions I am left with is who these kinds of journals are for? The pedagogical resources imply it as for the instructors. Do undergraduates read undergraduate journals though? I hope they do and I hope they get as excited and inspired about the work in this journal as I did. I want to encourage you and your students to check out issue 8.1 and follow their blog (who else is interested in trying out Adobe Spark now?). You can also follow them on Twitter @theJUMPPlus and on Facebook. A heartfelt thank you to both Crystal and Justin.