Integrating digital media throughout J-school

Digital media is becoming a core skill for journalists.

But it is not yet a core skill for their faculty members.

This issue came up in Poynter’s chat on Monday, “What Do College Journalism Students Need to Learn?”

Robert French of Auburn University asked:
“Where would you rank the importance of learning technical aspects like video/audio production, CMS / social network usage (how to use open source platforms to create online communities)? Should programs have this interweaved throughout the curriculum, or only one course? Finally, should faculty be actively involved in emerging digital media networks? blogging? podcasting?”

My answer was:
“Robert, I think all students need to be able to do basic work in at least two media. And it’s unfeasible for most schools to integrate digital media throughout the curriculum. So I’d suggest all students having at least one course. I think all faculty members need some experience with digital media. But for both students and faculty members, there’s still room for different specialties.”

I think everyone else who addressed this disagreed with me about the feasibility of most schools integrating digital media throughout the curriculum.

Possibly we’re just understanding the question differently. I meant how feasible this is to do soon. And by “throughout the curriculum,” I meant “in every course.”

I doubt all professors are ready to do this. Take any representative sample, and see how much of a digital presence they have.

One answer could be to get rid of any faculty members who can’t or won’t integrate digital media.

But they have expertise in other areas. It would be a shame to throw that out.

If that were done, the breadth and total sum of knowledge among the faculty would be sharply diminished.

I think it would be better to start with a more-basic move – such as getting syllabi online and easy to find.

Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 3:07 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. Certainly there are some who just don’t want to adapt and adopt, but for those that do … there are free and/or inexpensive alternatives.

    There are syllabi online and I’m actually working on a set of 50+ lesson plans. Others are sharing their lessons, slide decks, notes and more.

    Use of a site like, for instance, could serve any course seeking to address the technical aspects of working a CMS platform. I use it in one of my classes. I’m not affiliated with them in any way.

    Lynda has hours of good Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and more. The HTML and CSS section is filled with hours of great tutorials, too. The list of software they cover is really kind of amazing. It is pretty up-to-date, too.

    Faculty can gain that “get up to speed” knowledge, too. So, the issue of being unaware may be knocked out with some well spent time there.

    Maurreen, my main goal was to determine if the majority of faculty and future employers believe that this areas need to be addressed. I think the employers feel that way, but not too sure about the faculty.

    I appreciate your insights and hope this dialogue continues between faculty and media professionals. The dialogue is long overdue, IMO. Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Robert.

    The chat was enjoyable and productive.

    I’ve heard of before, and I know it has a wide variety.

    Another good resource, which boils things down, is Journalism 2.0 by Mark Briggs. It’s available as a book or download:

    I wonder whether anyone is consolidating lesson plans and syllabi or linking to them.

    About syllabi — it would be helpful to current and potential students if more professors would make their syllabi available online — regardless of the course topic.

    Putting more information online would set a good example all around.

    And for the less-wired professors and schools, maintaining syllabi online could help them get more wired.

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