Four educators shared the growing pains involved with teaching convergence.
Columbia Graduate School of Journalism: Mainstreaming technology
Sree Sreenivasan, dean of students at Columbia, said it was an “eye-opening” experience when a magazine major at the university was asked by an interviewer what kind of multimedia experience the student had. He had heard the question asked of print news reporters, but not of magazine students.
At that point he knew online integration was crucial for every student.
Columbia updated its program by mainstreaming online skills to all journalism majors in core classes -- teaching skills such as Web writing, audio and covering breaking news online. The university also created a hands-on, interactive, multimedia-focused course, the New Media Newsroom.
“It’s a blended newsroom of traditional and nontraditional new media students,” Sreenivasan said.
University of Wisconsin, Madison: Filling the void
The University of Wisconsin is in the beginning stages of designing its convergent curriculum. Professor Sue Robinson shared the difficulties of implementing a new program, such as finding resources on campus -- computers, classroom space – and creating time in student schedules.
She also talked about the challenges of bringing other faculty members into the fold, and about the importance of turning around new courses quickly. Robinson said her job was to incorporate convergence into the curriculum.
The school is already doing several things, such as using blogs and Podcasts. She suggested educators teach “by showing.”
University of Florida: Change convergent courses often
University of Florida professor Mindy McAdams changes her syllabi at least every three years. “In my opinion it’s the only way you can teach this stuff ethically because otherwise it’s out of date.”
She was full of tips for other educators. Among them:
Assign small assignments weekly, rather than projects that are overwhelming;
Don’t assume students watch news video online;
Spark critical thinking by showing students award-winning work of online news organizations.
Don’t isolate online journalism classes, she said. Classes must reflect real newsrooms.
Ryerson University: Educational add-on
Joyce Smith directs the online journalism sequence at Ryerson University. She said students who decide to study online stay an extra year and graduate with a supplemental degree.
Her students get real-world experience along with classroom study. Students have the opportunity to shape their course schedules, she said.
All the educators emphasized the importance of the new training. “The kids have to be forced to get this,” McAdams said.
-- Jen Monroe