Thursday, June 19, 2014

Curricular Follies and Festivities

I wrote in May about how our curriculum process. Quick reminder: the Department of Journalism is merging with the Digital and Broadcast Journalism portion of the old Department of Telecommunications at Grady College. It's a rare chance to dream up a new curriculum, or at least new for us.

We've had two productive meetings. Plus beer. We'll meet two or three more times before taking our proposed curriculum -- whatever it turns out to be -- to the full faculty in an August retreat (yes, the dreaded "R" word). At that point, the folks who didn't work for free all summer will have their chance to bitch and moan and pick it apart. Follies, and festivities.

Everything remains so up in the air that I can't say a helluva lot about what our final proposal will look like, but I can say this -- it appears we're inching toward a "teaching hospital" approach. In this, the curriculum is anchored by an experiential learning environment, likely some new version of Newsource, but with a much more robust online presence along with the traditional nightly broadcast.

The "core" will look different too, if we go the way we seem to be going. For the uninitiated, the "core" is the classes everyone takes, usually early in their studies. Some interesting changes are in store, or at least proposed to be in store. The underlying idea is to give all students more exposure to multimedia skills, to beef up the "reporting" side of our classes, and to have students more accustomed to writing across platforms. All of this will happen via classes and, if it goes the way I suspect it'll go, through providing real content through Newsource. We're even frontloading law and ethics in the curriculum rather than having students take it late, often in their last semester.

There are a number of interesting angles to all of this, or at least they'll be interesting and angular if we approve what we seem to be gravitating toward. Lemme raise a few quickly:
  • The Red & Black. How will us channeling students into Newsource affect it, if at all? I don't see it making a lot of difference, but you never know.  I have my own ideas on what will happen, but I'm a lousy predictor.
  • Can we staff a teaching hospital approach? Good question. It's a different way of assigning faculty, one some will not be comfortable with. Keep in mind some of us are also researchers and have expectations of academic publication.
  • Will an expanded core and newsroom actually make us less nimble, less able to experiment, because we're "feeding the beast" of daily news? A bigger core means less a "buffet" in which students pursue their interests. Very lockstep.
  • And related to above, by using a teaching hospital approach, are we teaching students to do jobs that are so very last year? A very good question, that, and one of the key criticisms of a teaching hospital approach. More on this another day, perhaps.

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