Preparing students for careers in journalism and mass communication is increasingly challenging. As the media industry evolves and the ways in which information is gathered, presented, disseminated and consumed transforms, so must our curricula.
However, this challenge is not just one of “keeping up.” It is also about finding the right balance between teaching the foundations of our craft and exposing students to emerging media technologies, cutting-edge storytelling techniques, and the increasingly important ability to collaborate across disciplines.
Oh, and don’t forget to get the students in and out in four years.
In the Journalism Graphics major at Ball State University, these challenges often leave us feeling overwhelmed. We are faced with the daunting task of maintaining a cutting-edge curriculum that teaches students equal parts of journalistic values while trying to stay up-to-date on software and other tech skills necessary to compete in the digital media arena.
In addition to the fact that industry change and the advent of new mobile delivery platforms continues, it is increasingly tough to provide students with opportunities that adequately prepare them for the media world they will enter after graduation.
After all, who knows what new device or media delivery platforms will surface four years from now? The rate of change is so great that the jobs we are preparing students for are either moving targets or don’t yet exist.
To combat these challenges, we have made room for a few “special topic” courses in our curriculum that provide students with experiential learning opportunities.
These courses are intentionally titled ambiguously so we can be more nimble with teaching content and expose students to technologies and project scenarios that even industry professionals are experimenting with.