How the use of technology has enhanced the content of the courses and the learning experience for the students
We at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute have been good at teaching core skills such as reporting, writing, and critical thinking but often gave short shrift to the history of journalism as well as various ethical and legal issues. This was especially true in the undergraduate program.
These realizations led me to create for my own classes online modules that, when taken together, comprise a giant comprehensive interactive textbook. Originally built in Google Docs, each module begins with an exploration of journalism, such as how to research a story, conduct interviews, basic structure, ethics, discussion of what constitutes libel and defamation. Then through text, audio and video students travel through the history of journalism from Thucydides to Gutenberg’s printing press, 18th-century pamphlets and early newspapers, the first investigative efforts, the impact of new technologies, profiles of famous journalists of the past, coverage of war, major scandals, and much more. Included are sections on grammar and punctuation, the sort that bedevil many students, as well as editing exercises. I retrofitted the Google Android Voice Recognition app to design an automated pronunciation tool for international students who need assistance with English pronunciation.
I assigned these modules to the roughly 150 students in our large lecture course: Investigating Journalism (JOUR-UA 50). The response was (and continues to be) enthusiastic. Then other professors, teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses, requested access for their classes. The modules proved so successful that a couple of years later the journalism faculty voted to replace a required undergraduate law and ethics course with a series of six interactive modules. Since then, we have added several others to cover fact-checking, AP Style, social media verification, Bobst Library databases for journalists, and our home-brew Journalism Handbook for students.
These modules are required of undergraduate journalism students and assigned in core courses. Each is followed by a multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank test that is automatically graded to measure students’ understanding and mastery of the material. They ensure that all of our undergraduate students graduate NYU with the same baseline of knowledge.
Since I unveiled these modules, more than a thousand undergraduate and graduate journalism students at NYU have completed at least one of my modules.
The success of these modules eventually led me to propose an online master’s in journalism program at NYU, which launched in September 2019 with 21 students. Student engagement is off the charts and the students report great satisfaction with the online master’s program. This coming fall we expect to double the number of students enrolled. As the first online master’s program approved by FAS, it is, according to Deans Phil Harper and Antonio Merlo, a great success: https://journalism.nyu.edu/graduate/programs/american-journalism-online-masters
The modules I created five years ago to enhance my own classes are the foundation of this online journalism master’s program. Now I want to take materials for the online m.a. program to design an asynchronous online course for undergraduate journalism students at the global campuses who need to take a required core journalism course while abroad. It is a significant bottleneck that I know full well as Director of Undergraduate Studies - Journalism. Not enough students are at any one global campus for us to run a core course with prerequisites. An online course could solve that problem.