Saturday, April 9, 2016

Three classes prepare for the end, and the building tension is all around us

Screen grab from blog of WSU Digital PJ student Brice Bossavie. Feature assignment.
Photo by Intro to PJ student Kyle Brown. Sports assignment.
    The end is near.
  This means less laughs and more stress. A few students dropped out, while others are stepping up. Final projects and exams loom. Deadlines are finite. It is a tense time for the students, and for us instructors, as well.
   But it’s also an exciting time because the end produces results. Most of the students began the semester with a blank social media slate, but will leave with active blogs, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Their blogs will showcase everything they have learned for the past three months.
   In this blog post I’ll recap how the semester went:
Intro to Photojournalism | Owens Community College
     This is a small but mighty class.
  Not only are they doing their regular homework assignments, they are also student staffers on the Owens Outlook online student newspaper.
   All of them are required to provide photos with captions for the newspaper. And, for the first time since I’ve been teaching this course, they are also tasked with shooting video for the weekly Campus Pulse.  A few of the students even write stories.
   But it’s the final project that will test their mettle. We, as a team, are collectively producing a 32-page magazine on a single issue: a photo story on the residents and staff of Sunshine Communities in Maumee, Ohio. Because most of the students are mostly commercial photography majors, shooting the project was the easy part.
   The hard part will be designing the magazine in the next three weeks, and it’s daunting. They will design the pages using Photoshop, and upload the PDF files to Issuu. Each student has three pages to fill.
   Considering this is the first time to try this, we have to start from scratch. No templates. But I’ve always loved a challenge!
   Here a few of the issues we are tackling:
·      Choose a front page photo, and design the flag
·      Choose font types, sizes and colors
·      Design the index and masthead page
·   Determine who has what pages. Each student is responsible for designing their own pages, which will include an essay on their experience. 
   We’ll publish the inaugural issue on their blogs in three weeks, so stay tuned.
   Now is a good time to reveal that this is the last Intro to Photojournalism class. Beginning in the fall, the class will be called Visual Storytelling, and it’ll run every spring and fall, instead of just once a year. It’ll be a required course for the new broadcast technology major.
   The premise will remain the same, with journalism as a primary component, but I’ll add podcasting and video storytelling to the curriculum.
Digital Photojournalism | Wayne State University
Photo by WSU Digital PJ student Rob Streit. Features assignment.
   This class is triple the size of Owens, so it’s not realistic to do a team final photo project like Owens did.
    Instead, they are responsible for shooting their own photo story. The students are also required to record an interview and capture live ambient sound as an added storytelling element.
   They are currently learning Audacity to edit their audio, and will produce their final project in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014.  The projects will be uploaded onto the course’s YouTube account, and on their individual blogs.
   Most of the students are print journalism and broadcast majors, so this is a course that could, and probably will, be beneficial to them someday. These days it’s not a matter of if, but when, they will be taking their own images.
Teaching Multimedia | Kent State University
   This is a distance-learning course for high school journalism teachers and advisers from around the country. Most of the students are English teachers with no background or experience in journalism.
   Can you imagine? One day they’re teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, and then all of a sudden they are advisers to the yearbook, the student newspaper, and teaching journalism courses. It happens all the time, and as long as schools do not commit to journalism programs, it'll continue happening.
   Fortunately, these grad students have the Journalism Education program at Kent State (which I’m a graduate of), and are simultaneously learning about the journalism field, as well as how to teach it.
   In this course they are learning about multimedia, which includes photography, infographics (maps, surveys, polls and timelines) and video storytelling.
   And this semester I’ve added two new lessons: podcasting and creating a Camtasia Studio tutorial. Judging from their essays, I'm confident they liked podcasting, especially if they regularly listen to NPR.
   As far as the Camtasia Studio tutorial goes, I'm also confident they'll value that, too. In fact, I plan on spending many summer mornings creating Camtasia Studio tutorials on moderately difficult tasks, like Audacity and Premiere. It'll save time in the classroom, in the end, and who doesn't value that?

Screen grab of podcast produced by Teaching MM student Mark Davidson. Interview podcast assignment.
   So, this sums up the spring 2016 semester, so far. I told every student on Day One that my classes are designed to prepare them for ‘the real world,’ and to have a tangible portfolio of work in the end. Mission almost accomplished.
(To view the blogs of students in any of the three classes, go to the designated blog list pages at the top of this blog.)

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