J101 Project Blog
We have just crossed the halfway mark for our Introduction to Journalism e-learning class. We've done eight Live Lectures and will have our eighth Live Chat later this week.
As part of NewsU's Introduction to Journalism (J101) pilot program, more than 240 students from our partner schools, Missouri State University, Florida Atlantic University and Cal State, Fullerton, are leveraging the expertise of Poynter as part of a 16-week, college-credit course. The students are learning the basic skills and values of journalism through the use of live video teaching by Poynter faculty and adjuncts, as well as lessons drawn from more than two dozen self-directed modules on NewsU.
Now, our efforts turn to finding the next group of pioneering schools for this innovative journalism education program.
We've learned a great deal about how to conduct this form of education, and I believe we have done a good job giving students a positive experience. Here's what one student had to say:
As we finish the first third of our semester, it seems like a good time to look at how the Live Lectures are working.
Good news: The Live Lecture from Poynter faculty has been outstanding. The teaching has been consistent, engaging and to the point of helping students understand journalism. The less than happy news: Students have decided they prefer the "anytime" approach to viewing. While the folks at Poynter NewsU think this is fine, I can't help but be a bit wistful for the missed opportunity for students to engage with the Poynter lecturer.
However, we wanted to learn and adjust. So, we dropped the second lecture,
We kicked off the J101 / Introduction to Journalism course this week. No major issues. Most of the students got into their virtual seats without any human intervention. (A few got sidetrack because of some coding, but we moved them into the right sections.)
So, did NewsU learn anything yet? Coming off summer into an e-learning module, especially for those who are new to online learning, can be a challenge. Perhaps next semester, we'll push back our opening lecture to later in the week. (Next post will share some thoughts about our first Live Lecture, which was terrific.)
The coordinator instructor at Poynter for this project is Aly Colon.To help students ease into the new instructional method, we produced a short (3 minute) video. It welcomes students outlines the overall themes of the course. I thought it was worth sharing so we made it available here.
On Friday, Aug. 19, 2011, we turned on our first 16-week e-learning module for university students. As you know, we'll be teaching across multiple campuses and with different tools from our online training kit. Of course we don't know whether these students have had much experience with online education. All the research indicates they might taken an online class, especially if they have been in college for a couple of years. Even our own NewsU evaluations surveys have shown a big jump in the number of participants who have had e-learning experience. In 2005, 48 percent said "yes." In 2011, that number was 70 percent.
We have spent lots of time thinking about the student experience as we designed both the content and the interface for this course. Given our different methods of online teaching -- synchronous and asynchronous -- we recognize that more content could cause confusion and hinder effective learning.
Our solutions took two approaches.
First, make sure the online navigation was clear and with specific instructions to the students. In other words, it wasn't going to be enough just to say "go learn from this module." It was more important to say "go to this module, read this section and look these elements."
We rolled out the J101 Project to a nicely crowded room at the AEJMC Convention in St. Louis yesterday. I outlined the why and how aspects of the our e-learning pilot. One key thought that keeps rolling around in our heads is how this course is an innovative marriage of NewsU's self directed training, our Webinar methods and our online group seminar experiences. We are also happy to share our new "Instructor Dashboard," which will have uses beyond this project.
While the PowerPoint only has the outline of the project, it might be helpful for those who want to learn more.
We are fewer than three weeks away from the launch of our latest project, a 16-week introduction to journalism course taught in partnership with three universities. Using e-learning tools developed during the past six years, Poynter NewsU is about to start an exciting new chapter of online journalism training. We've gotten this far thanks in part to a grant from the Carnegie Corporation and the creative thinking of the folks working at Poynter.
Thanks also goes to our three partner schools: Florida Atlantic University, Missouri State University and California State University, Fullerton.
Our goal with this blog is to provide resources about the project and try to capture of our learning so others might benefit. If you have questions or thoughts, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or use one of "Feedback" boxes on the site.
We have a nifty flyer about our journalism e-learning course with some kind words from our academic partners.
Howard Finberg, interactive learning director @ Poynter
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