Saturday, October 4, 2014

Kent State graduate students brush up on their multimedia skills

    To teach is to know, and to know is to teach.
    But what if you're expected to teach and you don't know?
    Short answer: go back to school!
    You might find it unbelievable that some teachers, particularly high school journalism teachers, know less than their students, but in this 21st Century high-tech, do-more-for-less, save-a-penny world, that's what's happening in too many of our American journalism classrooms today.
    It is becoming commonplace that teachers, particularly English teachers, are being tapped to instruct journalism and yearbook courses despite having little or no journalism experience. Unfortunately, schools aren't willing to hire specialty teachers for specialty skills, like photography, news writing, broadcasting and newspaper/website layout and design.
    It isn't fair to the teachers, and it's a huge disservice to our students. Journalism is a multifaceted niche subject that covers a lot of ground: First Amendment issues; interviewing people, reading and writing; photography; print and web layout & design; yearbook; broadcasting, etc.
   Journalism also takes a healthy dose of skepticism. But how do you teach students to question the government, and even their own administrators, if you're not trained to do so or believe in it yourself?
    I don't expect English teachers, or other non-journalism teachers, to be effective in passing on  journalism skills to their students if they've never been taught those skills. There's Shakespeare and the MLA; and then there's Bob Woodward and the AP Stylebook. Apples and oranges.
    To counter this national trend, Kent State University created an accredited, online Master's  Journalism Education (JE) program. The program is geared for high school teachers, or any teacher for that matter, who are tasked with teaching journalism or advising student media and want to learn how to teach those skills. It is also available for people like me, a professional in the journalism field, who want to learn how to teach it.
    As a 2012 graduate of the JE program myself, I was thankful for the opportunity to learn. The JE program made me a much better instructor. The classes are two prong: 1) teach the skill, and then 2) instruct how to teach it.
    I am currently teaching a course in the JE program called Teaching Multimedia. This semester I have seven students from seven different states. They are a mixed bag of experience, but all want to learn more about multimedia, and how to use it in their classrooms.
Let me introduce you to the teachers:
  • Mary: I am a journalism and debate teacher at Alta High School in Sandy, Utah and I am also an adjunct public speaking teacher at Utah Valley University. I have 4 classes and one project left between me and graduation in this master's program, and I hope to finish all of that by summer. I have been teaching journalism for 7 years, and find technology and therefore a lot of multimedia challenging. I look forward to conquering a few of those issues here in class.
  • Peter: I teach English, advise the yearbook, and coach the speech team at Bosse High School in Evansville, Indiana. I'm 24, and this is my third year of teaching. This semester, I'm taking classes six and seven of the master's program. This class should be a lot of fun.
  • Jennifer: I teach English and advise both the yearbook and journalism at Arroyo High School in El Monte, California. This is my eighteenth year teaching, which I cannot believe. I am in the last year of the master's program. Every class I have taken has been valuable.
  • Nate: I teach Interactive Multimedia at a public high school in NE Ohio. I am beginning my 3rd year teaching. I am taking this class on my way to obtaining my Master's in Career Tech Education. I have worked in the television/media industry for the past 13 years. I have traveled all over the country shooting live sports for ESPN, ABC, CBS, Golf Channel, HBO and many others. I have since cut way back on the traveling but do still shoot Indians, Cavs and Browns in the Cleveland market. I have also worked as a news videographer, news reporter, and commercial producer/editor in the Youngstown, OHIO market for 8+ years.
  • Katie: I teach Journalism at Phoenix Military Academy in Chicago, IL. I graduated from Saint Mary's College in 2009 with the intention of teaching History, but after an interesting few years with CPS I found myself starting the Journalism program at our school. Our school is 10 years old and has sporadically had yearbooks. Four years ago I started the yearbook program and last year added an online newspaper. I wanted to get my master'ss in Journalism because I feel like I've taught my students everything I know and need to learn more to improve our program. Before starting the program, I had only been the editor of my high school yearbook. Luckily I was an ASNE fellow at the University of Nevada, Reno a few summers ago, which helped me kick off the newspaper program at our school.
  • Aimée: I teach English, journalism and, new this year, speech at Holy Rosary High School in New Orleans. I also advise the newspaper and yearbook. We handle students with learning differences. We aren't special ed, but we aren't regular ed, either. Our kids all have ADHD, dyslexia, Asperger's, or some combination of the above, plus other high-functioning learning disabilities. As you can imagine, it makes journalism a challenge to teach, but it helps the kids in so many different ways, from written communication skills to interpersonal communication skills.
  • Jenn: This is year 19 for me, 16 at the same school of approximately 1300 students in Missoula, Montana. I teach yearbook, newspaper, beginning broadcast, Spartan TV (our weekly show), and three semester-long dual credit classes--Writ 101, Lit 110 (full classes), and Intro to Audio/Radio Storytelling (independent study without an actual section). I also have a masters in English. I won't receive any monetary gain with this degree, but what I have learned the past couple years has improved my teaching immensely. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I look forward to this class. I dabble at all of this, but I'm not proficient by any means. I'm hopeful this class will force me to RTFM--as I tend not to do that--and it usually bites me in the you-know-where!
   I applaud these teachers for going back to school to become the best they can be. They are proof positive that you never know too much and always need to learn more, no matter how seasoned or experienced you are!

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