Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sharing the pros, cons, photo stories of the hybrid Wayne State PJ course

  Another semester has ended at Wayne State University, and it was one of the best classes I’ve had the honor of leading.
   As I do for most semester endings, I’ll highlight a few positives and negatives. This is a good way for me to collect my thoughts so I can improve next semester.
   This particular Digital Photojournalism class earned a collective A. Rarely did a student miss any of the three quizzes, attendance was very strong, and though they had a tendency to turn in assignments late, they eventually turned them in.
   On the negative side:
  • We, meaning university, experimented with a hybrid course format. The course typically meets once a week (on Thursdays) for 2.5 hours. But this semester we only met for 1.15 hours, cutting class time in half.
   This didn’t work for me, or the students. I found that I couldn’t fit in important lecture time, particularly on teaching technical issues on software like Audacity or Premiere Pro CC.
  •    I also didn’t have time to critique their homework assignments, which are posted on their blogs each week. Homework involves shooting real photojournalism assignments: features, portraits, sports and a photo story.
   This class definitely goes beyond theory, thus they practice what is preached. For example, after a lecture on shooting sports, they’re required to attend a sporting event and shoot it. This entails them to get rosters for athlete identifications, and shoot action, reaction, fans and coaches.
   When I critique their work in class, they are collectively learning from one another what to do and what not to do on assignments. So not to critique their work in class is a missed learning opportunity.
   However, because I use Blackboard, a lot, and my own course blog (which you are reading now), they still had all of the lectures available to them.  I also created a few how-to YouTube videos as supplements. But, bottom line, I don’t like the hybrid approach for this course, so it’s back to full classes next semester.
   On the positive side:
  •     From the negative came to the positive. I began creating instructional YouTube videos using Camtasia Studio, which records my computer screen, allowing me to show them how to use Audacity and Premiere Pro CC. 
   The videos allow them to view the content at their own pace, and soak it in. They can follow along with the videos while doing their own projects.
  •    I am also convinced that allowing them to turn in late assignments is a good thing. I’m more concerned that each student learns the content at their own pace, rather not doing it at all. Yes, deadlines are critical in the journalism field, but they’ll learn that soon enough. At this point in their scholastic environment, they need to learn before they do.
   Now is the time I'm proud to present three of the photo stories they shot and produced. They are all different, and showcase how talented Wayne State students are.
   I present to you final projects by Taylor Lutz, Lucas Bell and Janika Green: