June 21, 2012

The future of journalism education has stirred some additional and passionate stories this week. Jeff Jarvis, paying honor to Eric Newton’s speech about journalism education’s “symphony of slowness” and my own article on Poynter Online which opined that “journalism education can’t teach its way to the future,” has weighed in on BuzzMachine.

Jarvis puts curriculum into three boxes: study, practice and tools. He argues that schools should change how they teach and what they teach.

Jarvis argues that classroom time is not the best time to teach tools. Those who do teach tools — outside the classroom — should have a more practical focus:

“Schools try to express their goals in terms of outcomes for students. I chart tools against a set of outcomes rising from:
* Familiarity — Knowing what a tool can do so you can be inspired to use it when appropriate to meet a journalistic or community goal.
* Speccing — The ability to write a specification that will enable a coder to deliver what you need.
* Adaptation — The ability to take work that a developer has done and adapt it for a particular need (for example, modifying a WordPress template or a Google map).
* Making — The ability to make something from scratch using a tool — for example, a video using FinalCut or a slideshow using various tools.
* Expertise — Certification as an expert able even to teach the tool.”

Jarvis believes, as I do, that schools need to reach beyond students.

What I’m also trying to do is imagine scaling journalism education so that much, or most, of it could be taught to some — no, to many more — people online, including not just undergrad and graduate students but also professionals who obviously need to learn new skills as their industry convulses around them.

Jeremy Harris Lipschultz, writing at the Huffington Post, defends educators, who he says are responding reasonably to the changing media landscape:

Finberg represents part of the two conversations I mentioned in my last posting here on wayfinding.

His context is the disruption during the past 20 years to the media industry and its looming impact on media education. Finberg, however, is less focused on the perspective of the disrupters, whom embrace change and stand to benefit from it. I think online education represents more the technology of the shift than the fundamental differences.

Lipschultz, director of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s School of Communication, acknowledges that media education, which I read as journalism, is important:

“Media educators and their students need to embrace change, elevate enthusiasm and seize opportunities. Good jobs and a good life await those who learn how to write and communicate, become master storytellers and use state-of-the-art tools. Communication educators will remain relevant and vital by teaching the fundamentals.”

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Howard has been in journalism for 40 years. His resume includes positions with the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and…
Howard Finberg

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