Final Plan: Rationale + Online Interviewing Unit

The Rationale

This unit is a set of three lessons. The rationale is based on the taxonomy of “significant learning experiences” from Fink (2013) and the notion of “learning as an enculturation into a practice” from Brown (2006). Both authors put a focus on learning as an active process where the instructor is more of a mentor who engages with learners, who are more than passive vessels. Brown speaks of changing the “epistemic frame” of a course so that teachers show learners “how to be” in a field. The field in this case is business communication. In order to be a competent interviewer AND interviewee, learners need to practice “professional” communication, which will differ from the conversation and discussion styles they use in other contexts. Learners also need to be able to adapt their communication strategies to any technology that may mediate their conversations with potential employers and employees.

Originally, this unit had one set of overarching objectives. However, now that there are three distinct lessons, there are also three sets of more specific objectives. The three lessons are 1. a foundational unit on the differences between face-to-face and online interviewing, 2. practicing being the interviewer (R), and 3. practicing being the interviewee (E). This is a unit that takes place towards the second half of the semester. The learners are assumed to have mastered an earlier unit on best practices of being an R and E and how to write good interview questions. The focus in the last two lessons is on higher-level objectives of adapting what was learned from the first half of the semester to an online environment. To that end, I have responded to peer feedback by adding assignments that “check in” with learners along the way. This will help track progress and provide more opportunities for dialogue leading up to the final project.

I am assuming going into this unit that learners have a background in vocabulary and concepts from the first few weeks of the course (like the definition of an interview) but will also be learning some core concepts specific to interacting in an online environment. My focus in moving through the three lessons is to go from understanding and recall to application and adaptation. By the end of the unit, learners will have written questions and prepared for an interview that will be conducted as part of the “integration” of their new knowledge. The three separate lessons all come together in a “final project” interview when the learners have a chance to demonstrate competency at being an R and an E in an online environment.

One of the core premises of the course is that in order to gather the best information, set up potential employees for success, and ensure a good “fit” with the organization, it is just as important to teach interviewer skills as it is to teach interviewee skills. By having learners practice the process step-by-step and critically reflect on what’s happening, I can help learners build skills that will help them advocate for themselves and feel like they have more agency in the interviewing process. I value the interpersonal aspect of Fink’s taxonomy, so I will also ask learners to reflect on their own performance and that of their interview partner. Learners will also plan how to protect their legal rights, and reflect on the value of this process to them personally by thinking about how they can use interviewing skills to reach their career goals.


The Plan

Situational/Contextual Factors

Physical Context and Logistics

  • held at the main campus of UAF, a 4-year institution in Fairbanks, Alaska
  • 15 to 20 students will enroll
  • 200-level elective offered from the Department of Communication
  • open to all levels of undergraduate students
  • meets two nights a week for 1.5 hours per session
  • classes are primarily face-to-face in a traditional classroom, but online interviewing unit will begin with online class session to orient students to a videoconferencing environment

Social Context and Cultural Expectations

The course will be focused on employment interviews, teaching skills relevant for the role of interviewee AND interviewer. According to Forbes (2012) online, the average person stays at a job only 4.4 years, and millennials are expected to stay for an average of less than 3 years. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that employment interviews will be a recurring situation most people will face throughout their adult lives. Based on my experience, interviewees expect the interviewer to be prepared, attentive and fair. Those of us who have been interviewers expect interviewees to be confident, engaged and knowledgeable.

Because employment interviews can affect one’s income and career progression, it is also reasonable to assume that society places a high value on “good” interviewing skills. The UAF Dept. of Communication, realizing the need for instructional support of this skill-building, successfully argued to fund a class on interviewing. UAF’s curricular goals are reflected in the proposal document submitted for the course, in which the head of the Dept. of Communication wrote, “I do think that it may have a positive affect on programs such as Nursing, Marketing, Justice, or Business to mention a few. Basically any program that has an ‘interviewing’ component or necessity will benefit from the course.”

Learner Characteristics

The course is an elective and will be offered in the evening, so there is a chance that both full-time traditional students and working adults will be attending. The prerequisite is the basic English course, so students should have college-level writing abilities. However, their experience with interviews may vary widely, as can their reasons for enrolling. Some may be using it to bolster their degrees in professional communication or public relations; others may be taking it as professional development. I will survey the class at the beginning of the semester to learn more about their history and motivations.

Instructor Characteristics and Pedagogical Challenges

As the instructor, I am bringing some experience to the table, having taught the course (same book and format) for two semesters at Purdue University; this will be my first time teaching it at UAF. I feel that this is in my “zone of competence” because over the past two years I have presented on this subject for Staff Appreciation Day and for 4-H leaders and youth in order to keep up my skills. Overall, I’d say my “challenge” is that students often feel overwhelmed by or apprehensive of interviews because the power is imbalanced and the stakes can be high.

Sample Learning Objectives

This is a set of 3 lessons for a unit that would occur in the second half of a semester course on interviewing skills. Millennials are increasingly being asked to serve on hiring committees to provide perspective on their generation, so it is likely that interviewing is a responsibility they will face even at the entry level. Thus they practice the roles of both R (interviewer) and E (interviewee).

Lesson 1: Foundational Knowledge

Learners will understand effects of using computer software during interviews by comparing and contrasting face-to-face and online interviewing situations.

Learners will be able to identify potential pitfalls in the use of common videoconferencing technology.

Learners will connect this new knowledge with their prior knowledge by reflecting on their interviewing experiences to-date.

Lesson 2: Interviewer Role

Learners will adapt to an online environment by navigating videoconferencing software while conversing with classmates.

Learners will engage in problem-solving and critical thinking by designing contingency plans for how to address common pitfalls associated with videoconferencing technology.

Lesson 3: Interviewee Role

Learners will discern when best practices are being followed by critiquing peer performance in video-recorded online interviews.

Learners will apply knowledge of self-presentation to an online environment by writing an interviewee preparation plan that includes notes on time management, background selection, technology prep, etc.

End of Course Objectives:

Learners will be prepared for legal issues by discussing protected classes of info that may appear about candidates online, and assessing their own digital footprints for sensitive info.

Learners will apply their knowledge of online interview tactics in a final project by playing the roles of both R and E in an online environment.

Learners will reflect on the value of their interviewing experiences by identifying ways in which interviewing skills can help them reach personal career goals.

Sample Assignments

Using the required text of Interviewing: Principles and Practices by Stewart & Cash (2008), students can work through role-playing exercises with the sample interviews in the text. Then, those same sample interviews can be used as a template for generating learners’ own interview protocols. It is important for students to write out their questions or go-to examples beforehand so they can check for common pitfalls, clarity, and legal issues. In previous lessons, learners would have worked on activities like critiquing this sample interview protocol from Indiana and answering the question of how he or she would streamline some of the lines of inquiry so that both R and E are better able to keep track of what is being asked. The focus of this unit is to adapt that knowledge to an online environment.

Lesson 1:

Create a “Similarities” and “Differences” list of how interviews compare when conducted online versus face-to-face.

Create a “Pros” and “Cons” list of being invited to interview in an online environment instead of a face-to-face environment. Then contribute to class discussion: How do you feel about talking through video chat? What makes you nervous? How might you prepare your environment so you are comfortable?

Check-In Activity: What prior, if any, interview experience do you have in an online environment? What went well? What didn’t go well? What was surprising?

Lesson 2:

Write an interview protocol that will be used to interview a candidate at your most recent place of employment. Reflect on the differences between face-to-face and online, and include a section that describes what extra preparations you will have to make as the interviewer (time differences, equipment, contingency plans in case of technology failure, etc.)

Pick an activity partner and try out Google Hangouts. Have a conversation about a current event of your choice. Relay your experiences on the class discussion board, and answer this question: How would you change the way you spoke with your partner if this were a formal interview instead of a topical discussion?

Check-In Activity: What problems did you have with the technology? Do you have access at home to practice, or do you need class time to explore online environments further?

Lesson 3:

Keep practicing with the technology by doing a mock interview with a peer using Google Hangouts on Air. This time, make sure you are recording and that the Hangout feeds to YouTube. You will be matched with another activity pair and provide peer reviews of each other’s interviews. Pay particular attention to how you will appear on video, what background you choose to sit in, time management, the clarity of your audio feed, etc.

Check-In Activity: Turn in a draft of your interview protocol (as R) and your prepared examples and questions for the “company” (as E). The instructor will give you feedback on these documents and your sample video two weeks before the final project so you can make adjustments before the live role-playing event.

Final Project:

Apply your knowledge of self-presentation in an online environment by playing the role of interviewee in a mock employment-style interview. Your partner is interviewing you as a potential teaching assistant for this class. Each learner will subsequently serve as an interviewer for another student’s mock interview, and will receive feedback and points for doing so as well.

References

Brown, J. (2006). New learning environments for the 21st century: Exploring the
edge. Change, 38(5), 18-24.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Meister, J. (2012). Job hopping is the new ‘normal’ for millenials: Three ways to prevent a human resource nightmare. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2012/08/14/job-hopping-is-the-new-normal-for-millennials-three-ways-to-prevent-a-human-resource-nightmare/

Stewart, C. J., & Cash, W. B., Jr. (2008). Interviewing: Principles and practices (12th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill

Article Review 5: Student satisfaction

Article: Digital Learning Impact Factors: Student Satisfaction and Performance in Online Courses

Authors: Chitkushev L, Vodenska I, Zlateva T

Journal: International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol 4, No. 4 (2014)

Paper Overview:

This paper explored the student evaluations of 93 online courses to gauge the interdependences as well as correlation between student performance in an online course and its relation to the performance of the instructor, the facilitator and the grades distribution.

This study analyzed surveys filled out by a total of 4920 students who were a part of 93 online courses over a period of 18 semesters. The students were surveyed on student satisfaction with the course based off of the variables of the instructor, the facilitator and the grades distribution.

The results of this study were interesting:

  • It was found that the correlation between student satisfaction with a course and their satisfaction with their instructor is so high that it is statistically improbable to have student satisfaction of a course in which they were not satisfied with their professor and vice versa.
  • It was found that if students were satisfied with their facilitator, they were likely more satisfied with their instructor and vice versa.
  • Students are more likely to be satisfied with the course if they are satisfied with their facilitators.
  • If students are satisfied with the course, it is statistically more likely that their grades will be higher.

Personal reflection:

This paper was well written and comprehensive for the reader. The range of data that was analyzed was a large range and to me seemed like an accurate representation of the population.

This paper brought out the basic question for me of how do we know (when we design an online course and execute it) if it was effective. Students learning outcomes are one way of assessing the overall effectiveness of the class.

However that does not mean that the student was necessarily satisfied with the course. This paper was able to highlight the key points for an instructor to keep in mind when it comes to student satisfaction. The student needs to be satisfied with the instructor if they are to be satisfied with the course. This correlation, I thought, was the most important one of all the other results.

In a traditional classroom setting the onus has always been on the instructor to create an effective classroom setting and a course that students are satisfied with. This becomes a tougher thing to do in the online pedagogy. (That seems like a lot of pressure for the professor.)

Another aspect that stood out to me was that if the student was satisfied with the course, their grades were likely to be higher in the class. This too makes sense to me since it seems like if a student is satisfied with the course and is engaged in the learning material, they are likely to work harder at the assignments and put in more effort, thus achieving a higher grade.

These outcomes are things to keep in mind for a teacher creating lesson plans and online classes. It is important that a professor conducting an online class understand how to best cater to their students. Otherwise, if the students are dissatisfied with the class, then the professor has essentially failed in his task to teach and facilitate learning.

Article 4: Assistive Technology

Article: Assistive technology in the classroom

Authors: Netherton D. and Deal W.

Journal: The Technology Teacher 66.1 (2006)

Paper Overview:

The authors of this paper discuss the need to provide information about the availability of assistive technology, advances in improving accessibility and functionality of assistive technology, and appropriate methods to secure and utilize assistive technology in order to maximize the independence and participation of individuals with disabilities in society.

The authors make use of some real-life case studies of individuals with disabilities, who were able to avail of affordable high technology in order to maximize their participation in society. The authors make the case that often times, while there exist very expensive high-technology assistive gadgets in the market, due to the development of technology people with disabilities can now avail of such technologies at more affordable prices.

The authors also provided a list of services that provide help in assistive technology that most people do not know about.

Personal Reflections:

I was expecting a different topic when I found this paper and decided to review it. From the title alone, I had assumed that the paper was about technologies that could be used as assistive teaching tools in the classroom.

But when I began reading the paper I realized it was about assistive technologies that help people with disabilities maximize their independence and participation in day to day life. I was intrigued by the article.

It was a very well written and the writing was comprehensive in a way that made the authors seem like they really wanted to get their message out. The paper made use of 3 case studies of real people with disabilities and how they were able to increase their participation in society, simply by finding out more about affordable assistive technologies that they didn’t know about before that.

The authors made a compelling case and based their premise off of the fact that due to the developments and advancements in technology, better and more affordable assistive technologies exist that would highly benefit people.

It is not the onus of the school system to provide students with the best assistive technologies and hardware in the market, as they can tend to be expensive. As a result, students may lose out on opportunities due to their lack of access to the technologies they require to complete independent functionality in day to day work.

However, with the development of new technology, there are alternatives that have been created specifically as more affordable variations of the expensive assistive technologies in the market. The argument made by the authors is that there are many resources available now and that they should be advertised more so that more people can know about them and avail of their services.

I liked the writing style of the authors and I enjoyed reading their paper. It was a topic I hadn’t expected to write about or read about and so it was refreshing, though I don’t know that it will help me in the my ultimate final project.

 

Article Review 3: Student engagement in an online chatroom

Article: Engaging diverse student cohorts: Did someone say completely online?

Authors: C. Moore and L. Signor

Journal: International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol 4, No. 4 (2014)

Paper overview:

This paper explored the question of engagement of a diverse student cohort in a completely online classroom. The authors analyzed the effectiveness of chatrooms as the tool for synchronous meetings and discussions among peers and the instructors.

The instructors relied heavily on Wright and Shoop’s Constructivist model of learning called Student Centered Discussion (SCD) in which the students are engaged in productive and positive discussion through which students construct new understandings of different topics of discussion.

The researchers studied the engagement of the students of an entirely online and otherwise asynchronous class, in synchronous meetings in chatrooms. During the synchronous chats, a set of rules were laid out for students according to the SCD model, that would promote mutual respect for each other during the chats. The instructor would have to play a very big role in facilitating the discussion and leading it in the direction that was prearranged in the agenda by the professor.

The results of this case study were that it was found that by developing a SCD based model among the students, there was greater student engagement in a class that was otherwise asynchronous.

Personal Reflections:

Personally, I thought this paper was not very well written. While it had numerous citations, the researchers didn’t bother to actually state the information that they were using as part of their narrative but merely cited the paper from which they took it. As a result, the paper was often difficult to understand and it felt incomplete and empty to a reader who was not familiar with the rest of the work that was cited.

The authors cited their reason for studying the use of chatrooms in classes as the fact that there was a lack of funding for other tools to be used in their classes and so this was the sole method of synchronous collaboration they could set up with the students.

However, this paper was published in 2014. It seemed hard for me to believe that in today’s world the sole method of synchronous meeting for the students of an online class was through a chatroom. Student collaboration could take place in any sphere easily, and a chatroom seemed like an archaic tool to be using in an online class.

In a chatroom, only one person is able to speak at a time. Sitting through long, teacher facilitated chat (written) discussions seemed like something that would not receive a lot of participation from students and the engagement, while present in comparison to a completely asynchronous class, would dwindle and seem ineffective in comparison to a class where the synchronous sessions are conducted through an aural or visual medium like Blackboard or a webcam.

Article Review 2

Article: ‘Gaming Research for Technology Education’

Authors: Aaron Clark, Jeremy Ernst

Journal: Journal of STEM Education: Innovations in Research 10.1/2 (2009)

Overview of paper:

The author’s intent for this paper was to determine the attitudes about gaming, its use in education and the need to utilize gaming as an integrator of STEM subject matter into the classroom. The authors started their research in this field when they noticed the popularity of gaming. They wanted to see if they could harness the power and popularity of gaming to help students who were struggling, to get through their STEM coursework in school. For this purpose, the study was developed to evaluate the effects of gaming on the classroom and the attitudes that students, teachers, parents and administrators have about the use of this technology as a pedagogical tool.

The authors conducted a survey with 258 participants from varying backgrounds and fields of study. They asked them three sets of questions to determine the general outlook towards gaming and its use in education. The findings from the survey indicated:

  • A majority of people (74%) agree or strongly agree that gaming is a valuable resource and learning tool for students.
  • The majority (72%) also agreed that homework assignments that included computer-video gaming could be a useful tool for student learning.
  • 48% of people indicated that they were interested in developing such games.
  • 71% of people indicated that gaming could be a great tool in science and mathematics instruction.
  • 89% responded that gaming has a future in education.

The survey data revealed to the authors that gaming could be a useful tool for gaining and maintaining student interest in all areas of STEM education.

The paper did not research existing gaming tools and what the attitudes of the people are towards them. As a result, this paper seems incomplete.

Personal Reflections:

This research was interesting to read. It was conducted in 2009 and the researchers were attempting to find how exactly people viewed gaming as an educational tool. The results of this research were very interesting to me. I knew that gaming is popular and it would be looked upon favorably by most but I didn’t realize that so many people thought of it favorably as a teaching tool.

I had attended a conference a while back on educational gaming and one of the speakers there answered a question about why educational games were not more popular. His response was “because they’re boring!” This really made sense to me. Most educational games are designed less to be games and more to be educational. As a result, they are not as much fun to play with and are not as popular.

I guess my take away from this article is that while people may look upon gaming as a valuable possible tool in education, the research does not indicate if any such STEM based games have actually been effective teaching tools and how the actual users of such games feel about the games.

 

Personal Philosophy Statement

My personal direction in education is one that is focused on the future. I believe that with the advent of technology, there is a deep need for a revolution in education rather than reform. Sir Ken Robinson, in his 2010 TED talk, made the point that reform implies we are trying to fix a broken system. However, what we really need to be doing is changing the system completely.

The first and foremost aspect of my personal educational philosophy is personalization of education. The major aspect of education that can and should be changed is the standardization of learning. There are many branches and directions a person can go and there is a need for more than just doctors and lawyers and engineers in the world. With the advent of technology and constant innovations, personalization of education is very much a possibility that can be explored for our education system. Through the tool review, I was able to see how using tools like Khan Academy can help start the process of a more personalized education, with students learning at their own pace and exploring subjects they are drawn to in more depth.

Siemens (2005) put forth a learning model for the digital world called ‘connectivism’. Connectivism states that learning and knowledge are based in a diversity of opinions and that learning is a process that takes place that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements. Learning is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.

Ken Robinson also states that the traditional education is linear and it is one we should get rid of. In this world of inter-connectivity and fields of study that branch out into specialized fields, personalization of education is very much possible.  A student can follow their interests in a field and find a passion through the following of the connections into deep knowledge construction.

However, while I do advocate for personalization of education, that does not mean isolation of the learner in their learning. I definitely think that collaboration among peers is extremely important. Respectful collaboration between students can lead to active construction of deeper meaning and learning among peers. This collaborative constructivist approach is definitely part of education in a future completely dependent on technology.

Traditionally, higher education has focused on the constructivist learning methods while at the elementary levels, instruction is given more importance. However, Sugata Mitra highlighted in his ‘Hole-in-the-wall experiment’ and TED Talk in 2007, that young street children in India, who had never even seen a computer in their life, were able to teach each other how to use it by simple curiosity and the creation of a community of inquiry. Other children, who didn’t even know English, were able to teach themselves how to use a computer and play with games and explain why certain things didn’t work in the computer because of lack of needed hardware.

Garrison and Archer (2000) noted that construction of meaning may result from critical reflection but ideas are generated and knowledge is constructed through collaboration and sustained dialogue. This is an excellent point to note. While meaning can be constructed in isolated critical reflection, true deeper understanding of a subject can only come from collaborative dialogue. This takes me back to reading about Socratic dialogue and how the method Socrates used in his construction of understanding was critical and logical dialogue with others.

The Partnership of 21st Century Skills laid out a Framework of 21st century skills that are important for students to learn and focus on in today’s technology age. The framework highlights communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity as extremely necessary for students today. I think through a constructivist learning model, students would be able to work on and develop all four of these important skills.

My personal philosophy in education is still fluid and not fully formed yet. When I come across an idea that just cannot be ignored, my philosophy changes. However, as of now, I believe that technology is the present and future and education needs to change accordingly. As a result my philosophy focuses on personalization and collaboration.

 

Work cited:

  1. Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk: Bring on the Revolution
  2. Seimens G., (2005) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 2(1)
  3. Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk: The child-driven education
  4. Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T, & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text–‐based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education 2
  5. Swan, K., Garrison, D.R., & Richardson, J.C. (2009). A constructivist approach to online learning: The community of inquiry framework. In C.R. Payne (Ed.), Information technology and constructivism in higher education: Progressive learning frameworks(1st edition)
  6. Partnership for 21st Century Skills

 

 

Journalism Lesson Plan Rationale

Course Title: Journalism Basics: A comprehensive course on the applications of journalism

The overall goal for this class, as it is named, is for students who enter the class, to learn how to apply the 5 basic principles of journalism that are covered in the course and be able to actually report on news stories and work as journalists. This is a basic, lower division class and so it starts with the basic assumption that the students taking this class have little to no understanding of basics of journalism when they begin the class. This class would be a stepping stone for students who then want to pursue some more upper division journalism courses and would be pre-requisite for the upper division classes.

Throughout the course, peer interaction and feedback has been given high importance to help students construct a deeper understanding of the field.

With the goal of taking students with a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of journalism to understanding and application of journalism principles, the steps the students would have to take through the class would be first to learn and understand principles, then identify and analyze these principles in real-world situations. That would be followed by applying the learnt principles in real world scenarios. Finally, the students should be able to construct effective narratives while applying the principles in real world scenarios. To take the students through these steps, I developed the following learning objectives for the course:

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn and understand the different basic principles of Journalism

Since there is the assumption that the students taking this class know nothing about journalism principles, the first of the 4 modules in this class would focus on developing learning and understanding of the principles. This would be the only module which would focus more on instruction. I chose this learning activity to be facilitated through PowerPoint presentations by the instructor as well as real world examples of the principles to increase understanding.

In order to facilitate peer interaction, I chose to have group discussions and reflections as the highlight of the classroom activity. This would give the students the opportunity to interact and construct deeper meaning through peer interaction.

Finally, to test their understanding of the principles, their assignment would be to develop a page of reflections from the lectures and group discussions.

  1. Analyze real-world situations according to these principles and identify the correct use of the learnt principles

The next step after learning the basic principles is to be able to analyze and identify them in real-world scenarios. To facilitate this, the instructor demonstrates some analyses of real-world examples with the help of class discussions.

After the instructor has effectively demonstrated how to conduct such an analysis to identify the principles of journalism and whether or not they are being used effectively, I chose to facilitate the classroom activity of analyzing news articles in groups. The discussion and peer interaction again, according to the constructivist learning theory, is the way that learners are able to construct deeper meaning and get a wider understanding of the subject.

To test the students’ understanding and ability to analyze and identify the principles of journalism in the real world, the homework assignment would task the students to collect 5 news stories that have been published that demonstrate the effective use of the principles in them. To further test their abilities to analyze, the students are tasked at providing a paragraph to defend their claim for each story.

After understanding and learning about the principles, being able to analyze stories to identify the principles was the important foundation that needed to be created before students could jump into the application of the principles in journalism settings. As a result, this is an extensive module in the course.

  1. Apply the basic principles of journalism in real-world scenarios

This is possibly the most important module of the course. In this module, students learn to apply the principles they have learnt so far, in actual journalism related activities and exercises.

This, being the most important aspect of the course, I elected to also make it the most engaging. With a series of mock scenarios, role playing and fast paced activities, I wanted to ensure that the students are able to get a feel for real-world application of the learnt principles.

This module does not focus on instruction. Instead, it focuses on peer interactions and discussions in class to develop understanding of how to effectively apply the learnt principles.

  1. Construct effective narratives following the learnt principles of journalism

This is the final module in the course. The students by this point should have learnt about the journalism principles and how to identify its correct use. They should also be able to apply these principles in reporting activities. The final task is to be able to construct effective narratives on their own while applying the learnt principles of journalism. For this module, the students have to go out and find a story that they think needs telling. Then while applying what they have learnt, they have to create a news package and present it to the class. This assignment also requires peer assessment and feedback at the end of it.

My focus in this lesson plan was to develop a highly engaging class that would promote peer interaction and help them construct deeper understanding of the journalism principles and how to apply them.

 

Final Project based Lesson Plan: Journalism basics

Course Title: Journalism Basics: A comprehensive course on the applications of journalism

Prerequisites: None

Required Text: Associated Press Stylebook, 2014

Course Description: This course is designed to teach the basics of journalism and their real-world applications. The class size would be about 20 students. This would be a lower division class in the Bachelor of Arts program and students coming in would have little to no prior understanding of the basics of journalism.

This class would be a 10 week long, 2 credit course. Primarily the class would meet face-to-face for 2 hour lectures each week. The total in class hours spent on this class would be 20 hours. Outside of lectures, the homework that will be assigned will be individual papers, group assignments, and a final project. All assignments will be turned in3 days before the face-to-face class so that the instructor and peers have the time to go over the assignments to provide feedback before the class.

Topics will cover the basic principles or journalism. The course will focus on the comprehension and application of these principles in real-world scenarios. For their final project, students will have to find a news-worthy story, and develop and articulate a news story while demonstrating a good understanding of the principles that have been covered in the class.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn and understand the different basic principles of Journalism (5 course hours)
  • Lecture: Students will learn about the 5 topics, (5Ws and 1H, Copy Editing, Ethics, New Media, Photojournalism) the basics of journalism through PowerPoint presentations by the instructor and examples from the real media that illustrate each principle.
  • Classroom Activity: Students will be broken into groups of four and will reflect and discuss on one topic each during the face-to-face session and present 4 or 5 key points about their topic to the rest of the class.
  • Homework Activity: Based off of lectures and reflections with classmates, students will articulate their reflections in a 2 page essay to be posted on Blackboard as homework. Peer feedback will be posted on the reflections and this will be then discussed further in the next in-class lecture with the professor.
  1. Analyze real-world situations according to these principles and identify the correct use of the learnt principles (5 course hours)
  • Lecture: During the first face-to-face lecture session with the instructor, instructor will provide examples of different news stories that have been published in various media (print, television, internet, radio). These can be examples of big stories that have been broken in the past by news media outlets, or small stories from local media. Using the different learnt principles, the instructor will assist the class in analyzing a few of the examples and show students how to recognize what good journalism and bad journalism is.
  • Classroom Activity: The class will be broken up into groups of 4 and given 3 or 4 examples of real-world stories to analyze among themselves. The students should be able to identify the learnt principles within the real-world examples and analyze whether they are being used correctly or not.
  • Homework Activity: Students have to go out and look for published news pieces that demonstrate the proper use of each learnt principle in journalism. Then, in a document, they have to submit links to the stories, along with a paragraph of defense as to why they think the principles can be identified in that story and why it is a good example of journalism. This document must be submitted on blackboard and peer feedback must be given before the next class. This will be discussed further with the professor in the next face to face session.
  • Classroom Activity: When students come into class for the next session, they need to bring that day’s local newspaper with them. That class can be spent in a copy editing exercise where students can pick stories from the paper and copy edit and re-write them.
  • Classroom Activity: The instructor can bring forth some ethical dilemmas that journalists often face and the students should be able to use the knowledge that they have acquired about the ethics in journalism to identify and analyze what can be considered ethical and unethical journalism. This activity is great for student involvement and discussion.
  1. Apply the basic principles of journalism in real-world scenarios (5 course hours)
  • Classroom Activity: A mock scenario will be set up by the instructor in class or a breaking news situation. This will involve some role play and the couple students will get to enact a scene. The rest of the class must be acting journalists and report on the mock scenario that was played out. This is a fun exercise and students have to work to break the news first, while maintaining ethics, AP style writing and the other journalism principles they have learnt and know how to identify.
  • Classroom Activity: The instructor will pick a lecture session that is online (for example: Bill Nye). The scenario is created that this lecturer is in town and is giving a much anticipated lecture. Tickets to this lecture sold out on day 2 itself and so there are a lot of people who will not get to attend the lecture. The hour or so long lecture will be played in the class and the task for the classroom is to come up with real-time social media tweets and facebook status updates, as if they are journalists covering the real lecture and are live-tweeting to their audience. At the end of the lecture, the students will compile their tweets, photos, and status updates and submit them to the professor for feedback.
  • Homework Activity: The students can get to choose an event over the course of the week that are happening on campus (a party, a lecture, a parade, a free lunch, a press conference, etc.) The students then have to cover the event as photo journalists with a minimum of 7 photos and captions that tell the whole story of the event. This needs to then be uploaded as a gallery photo feature. Peer feedback must be given before the next class.
  1. Construct effective narratives following the learnt principles of journalism (5 course hours)
  • Homework Activity: For their final project, the students are required to find news worthy story and create a complete package for the story for print as well as web. The students must demonstrate a good knowledge and application of the principles of journalism. They must prepare a 5 minute presentation to give to the class as their final presentation.
  • Classroom Activity: The students have to present their final projects in front of the class and participate in peer assessment and analysis of each other’s work.

 

 

 

Tool Review: Khan Academy and GradeCam

  1. Khan Academy

Overview: This was a tool I had used 4 years ago. But since then the website has changed a great deal. The core aspect of the website has remained the same. The website is essentially a database of videos that help teach different subjects and for different levels of learning. The founder Salman Khan got the idea when he made video tutorials for his cousin and he said he preferred learning from the videos rather than being taught in person. The website has grown since then and covers a huge number of subjects. Math, Science, language, music, art and more are covered in series of tutorials. And there are practice question sections that test the student on their knowledge after watching the videos. The use of this service is completely free.

Khan Academy screenshot

Potential: The potential of this tool in the classroom is huge. Through the online tutorials, the teacher can assign what is done in the classroom currently, as homework. The web tutorials and practice problems can be done as homework, so that the teacher can then spend the classroom time, helping the students clarify their doubts and working with them one on one. This resource is great for parents who don’t want their children to lag behind during the long summer break or for parents who choose to home school their kids. With the fun and easy user-interface and the basis of it being a game (play for points, badges and unlock avatars), students are engaged in the

Classroom Feature: A new feature I noticed in Khan Academy that I didn’t remember from 4 years ago, was the classroom feature in Khan Academy. A tutor, parent or teacher could set up and manage the accounts of a bunch of students and monitor their progress as they move through the different ‘levels’ of Khan Academy. This is a good tool for teachers to be able to ensure that their kids are able to match the pace of the rest of their class. They can also see problem areas where they can step in and give one-on-one assistance to children who aren’t able to navigate through a certain topic. This also creates opportunities for interaction and collaboration with kids working in groups to get through a set of math problems or a project set up on Khan Academy.

Hardware requirements: The only hardware requirements is having access to a computer, laptop or mobile device and ensuring that there are a set of working speakers or headphones to watch the videos.

Design: The design elements of this website are extremely attractive. The colors and shapes and overall web design are appealing visually. There is just the right amount of seriousness and playfulness to the badges and avatars for the site to appeal to a vast number of age groups and create an environment that seems informal and inviting. The videos themselves haven’t changed much in 4 years. They still involve Sal Khan using a virtual blackboard and writing on it in different colored inks to teach a subject. During the course of the video, you only hear his voice and never actually see him. Visually the learner is focused only on the blackboard and any other visual cues that sometimes appear in the videos (for example: pictures and portraits from the lesson on the French Revolution).

Student engagement: The student engagement is definitely higher than the teacher engagement with this tool. While there is some amount of passive learning while watching the videos, it is balanced out during the exercises in which the student has to apply and test what he has learnt through the videos. This promotes more active learning than passive learning.

Overall, I think Khan Academy is an excellent tool and resource for the classroom.

2. GradeCam

GradeCam

Overview: I had never used or even heard of GradeCam before this assignment and that is why I chose it for the tool review. When I went through the website for GradeCam, I realized that the tool was quite a useful one for teachers. This tool allows teachers to create quizzes with answers to be filled out on bubble answer sheets. Then these sheets can be scanned by a camera and answers can be tallied immediately through GradeCam. The scores then go directly the teachers gradebook. This saves the teacher a lot of valuable time that would otherwise be spent grading and tabulating of all the scores.

Potential: The classroom potential of this product and service is great. Teachers can create as many small quizzes and tests as they need to during their lesson plan and do not have to worry about all the extra time that would be spent grading, tabulating and analyzing the results. The software would do all that for the teacher instantly. The results would even show the teacher the percentage of students who got a particular question wrong or right, which would help her identify the problem areas for her class and what she needs to work on in the curriculum. This would also give students practice with standardized test bubbling during exams. Their new longitudinal charting feature now allows teachers to chart the progress of a child over the course of a semester or year. This seems like a very helpful tool that would save the teacher a lot of time spent analyzing each student’s progress.

GradeCam chart

Free Service with required hardware: While there are some hardware requirements to use this service, other than that, the feature is completely free. The teacher can use some supported camera document scanners if they want to, but if they have a webcam, that can be used as the camera scanner as well. That way, if the teacher has access to a webcam on their laptop or desktop, and a printer to print out the forms, that is all they need to be able to use this free service. Along with that, the actual service is entirely free. The teachers can make an unlimited number of bubble answer sheets forms for class tests where she can customize each sheet to the test she is creating. The teacher can make answer sheets with anywhere from 10 to 100 bubble questions and the sheets can be customized for each student in the class with the unique student ID code. The sheets can also be customized to the student’s age and needs with larger bubbles printed for younger students.

While this tool is not directly related to student learning, it does make the job of teachers easier, thus freeing them up to work on their students. The website and video demonstrations were not extremely clear about the entirety of the service and didn’t highlight many key features. While the website could use some work, the service itself seems like a great resource for teachers.