Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 4.34.39 PMAn example of a web quest that relates to my subject field is this one on ‘Journalists in Action.’

If I were to create one for my courses, I would possibly do one on what’s been a burning question from many of my students: “Are there jobs in journalism?”

Three online sites that I would leverage for this would be:

Media Job Search Canada — This site would allow students to ‘scan’ the journalism/new media job market and start thinking about what’s out there.

This Government of Canada ‘Labour Market Indicator’ Provides some hard data about journalism jobs in Canada, future prospects and warning indicators to be aware of.

Another great resource would be this site which offers advice to would-be journalists from young professionals who only recently started out in the field. It’s solutions-focused material that my students could relate to, like this.

I would also want them to reference this The Walrus piece so that they get a good idea of salary ranges, and how valuable the multiple skills they are learning are to modern J-employers.

They would also be asked to reference the outcomes of this webinar on “becoming an entrepreneurial journalist.” I am always coaching my students to think of ways to stand out in a tough field without having an end goal of going to work at some major news outlet that will ‘take care’ of them for the rest of their lives. That just doesn’t happen (much, or often) at all any more — except for the most talented, top-tier, young reporters.

The more they learn to develop new ideas and models — in other words, become creators of knowledge, not just disseminators — the more rewarding and self-sufficient their careers will be.



Blog 2: In pursuit of that ‘flippable’ moment.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.01.02 PMNext week in my senior-level journalism class, I’m going to try something new.

New to me as an instructor and new to my students.

We’re in the middle of our ‘police reporting’ section, and we’re starting to get into the meaty topic of how cops actually do their jobs.

But instead of me just telling my class about various roles police officers play in their careers and the techniques they use while doing their jobs, I’m gong to show them.

Or, better yet — they’re going to show themselves.

I have this fascinating video of police interrogating a homicide suspect an interview room at a local police station.

It’s insightful because it shows in vivid detail how detectives use extremely simple psychological techniques to get a person to talk to them.

Tricks (I use this term in the practical, not pejorative sense) like taking away physical space to establish control and the use of language to ‘telegraph’ certain outcomes without overtly stating them.

The problem is that if I were to show it in class (it’s about 30 minutes long) — a lot of the nuances would likely go over the heads of people unfamiliar with materials like this and there’s not a lot of time to stop, rewind, pause and reflect.

At least that’s what happened last time I taught this particular material in a lecture style format.

These things can really go in one ear and out the next unless you see how it happens.

So, thanks to some advice from this piece on looking for opportunities to “flip” a classroom, students will have a chance to watch the footage on their own time — with some prior instructions on what to look for, on slowing it down, rewinding and to focusing their attention closely on the actions and words of the detectives, not the suspect.

Then, when we’re together as a class, we can dissect a little further. See who noticed what and start questioning why events unfolded in that room the way they did.

I believe it may just put a quick stop to any confusion and wasted class time dealing with the one or two students bound to struggle with the material and its purpose.


Blog 2: In pursuit of that ‘flippable’ moment.


Note: This piece references ‘student-centred’ learning principles as set out by Michigan’s Education Achievement Authority (EAA) in this ‘Competency Works’ article.

ONE of the issues with teaching journalism is accomodating an endless variety of differing student interests while still reinforcing ‘baseline’ industry news reporting and writing skills.

But it seems it could be done – one on one.

What I mean by this is that with a small enough class (I’m lucky to have 10 bright and energetic students in my majors class), adapting industry-ready outcomes to their individual needs is entirely possible.

The EAA model is built on five pillars, according to a breakdown and analysis penned by Chris Sturgis (link above).

Simply put, under the EAA model, students are grouped by readiness; they assume ownership for their learning and success; they’re allowed to work at their own pace; they provide evidence of their learning and mastery of targeted skills and they are provided with continuous feedback and monitoring.

For example, I have one student, A*, who is a solid writer and has a strong grasp of sound reporting principles. Her weaknesses as a young journalist really revolve around not having enough cultural and social literacy (like how government works) to allow her reporting to be more complete and satisfying (for her and her readers) in a contextual way.

Another student, Z*, has come a long way in developing the all-important ‘nose for news’ and is a competent interviewer — but the clarity and focus of his news copy needs work.

Under the EAA model, ‘A’ could be set along a journalistic path which would address her specific weaknesses while at the same time allowing her to flex the reporting muscles she’s worked hard to develop. For example, having her take on a project of writing ‘explainers’ (explanatory articles or ‘card stacks’) for the benefit of her classmate peers may further her success more than everyone trying to separately accomplish the same assignment that only tangentially touches on her specific issues.

And while she’s at work on mastering that skill, ‘Z’ could be tackling lessons which emphasize greater written clarity and focus, such as rewriting exercises and lede drills.

Just as the EAA was given flexibility and autonomy (Sturgis’ words) to hire the right staff to run their schools according to this ‘student-centred’ methodology, Letting students “drive” their own learning by individually tackling competencies they need to improve may be the ticket to enhancing their employability after graduation.

One question I’m still wrestling with is how to make these ideas more collaborative and useful for the class as a whole.

*Not real initials