NewsU is Getting Ready for School with J101 Project

2:50 PM Jul. 14, 2011 — by Howard Finberg

We have lined up our partners – Missouri State University, Florida Atlantic University and, the latest, California State University, Fullerton. We announced Cal State this week.

We have lined our courses – 16 weeks of readings, assignments and discussions based on more than two dozen self-directed modules.

We have lined up our faculty – 15 Poynter faculty and associates who will lead a live, interactive session weekly.

On August 22, Poynter News University starts teaching its first university program, thanks to a funding grant from The Carnegie Corporation. It has been a very exciting opportunity to re-imagine how an introduction to journalism course might work. How do you leverage the best in self-directed training – learn on your own – with the best in-person teachers in journalism?

In many aspects, that’s the challenge facing many educational institutions today. How do you maintain quality but find new ways to educate students – in person and online? It’s disruption along similar scales to what hit the media industry 15 years ago. For universities and other schools, the ‘fun’ is just starting.

Our J101 (introduction to journalism) project has already stirred some passions within the academic community. We’ve been written about in USA Today, called an important experiment and that dreaded description: “outsourcer.”

We are struck by the comment by one of our partners, Mark Biggs, head of Missouri State's media, journalism and film department. Mark raises this important question for everyone to consider in an article in Inside Higher Ed magazine: Are we going to be faculty-centric or student-centric as we look to ways to improve the quality of journalism education.

Just as journalism and the media business has changed, is changing, so is journalism education. Our project hopes to show some possible directions. As usual, we’ll report as much as we can as to what works AND what doesn't.