We’re now halfway through the term at Whitworth University, and it’s my first time teaching the Interactive Journalism (JMC 335) course. The students have been learning about the important role that social media and technology plays in today’s journalism, PR and marketing fields. In addition to classroom lectures, presentations, workshops and readings, they have been required to blog and tweet (and encouraged to tweet beyond the scope of classroom assignments).
While it seems that they have, for the most part, been learning a lot about social media, what I am uncertain of is how well my teaching style is working and whether the readings were relevant (and even being read by the students). So, I followed the advice of the interim department chair, and surveyed the students with a few simple questions, in order to gather feedback and make adjustments if necessary.
Here are the questions:
- What has most helped your learning so far in this course?
- What has least helped your learning so far in this course?
- Please complete this sentence: “I would get more out of this course if I would…”
- And this one: “I would get more out of this course if the instructor would…”
- The textbook is…
And here’s some of the (generalized) feedback I received:
- The workshops (Twitter, blogging, FlipCam, etc.) have been beneficial. My intent is to find more opportunities to have more of these.
- The class period can, admittedly, jump around from time to time. While I do come into class with a lecture plan, it is quite easy to veer off the subject of interject something that seems random. I need to work on a better in-class “game plan.”
- Some of the students admitted that they haven’t been doing the reading assignments. So, I’ll be investigating some options to hold them more accountable, as the readings are short, easy and relevant.
- While some haven’t been reading the textbooks, others have noted that they either like the books or don’t. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an ideal textbook out there, that I’ve found, that would cover this course. But, I think the two required textbooks supplement the class well, and The New Rules of Marketing & PR book will be particularly useful for them in the future. After the course, I’ll have to survey the landscape again to see if there are new resources I should be requiring them to read.
- Yes, for some reason, I refer to kittens a lot in class. Don’t ask me why. I don’t have an obsession for them. However, it seems like kittens are always popular on social media. Perhaps I should diversify the references.
- They have mentioned the need for a handout. There is one posted on Blackboard for the course, but I’m guessing not everyone has seen it. Be sure to reference (and update as necessary) the handout and provide summaries, too.
- More examples of social media case studies have been requested as well. I found two in a book that were quite relevant to the journalism aspect of the course. Researching more case studies and sharing them with the class would be helpful.
- The three-hour class period can be long and monotonous. I should find opportunities to break it up with more breaks, group work, etc.
- A few more items: sharing latest trends, examples (or instructions) on how to write good blogs, etc.
I also received some great feedback from the interim department chair as well, and I’m already looking at opportunities to incorporate these into the class:
- Different questioning methods, such as: clusters, individuals by name, and group discussions/answers.
- Having the students write down one thing they want to share and one thing they didn’t quite understand (or have questions about) regarding the reading, at the beginning of class, to help hold them accountable.
- Require them to write about the readings for some of their blog posts.
- Find the intersection between “redundancy” and “novelty” (used in “Information Theory”) in class time.
I think that with all of this feedback, I can help the second part of the course be even more interactive and engaging for the students.