Innovative courses

News Engagement. This proposed course, scheduled to be taught in Spring 2018, is an eight-week, asynchronous course for graduate students. The course covers news engagement best practices and case studies and how news organizations use social media for engagement. Students also will study audience analysis and research (including social listening and crowdsourcing) and measurement and analytics. Syllabus.

Nebraska Mosaic. Students in this capstone journalism course produce stories for and about refugees and immigrants in the state, which leads the nation in per-capita resettlement. The students publish content on a website, on social channels and in a newsletter. In addition, students produce an in-depth reporting project each semester: Spice of Life: New Americans and Food, Fall 2016; Refuge on the Prairie,Refuge on the Prairie, Spring 2017. Peer Review of Teaching inquiry portfolio about the course’s embed assignment.  News about Nebraska Mosaic, including collaborations and awards. Fall 2016 syllabus; Spring 2017 syllabus.

News Engagement Lab. Syllabus and Peer Review of Teaching benchmark portfolio. I created this elective course in the spring of 2016 in partnership with NET News, the state’s public media organization, to give students students hands-on experience creating, implementing and assessing social media content and engagement strategies for a news organization.

From the benchmark portfolio abstract: This portfolio showcases the innovative nature of the course while also demonstrating its pedagogical underpinnings. The portfolio provides a broad overview, including course goals and how activities and assignments are aligned with them. Using several assessment strategies, the inquiry focused on the course’s final project, in which students were required to synthesize course concepts and material to develop viable engagement ideas for two NET News projects: a documentary on sex trafficking and coverage of the November 2016 death penalty referendum. In collaboration with UNL’s Office of University Communications, students also were given access to NUVI, a sophisticated social monitoring tool that helped them study prospective audiences. Digital audience engagement is a relatively new concept in the news industry and journalism education, but is gaining importance. The assessment strategies documented in this portfolio may be helpful for journalism educators who are interested in developing similar experiential learning courses in the “teaching hospital” method but desire an effective assessment framework. The portfolio also might serve as a model for journalism educators who want to incorporate audience engagement concepts and practices in new or existing journalism courses to keep up with industry trends and prepare students for new jobs. 

Heartland Project. I was asked to help Journalism 450, the senior-level capstone course for journalism majors, seek a new mission in the fall of 2014 by being part of a national grant project designed to bring more attention to diversity issues in Nebraska. The College of Journalism and Mass Communications joined with the Ford Foundation, the Asian American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association to create the Heartland Project. The class focused its coverage for NewsNetNebraska, the college’s news website. The goal was to amplify voices that traditionally haven’t been heard – or heard very little – in the Nebraska media. That goal was achieved through the series of stories the students produced called “Turning the Corner: A Neighborhood in Transition,” a multimedia package of stories that focused on a neighborhood in Lincoln that has undergone interesting demographic shifts and changes. Course syllabus. Course assessment.

Election coverage. Helped direct special online coverage of 2016 presidential election. Coverage focused on mobile; students live tweeted and shot and edited mobile video from various locations in the field (example). Student editors in the newsroom included the mobile content and curated coverage in a live blog. Election plan.

Social media for journalists. Taught in Spring 2013. This was the first social media course developed at UNL for journalism majors.  Social Media Assessment Spring 2013Spring 2014 Syllabus. Spring 2014 Assessment

Multimedia journalism. A required 300-level course I developed in Fall of 2013 and have taught every semester thereafter. First syllabus. Spring 2017_syllabus.

Election coverage. Directed special online coverage of 2012 presidential election for NewsNetNebraska, the college’s online news website. I worked with more than seven faculty to provide the innovative coverage, which included a liveblog, curated backgrounders, interactive map and a voter’s guide. The site won first place in the Society of Professional Journalists regional competition for its Mark of Excellence awards and first in the Northwest Broadcasters Association competition. Election plan. Archived stories. Video.

News21 National Project Seminar, Spring 2011. I helped develop the first-ever distance seminar for a News21 national reporting project in collaboration with faculty at Arizona State University and the University of Maryland during the spring 2011 semester. I presented twice to the seminar about digital reporting tips and creating multimedia stories. The resulting reporting project — How Safe is Your Food? — won first place in the 2011 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence awards for online in-depth reporting.

Journalism 450, the capstone course required for all journalism majors that focuses on online journalism. Student work is published here.



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