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Mobile in the Classroom

December 18, 2013

Drake Welcome SignAs the field of journalism continues to evolve and change, faculty and staff in Drake’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) are considering ways to implement new technology into already existing curricula.

“There is no question that we are moving toward a mobile-first mind set. It is all good that we can produce something in print, video, and on the web, but the reality is we are becoming a mobile society. Our curricula must reflect that,” says Kelly Bruhn, assistant professor of journalism.

SJMC faculty and staff agree that understanding new technology and how it influences the field of journalism is imperative. As mobile devices and tablets become increasingly popular, professors like Bruhn and Sandra Henry are exploring ways to weave the use of new technology into their classes.

Henry, associate professor of journalism and mass communication, is helping students understand storytelling and advertising in the digital age. She refers to the use of technology in journalism as a way of storytelling without boundaries. New technology allows stories to be experiential and interactive, blending text, video, and pictures together.

“Digital storytelling can be challenging for some students to learn,” says Henry. “I have seen moments of incredible joy and moments of intense frustration. When all is said and done, even if things do not work out the way students want, our students learn a lot about technology and themselves through the process.”

In one of Henry’s classes, creative advertising students create an advertisement for mobile magazines by using the program Mag+, a downloadable plug-in for Adobe InDesign. Introducing new programs like Mag+ in the classroom helps students learn to work and adapt to new technology in a supportive yet fast-paced environment.

In Bruhn’s public relations principles class—an introduction course for all public relations majors—students look at various websites on different devices, including tablets and other mobile devices, and give recommendations for optimizing the user experience on each.

While an increased emphasis has been put on understanding mobile, professors like Bruhn and Henry haven’t forgotten the important J-School basics.

“Technology and our curriculum will continually change, but what will always remain necessary is good writing skills and the ability to think critically,” says Bruhn. “We like to say it’s just another day and another technology in SJMC.”