JMC curriculum undergoes changes for future education

JMC curriculum changes

JMC curriculum changes

Jessica Darling

As media have changed from traditional print to digital data storytelling, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) will adapt its journalism, advertising and digital media production curriculums to stay current and relevant.

The journalism and advertising programs will undergo major curriculum changes in fall 2015, while the digital media production program has already undergone its major curriculum change this year and will undergo a minor change in fall 2015. All of the program changes will revolve around digital data storytelling, said Thor Wasbotten, JMC Director.

“The goal of the change is to remain current and relevant,” Wasbotten said. “We want to make sure digital data storytelling and things like that are embedded within the curriculum, so that our students learn and be productive members when they graduate.”

The new curriculum for the journalism program will eliminate individual majors such as broadcast, photo, multimedia and magazine journalism. It will only offer journalism as a major, but students are still able to specialize within the other areas, said Jan Leach, associate professor in JMC.

By eliminating the individual majors within the school, the new curriculum change will also eliminate a large amount of prerequisites for classes and allow students to have more flexibility in taking the courses they wish to, Leach said.

“First of all, a lot of courses changed names’, what was added were things like sound and data,” Leach said. “We also have a cool, new set of electives starring specialty courses in subject topics, so there will be things like environmental reporting, medical reporting and sports reporting. Then there will be technical things like web media and online media classes.”

The goal of the curriculum change in the journalism program is to prepare students better for the jobs that are available today and be flexible enough to prepare them for future jobs, Leach said.

In the advertising program, there will be more courses and electives available to students revolving around digital media, said Wendy Wardell, JMC lecturer.

“There were some digital classes that were added,” Wardell said. “We have some really strong electives including some practicum electives that are competition as well as being able to offer more specialized classes as electives.”

Classes now offered in the program include political advertising, activation advertising and an industry toolbox class, Wardell said. The classes added in the curriculum are analytics and digital classes.

“I would like students to walk away from their time at Kent State with an understanding of idea development based on strong strategy and to apply that strategy in a variety of different touch points,” Wardell said.

While the journalism and advertising programs have not yet implemented the new curriculums, the digital media production program has.

Fall 2015 will mark the third semester of the new curriculum program, said David Smeltzer, associate JMC professor.

The new major, the two concentrations in digital media production is now digital film or television,” Smeltzer said.

The digital film and television concentrations now require students to take editing for video, editing for audio and location sound recording, Smeltzer said.

“It really guarantees when students get out and graduate they have those skills,” Smeltzer said.

Students will also be required to do a senior project, Smeltzer said. For example, if a student is majoring in digital film, he or she could work on a video for a client or a music video. Likewise, if a student is majoring in television, that student could work on a show he or she is producing for TV2.

“It’s some sort of capstone experience that is going to be a kind of your portfolio piece when you finish,” Smeltzer said.

In the fall, the digital media production program will offer a new minor along with the curriculum it introduced this year, Smeltzer said.

“We did all this work on the new major, and then we realized the minor we offer is the old courses we stopped offering,” Smeltzer said. “In some cases, it is the old number, but we gave it a new name, but the content of the course is a little bit different.”

The minor will change its name from electronic media production to digital media production, Smeltzer said.

“Next year everything will be aligned for both the major and minor. The overall goal of these changes is we put more hours in advanced skills courses students have to take,” Smeltzer said. “Requiring these classes in the long run will help them to be more rounded in whatever they choose to do with media when they graduate.”

Contact Jessica Darling at [email protected].