2017 news

It’s been a great year for teaching – this past Winter semester, I taught “Digital Storytelling for the Media: Diversity, Identity, and Community,” one of my favorite courses, as well as “Video Documentary Journalism,” a course I developed and results in wonderful, strong student work. This Fall semester,  I am teaching convergence, and intro to journalism and news writing (online and face-to-face).

I have two new articles out. One was published in the Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, co-authored with Dr. Katherine A. Foss, “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves:Examining representations of Roma culture in 70 years of American television.” It is the result of two studies Katie and I have been working on for a few years, and we are very proud to see it out, stronger than in its original versions.

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Last year’s officers of the Cultural and Critical Studies Division wrap up the business meeting at AEJMC in Chicago, Illinois, on Aug. 10, 2017. Adina is third from left.

The other article, titled “The imagined backward and downtrodden other: Contemporary American news coverage of the Roma/Gypsy,” is published in Journalism Studies. It surveys American news media in the last few years, to find the coverage of the Roma either as a downtrodden group, political cause for intervention, or as a marginalized other who need salvation. In the context that American news has largely ignored the plight of the Roma, has deemed the population to be an invisible stranger, and has continued to bolster historic stereotypes, this study concluded that US news misses the opportunity to connect the problem of the Roma to current political and popular discourses about immigration.

I also have a chapter on race and masculinity since the days of Oz, forthcoming in a book on prison experiences and Hollywood. Stay tuned for details.

I much enjoyed my panel presentation, as well as the conversations and networking at August’s convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. I served as Head of the Cultural and Critical Studies Division this past year, so the convention meetings were particularly gratifying to wrap up a year of organizing.

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Full summer, back to school

A colleague recently introduced me at a back-to-school event by mentioning I’ve traveled this summer to Japan and Minnesota. That sounded like summer flew by so fast. Given the rich memories I brought with me, it also sounded incomplete.

I traveled to Japan to present at, and attend, the International Communication Association, and had the privilege of visiting Nagasaki and Fukuoka. Possibly my strongest experience was standing at the hypocenter of where the bomb dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The Nagasaki Peace Park usually has quite the number of visitors walking around, with and without guides. Yet I was standing alone, in the rain, at a place that changed the course of history. It felt very humbling and chilling at the same time.

Then yes, I traveled to Minnesota. I attended the convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. I served as Vice-Head of the Cultural and Critical Studies Division this past year, so this particular conference gathering was very, very busy and tiring, with all the commitments I had (and next year, as Head of the Division, should be even greater!). It also meant, however, that I go to see so many old and newer friends and colleagues from across the world. Two special moments were to take an annual picture with both great friends from graduate school, now mature academics with families and children, and with my dear co-author and frequent roommate.

My journey from online teaching to mastery learning

My first introduction to online teaching came a few years ago, when I started considering reaching some of the less traditional students at Oakland University who still wished to take News Writing but had scheduling conflicts. I then moved to adapting the Digital Photojournalism course to the online format, too.

Teaching online suits me, but is certainly a much more of a challenge than face-to-face teaching. Some of my early questions included, how do I ensure that all students benefit from forum discussions? How do I ensure that students check my feedback on assignments, in order to improve their writing skills?

Then I attended last year’s Lilly Teaching Conference in Traverse City, Michigan, packed with sessions about not only online teaching, but also “flipped learning.” Once I was back on campus, I noticed an email invitation to join a faculty development group that was setting out to examine flipped classrooms. I signed up right away – and started applying the concepts in the same semester, to great success.

As soon as I finished reading the assigned book for the group, “Flip Your Classroom,” however, I was even more sold on the mastery learning model.

“Incredible,” I thought, “a class to truly focus on the development of skills, not on measuring every step that students absorb my words, don’t cheat on tests, or follow textbook chapters! In fact, the model allows for learning, editing, and fine-tuning skills as the main focus”!

So here’s what sold me:

Mastery Learning enables students to take responsibility for their own learning. Students … work on assignments, interact with the class learning management site, have one-on-one discussions with their teacher, and get tutored by their peers and cadet teachers. … Mastery Learning allows students to work at their own pace through the curriculum. When they complete a unit they must demonstrate that they have learned the content by taking an exit assessment … If students score less than [fill-in-the-blank] on these exit assessments, they must go back and re-learn those concepts they missed and retake the exam. Grades are no longer determined by a percentage but rather how much content they have mastered.”

I want to repeat the last part again – students that don’t achieve an agreed upon “passing grade” on a set of skills (to be determined by each instructor) have the opportunity to redo assignments – and this opportunity is embedded in the course structure, not a perk/extra credit for motivated students only.

This idea was shocking – and lovely – and I wanted to see for myself if it could work with news writing. So, I wrote up a proposal, got a grant, and here I am, half-way through my first semester of teaching in the mastery learning approach.

And I have stories to share. Keep reading. I’ll be back with these.