Are journalism professors needed anymore?

On this kdmc website, I read: “The Knight Digital Media Center has hosted dozens of speakers during our digital media training sessions, and most of them are webcast live.” I have not yet looked at many of these video webcasts, but the ones I did watch were excellent, and the topics were very timely and useful. I highly recommend this resource, and I thank Nino Orjonikidze for bringing it to my attention.

Referring to these resources, Nino asked: “Does anybody really need us if such resources are available on the web :)”

I decided to answer her (rhetorical) question . . .

I’m very glad you asked this question.

I think that for most classes, students could find the information they need in order to understand a subject. In addition, professors can provide up-to-date information via PowerPoint presentations they create and personal notes. Ideally, most of the type of information that would normally be conveyed during a lecture would have already been read and digested BEFORE a class begins.

So what should happen during a class? During a class, a professor should interact with students. Do students really understand the material? Are they relating this good information to their individual lives? Can they use critical thinking skills to engage with the information? Can they apply the information? Can they analyze and evaluate the good information? These are VERY IMPORTANT questions, and the only way that a professor will get answers is by engaging students. In brief, students need us because they need to interact with someone; it is difficult for students to interact with good information.

Students also need us to push them. We need to motivate them, challenge them, and provide feedback.

Professors also provide feedback. Just giving a grade on a test is NOT very good feedback. Talking with students about their work IS good feedback. You can read a student’s paper and then make an audio recording. You can do a critique in class. You can have students visit you during office hours. You can TYPE extensive comments for students.

Ideally, we should also help students make connections. OK. Here is good information. It is “laying” around. I can “pick it up.” A professor’s job is to connect this good information with other good information.

We need to take a personal interest in their lives, including their future careers. Good information cannot take an interest in students.

We can do our jobs via distance education IF we can interact with students and IF we can push them well, and if we can provide good feedback, and if we can help them make connections and if we can take a personal interest in students’ lives.

If we lecture and go home, then students don’t really need us.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

2 Responses to Are journalism professors needed anymore?

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