The New Media Professional

Gorey-CMSThe other course I’m teaching this semester–also distance–is formally titled “Communication, Media, and Society.” Is it only because I am in the field that I think that title might as well be shortened to “Stuff.” It’s hard to think what it doesn’t cover. In past incarnations, I’ve left it to the students to brainstorm a syllabus on the first day, and then largely teach the course to each other. Most (though not all) really liked the outcome of that process, despite initial doubts. There may be a way to do that online as well, but I wanted to provide a little more structure the first time it is taught online.

As a result, the course is focusing on the question of the future of the various media professions: journalist, PR professional, marketer, film maker, etc. Of course most of these only emerged as professions in the 20th century, and so it’s not surprising that they are changing rapidly with the introduction of new models of media. But I think changes in this area also reflect wider social and technological changes.

The question, of course, is what book to use as a text, since there isn’t one really. And so, we are writing one. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried this. Several years ago, one of the Communication Theory courses took a crack at a Communication Theory textbook on Wikibooks. I wasn’t thrilled by the final product, but I hadn’t expected to be–at least not entirely. The idea was that each year I’d come back and we’d add and revise chapters, but I haven’t taught a communication theory course since. It’s now a “featured book” on the Wikibooks site, and I think the experience was a good one. So we will be writing the book (and running the course) at a course wiki.

Of course we’ll also be drawing on a number of readings and lectures. Here is the assignment for the first module, including my initial lecture as an MP3.

(Apologies to Gorey for the image. See my syllabus for a citation.)

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  1. Posted 1/27/2008 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Alex, while the wiki(text)book is valuable, as you said, the experience is really where the meat is. Students building on it derive the most value, followed by teachers, then public readers. Speaking of which, I haven’t seen a printed form of Wikipedia, any thoughts on printing your Communication Theory textbook? Where and when would you consider it viable for physical manifestation?

  2. alex
    Posted 1/27/2008 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    For a number of reasons, I don’t see printing the Com Theory textbook as a viable option right now. However, I am hoping that by the end of this semester, the book we are putting together can be printed as a “real” (ink on dead trees) book, via Lulu or similar. That is definitely the aim. But it really depends on what it looks like at the end of the semester.

    Yes, I agree, the benefit is in the making less than in the product, but it gives us a goal to aim toward.

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