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Journalism and Teaching as Team Sports
January 1, 2013 - 9:00pm

The most important change in higher education is not the growth in online learning, the rise of the MOOCS or the mobilization and digitization of curriculum. Rather, it is the change from courses as the product of one (faculty) practitioner to a team approach, where faculty (as subject matter experts) collaborate with learning designers, librarians, media specialists, and technology professionals to design, deliver and evaluate the course.   

If our model for a high quality learning experience (one worth paying a high tuition for) is an intimate seminar setting, one in which faculty and students co-participate in the construction of knowledge and where learning is active and personalized, then we will see growth in the transition to a team approach of course development and delivery.

I find it interesting that at the same time economic forces (the need to move quality teaching to scale through blended learning and to expand into distance learning) are pushing higher ed to a team teaching approach that the opposite seems to be occurring in journalism.

In an oral history of the making of Newsweek (which is closing its money losing print edition and moving to an all digital subscription format) we learn that:

"Editors would revise, art and photo would design and illustrate, researchers would check, makeup would arrange, copy would polish, and production would usher it all out the door, usually at warp speed. …..[G]roup journalism is unlikely to come roaring back anytime soon. It’s far too cumbersome, and not nearly profitable enough, for most 21st-century media companies to countenance."

The lesson for higher ed of the demise of team journalism at the print version of Newsweek is that the middle is a deadly place to be.  

The print version of Newsweek died because people would not pay for "medium-form" journalism. If we are going to pay, we want the high quality, in-depth analysis and context that can only be found in long-from writing - a format that increasingly found in e-books.  I'll pay $2.99 for POLITICO's The End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: The 34 Days That Decided the Election or the TED e-book Media Makeover: Improving The News One Click at a Time, but I would not pay $24.99 a year for a subscription to Newsweek.   

MOOCS will do to higher education what Google News did to journalism. 

Commoditized courses will be as free as commoditized news.

What will survive as paid services in both higher education and journalism are high-end, specialized, and branded services.  

A team approach for course design and delivery will increase for expensive courses (at expensive universities), as a team approach is the only way to bring the high quality attributes of a seminar to an online or large blended learning course.

The worst thing that a university can do is act like MOOCS never happened, and continue to offer large passive lecture class as the default mode of course delivery.  

Expensive universities that fail to invest in high quality faculty, and a team of education professionals (learning designers, librarians, media specialist, technologists) for them to partner with, will eventually follow the print version of Newsweek down the path of financial ruin and irrelevancy.

 

 

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