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Adapting to the new norm: Student work shifts online

Posted April 8, 2020
Photo by Meagen Sigmon, a visual communications student whose mother tested positive for COVID-19

When the university shifted to remote instruction in March, faculty and students found innovative ways to adapt in-person courses to an online format.

“Our students, faculty and staff distinguish themselves by their ingenuity, enthusiasm and adaptability,” says Andrea Hickerson, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. “In less than two weeks time, our faculty and staff converted over 100 face-to-face courses into online delivery this spring. I’m very proud of how the SJMC community has rallied to support each other and still produce exceptional work.

These efforts include special coverage by Carolina News and Reporter and rethinking how video production classes are designed.

Video production with Dr. Sabrina Habib

We decided to explore coronoavirus as a topic because our field tends to express their view and/or report world events. Since the students do not  have access to the School of Journalism equipment, the class is no longer about the technical side of video production. Once the class went online, we began exploring storytelling, self-expression, and finding their voice.

Intermediate Reporting and Power Producing with Dr. Laura Smith

I’m so incredibly impressed by what I’m seeing all around me. The resiliency of our students is amazing. They are getting a real-world experience in ways we couldn’t have imagined just two months ago. I designed a number of new assignments to take advantage of multimedia field production components. We’re holding regular, synchronous meetings via Blackboard Collaborate. They’re working collaboratively from across the country to produce stories, web content and newscasts using their phones and laptops. They’re sharing their work on Slack and OneDrive.  And we’re streaming, posting and publishing on YouTube Channels and newly-created Facebook Pages.

Social Media and Mobile Journalism with Dr.  Kirstin Pellizzaro

While a class on social media and mobile journalism is easily moved to an online space, I was not sure what students would be able to produce being confined to their homes. However, the photo essay assignment gave us a glance into each other's lives during this pandemic. Every student had a story to tell, from being an essential worker at a grocery store to staying positive while caring for a family member with COVID-19. The assignment provided an opportunity for us to come together and express sympathy during this situation. Though we are apart, we are growing as a class.

Intermediate Reporting and Production with Dr. Kirstin Pellizzaro

Moving the Intermediate Reporting and Production class online was a daunting task, but my broadcast journalism students rose to the occasion. These mini packages tested their critical thinking skills and their ability to adapt to a new, unique situation. You never know what life is going to throw at you on the job, but you have to remain calm, come up with solutions, and quickly get the job done with the audience none the wiser. Our students will be ready for any situation life throws at them while on the job.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.