Teaching journalism in an ever changing technology environment requires staying a step ahead of the game. Professor Jim Stovall and other School of Journalism and Electronic Media (JEM) faculty members are doing just that by producing iBook versions of textbooks for the classroom.
UT JEM faculty members are believed to be the first in the country to produce multimedia versions of texts. The process involves using the iBooks Author software to insert the written content and then using the software provided layout templates along with multimedia tools such as video clips and inserting links to other content. The end product is a $1.99 iBook downloadable from iTunes to an iPad. Students can then experience the material as written, audio and video content with much broader interaction than previously available in print only versions. Currently a Kindle version is also produced however, it does not have the full range of multi-media features. Other tablet-based technology options will undoubtedly evolve over time.
Stovall is using the Media Reporting and Photojournalism iBooks as texts for his classes. “Interaction with an iBook is something that more and more of our students will experience because of the rapid adoption of iPads in high schools,” Stovall said. “Probably within 18 months, most of our students will come to campus with an iPad. We are trying to get ready now to deliver the instructional material they need. And we also believe that our work in this area will have an impact far beyond the Tennessee campus.”
To underscore the relevance of this project, Stovall approached the Poynter Institute and the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University about linking to some of their content. Both of these highly respected institutions enthusiastically agreed. At the August 2013 AEJMC Convention in Washington D.C., the UT JEM team will have samples of the books and iPad demonstrations of their multimedia components on display. Attendees will be able to see for themselves the flexibility and constant updating capabilities available with these texts on iBooks.
“No one else has taken this step,” said JEM Director and Professor Peter Gross. “As the first school to produce this next-generation textbook, we feel an obligation to lead the way for others committed to quality journalism education. This is why our School is called Journalism AND Electronic Media. We encourage all CCI alumni to stay connected and look for future announcements about this exciting project.”
The current Tennessee Journalism Series offerings and links to iTunes can be accessed from the JEM website at http://jem.cci.utk.edu/tennessee-journalism-series.