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Murray Earns Coveted Ohio Faculty Innovator Award

Posted Jun. 14, 2010

Gordon Murray wins Faculty Innovator Award

JMC Assistant Professor Joe Murray, Ph.D., is working to reinvent the 21st century journalism curriculum. By developing new approaches and partnerships, Murray is helping students to learn while saving them money by eliminating hardcopy textbooks in all of the courses he teaches.

“The marketplace for journalists has changed remarkably, yet journalism schools have been slow to respond,” he says.  According to Murray, “The pedagogical methods and basis for teaching journalists are literally rooted in the last century.”

“The need to advance a beginning journalist’s command of language and grammar will not change, nor will developing their abilities to investigate, research and report,” Murray says.  In a recently published article in the Journal of Media Education, Murray reports that there is, however, “an exponential growth in the expectation for journalists to now have high levels of technological literacy and competency to communicate information to global audiences, diverse cultures and in ways that previous generations of journalists could only have considered to be science fiction.”

Murray has taken the lead in integrating technology into courses at Kent State to prepare students to work in a challenging field and to communicate with an audience that is changing.

He uses avatars as virtual graduate assistants in his online syllabi to provide advice and engage students with course content.  

He created Stories That Fly, an award-winning online magazine and working laboratory for students and participant journalists to experiment with narrative non-fiction and multimedia story development. Students gain real-world experience, interact with local communities throughout the region, and have an opportunity to build a valuable social network to service their aspirations.

His students take tests online and have their grades reported instantly, and three years ago, Murray replaced hardcopy textbooks for his courses with online video tutorials from Lynda.com.

Multiple textbooks required for one of his courses typically would cost each student $180- $200.  And the texts, according to Murray, “were frequently out-of-date before they arrived in the bookstore.”  Using online subscriptions, Murray’s students now pay only $37 for access to five course titles containing approximately 30 hours of video delivered in short, 2-3 minute tutorials with experts that can be accessed online 24/7 for the entire semester.

Each video is designed to simplify the complexity of a particular software tool and reduce confusion for students.  Murray says using online tutorials improves his ability to accommodate different learners.  

“It makes it possible to work more directly with each student in class.  I can focus my efforts on theory, making connections across software and integrating techniques – instead of getting hopelessly mired down in one, when a few students have trouble understanding a particular concept or application,” he says.  Also, “the content is always current.”

Murray is revising current pedagogical practices to benefit students and faculty.  He is introducing new methods that will significantly improve teaching in a converged media environment.  He is enhancing student learning with digital storytelling and multimedia narratives and increasing the comprehensive knowledge and technological literacy of students so they may perform well in their service to inform the public interest.

Murray’s article in The Journal of Media Education details some of his work on reinventing the journalism curriculum. See: Murray, G. J. (2010, April). Reinvention strategies: digital storytelling, media convergence and the new university journalism curriculum.  Journal of Media Education 23-31, 1(2).

In July, Murray will travel to Grahamstown, South Africa to present the paper at Rhodes University as an invited delegate to the World Journalism Education Congress.  See: http://wjec.ou.edu/congress.php and http://wjec.ou.edu/index.html for additional information.