Archive for March, 2012

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What do you value? An exercise beyond compliance

March 15, 2012

UPDATE: I left out a word in the list of values below with my original post. It suggested that we cannot do multimedia. I meant the opposite: We MUST do multimedia.

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thinkingI just completed my formal six-year program review for the Cerritos College Mass Communications Department. In a rare move, the college’s Program Review Committee accepted our review with nothing but positive comments.

We complied. But this is my fifth career program review –my third at Cerritos College– and I long ago moved beyond the compliance stage of this accreditation-mandated self-examination of the program where we look at data to evaluate our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and then set goals for ourselves. Program review is supposed to be about evaluating yourselves and improving. All good teachers do a version of this in their heads every day and this process is just a formal presentation that brings it all together and requires you to articulate what is going on.

While I enjoyed my fourth review most because the college’s processes allowed me to be a bit more creative and include successful narratives that made for more exciting reading, this review was interesting in that it was the first since the Journalism program and Radio-TV program had joined to form the Mass Communications Department. Working out compromise statements on strengths and weaknesses and in goal setting by my Radio-TV colleague added spice, especially as he approached the process more with compliance in mind than improvement (been there, bought the t-shirt and transcended).

After completing the review, though, something feels hollow. A big part of our two programs are our student media. And while they were addressed in the review, we really did not assess them deeply. I am thinking of moving beyond compliance of program review and now developing a student media review process. What are our student media all about?

Completing such a review and articulating it in a formal document would not only be challenging, but might even be instructive, not only for myself, but for my students, my colleagues, other journalism advisers and, eventually, my replacement.

But what to include in such a review? The college provided a format for its required review, one that emphasized its hot buttons and not necessarily mine. I accept their measuring sticks of completions, success (students getting a C or better) and course retention, but they don’t speak to the day-to-day goals of the student media.

I am thinking of including the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and goal-setting components of the other process –why completely re-invent the wheel?– but adding the values, resources and processes analysis that I have written about before.

The last few days, as I ponder whether I really want to do this extra work, I’ve been focusing on what our major values for the Talon Marks brand are. Here are my preliminary thoughts.

  • Student media should be student run, student produced and student edited
  • The print edition is still a valuable part of the student media process
  • We must train students to embrace a digital-first mindset
  • Producing stories without using multimedia techniques is not an option
  • Because we are trying to position ourselves as a news provider for our campus radio station audio is our current major multimedia focus
  • We need to embrace social media as a story-telling form
  • In the end we want students to walk away with a portfolio of varied storytelling examples

We have more values than that, but I wonder, what other values would other instructors include on such a list?

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