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Communications revises curriculum for the future

The School of Communications new curriculum will feature six important changes and will launch in Fall 2014.

The School of Communications has revised its curriculum to better prepare students for a dynamic future that accentuates the role of web and mobile communications, media analytics, applied research and a more-converged information age.

The curriculum revisions will be implemented in Fall 2014. Current sophomores and juniors can remain under their current curriculum or shift to the new curriculum, while current first-year students and those entering Elon in Fall 2014 will choose among the newly revised majors.

(Dean’s letter to Communications students about curriculum revisions)

Here are the six major changes in the Communications curriculum:

1.  Accentuate the role of web and mobile communications

Issue:  The way people communicate and gather information is undergoing tremendous change, and students need to understand the prominent role and underlying structure of web and mobile communications.

Solution:  The school is creating a 1-hour Web and Mobile Communications course to be taken concurrently with the lab-based Creating Multimedia Content course (currently named Digital Media Convergence).

2.  Deepen the undergraduate research course

Issue:  Faculty believe more instructional time is needed in the Great Ideas course to discuss significant topical issues in media and communications and to deepen the research process.

Solution:  Effective Fall 2015, the school will increase the 2-hour course to 4 hours so that it focuses on significant issues of the day and elevates the expectation of a quality research paper. Faculty believe the course is best positioned at the junior level so that student work can be revised for consideration for research presentations and the school’s undergraduate research journal.

3.  Unify the Journalism major by eliminating sequences

Issue:  The Journalism major currently has two sequences: Print/Online News and Broadcast News. While professional distinctions do remain, the future of news is in a multiplatform world, and the curriculum needs to better reflect this future.

Solution:  The school is eliminating sequences, adopting a common conceptual course (Journalism in a Free Society), and adopting a common production course (Multimedia News Production) so that all students enter the Multimedia Journalism capstone with more coursework in common.

4.  Adopt a common publishing course in Strategic Communications

Issue:  Strategic Communications students currently have a choice of three production courses – one focusing on print and web, one focused on video, and the other focused on web publishing. Students need a common course that uniformly prepares them for the Strategic Campaigns capstone.

Solution:  The school is stipulating the Corporate Publishing course for all students, with its re-envisioned focus on multiplatform ways to communicate with internal and external audiences. The other courses remain as available electives.

5.  Converge cinema and television arts, with a BFA option

Issue:  Broadcast and Cinema currently are sequences with separate curricula under the Media Arts & Entertainment major. They are becoming more intertwined through production tools, distribution channels and some professional roles. While distinctions do remain, the curriculum needs to prepare students for a more-converged future.

Solution:  The school is renaming the major Cinema & Television Arts, eliminating sequences, and creating common conceptual, writing and capstone courses that expose students to the broader world of entertainment media. Students also will have the opportunity for greater depth through a 60-hour BFA option.

6.  Re-orient the Communication Science major as Media Analytics

Issue:  Analytics has become a byword for media organizations that place significant emphasis on audience measurement. The current Communication Science major has a somewhat-generic curriculum, and a greater need exists to focus on the science of media measurement and analysis.

Solution:  The school is retooling the curriculum and renaming it Media Analytics, with foci on understanding audiences, report writing, data analysis, strategies for emerging media, and measuring media impact.

In addition, the school has proposed a Communication Design major, currently under consideration, that would be responsive to clients and other professional applications in areas such as print publications, creative advertisements, and web and mobile media.

Colin Donohue,
3/30/2014 4:55 PM