Arthur D. Santana, Ph.D. Headshot

Using iPads to Create News in JMS 550, CTL Mini-grant Spring 2016

Instructor: Arthur Santana, Journalism and Media Studies

Summary: Professor Arthur Santana implemented the use of iPads in his JMS 550 Multimedia News Laboratory course to address the cultural shift in the way news is consumed today using mobile devices. In addition to addressing course goals for students to create and manage digital news content using emergent technology, he also wanted to position the School itself at the cutting-edge of journalism education. In the lab, students learned how to use iPads for all three stages of creating news: collecting, editing and publishing. Students then applied these skills in a real-world environment, gathering news at the community level for their final projects. The result of this project was not only to help students become adept at using mobile technology to create multimedia news content, but also to give them confidence in their job marketability after graduation.

Final report

What I Did

This teaching innovation was designed to introduce journalism students in the School of Journalism & Media Studies on how to use iPads in the reporting process. The goal was to show them, via field and laboratory exercises, how to use iPads to become engaged in the three-part process of creating the news: collecting the news (images, videos, interviews), editing the news (on iMovie) and publishing the news (on our JMS website). What was unique about this new teaching innovation was that this process took place entirely on an iPad by students in a laboratory setting. Allowing students to have access to class iPads enabled them to create and manage news content in ways many of them have never experienced.

The pedagogical approach, thus, was twofold: 1) train journalism students to use iPads for the collection and dissemination of the news and 2) train students to use iMovie for editing the news content they collected. Students then took the training they received in the classroom and applied it in a real-world environment, gathering news at the community level. (To move students outside the campus bubble, students were instructed that their final projects would need to be on a topic off campus).

The introduction of this new teaching innovation did not diminish the existing training students received in this class, including, for example, a written portion of their news project. All the learning outcomes of the existing course remained intact and, indeed, were reinforced with this new teaching approach.

How It Went

The implementation of four new iPads (made possible with this CTL grant) was a success by all accounts. Students in the class reported having a positive experience with the iPads and reported being grateful to have been exposed to a new tool to help them in the field of journalism. A survey of students showed that they ended the course far more adept at using the iPads for collecting, editing and publishing their multimedia projects on iPads.

Overall, descriptive data show that across all questions, the confidence level rose among students by the end of the term compared to the beginning. By the end of the class, students expressed a greater confidence level in interviewing, shooting video, capturing still photographs and editing on the iPad, which was the goal of this class. They also expressed a greater confidence level in their ability as not just a multimedia journalist but as a journalist in general, meaning the digital skills they learned in this course significantly bolstered their confidence in being a reporter overall.

In short, by the end of the course, students, using iMovie on the iPad 2, reported being fluent in conceiving, shooting, writing, editing and assembling various news items. In general, students seemed pleased with the outcome of the class. Of the 14 students enrolled, 13 completed the SDSU end-of-the-term evaluation. The average class score was 4.24, which exceeded the department average of 4.22. Qualitatively, many students expressed satisfaction that the class helped them achieve the course goals.

For their final capstone assignment for this class, each student produced a multimedia project that was published on the JMS Reports website. Accordingly, a clear outcome of this proposal was those published pieces. In this way, at the conclusion of the course, there were very concrete outcomes associated with this new teaching innovation. At the same time, there were many intangible outcomes associated with the proposal. The new skills students learned helped them, many said, become more marketable upon graduation.

What I Learned

Ideally, the class could have benefited from more new iPads. Further, some students expressed concern over the use of iMovie as our editing software. iMovie, while very useful, has its limitations, and it might be wise to consider different, more versatile editing programs in future iterations of this class.

Also, while students seemed to appreciate gaining a new skill with the implementation of iPads in their multimedia journalism course, many expressed a desire to include smartphones as part of the class. These mobile devices, they said, are becoming very popular and should be incorporated into the class. This does seem to be the next logical step in future versions of this class, and I very much welcome it.