Media and design education will merge

Photo by Monica Linzmeier, Photo Editor

Photo by Monica Linzmeier, Photo Editor

by Jessica Santos

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The School of Journalism and Media Studies and the Department of Learning Design and Technology are approaching the final phases of a proposed merger.

The LDT department approached JMS faculty with the idea of a merger in the fall of 2012. This process began as a discussion and concluded with the formulation of a formal proposal.

The main reasons for the merger are the “rapidly-evolving intersection of information and media” and the departments’ shared beliefs about the power of technology in the world today, according to the proposal.

New opportunities created from this merger include more potential for research and collaborations for faculty and possible offerings of new graduate degrees in addition to an overall improved and more relevant learning experience for all students because of the unique skills of faculty. The school, however, will still retain the name School of Journalism and Media Studies.

Graduate advisor and chair of the LDT department Marcie Bober-Michel said LDT decided to leave the College of Education because it did not offer LDT the kind of growth it needed to excel. Bober-Michel said JMS and LDT are similar in their tenets and both have new areas to offer and develop.

“Students from both programs will see the role that social media plays in how we communicate with one another, build community and relationships, and share information,” Bober-Michel said. “They will indeed have access to electives that add new and exciting dimensions to the degrees they’re earning.”

She said LDT plans to become more involved in undergraduate studies and rework masters course options for both programs. LDT will also help JMS faculty move some of their courses online, Bober-Michel said.

JMS Interim Director Bey-Ling Sha said this merger is a win-win situation for both parties, as well as faculty and students.

“On the LDT side, the students benefit from the chance to explore learning design and technology in the media professions,” Sha said. “On the JMS side, our students will learn not only how to create messages for dissemination in the media, but also how to ensure that those messages help audiences learn what they need to be learning.”

JMS Assistant Professor Rebecca Nee participated in the committee that made recommendations to the deans. She said the merge is a step forward into the future and would greatly aid journalists as well as those in the fields of educational technology.

“The industry of journalism hasn’t always kept up with the technologies,” Nee said. “As mass communication professionals, whether you’re in PR, advertising or journalism, we are all trying to get our message across. And what’s the platform we’re now using? The digital platform—educational technology.”

The next step is to physically start merging the two departments. LDT faculty will attend JMS faculty meetings and begin moving in LDT faculty into the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts building during the summer.  The combined school should be operating during its transition year in August 2014.

Photo by Monica Linzmeier, photo editor

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