I started teaching as an adjunct professor at American University in 2008 while I was still working at USA Today. My first class was a Digital Skills class where I taught one section of the students a basic introduction to digital video. Since then, I’ve taught a number of courses in video production, web development, and writing for communications to undergraduate and graduate students.
I take a hands-on approach to learning, teaching practical skills and holding extensive lab hours as students learn the basics of using equipment and software. Because I teach in a journalism program, we emphasize these skills as merely a tool to the overall goal of telling compelling stories.
Because most of my students aren’t from the DC area, I require them to get into the city to tell stories in areas outside their comfort zone. My students have produced an array of stories on a wide variety of topics from documentaries that explore issues like gentrification to news features about artists and musicians.
My favorite classes have been our Backpack Documentary classes — a capstone for our Broadcast students and a requirement for our weekend Masters program. In the class, students produce a compelling video documentary on a story of their choosing. The class unfolds as more of a workshop and seminar where students are responsible for hitting production goals like writing a proposal, shooting interviews and b-roll, and producing a rough edit for class feedback.
While my professional experience was a key factor in my teaching, I find now that my academic work has made me a better professional. I’m comfortable breaking down complicated issues for a general audience, and working with students allows me to see how the younger generation is changing the ways we interact with news and politics.
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