A Hands On Approach to Teaching

Staying inspired and informed by working with the next generation of journalists.

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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 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.

Bowling at the White House with my Backpack Documentary class.

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 in 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 find 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 and marijuana legalization to features about artists and musicians.

My favorite courses have been our Backpack Documentary classes — a capstone for our Broadcast students and a requirement for our weekend Master's 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 becoming a professor, 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.

Examples of Student Work

Let There Be Light by student Julia Brommel.

Eviction Defenders (OFFICIAL) by student Paul Abowd.

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