Special topics classes are fun and rewarding because it gives the students the opportunity to explore and learn about areas they don’t expect when they come to college.
I teach a special topics class every other fall at Cedarville University. This year were are calling the class digital technology and field reporting. We are going to cover live stories and use iPhones, tablets, laptops, cameras and whatever else is needed. The goal is cover a news event and file reports from the field in innovative ways. And we will use social media every step of the way.
This class, as has been true with previous special topics classes, will be practical in nature. The students will take reporting and interviewing skills previously learned and put them to work every week.
The 2010 class was in sports journalism. The students covered games and events in whatever manner suited their interests. We had writers and photographers for the most part. We also had someone work on his radio play-by-play skills and another work on his video skills.
We went to high school football games, minor-league baseball and hockey games and a University of Dayton men’s basketball game. The nine students enjoyed each of those venues and they learned a lot about what it means to be a working sports journalist.
In 2012, we studied the coverage of political campaigns. This class was a little heavier on theory as we looked at the way the media handled the 2000 presidential election and other key election stories in history. Our big project was an all-day group effort on election day. We did stories from the local polling place that we posted online during the day, worked in the social media realm and did video analysis with political science students several times during the evening as the results were coming in.
These classes help me see what is possible to do with a group of students and have helped broaden what we do in our “regular” classes.