What is this online J-School about?
- A free, open, online school for people seeking web-based training in digital skills.
- Not created solely for journalism students – it is designed for people of all backgrounds, especially people who are “absolute beginners.”
- Features selected tutorials, online course format, and facilitated group learning environment.
- Individual learners can sign up for a regular course; institutions and organizations can book a separate, invitation-only session.
How does this online J-School work?
At this online J-school, a course is structured as a regular online class which lasts between three and five weeks. All the courses are delivered via Moodle, the same online course management system used by thousands of colleges and universities that offer online courses. In each course, there will be syllabus, readings, quizzes, assignments, group discussions, and other activities. The course materials are based on Dr. Mu Lin’s courses and selected online resources.
How was this J-School started?
It is my belief that digital storytelling skills will help traditionally under-represented communities, both in and outside the U.S., to better promote their voices and causes.
The idea for this J-School was envisioned in summer 2013. Dr. Mu Lin, a journalism instructor in New Jersey, United States, believes that there is growing public demand for digital content production skills, but web-based training is few and far between.
On the other hand, on the web, there are ample free, quality tutorials and instructional materials on almost any subject. Then how about we offer web-based training that combines selected web materials with a structured online course format, and facilitated by an experienced instructor?
To test this idea, Dr. Lin developed and offered three courses in summer 2013: Writing for the Web, Audio Slideshow Storytelling, and Intro to Data Visualization. Together, these pilot courses attracted more than 600 participants from around the world. The Writing for the Web course was updated and offered again in December 2013, and attracted 726 people from more than 230 countries and regions.
The growing influence of this project can be seen in Google search results for keywords such as “online journalism courses,” “online journalism training,” “free journalism courses,” “digital journalism training,” which, among others, usually show this blog (www.mulinblog.com) on Page 1 or 2 of millions of results, along with some prestigious institutions that have similar offerings.
Believing in the value of knowledge sharing and encouraged by how the pilot courses were received, Dr. Lin decides to formalize and expand the free journalism course project in 2014. A tentative list of seven courses is being scheduled and suggestions are welcomed in improving these courses or developing new courses.