July 2, 2014

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Mass Media Students Receive Hands-On Experience in Ireland

VALDOSTA — Fifteen Valdosta State University Mass Media Area students recently returned from an experiential learning opportunity in Ireland, where they traveled throughout Dublin, Waterford, and other cities experiencing a different culture and receiving hands-on experience in media production. 

Over the course of 10 fast-paced days, the students produced four “webisodes” that they will enter into competitions during the 2014-2015 academic year, a series of short slideshows and panoramic pictures, and a promotional video that will be used to promote study abroad around the VSU campus. All of this and more can be found by visiting https://www.facebook.com/#!/StudyAbroadIreland2014, the Facebook page that the students also created to both document their adventure and share it with others. 

“The amount of work accomplished on location, all while exploring a foreign country and learning about its culture, is remarkable,” shared Marie M. Elliott, head of VSU’s Mass Media Area and assistant professor. She facilitated the study abroad trip, a first for the program, along with Frank Barnas, professor of mass media.

Elliott said that the study abroad was an opportunity her students had asked for the previous year. Her only real hurdle was finding a media course that would allow the interested students to participate in a study abroad experience and give them credit within their own major. 

A little research led Elliott to MDIA 4963: International Documentary Production, a course originally designed primarily for individual senior-level students who had a desire to see the world and shoot documentary productions abroad. However, very few students utilized the course and it went dormant for a few years.

Elliott decided to revitalize the course, part of an ongoing effort to further enhance her program’s recruitment and retention numbers, shorten the length of time that it takes for students to earn a degree, and set VSU graduates apart from all others in a job search. Following the completion of a curriculum audit started more than a year ago, MDIA 4963 will officially become a study abroad course offered to all interested Mass Media Area students.

Barnas was awarded curriculum development funds to assess the requirements of revamping the course and will share his findings with VSU’s Academic Affairs office.  

“Offering an upper division course to incoming … students enhances (and) builds a culture of productivity, professionalism, and collaboration, all very important traits in the media industry,” Elliott explained. “Because media production jobs are highly collaborative, beginning-level students can be paired up with upper-level students, and through the experiential nature of their work, freshman media students can get ahead of the curve in completing viable portfolio materials for use in Senior Seminar and after graduation.”

“Mass Media is a heavily hands-on, production-oriented Bachelor of Fine Arts,” she continued, “and the way our curriculum is structured allows students to build upon earlier projects by refining them in their workshops, then put together the best of their work in Senior Seminar. Their demo reels help get them seen by employers after graduation. Because of this thread, Mass Media has a very sound curriculum that is easily measured and produces results culminating in high recruitment and retention numbers on campus. Adding a study abroad element further enhances the student-centered outcomes of our classes.”   

Elliott noted that the Mass Media Area’s study abroad experience, which will now be offered every summer, is in line with the university’s strategic plan. It helps prepare students as leaders in a global society, includes students in discipline-based inquiry and disseminates their research, increases applied learning opportunities in diverse learning environments, increases activity and involvement of students internationally, promotes a diversity-rich student-centered environment, evaluates course delivery methods and shortens time to degree, and promotes professional development and collaboration at VSU and beyond.

VSU President William J. McKinney “has afforded VSU the opportunity to build a culture that is global, diverse, and self-sustaining, all things media industries expect from potential employees,” she added.

Contact Marie M. Elliott at (229) 249-4876 or mmelliott@valdosta.edu for more information.

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