Digital media and the student experience of ‘the new normal’ in practical learning

McGarry, Fiona (2021) Digital media and the student experience of ‘the new normal’ in practical learning.


With the pandemic prompting a pivot from classroom-based to online learning, particular challenges were encountered in disciplines where face-to-face practical teaching and group work would have previously been considered essential.

In the field of Journalism education, in-person teaching resumed but the challenges posed by social distancing and other key public health guidelines continued.

This short practice paper examines the use of digital and social media tools to overcome the hurdles and to enhance the experience for students taking an intensive radio/audio module as part of their MA in Journalism and New Media at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).

The use of short, fortnightly, podcasts from the instructor, illustrating key elements of audio practice will be outlined. As well as introducing key concepts, the podcasts were designed to help students model their own practice in producing and editing stories in sound.

A new group project entitled ‘Meet the Masters,’ in which the full MA group participated, will also be outlined. Its twin aims of introducing students to ‘socially distanced’ interviewing, and of encouraging group cohesion will be discussed.

The project used WhatsApp and the Headliner app, as well as audio editing software, YouTube and Word Press.

Student reactions from Module Evaluation forms will also be incorporated into the paper.

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