Grady College to offer online courses in summer 2015

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will offer a series of undergraduate online courses in summer 2015, its first online offerings in its 100-year history.

Six Grady faculty members have been approved to offer the courses and have been working with the UGA Office of Online Learning to learn the techniques of teaching online courses to develop rich, engaging learning experiences.

“The launch of our first cohort of online courses at Grady College represents a major step forward for the college,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “We worked closely with instructional designers at the Office of Online Learning to ensure that we offer state-of-the-art online education right out of the box. Our faculty spent six months working on these courses and we hope they provide a transformative educational experience for our students. So many of our students leave Athens in the summer to work on internships or enroll in domestic field study or study abroad programs, and the flexibility of online courses allows students another option.”

Most of the courses will constitute very brief video or slide presentations presenting an introduction to the lesson, then will guide students through readings, web-based tutorials and projects to perform and evaluate on student's own time. Most of the classes include projects and the online medium provides a good way to share projects and encourage feedback among students. It is also a better medium for sharing long-form media like television shows in the case of the media and television study classes.

Bart Wojdynski, an assistant professor of journalism, is one of the faculty members selected to teach online this summer and he has taught online classes when he was at Virginia Tech. He thinks there are definite advantages to an online class setting.

“Students working together in a virtual community online can provide a really supportive environment,” Wojdynski said. “Online instruction gives a chance for every student to have an equal part, where in a traditional class sometimes a few students control most of the comments and conversations. The great thing about taking an online course is that you can still play a big role on your schedule and communicate in your own way. I look forward to experiencing that with Grady students.”

The courses that will be offered include:

Brand Communication Marketing (ADPR 5990E) — taught by Mark McMullen, this course provides an overview of the fundamentals of branding, marketing and integrated marketing communication.​

Data Gathering and Visualization (JOUR 5380E) — a course taught by Wojdynski, this program focuses on teaching students how to tell effective stories using data. This course works with a variety of design programs and covers conceptual and hands-on issues in finding, structuring and cleaning data, and creating graphics that visually tell stories.

Elements of Narrative (TELE 5990E) — taught by Hartmut Koenitz, this course is designed to give students foundational knowledge of narrative modes, structures, and strategies in different media forms, with a special focus on understanding contemporary narrative forms in TV, film, and interactive media.

Media Literacy and Social Justice (JRLC 5990E) — taught by Peggy Kreshel, this course is designed to foster both critical media literacy and critical cultural literacy. It will introduce basic elements of media literacy, including the production and critical analysis of media texts, audience reception of those texts and media in everyday lived experience. Using a social justice framework, critical issues regarding media involvement in sustaining processes and formations of injustice as well as media potential to counter injustices/redress social inequalities will be a vital component.

The Peabody Awards: Television History and Excellence (TELE 5990E) — taught by Shira Chess, this course uses content from the Peabody Awards Archives giving students the opportunity to watch and think about television from this lens: a historical examination of what excellence means to this medium. The class will study genres including sitcoms, news, science fiction, and crime dramas.

New Media Production (NMIX 4110E) — a course offered through Grady's New Media Institute and taught by Emuel Aldridge. This course provides instruction in web development, blogging and coding. It is required for those seeking the New Media certificate.

While some of these classes have been taught previously in a traditional classroom setting, this summer offering will be the first time that the Media Literacy and Peabody Awards courses have been taught.

For Kreshel, the online element gives her a chance to teach a class that Grady currently doesn't offer and is becoming increasingly important in today's digital media culture.

“We are starting from scratch, but this is a great opportunity to teach media literacy and hopefully one day it will fit into the core and go system-wide,” Kreshel said.

Chess agrees that the online medium is a prime opportunity to introduce a new critical-thinking course.

“It is easy to be dismissive of TV, but it is one of the most important cultural mediums of our time,” Chess explains. “This course creates a unique opportunity for students to continue to learn about popular media and gain critical skills during the summer.”

Koenitz sees a particular opportunity to reach students while many are immersed in internship programs. “An online class offers a productive contrast to a work environment, especially with a topic that is often treated as a given. The Elements of Narrative class is designed to give students an understanding that the three-act structure and Freytag's story arc are just one of many options for storytelling and that alternatives can be better for different media forms and particular content.”

More information about UGA's online courses can be found on the UGA Online website. Registration for summer 2015 begins in April.

Date: January 28, 2015
Author:  Sarah Freeman, 706-201-5373,
Contact:  Alison Alexander, 706-542-1704,