Learning by doing
Learning by doing
As you understand, DSJ put a lot of emphasis on the experience of the participants by requiring you to produce a summary of one investigative article in advance. The three veterans have even produced an article in full.
We do this because it is difficult to use real exercises training investigative journalism. On the other hand it is a requirement for understanding the relevance of the teaching method of learning by doing". The point is also for the whole class to share our experiences, allowing us to use the cases in the training. Finally the cases will give me as a teacher an idea of the experience and the level of the participants.
The approach of the teaching method of "learning by doing" is hands-on and real-life experiences rather than lectures. This means, that the participants need to have their hands deep in the production of journalism, and thus utilize the gained experiences in the study.
Teaching journalism today is far from the traditional teaching at the Balkan universities, when curricula were given in details, and the teacher responded with long lecturers.
With the participatory approach the learning is based on the experiences of the participants, on the current media of your country and on the work and discussions of the participants. The teaching is conducted in a highly participatory fashion. On each item the participants is actively engaged, either a) through practical exercises, b) through discussions in groups or c) through plenary discussions of their own personal experiences - or (most often) a mix of the three.
The process of learning by doing is circular.
1. You act, research and report - try and error
2. You get new experiences
3. You think and discuss experiences - you ask for knowledge
4. You re-adjust your ideas to new theory
Journalists are often very action minded people. The circle, or rather the spiral, of the process begins with your action:1. Your job is to research and report - and you try your best. You might even experiment. Some times you make mistakes.
2. Though the work you get new experiences - with new problems, new sources, new deadlines. However, journalists are often busy getting on with the next story, so they don't pay attention to the new experiences.
3. If you don't reflect and think about your newly gained experience, you won't learn anything from it. The discussions and exchange with colleagues promote the reflections. Often it is fruitful to seek advice of more experienced colleagues - such teachers
4. Reflection and discussions will make you re-adjust your ideas: "There is another way." Placing the experiences and new ideas in a new context is actually producing a new theory. You have learned.
1. You act again. 2... 3... 4... 1... and so on.
When learning by doing the challenge is not to do it, and do it again and again, until you can do it mechanically.The challenge always is to do it better. Learn from both mistakes and successes.
In the learning by doing circle advise from good colleagues - or teachers - are important. But is not a question of copying more experienced colleagues. It is a question exchanging experience and knowledge.
Working with objectives
Working with objectives for a course forces you to think directly of your target group of participants: Who are they, and what do they need to learn? And what do you require of the participants in terms of working experience and previous education?
The objectives an the other make it possible for the participants to see if the course is the right course for them.
As future trainers it may be an idea for you to work with objectives, not only for an entire course, but for each session of the course.
When you know what you want to teach the participants, the next problem is to realise how to teach it, regarding methods and time. It takes time to learn something, whereas it is fast to receive an orientation or introduction. Specific information you can't teach, you can only pass it on, e.g. by presenting to paper to read.
The points of introducing the objective to class are several others:1. The participants are enabled to understand, what we want to teach, and thus enabled to reject or add to the goals.
2. It enables the participants to commit themselves to the objectives
3. The participants are enabled to monitor and evaluate whether the course lives up to its goals or not.
4. Finally, working with objectives will enable the teacher to focus the course and the teaching. The trainer should always know why he or she does something in the class: Why do we do it, and where does it lead us?
The RAM Hard Disc Transfer Exercise
Knowing the objectives of a day you can start every morning, or even every new session, by introducing this objective.In addition you may ask the participants to write down their knowledge of the subject, and in the evening you finalise the training by asking them, what they have learned.
- Targeting the subject of the day - 4. minutes...Every participant write down what he or she knows about the subject (5 lines). We go through a few of the answers - and ask if anyone has something to add.
Objective: The pedagogical point is to activate the basic knowledge of the participants (to move the knowledge from the hard disc to the RAM so to speak). This increases the learning pedagogical studies have proved.
A secondary point is for the teacher to explore the knowledge of the class, which allow him or her to refer to the participants' own knowledge and experience during the following lectures and discussions.
In the evening we reverse The RAM Hard Disc Exercise - and save the lessons learned to the hard disc:
- What did you learn today?Every one writes down specifically what he or she personally has learned – DO NOT WRITE DOWN THE CONTENT THE SUBJECTS OF THE DAY. Afterwards we call some to share their learning - and ask the rest of the class if any one has something to add.
Objective: The pedagogical points are threefold:1. Each participant focus the learning of the day and thus store the knowledge learned (save the knowledge on the hard disc so to speak). This increases the learning.
2. Presenting the lessons learned to class also serves as winding up repetition for the whole class.
3. Finally the presentation may serve as an evaluation.
Mind mapping your ideas
The mind map is a useful tool for journalists to develop our ideas and to find sources for our stories.
A mind map is a very easy tool. You can always call on your colleagues to help brainstorming and record it on any piece of paper.
Really it is just another way of recording a brainstorming of ideas.
The traditional way:Normally you write a brainstorming down on paper beginning in the top left corner - and continuing downwards in some sort of logical structure.The problem is that this sort of structure tends to put a limitation on your ideas - in that way you want to stick to the structure you created.Also, when working in groups, this logical structure will limit the input from the other participants - because they too feel obliged to stick to the structure laid out by person holding the pert.
In this way you will loose good ideas. When you can't present or record your ideas at once you might forget them, and therefore they won't interact with the other ideas.
The mind mapping way:With the mind map you begin in the center of the paper and work your way out in all directions without any other structure than the one of a tree seen from above.
In the center you write your subject and circle it. From this trunk you associate freely, recording connected words and subjects and ideas as branches and subbranches to your main subject.
Every time you associate on a subbranch, you will be more specific. Through the branching you will find that your idea is developing from a general subject to a specific story. ,
(figure: mind map on means of transport)
Every time you make a new branch you get more specific - from "MEANS OF TRANSPORT' toTHE MINI BUS INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT YESTERDAY"With a mind map you record the ideas when they occur. The mind map opens several rows of associations in a brainstorming - all at once.
You follow on each branch the logic of the idea. Every time you make a sub-branch, your angle will get sharper.
If another idea occurs in the process you just open a new branch. It is very important not to censor any idea.
An example:1. You get an assignment on doing a story on traffic,
2. You make a mind map.
(figure: mind map on traffic)
3. And you end up with story ideas as* "Bad road maintenance due to corruption* "Broken traffic lights causes accidents"* "Delay in traffic planning"* "Import of Chinese bicycles causes unemployment" * "Corruption in traffic police" - or even more.
4. When you have chosen an idea, you make a new mind map with this particular subject in the center circle to find different angles - and you might end up with the ultimate headline.
5. Hereafter you make a mind map on the sources. Place your story in the center circle and brainstorm on all possible sources - from the government to your uncles half brother.