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Monday, August 22, 2016

The 27th year begins

Students crowded  the halls again at the University of Central Oklahoma as I put the finishing touches on the two classes I begin teaching tomorrow.
27 years ago...Only Mark Hanebutt and I are still in the department. Decesased, Charles Simmons at right, and Woody Gaddis at left. Former secretaries Nancy Brown and Virginia Dodson, Susan Gonders and retired Dennie Hall.
It's a long way and a long time from that first semester in August of 1990...back when email was in its infancy, cell phones rare, and computers scarce. Outside our building were gravel parking lots. The journalism department was small--with only five full-time professors. I moved here after four years at OSU where I was earning my doctorate, and received about a 30 percent raise.
Since then there have been thousands of students, a digital revolution, personal and professional defeats and successes. At our departmental retreat last week there were 35 people present. We have about 700 majors in several fields, ranging from what used to be called "Journalism" to general communication fields.
Tomorrow I teach  "Blogging for Journalists," and a new class for me, "History of Journalism." In May I taught "Twitter for media," unheard of ten years ago. The history class will spend almost half the semester on events since  Watergate. The attacks of 9/11 are history for today's students.
The years go by
Now I'm the old man of the department, trying to stay somewhat current with all these changes and young students.  
They don't learn the way students did in 1990, much less than when I was in college. So I have to teach differently. I still teach writing and thinking and observing, but most of all I have to inspire and lead my students so they will be able to adapt. 
Our world is changing so fast with technology affecting everything around the world that except for the basics, just knowing stuff won't be a key to a successful career or life. If you don't believe it, watch this clip on the world they will face--the first two years of their education may be obsolete by the time they graduate: Did You Know?
The Department now, Mark Hanebut at left, white shirt. Me, second from top, right
Warning--this video will disturb you, and it does my students. The question I have for them after they view it is, "How and what am I supposed to teach you?"
If you want to follow my courses, I've set up two blogs--sort of digital textbooks-- that carrying the assignments and other material. Click here for a look at the first day's materials: BlogblogUCO and I Am Journalism.
So tomorrow, this old prof will arrive about 7:30, open the door to my office, get some coffee, and once more, before the crowd arrives, mull in silence for a few moments to get mentally ready, once again, going on 27 years.

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