Journalism education as a perpetual beta test: Notes on the design and delivery of tertiary 'social media' subjects

Amalie Finlayson, David Cameron, Matthew Hardy

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

46 Downloads (Pure)


American futurist Ray Kurzweil argues that any industry or activity, once it 'goes digital', adopts characteristics of the underlying technology. This is readily apparent in journalism education, where the subject matter and its pedagogy are both increasingly engaged with digital media forms, and the relevance of current practice is now often framed as being under an assault from new technologies. To observers in this field this often appears as rapid and unpredictable change,creating a sense of faddish instability or unviable experimentation. This paper outlines the problems and affordances of designing and delivering two tertiary subjects built initially upon late 20th century online publication models, then re-designed with the recent emergence of so-called 'social media'. Borrowing a notion drawn from companies such as Google, we outline the principle of perpetual beta in which it is assumed that content creation and delivery is now a constantly iterative process. At Charles Sturt University, the subject COM340 Social Media is currently delivered to an on-campus cohort of undergraduate communication students, with the aim of engaging them with the professional applications of tools such as social networks (e.g. Facebook), blogs, wikis, microblogs (e.g. Twitter), and mobile media. COM112 Digital Media is taught to a cohort of undergraduate media students studying in distance education mode, and uses similar tools to introduce them to a range of online publishing options, which increasingly includes these social media forms. This paper evaluates some of our underlying assumptions about so-called digital native learners, comparing the experience of teaching mostly Gen-Y on-campus undergraduates with the more heterogeneous distance education students. It also questions the notion that educators are non-savvy digital immigrants by considering innovative learning and teaching, and the increasing role teachers play in leading young people towards a new mediliteracy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJEA2009
Subtitle of host publicationJournalism education in the digital age: Sharing strategies and experiences
EditorsDebra Mayrhofer
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventJournalism Education Association (JEA) Conference - Perth, Australia
Duration: 30 Nov 200902 Dec 2009


ConferenceJournalism Education Association (JEA) Conference


Dive into the research topics of 'Journalism education as a perpetual beta test: Notes on the design and delivery of tertiary 'social media' subjects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this