Authenticity and student engagement: Experiences of using myeLearning in a Journalism programme
Keywords:authenticity, online learning platform, Facebook, blogs, journalism
AbstractAuthenticity and student engagement: Experiences of using myeLearning in a Journalism programme From September 2011 to August 2012, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, mounted a one year Certificate in Journalism programme for 22 students who were being prepared to enter into the field of journalism. One feature of the programme was that it was delivered in a blended mode, with courses being delivered both face to face and using the University's online learning platform, myeLearning. This paper describes the experiences of the programme coordinator who taught one course, Fundamentals of Journalism, and oversaw the delivery of another course, Introduction to New Media. The decision was made to make this programme blended for various reasons, chief among them being to create a social space that would support the students' engagement in the course by providing them with authentic learning experiences. It was observed, however, that students used the online element of the course primarily to access required readings and to upload assignments. At the same time, they developed and interacted extensively with a Facebook page dedicated to their class activities for the Introduction to New Media course, developed their own blogs, responded to blogs created by their colleagues, and interacted with each other on Twitter. They used these social media to fulfil many of the purposes for which the myeLearning site was established. The paper describes student interactions at the different sites, explores possible reasons for the patterns of interaction, and suggests implications for planning blended programmes.