An in-person immersive journalism class pivots to online learning with the support of MSU’s Digital Scholarship Lab
During the 2020 fall semester, Michigan State University’s first in-person immersive journalism class was forced to move online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, students found resource ways to create meaningful mini-documentaries for the 360-degree theater located in the MSU Library Digital Scholarship Lab.
The lab’s director Terence O’Neil, and the transformative technology coordinator, Paul Cooper, Jr., devised a scheduling system and safety protocols that allowed students to work in-person there. Students were given access to the lab’s powerful computers, software and support staff and could also preview their work in the nearby 360-degree theater.
One example of the films produced in this way is, “Dream Today,” by Rachel Hitchcock. The MSU journalism student was inspired to make her project while sheltering-in-place in the Washington D.C. area with a friend. She wanted to combine scenes from life during the pandemic with those that echoed the civil rights upheaval around the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The 2020 Black Lives Matter protests around the world echoed the words of the Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. As we remember the legacy of King on his birthday, may his persistent messages of nonviolence and “positive peace which is the presence of justice” guide our actions.” Hitchcock wrote.
Another 360-degree film, “Nothing More, Nothing Less,” was produced by MSU journalism student Emma Dowd from her hometown, Rochester, New York. Dowd spent her final semester working remotely from home because of safety concerns. Working closely with fellow students and staff from the lab enabled her to produce a meaningful project for her final assignment.
In her film, Dowd captures the history of the suffragette movements in England and the United States. She also reveals how she learned about the movement and provides fascinating information about Rochester native Susan B. Anthony, who was a major figure in the Women’s Rights movement at the turn of the century.
The immersive journalism course will be offered again in the Fall 2021 with the hope that that the pandemic will be under control. Students will have access to 360-degree video kits and will work in the Digital Scholarship Lab to produce work that can be viewed in 360-degrees on the web, as well as in the lab’s 360-degree theater. For more information, reach out to Judy Walgren, email@example.com