Online format opens new possibilities for HSJI, Game Development Camp
The Media School’s High School Journalism Institute and Game Development Camp adapt regularly to changes in technology and the realities of the industries.
This year, that meant operating completely online.
While the online-only format was simply a last resort, directors of both summer precollege programs said it taught them lessons they’ll incorporate into future offerings.
“I’m not going to be surprised if we elect to continue to offer this as an option every year, even if hopefully next year we’ll have our in-person camp back up and running,” said Andrew Behringer, director of the game camp.
Game Development Camp
Game Development Camp reached its maximum capacity of 40 students, and the online option allowed people from all over the country to participate.
The new format for Game Development Camp consisted of four main components: guest talks from the game design faculty, tutorials from camp instructor and lecturer Rush Swope, sessions where campers could create their own games and small group sessions where Media School students led the campers through activities and helped them with their individual projects.
Many of these activities would have also taken place during a regular in-person camp, but the talks from faculty members were a new addition this year that Swope said he hopes continues in the future.
Professor of practice Mike Sellers talked about systems, professor Ted Castronova talked about design, senior lecturer Will Emigh talked about programming, senior lecturer Norbert Herber talked about sound and Swope talked about art.
After each of their talks, they also led exercises to help the campers master the skills.
“They know how to teach this stuff from a base level, so all their talks were really engaging and got really good feedback,” Swope said.
Both Behringer and Swope said they thought the virtual camp was successful and achieved the same goals as the in-person camp.
“First and foremost, we want to teach them about games, but also we want to show them the opportunities that are available at our game design program here at The Media School at Indiana University,” Behringer said. “Even if they’re not using our equipment, they’re still getting instruction from a lot of our faculty, and they’re still getting a curriculum that was designed by them that reflects the kind of learning they would get as university students in the future.”
High School Journalism Institute
Faced with the possibility of having to cancel for the first time in 74 years, HSJI chose to adapt instead.
Director Teresa White said that while moving online was a challenge, the experience helped her and the instructors gain clarity about what the most important elements of the program really are.
“I think we probably won’t teach HSJI exactly the way we’ve taught it before since we’ve had this experience,” she said.
HSJI is typically divided into various workshops from which students can choose to participate, including reporting and writing, visual journalism, yearbook and leadership/staff management. This year, each workshop consisted of online modules students could complete.
Each workshop started with mandatory modules that taught basic skills, and then moved on to a series of optional modules.
For example, in the visual journalism workshop, students first completed modules on skills such as photo composition and perspective. Then, they could choose from three tracks: infographics, photography or documentary, or they could complete modules from all three.
Doctoral candidate Nandhini Giri was an instructor for the visual journalism session, and this was her first year teaching at HSJI. She said she enjoyed the experience, especially being able to talk with the students during the camp.
“Every night we used Padlet — an online dashboard where you post all your designs — and we said ‘OK, let’s make it like a design studio where we all look at the designs and critique and build our vocabulary about how to talk about your own designs,’ and it became kind of like this nighttime, cozy environment,” she said. “I think in just three days, we became so close-knit.”
She said her section had about 21 students consistently doing the assignments and 13 or 14 showing up for the online discussions in the evenings.
“It’s the personal commitment that really inspired me as well,” she said. “These are high school students, they don’t have this commitment or agenda to show up for the discussions or finish the modules, but they were all doing it.”
Similar to Game Development Camp, the online format allowed HSJI to reach students from a wider geographic area. For example, Bettina Sánchez, a high school junior, attended the virtual camp from Puerto Rico.
“The fact that it was online really just made it more accessible for me,” she said.
She also said the module setup was easy to follow and complete.
Another participant, Lizzie Allen, has attended HSJI before in person. She said that while the online experience was different, she learned a lot of skills that will be applicable this school year.
“Having us go online was just a good example of how we have to keep working and putting out news even if next school year isn’t a typical school year for our paper,” she said.
This online adaptation also provided lessons that can apply to future years after the program can meet in person again, White said.
Because the instructors created modules, lessons, exercises and videos for this year, they can now use these materials moving forward. White said they can use these materials for students to work on before coming to campus or in the evenings instead of during class time, which would free up more time for hands-on instruction.
“I think we’ve found probably a better balance of what students should do when we’re meeting face to face and what they should do when they’re outside of class,” she said. “But we also tried to stay true to what HSJI always is. It still feels like HSJI as much as it can.”