CoJMC introduces 360-degree video, virtual reality modules into Visual Communication program

CoJMC introduces 360-degree video, virtual reality modules into Visual Communication program

Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 4:45pm
The 360-degree video and photo rig being set up for a shot
The 360-degree video and photo rig being set up for a shot

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications will kick off the next phase of its first-of-its-kind Visual Communication program in spring with modules in immersive media, including 360-degree video, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

The modules, part of a new visual communication curriculum, replace traditional skills-course teaching with an emporium-style model that encourages challenge-based learning. The students have the opportunity to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems, with the help of faculty.

“These are exciting offerings for the college,” said Dean Maria Marron. “Our professors are introducing students to these technologies and are ensuring our curriculum changes with the ever-evolving media.”

Students start by learning the basics of visual communication, including storytelling and how the technology works in the first two classes. Then they have the opportunity to choose which advanced modules they would like to take.

“In this program, students have the opportunity to get their feet wet with this technology and really experiment,” said Adam Wagler, advertising and public relations assistant professor. “We want students to be nimble with technology that’s still developing.”

The goal of the program is to get students comfortable with the concepts of storytelling so that they can easily adapt to the ever-changing landscape of media.

“Students who experiment with immersive media in the visual communication program will then be able to incorporate that into other courses,” Wagler said. “Getting them to work with these technologies early on will allow them to experiment more while in college.”

Matt Waite, a professor of practice in journalism, said, “The idea is to teach carpentry, not hammer. The tools are only a part of telling a story, and knowing how to tell a story is essential when entering a completely new environment.”

No matter what the students’ majors are, there is value in learning about 360-degree video production, as well as virtual reality. Immersive media is growing more and more popular in advertising and journalism.

For advertising and public relations majors, immersive media is an opportunity to get consumers to experience an environment they wouldn’t have an opportunity to normally.

For journalism and broadcasting majors, finding new ways to tell the same story will engage the reader in the content. They can take the audience to the scene of the story, rather than just tell them about it.

The program culminates in a final group project where students work as a team to plan, produce and promote visual content. This program is a prerequisite for upper-level classes in the college, giving students the foundation needed as they progress through the curriculum.

To support the program, Andersen Hall’s lower level is in the final stages of renovation into a new immersive digital hub that serves as a resource center for students in the Visual Communication classes, as well as for other CoJMC students looking for assistance on projects.