Equipping student-journalists to use new technologies has been a central component of Whitworth's communication studies program for decades. From typesetters to 35 mm film cameras to computer workstations, numerous high-tech tools have played a role in students' career preparation.
One of the program's newest technologies is a 360fly 4K camera. With a spherical lens that records everything in its 360-degree field of view, the camera allows students to work with immersive photos and video.
"Someone watching the video would have the sensation of being in the scene," says Kevin Grieves, associate professor of communication studies. "Turning one's head shifts the perspective of the video, permitting the audience to interact with a scene in ways not possible with conventional video or photography."
Courses that utilize the camera include Video and Audio Journalism, Interactive Journalism, and Media Ethics. Grieves says Whitworth provides its journalism students an education that goes far beyond learning which buttons to push.
"We feel strongly that students need to understand how to use these tools responsibly," he says. "Immersive storytelling raises ethical questions that our students need to be able to address. We also want to help students learn how to assess the viability and usefulness of new technologies, to develop a sense of which ones might have lasting impact."
Grieves, whose journalism career spanned 12 years and included writing and producing for CNN and CNN International, says his experiences in the field helped him shape a perspective on technology that he now shares with students in the classroom.
"We need to think about why we should use a new media technology and how it might enhance the storytelling," Grieves says. "Compelling storytelling is what makes for a strong user experience. If that's missing, no amount of technology can save it."