Monthly newsletter: February 2020

Greetings. and apologies for the delay in getting you this newsletter. We normally come back from the semester break with a new bulletin of activities and best wishes for the Lunar New Year. But the advent of a new cycle and the dawn of the Year of the Rat has been overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak, and the continuing global health crisis.

This health emergency has hugely impacted us here in Hong Kong and at the JMSC, including disrupting our carefully planned spring semester. The University, out of an abundance of caution and a concern for the safety of all students and staff, has decided to suspend face-to-face teaching through the month of March. We hope that order can be lifted as expeditiously as possible, while keeping everyone safe, so we can return to our normal plans and schedule.

But suspending on campus teaching does not mean the learning has stopped.

At JMSC, with our technical expertise and our television studio, we believe we are at the leading edge of providing lively virtual classrooms, using some of the modern platforms for videoconferencing and screen sharing, like Zoom. While we hope to resume normal teaching by the end of March if not before, we are also holding teaching sessions for all our students in virtual classrooms. We have had lectures, guest speakers and breakout discussion groups online. And the initial feedback suggests students appreciate the continued engagement and dynamic sessions, even while recognising, like we do, that online learning is not the same as being here.

We do not intend to become a correspondence school, and one of the benefits of JMSC is that aspiring journalists get quality time with experienced instructors in small classes with lots of personal attention and feedback. But this experience has also shown that there might we ways to integrate the available technology more into our programme in the future, especially for some lectures, so that more classroom time can be devoted to the things that count most—individual instruction, hands on skills building, and spirited interaction with instructors, fellow students and guest speakers.

None of what we are doing now would be possible without our incredibly hardworking and tireless technical team, including our TV studio manager Kar Lok Koo, Technical Officer Roy Ching, Web producer Foon Lee, IT Technologist Horatius Li and all our unsung heroes, our dedicated teaching assistants who have had to transform themselves overnight into videoconferencing experts. They and all the staff are the backbone of our programme.

As our planned public activities have been postponed until further notice, we will be back later with an update.

Keith Richburg
Director of the JMSC

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