“Trial and Error IV”: Rethinking digital native communicators training in a global, online and changing world

Date(s) - 13/05/2021
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The constantly changing digital communication environment has received a ‘shock’ with the global Covid pandemic19 affecting the whole world. In the field of Communication, it has fueled the need for truthful information mixed with misinformation and hoaxes. And in the educational sphere, it has accelerated online teaching and the expansion of new pedagogical tools. In this context, it is fruitful to exchange ideas about educating digital native communicators in a global, online and changing world.

We face important challenges. On the one hand, the training of future professionals has been directly impacted by the technological changes introduced by cyberspace and the successive developments of the Network: web 2.0 or social web, web 3.0 or semantic web and web 4.0 or the internet of things.

On the other, Twentieth-century teaching methods and 21st-century technology represent a generation gap like no other. Gen Zers are “digital natives”: our students grew up not only with computers and internet access, but also with smartphones, social media, and mobile devices, and thus are not interested in traditional passive learning.  The role of Communication and Journalism education, therefore, is not only to provide future journalist or communicators with new technological skills (Ekdale, et. al. 2015), but mainly to prepare them to adapt to a fast-moving world where things can change almost month by month as the interface between humans and the digital world becomes ever closer (Frost 2018). Communication, in other words, can be considered a “new knowledge profession” (Donsbach 2014).

Already thirty years ago, Dennis (1988) called the debate between profession and education ‘‘a dialogue of the deaf’’: nowadays, the rise of the audience as producer of news, i.e. the emergence of citizen (Campbell 2015) and participatory journalism, challenges professional journalists and communicators to rethink their professional identities and understandings of their function in society (Lewis 2012; Robinson 2010; Wahl-Jorgensen 2015). In 2017, the Nieman Lab and the Reuters Institute Prediction Report highlighted that, among the main challenges that journalism and communication face, mobile technologies, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and Big Data, are the most important (Reuters 2017).

University Autonoma of Barcelona resume and update this call for investigations, at the sixth annual conference of the ECREA ‘Journalism & Communication Education TWG’. We want to take a closer look at the multi-faceted relationships between education, technology and digital native future media professionals. We invite you to submit academic research and project based experiences and various approaches (theoretical, methodological or empirical in nature) that can touch upon, but are by no means restricted to, the following 6 thematics areas:

1. –  Online teaching experiences in Pandemic:  innovation in theory and practice

2. –  Teaching of automated journalism and informational algorithms: the application of AI

3. – Research in networks and ‘filter bubble’

4. – The evolution of new emerging professional profiles: multimedia journalism,

        Data journalist, community manager, SEO, branded content, etc.

5. – Ethical and deontological education for journalism in the post-truth era

6. – Fake news: fact checking models