Technology Connects ECU Students, Military Officers
Now a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, East Carolina University graduate Jeff Mozingo is still making connections with his alma mater.
When Mozingo was assigned a media outreach project through a course at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., he immediately thought of ECU’s School of Communication.
Mozingo contacted media writing instructor Barbara Bullington and developed a collaboration between himself and Bullington’s class of aspiring journalists.
|ECU student Whitney Sessoms, right, conducts an interview during a media writing class. (Contributed photo)
The collaboration used video conferencing technology to teach ECU students lessons in conducting one-on-one interviews, while enabling them to see and hear the officers they were assigned to interview.
“Journalism students traditionally have two choices for learning about conducting interviews,” Bullington said. “They can listen to lectures on the topic in the classroom or go out into the field to conduct interviews themselves.”
“Now technology is allowing instructors to merge those two options in interesting ways,” she said.
Each student completed questions in advance, tailored to their subject based on background information compiled by the 14 participating military officers. The officers provided details on their hometowns, ages, years of service and goals.
Then on Oct. 16 in the media writing computer lab, the students conducted interviews with the officers through video conferencing. The officers and the students could see and hear each other through the Mac computers in the lab.
Officers shared their experiences on readjusting to life at home after deployment, balancing work and family life, their reasons for enlisting, and their feelings about how the media covers military operations.
They also uncovered different perspectives about the media from the military viewpoint. One officer explained to students that military personnel do “an incredible amount of good stuff,” such as humanitarian aid, that is not covered by the news media.
Bullington said the students appreciated the opportunity to practice their interviewing skills while learning from people with experiences much different from their own.
Those taking the military course are mid-career officers, primarily from the U.S. Army, but also from the Air Force, Marines, Navy, and foreign military officers.
Bullington added that similar projects have been conducted in the School of Communication, including a video conference between basic reporting students and the author of their textbook coordinated by Bernard Timberg in the spring semester 2008.
Thanks to Barbara Bullington for her contribution to this story.