Professor Vera Haller gave Tom and me a tour of the Baruch Journalism Department’s spanking new Studio H yesterday. We were blown away. The room, made possible by a generous donation from the Harnisch Foundation (overseen by Baruch graduate William Harnisch, class of 1968, and his wife Ruth Ann) provides a space for our talented journalism instructors to explore the future of the field with their students.
The room features 24 new large screen iMacs, loaded with the latest productivity software. A quarter of the machines have dv-decks, a dozen have microphones, all have nice Sony headphones, and students can arrange to borrow HD cameras for their assignments. The faculty workstation controls a beautiful projector and two flat panel displays, which can be tuned show cable news or the screen of any computer. JBL speakers in the ceiling provide terrific sound.
What struck Tom and I most, however, was how the space was laid out, with workstations on the exterior and a seminar table in the middle. Talia’s post last week wondered about the impact of computers on the writing classroom. Space was conceived in Studio H in such a way that everyone can see what everyone else is doing… there’s simply no hiding. The class can move from the workstations to the table for discussions, editing sessions, or workshops. This flexible approach to classroom design is terrific, and reflects the goal of the Journalism Department to create a newsroom-like atmosphere for the students.
In a conversation with Vera, we imagined an assignment where students could watch a YouTube clip of a breaking news story — a press conference, perhaps — and then attack it like a newsroom would on deadline. This is not a new assignment idea, but Studio H allows faculty members to more realistically mimic the conditions of a news room, with noise, movement, openness, connectivity, chaos, and even a large digital clock counting down to deadline. What a great example of how space can create pedagogical opportunity.
Congrats to the Baruch Journalism Department and its students on this wonderful new addition. We have a long history of supporting the department’s blogging and multimedia reporting initiatives, and their students do fantastic work. We look forward to seeing and helping publish the work that Studio H helps makes possible.