Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

New report shows demand for training in digital tools and techniques

Aug. 9, 2012, 6:39 p.m., Posted by Eric Newton



Digital Training Comes of Age (PDF) by Eric Newton and Michele McLellan

Can journalism schools expand their impact and reach by offering more distance e-learning? That was the question posed today to a gathering of Knight Chairs in journalism in Chicago at the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication convention.

The question was prompted by the release of “Digital Training Comes of Age,” a new Knight Foundation report showing soaring demand for training in digital tools and techniques. Increasingly, journalists are willing to get the training for those and other skills online.

The Knight Chairs noted that some journalism schools do offer master’s degrees and other on-line courses. They said schools should do more e-learning, but that universities are not doing enough to define best e-learning practices. Many educators have an old idea of e-learning, they said, thinking it is nothing more than lecturing on-line. Howard Finberg of the Poynter Institute had a good idea: Create e-learning modules for teachers and trainers who want to learn how to create good e-learning.

Knight Chair in International Journalism Rosental Alves pioneered e-learning at Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, which has trained more than 6,000 journalists in Spanish and Portuguese. He said e-learning has two great advantages: it’s low cost and self-directed courses can be taken at any time.

Digital Training Comes of Age” was a survey of 660 journalists trained in Knight-supported training programs. The survey showed that online classes are gaining popularity as a cost-effective way to reach more trainees. A third of U.S. journalists and eight in 10 international journalists say the online classes they took were as good as, or better than, conventional training in the classroom.

Demand for training has grown and journalists want more training in digital tools such as multimedia, data analysis and technology. Most give their news organizations low marks for providing training opportunities.

250 performers bring Random Acts of Culture™ to San Jose’s Target Pops Summer Festival

Aug. 9, 2012, 12:29 p.m., Posted by Valerie Nahmad Schimel

Random Acts of Culture™ - San Jose, California from JD Andrews on Vimeo.

Knight Foundation is celebrating its 1,000+ Random Acts of Culture™ with four big, blow-out performances in San Jose, Detroit, Miami and Philadelphia. The fun kicked off Sunday, Aug 5 with a 250-person surprise performance at the Target Pops Summer Festival at San Jose State University. There were French horns, there was Wagner and there were Viking-horned roller skaters – enjoy the video above.

Looking for more Random Acts of Culture™ fun? Read an interview with Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s VP/Arts, about the program, see a TV interview about it with the Symphony Silicon Valley,  relive our past performances through video highlights and see a master list of our 1,000+ Random Acts of Culture™.

Watch out Detroit, you’re next!

New approaches to evaluating social innovation

Aug. 8, 2012, 5:23 a.m., Posted by Mayur Patel and Elizabeth R. Miller

Social innovation by definition is dynamic, as projects hoping to catalyze large-scale change don’t often have a clear beginning, middle or end. For foundations and non-profits interested in making a demonstrated impact, this fact necessitates that they constantly evaluate their efforts and adjust strategies based on what they’re learning.

And yet many traditional approaches to evaluation aren’t effective when it comes to understanding what drives social innovation. A new report, released today by FSG and the Center for Evaluation Innovation, explores the ways many common evaluation approaches constrain innovation, for example, by trying to test a model too early in its development, and fixating on predetermined plans and original metrics that don’t evolve in response to the dynamic context.

Perhaps most importantly, the authors offer lessons about an emerging approach called “developmental evaluation,” which provides insights throughout the life of the program, allowing for adjustments in real time.

The report, “Evaluating social innovation” highlights several case studies of evaluation efforts done by foundations, including an in-depth look at Knight Foundation’s five-year, $24 million Knight Community Information Challenge. Responding to the rapid disruptions in journalism and the decline of community news and information, the challenge encourages community and place-based foundations to focus on supporting local news and information projects.

The profile summarizes how Knight’s strategy and assessment team and the communities program designed the evaluation to help provide ongoing learning, allowing for real-time changes to the initiative and helping inform the next iteration of Knight’s work  with community and place-based foundations to promote informed and engaged communities. A full evaluation of Knight’s Community Information Challenge is available online.