Under the lights and neon signs, next-generation media makers create real-world work in the journalism and media experience lab.
Located on the third floor of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Anderson Hall and on the third floor of the Lincoln Children’s Museum, a hands-on learning experience is a hands-on learning experience from day one.
“Our vision for the college is to be a leader in the field of journalism and media experience,” said Dean Shari Weil, a dean of journalism and mass communication.
The College has already announced its participatory undergraduate opportunities, and the Experimental Laboratory has successfully mobilized its mission. Laboratory courses give students one credit hour per semester, allowing them to meet degree requirements and create real-world jobs. The lab allows students to learn by working – from cutting podcasts, recording news stories, to writing engagement reports for real industry clients.
“The media is changing so fast, and we have to prepare students to be smart. They have to adjust. This is not something you can just teach in the classroom and send them to the door,” said Welle. To fall, to try again, to develop their skills and their skills – I think they are going to change our industry very quickly.
The laboratory currently has seven media outlets — Jacht, Buoy, Heartland Webzine, KRNUNebraska News Service UNLSimulated sports and Nebraska night. Over the years, some of the names may seem familiar, as they have been the centerpiece of the college movement. The Experience Laboratory slightly modifies the programs, allowing students to participate while receiving course credits.
Each laboratory pays special attention, which allows students to specialize in specific content areas or explore options throughout their college career. Laboratories include:
- Jacht, Advertising and Public Relations Agency;
- Bui, a non-profit advertising and public relations agency;
- Nebraska News Service, State Wireless Service;
- Nebraska Nightly, Recorded News Show;
- KRNUCampus radio station;
- Heartland Webzine, an online community magazine for Nebraska; And
- UNLSimulated Sports, Nebraska Sports Reporting Program /
Each laboratory provides resident professionals to help guide students. Resident professionals are hand-picked for subject knowledge and prestige in their industry. In addition to leading students, these professionals describe new aspects of the communications industry and identify interns or new employees before they even start posting jobs. They also provide unique perspectives and face-to-face consulting opportunities, such as industry lines, that directly share the trends and insights of undergraduate students.
“It is good to see and hear from their own experiences about what they have done, where they are and what their experiences are,” says Hannah Christensen, a student at the Experience Laboratory.
The faculty of journalism and media Jill Martin and Jamaline Griffin knew from experience that the sweat of the experience would be unique.
The two were appointed by Weil to lead the creation of a learning center. After more in-depth strategic planning discussions and months of preparation with more than 75 stakeholders, the laboratory was disbanded in the summer of 2021 by training laboratory leaders.
Now, Martin and Griffin have seen the laboratory grow into a unique place, where students spend the last three semesters.
The college is also planning to renovate the Anderson Hall space for additional practice laboratory space. The plan calls for the second floor of Anderson Hall to be remodeled and expanded from floor-to-ceiling television and a newsroom-like atmosphere, creating a more spacious studio space for distribution efforts.
Experienced lab students work in studios and offices that reflect professional spaces instead of working in classrooms and lecture halls. The rooms on the new lab floor at Lincoln Children’s Museum are sponsored by local advertising agencies and display their logos and brands. The laboratory is adorned with light bulbs, seats, and neon signs embedded in the ceiling.
Welcome students, the design mirrors the current collaborative spaces featured in agencies, startups and newsrooms.
New energy comes in new places. And one of the 90 students who enrolled in the pilot experience lab semester is something that leaders have already noticed.
“It’s really magical to be able to see the student leadership, the students, the practitioners, and the practice lab as a residential partner to solve these creative challenges and to tell those stories effectively,” Griffin said.
The laboratory will be the standard for all students in the fall of 2022. The move will increase enrollment from 90 to 600 – and college leaders will scramble to see what the widespread use will entail.
“We just want to grow,” said Martin. “And we want to give students as many opportunities as possible.”