Multimedia, Teaching

Multimedia Skills Assessment Survey

In developing the syllabus for the Multimedia Journalism course at PLNU (WRI 430), I tried to keep students’ future employment in mind. What skills are journalists missing when they enter the marketplace? What are employers looking for? What projects can I assign that will help them get hired?

I decided to focus our time on these areas:

  • Optimized news writing for online audience
  • Storytelling across all types of media
  • Maximizing the strengths of each medium
  • Innovation in story approach
  • Strong online presence
  • Fluency in social media
  • Live field reporting for Web

On the first day of class, I surveyed students on their abilities with multimedia. I asked about areas we probably won’t cover (I want to do HTML5 instead of Flash as much as possible), but the results were enlightening. I’ve already adjusted the course schedule; they’re more advanced than I anticipated.

The survey’s emphasis on technology shouldn’t imply we’ll only work on building tech skills. I plan to focus our time in class on big picture concepts, optimizing story through the technology. But in order to tell stories powerfully online, the technical elements need to become second nature.

Multimedia Skills Assessment Survey

Ratings were on a five-point scale from “none” to “advanced.” Each item had a corresponding text box for adding details.

Q: What do you hope to learn from this class?

Audio Production

  • Recording: Rate your experience recording audio (using microphones, studio equipment, field recording).
  • Editing: Rate your experience editing audio (multitrack, effects, mixing).
  • Formats: Rate your experience working with different audio formats (MP3, WAV, AIFF, M4A, ACC, OGG, etc.).


Q: What features does your personal camera have?

  • Cameras: Rate your skill level with digital cameras (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, lenses).
  • Technique: Rate your skill level with composition and storytelling.
  • Editing: Rate your experience enhancing digital photos (Photoshop, iPhoto, etc.).
  • Formats: Rate your understanding of image formats (JPG, GIF, PNG, etc.).

Video Production

  • Cameras: Rate your proficiency with digital video cameras.
  • Editing: Rate your experience editing video (FinalCut Pro, iMovie, etc.).
  • Technique: Rate your knowledge of video storytelling methods.
  • Formats: Rate your understanding of video formats (H.264, MOV, MP4, etc.).


  • Design: Rate your experience in graphic design (Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, etc.).
  • Data Visualization: Rate your experience creating graphs, charts or maps.


  • Adobe Flash: Rate your experience using Flash or other interactive software.
  • Slideshows: Rate your experience creating slideshows (SoundSlides, SlideShowPro, or online service).


  • Content Management Systems: Rate your experience using a blogging system (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, etc.).
  • Technique: Rate your experience adding links, images or video to blog posts.

Social Media

Q: Please list the features of your mobile phone.

  • RSS: Rate your use of RSS feeds (Google Reader or other feed reader).
  • Bookmarks: Rate your experience using bookmarking services (Delicous, Digg, etc.).
  • Twitter: Rate your experience using Twitter (retweets, @replies, URL shortening, etc.).
  • Photo Sharing: Rate your experience sharing photos online (Flickr, Picasa, etc.).
  • Video Sharing: Rate your experience sharing video online (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).
  • List Accounts: Paste links to any social media accounts, in particular, those referenced above.