After a year of research and development work in RTÉ, I pitched the idea of mobile journalism training to the attendees of Circom Regional conference in Malmo, Sweden in 2012. That was the beginning of my journey as a mobile journalism trainer. Several months later, I and a team of trainers from Circom Regional/BBC, NRK, HRT ran the first Mojo Masterclass in Budapest.
In the five years since then I have trained several thousand journalists in the same skills.
I've been fortunate to have traveled in/across Europe, the Middle East and the United States delivering short introduction and longer masterclass courses in how to make professional (broadcast quality) content with your iPhone, iPad (iOS device) or Android. I have trained staff from most of the major European broadcasters as well as companies like Oracle, Symantec, Aljazeera, Concern, The Irish Times, and more.
I have no hesitation in saying that it is a genuine privilege to teach people new skills and to help empower them on their journey as solo, cross platform storytellers. However in person training, though still in my opinion the most effective form, is limited by cost. The cost of fees, flights, accommodation, transfers, expenses, back cover for staff quickly mount up and as a result it is often the companies who have deepest pockets who can afford these types of training courses. As a result Mojo Training has become somewhat "exclusive" when in fact the nature of Mobile Journalism should be the absolute opposite. Mojo should be inherently inclusive.
What has happened as a result of this void is that many inexperienced "trainers" have started to offer their services in the belief that training is the only way of making money out of mojo. This is both incorrect and damaging to the movement on the whole. I have witnessed some of these courses online and in person and though my instinct is to correct errors and incorrect information, professional courtesy prevents me from doing so. Undermining or humiliating someone who is trying their best is not in my nature, but it does give me cause for concern when I see "finished" Mojo reports where there is absolutely NO consideration given to the technical skills and editorial values of a "report".
So I faced a quandary. How could I continue to encourage people to develop as visual storytellers, continue to drive the adoption of mobile as a professional content creation platform and yet make it accessible to a wider audience?
My first attempt was to host a conference bringing together the pioneers and thought leaders in the space. I've been fortunate to have been able to run three MoJoCon conferences while working in RTÉ, but the problem persists. Running an event like Mojocon is expensive and though the split between sponsorship and ticket revenue is close to 50:50 three day tickets are nonetheless €499 - not exactly "accessible"!
I have delivered multiple courses for the Thomson Foundation over the last five years and when Hosam proposed that I help them with developing an e-Learning version of my Mojo course I jumped at the chance. I have looked with a critical eye at many of the online course offerings and there is one common thread: They are generally non-interactive. You watch hours of videos but you get no interaction with your trainer as everything is pre-recorded.
Hosam proposed that the Journalism Now platform would break from tradition and instead use the live-streaming features of the EdCast platform to offer a mix of pre-recorded tutorials, assignments with review and assessment by the trainer and regular live Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions between the trainer and the trainees.
After months of work on his part (and a little on mine), Hosam and the team in Thomson Foundation have brought the Journalism Now e-Learning platform to fruition. It soft launched just one week ago.. There are currently nine courses available, one third of them are free, the others are paid. The calibre of the trainers hosting the courses is second to none, Sue Llewellyn, Deborah Kelly and Chris Birkett to name but a few. Good friends of mine like Sumaiya Omar and Wytse Vellinga are contributing to the courses also. During this launch phase each of the trainers has been issued with a special promotional code to take 50% off the price. For my courses on Mojo and 360 degree video creation the code is: mojolaunch50Glen (Note it is case sensitive)
The idea of the Journalism now platform is to bring quality training to a much wider audience and to make the knowledge accessible and affordable. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Here is the link: http://www.thomsonfoundation.org/e-learning/live-courses/