Could a budget crisis spur journ profs to innovate?

photoWhile checking e-mail on my stroll to work this morning, I stopped dead in my tracks. Twice. The first gasp of disbelief was after reading an e-mail from ostensibly one of the most "old-school" journalism professors at Cal Poly requesting the help of yours truly to integrate social networking into his curriculum. The second was from another very traditional professor who is willing to pay me $15/hour to produce videos to supplement her lectures.

In the same morning, two professors showed interest in breaking away from tradition. What's going on here? Is there some kind of revolution underway? Are they finally starting to understand?

I blame (or thank) the $584 million budget deficit hitting the CSU.

Before the budget crunch hit California, professors saw no direct impact of being stuck in their ways. Their students were the ones feeling the hit with job losses after college. Now, it's a little different. Here at Cal Poly, our multimedia professor was recently put on tenure track and we brought a second multimedia professor on board -- that's right, a new professor during a hiring freeze and faculty cuts. That means we're getting serious about change. And professors are probably realizing that if they don't catch up, they'll be replaced by a younger, more tech-savvy generation.

So, while a few videos and knowledge of social media won't save journalism, at least it's a step forward. I'll let you know how it goes.