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Petra Kohnen, senior lecturer for Media Management, Strategic Management and Media Practice, explains the importance of digitization and why it’s a core component of the International Media Studies Master’s Program.
What does digital transformation mean to you?
That we’ll soon all be running around with wearables and augmented reality headsets.
No, that would be simplifying things. For me, digital transformation means technical innovations that fundamentally change the way we live and work. It’s exciting to feel the impact that these rapid, technical changes are having.
Why has digital transformation become one of the focuses of the master’s program?
There are wearables that are already on the market like Apple Watch, and other ones like Microsoft’s Hololens that are waiting to be launched. Multimedia, crossmedia, transmedia and social media are already established media innovations. The media sector is being confronted with mobile commerce, mobile advertising, mobile devices and mobile reporting. Our connectedness is changing management behavior. Digitization is changing our world in ways that can’t be stopped or reversed, which is why the master’s program analyzes digital disruption and the positives and negatives it brings with it.
What is the role of the IMS students in this?
Most of our students are “digital natives” – that is, they were either born into a digital world, or at least grew up with digital technology. IMS graduates are suited for managerial positions with media companies, NGOs or educational facilities, or for setting up their own firms in the media sector – but to do this, they need digital expertise.
These days, a number of degree programs focus on digital media. What makes the IMS program unique?
The IMS focuses on media development, combining research and theory with practical elements. In the countries where DW Akademie is active, our projects there all have digital transformation, freedom of expression and access to information at their core. Both Deutsche Welle (DW) and DW Akademie – which runs the IMS program – enjoy international renown. And as Germany’s international broadcaster, DW’s multimedia programs are available in 30 countries around the world.
The IMS program is also unique in terms of the students it attracts. Twenty-seven students from 25 countries are currently working together, and during their studies, these “digital natives” from all over the world share their media experiences, enriching the program.
What’s on the IMS’s agenda this year regarding digitization?
Digital transformation is an important component of all our seminars, not just in terms of content but also in terms of approach:
The seminar on New Media and Media Convergence, for example, looks at aspects like crowdsourcing, mobile communication, the digital divide and digital inclusion. Internet governance plays a central role in the seminar on Media Governance and e-learning sessions are integral to the seminars on Media in Conflict and Crisis Situation, and Media Education. Data journalism is a core aspect of the journalism module. Here, students collect and analyze data as well as filter and visualize the data in order to publish exciting stories. The module also looks at the development of journalism startups and analyzes business plans and market strategies. In the Project Management seminar, students put the theoretical basics they learn into practice at an international conference for young journalists called Bildkorrekturen. This year the conference’s focus is “Digitalization & Development. Mind the Gap!”
MobileFirst applications are planned for the IMS module on media practice, which has a focus on moving images. Students will work with web videos, adding graphics, photos, text and interactive data visualizations. These will operate in a similar way to Facebook’s InstantArticles or Snapchat’s Discover.
The students will also be taking part in the annual Social Community Day held in Cologne. They’ll be using Instant Publishing, and with various digital tools cover the day’s activities and publish their reports on their live blog.
The interview was conducted by DW Akademie project manager, Eira Martens-Edwards