What’s the BBC’s approach to training for online journalism? Alex Lockwood spoke to Nick Shackleton-Jones, the BBC’s Manager for Online & Informal Learning and lead behind the BBC College of Journalism.
What is it you do, and what’s the BBC’s approach to multimedia training, development and learning?
I’m responsible for online learning for BBC staff, as part of the Training & Development department. I can’t answer for the BBC as a whole, but we are certainly shifting our activity away from the more overtly top-down courses towards initiatives – either face-to-face or online – based around knowledge-sharing.
What’s been the reception to multimedia learning?
The reception has been positive, largely because a great deal of care was taken in the construction of BBC-wide multimedia learning packages such as ‘Editorial Policy’ and ‘Legal Online’ ensuring a rich, engaging experience.
Can you give an example of an achievement where multimedia learning has helped the BBC achieve its remit?
Yes, ‘Legal Online’ in which a community of 8,000 journalists was trained in complex legal issues, the ‘Creativity Portal’ which allows anyone in the BBC to upload their own video productions or share links to inspiring content.
In terms of the graduates you’ve come into contact with, are they leaving colleges/universities with relevant enough skills? Where are their skills gaps?
On the one hand we need to ensure that we are making the most of the skills that they bring with them into the BBC, on the other there are significant areas where we feel that we need to train them further (such as Journalism). In terms of our own recruits, their formal training actually has little bearing – we look first and foremost at attitude and secondly at portfolio – what have they actually done?
Do you train broad and wide, and then build up individual specific skills? Or do you train on specific packages, without first developing the broad-base knowledge of new media?
A very interesting question. The College of Journalism has been able to identify a core learning curriculum (as in this image) which I imagine constitutes a broad base. Specific skills will vary. In the case of my team, I look for brilliance in one area – on the basis that this is usually readily transferable.
How do you approach attitudes of media literacy, or do you stay with the practical vocational skills? (Or are the people you work with already very media literate?)
The BBC is still strangely media illiterate – or rather individuals still have legacy ways of doing things: if I ask someone for a video on CD, I will quite often get it as a DVD – which I then have to rip and compress. In fact, one might expect sharing of video to be networked and standardised (e.g. as .movs). The BBC runs workshops around these sorts of issues, but there is no company-wide media literacy training programme that I am aware of.