Tech, mental health on agenda at Canadian Media Educators conference

The impact of managing students' wellbeing on teachers is one of the topics on the agenda at the upcoming Canadian Media Educators conference.

Keeping pace with the rapidly-changing tech environment and mental health are among the topics on the agenda at the upcoming Canadian Media Educators (CME) conference in Canmore, AB, May 28 – June 1.

Alana Gieck

Formerly the Broadcast Educators Association of Canada, this year’s conference is the first event being held under the association’s new moniker. President Alana Gieck says the name change reflects the increasingly blurred lines between the digital and broadcast mediums, but the organization’s mandate to offer professional development to faculty and administrators in post-secondary Radio, Television, Broadcast Journalism and New Media programs, hasn’t changed.

“We wanted to make sure we weren’t excluding anyone,” says Gieck, an associate professor in the Mount Royal University Broadcast Media Studies program. “We’re trying to increase our membership and we think we have an amazing organization with a lot of support and collegiality. We all experience the same things, we have a very specific type of student and it’s amazing every year when we get together and all have the same stories.”

This year’s conference is taking a new approach and will be more focused on the educator experience and some of the challenges teachers face, as opposed to students and the industry.

“Obviously as educators we’re very focused on students, but oftentimes forget about ourselves and our own practices,” explained Gieck, who transitioned to teaching in 2007 after a decade in television. “We thought this year we would try to focus on some of the challenges of moving from industry into education. How do we stay current? Because part of what makes us valuable as educators is our currency in the industry and so a lot of us grapple with that.”

Gieck says the pressure of keeping up with constant changes in the industry and trying to reflect that in the classroom will be covered, in addition to the impact of dealing with student mental health, which inevitably takes a toll on faculty.

“We spend a lot of time at our institutions talking about the mental wellbeing of our students and what some of us don’t realize is the toll that takes on us when we’re constantly managing other people’s wellbeing.”

Another emerging issue the association is addressing is unpaid work placement. With the practice of unpaid internships increasingly frowned upon, Gieck says the broadcast industry is still “very resistant” to the idea of paid practicums.

“Mount Royal is really facing that right now because we have a longer work term and it’s all unpaid. It’s one of those things that we feel as an organization we can help educate the industry of the importance of partnering with institutions and having funds available for students entering the workforce,” said Gieck. “I think it’s a matter of sending students out and showing [broadcasters] what they’re capable of and convincing them that they can be a valuable part of the organization, even if it’s just for four months.”

Link to the CME conference agenda here.

 

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