Multiplatform Media Education at Duquesne University

Multiplatform media education focuses on the creation of layers of meaning. Multiplatform messages are rooted in: ideas and the skillful written expression of those ideas, sound and audio, still and moving images, and graphics, which in post-production are blended into a totality that is perfectly suited to reach the platform(s) they are designed to reach.

Those layers are both conceptual and tool-based. While our students learn to use tools and create a vast array of media messages with them, the conceptual layers are at the heart of our curriculum and bind us to the liberal arts. Messages are expressions of ideas. Without an idea, a slickly produced message is an empty vessel. So, at a conceptual level, our students have to understand what they are trying to say, why they are trying to say it, to whom they are trying to say it, the special qualities of the tools and platforms they are using to say it, what effects and feedback they might anticipate, and how their message might contribute to a larger cultural conversation that is constantly in the process of transformation. These are timeless questions that would be familiar to Socrates, Jesus, Locke, Jefferson, Stanton, Dubois, Ghandi, King – any thoughtful person wishing to reach the consciousness of his or her fellow beings.

The conceptual and strategic dimensions of multiplatform media education are foremost for three additional reasons:

  • Tools change. If students learn only how to adeptly manipulate tools in a particular moment – and in some American media programs, they do – they will be at sea when the tools inevitably change. We value an ethos of adaptability and encourage students to understand the conceptual basis of mediated communication and prepare to embrace changes in tools as new opportunities to put those concepts in action more effectively.
  • Our students are clearly focused on pursuing careers in the fields of Journalism, Public Relations, Advertising, digital media, visual and interaction design (e.g., interface design, UX design, Web design and development) and Sports Media. Their work will have a huge impact on the content, tone and tenor of cultural conversations because, over the course of their careers, the messages they create will literally reach millions of people. That is power that can be used responsibly, irresponsibly or without mindfulness. We teach our students to be ethical, responsible and mindful; therefore, our pedagogy is infused with the Duquesne University mission of serving God by serving others.
  • Our curriculum, pedagogy and individual research agendas are joined in a rich nexus. Our goal in the classroom is to produce skilled, thoughtful and innovative multiplatform communicators who will emerge as responsible media leaders, not drones to be plugged into existing media structures. Our faculty produce scholarly papers, books and articles on Media Ethics, Media History, Media Effects and Human-Computer Interaction and explore and problematize existing media practices and assumptions with the goal of better understanding how message creators and their publics interact for good – and how they might interact more constructively.

Our students won’t simply “one day” produce mediated communication in their communities; they are already doing so through student media, internships and a curriculum that takes full advantage of Pittsburgh’s urban setting. The Magazine Journalism course produces an in-print and online interactive magazine called Off the Bluff, which focuses on Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. The Investigative Journalism course conducted and published an online multimedia chronicle of the economic decline and future prospects of a typical Mon Valley steel town. Our Web Design course helped redesign an online section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and is just one client-based course that puts students to work on real problems and real projects, often in the service of nonprofits that cannot afford professional services and also in the service of the Media department, the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, and Duquesne University.

Please take time to see for yourselves: