Teacher uses new media in classes

by Caitlin Richmond

How many teachers encourage posting on Twitter while in class? Most don’t but assistant professor Fred Johnson does. 

Johnson is an English professor who started teaching at Whitworth University in July 2008. His focus is American Literature, but he has also taught film classes and several alternative media Jan term classes.

“I went to school for American Lit, but I did lots of media stuff along the way with technology and English studies,” Johnson said.

Johnson graduated from Ball State University in Indiana, and while he was there he worked at the Virginia Ball Center. During his time there Ball State got a large grant for the Center for Media Design at Ball State and Johnson got to manage the money from the grant.

“I worked with students writing proposals and then worked with them on their projects,” Johnson said.

Johnson also worked with in the laptop classroom at Ball State so he was paying more attention to media assignments students were working on.

“I began doing more visual rhetoric and working with that,” Johnson said. “I also did some graduate work in film studies.”

Johnson has taken over Intro to Film Studies, which was previously taught by Leonard Oakland. Johnson has also taught two classes that are completely new to Whitworth.

One is Digital Storytelling, which is an English and journalism class.

“It’s all about taking advantage of media for presentations,” Johnson said. “It was a hop skip and a jump from  that class to Visual Narratives.”

Visual Narratives is about comic books. The class involves analyzing a variety of comic books, from mainstream well-known comics like “X-Men” to historical memoirs like “Safe Area Goražde.”

Just because the class is about comic books doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy class, Johnson said. 

“But if you put in the work, for either class, you can come out with a final product or a demo that can be used for other things,” he said.

Johnson has received mostly positive responses to each class.

“It’s exciting to building classes, I definitely enjoy that,” he said. “There hasn’t really been any unexpected challenges– just people figuring out what the classes are about.”

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