Michelle Ferrier and Elizabeth Mays
Web phenomenons such as Google and Facebook were started by student entrepreneurs. Google began in March 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, both Ph.D. students at Stanford University. No one could have ever guessed that the algorithm-powered Google search engine, invented for a university library, would become the world’s most powerful search engine. Facebook was created in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, a psychology major at Harvard University, who simply wanted to create a way for upperclassmen to check out incoming classmates on the Web. Now this once-modest social network made $9.1 billion dollars in the second quarter of 2017 in advertising revenue alone.
In 2000, Michelle Ferrier taught her first multimedia journalism course at a small, liberal arts college. The course required students to create an online business, then use their multimedia skill sets to develop a prototype and win their first customer. Students developed solo business ideas like a regional bride guide, a boy scout online education site for earning merit badges, or a takeout taxi service. Students learned HTML, web marketing, and usability testing skills. They figured out how to generate revenue with their businesses. And they learned to think like innovators, solving problems and creating solutions that worked for their customers.
As the Internet disrupted the business of journalism, an entrepreneurial mindset emerged as the must-have job skill for recent journalism graduates to help reshape the journalism and mass communication industries. In response, forward-thinking journalism and mass communications programs sought to cultivate this entrepreneurial mindset by making entrepreneurship a staple of their curricula. Today, many faculty in media, communication and journalism programs have been tasked with teaching entrepreneurial journalism, media innovation labs, business of journalism, or media entrepreneurship. In some degree programs, this manifests as a full class. In others, it surfaces as a module or modules within existing course topics–reporting, media management, audience engagement, student media, and others. Educators have also created graduate programs, competitions, and other structures to advance media entrepreneurship within the curriculum.
In her foreword, Jan Schaffer mentions a spring 2016 survey that revealed educators teaching media entrepreneurship courses defined media entrepreneurship quite differently. “Some respondents saw media entrepreneurship as starting a project that can be monetized. Others saw it as using multimedia tools to tell stories. Still others defined it as building a freelance business,” Schaffer writes.
But as educators who’ve been tasked with teaching entrepreneurship, we wanted a textbook that explained entrepreneurship in the context of the disruptions and opportunities in media and journalism. There was no one seminal text that covers the key concepts of media innovation and entrepreneurship that media, communication, or journalism students need, especially as the development of content and technology businesses is very different than traditional brick-and-mortar entrepreneurship.
When we embarked on this project, it was our aim to build the resource we ourselves needed, and make it freely available for use to others teaching media innovation and entrepreneurial journalism courses across the globe. While the original text was built with the needs of such courses front of mind, we have intentionally made the book modular, and open, so that parts of it can serve related courses, and be built upon.
The Rebus Community, a Canada-based publishing company, allowed us to experiment with an open textbook format, meaning the textbook would be created collaboratively and live as a dynamic document for others to share, remix, and reuse. Published under the Creative Commons CC BY license, this text will be remixable, expandable, and easily updated, with attribution to original authors and contributors.
The first version–itself a “minimal viable product or MVP,”–was available to instructors for beta testing in their classrooms in Fall 2017. Students and educators were (and will continue to be) able to send feedback to the authors and editors. This input was incorporated into the “official” Version 1.0 release of the book in December 2017.
For now, Version 1.0 is envisioned to include a dozen chapters. The text is structured to move students from ideation to securing funding. The work can be used as a whole or in standalone modules. Version 2.0 (spring 2018) will build on this and add a chapter on Project Management and Team Leadership, as well as new sidebars. It will also incorporate feedback that didn’t make the deadline to get Version 1.0 into print-on-demand in time for spring. (These changes will be added into the online version sooner, as they come in.) With Version 3.0, we will include instructor resources such as activities, ancillary materials, case studies, and more.
We’d like to thank our collaborators from across the globe, to the educators, students, and entrepreneurs who engaged with us on Facebook groups, in private conversations, or on our webinars. This textbook is much richer because of the diversity of ideas and experiences you contributed.
And because we believe in eating our own medicine, we will continue to listen to you, adapt, and add to this textbook, ever ensuring that we are meeting your needs as media innovators and entrepreneurs.
Dr. Michelle Ferrier, associate professor, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University
Elizabeth Mays, adjunct faculty, ASU; operations manager, Rebus Community
What is CC BY?
For educators and for students, the CC BY license has many benefits we think you’ll appreciate, a few of which we’ll highlight here:
- It observes the 5Rs. You won’t have any license limitations or restrictions in allowing students to do what you want them to do with the text. They can read it, they can download it, you can have your bookstore print it, all without fear of legal repercussions. It’s also not gated behind an email opt-in or an expensive access code that students need to purchase. And it won’t suddenly become unavailable based on the publisher’s whims.
- No barriers to access. The textbook will be freely available in the numerous formats students ask for–publicly on the web, downloadable as an ebook, printable as a PDF. And we’ll be taking care to make the textbook accessible, not only for those with disabilities, but also taking into account the multiple modalities (mobile, offline, etc.) through which students desire to study.
- It won’t make your students #textbookbroke. It will be available free (though we will also make a print version available at a price not much above cost for those who prefer not to print at home).
- You can adapt this resource. You can continue to build upon this collaboratively created work as an instructor (in fact, it’s our goal that you will want to do so!). You can use just the chapters you like, and add more of your own (send them back to the repository we will create so others can also utilize these additions). You can produce your own version tailored to the modules and progression of your own class. You can translate it into your language. You can pull just the resources you need. You can even do an open pedagogy project with your class to expand it.
- This book is a two-way, iterative product. Meaning you can interact with it in never-imagined-before ways. Found a typo? Please let us know. Found something confusing or feel something has gone out of date or could be improved? We the authors and editors want to hear from you. And we’ll push out updates to the book as it evolves.
A final note: This book is produced with the support of the Rebus Community, whose mission is to build a new, collaborative process for open textbook publishing. Rebus Community is funded by the William + Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the folks there are building a cadre of resources and technology to help connect global collaborators wanting to do similar open textbook projects. If you share that desire, you can connect with them in the Rebus Community Forum.
- Marty Swant, "Facebook Raked in $9.16 Billion in Ad Revenue in the Second Quarter of 2017," Adweek, July 26, 2017, http://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-raked-in-9-16-billion-in-ad-revenue-in-the-second-quarter-of-2017/. ↵
- James Breiner, "How J-schools Are Helping Students Develop Entrepreneurial Journalism Skills," Poynter.org, May 17, 2013, https://www.poynter.org/2013/how-j-schools-are-helping-students-develop-entrepreneurial-journalism-skills/213701/. ↵
- "Licensing," Rebus Community, https://about.rebus.community/licensing/. ↵
- "Defining the Open in Open Content and Open Educational Resources," Opencontent.org, http://opencontent.org/definition/. ↵
- The Rebus Community, https://about.rebus.community/. ↵
- Rebus Community Forum, https://forum.rebus.community/. ↵