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Bringing the Industry to the Classroom: Dr. Yan Yang Uses Her Own Experiences in Class

01.1.2014

HPU President Nido Qubein recently described a holistic education as preparing a student “not for the world as we know it today, but for the world as it is going to be.” To do that, HPU professors are involved in the industries and subjects they teach constantly, allowing them to give students information and contacts to stay ahead of the curve.

Dr. Yan Yang, assistant professor of communication, is a prime example of how industry experience leads to successful teaching. Yang is one of only 25 professors from across the country to be awarded the prestigious NATPE faculty fellowship, allowing her to attend the 2014 NATPE convention, one of the most important television programming conventions in the world. Now, she talks about the background that helped earn her the fellowship, and the knowledge she plans to bring back to her students.

Before you became a professor, you had a successful career in the television industry. What was your professional experience before HPU?

I started my career in television news. I worked as an associate producer at the ABC affiliate in Reno, Nev. for two years before moving to New York to do research for a the PBS documentary program, “Wide Angle.”

I then transitioned from the creative to the business side of the industry and worked in TV programming. I worked in TV programming research for Katz Media Group and later media sales for WOR talk radio in New York before getting my Ph.D in mass communication at the University of Florida, focusing on media management.

How do you use your industry background when teaching?

I teach students about both the creative and the business sides of the media industry. I teach Video Journalism I to inspire students to have a career in TV news. I emphasize the professional standard of the TV industry, and I share with them my experience during internships and jobs. In every class I teach, I give a lecture about career opportunities to show students what’s out there for them, how to prepare a resume and resume tape and how to prepare for job interviews. I also try to bring in professional speakers to give them a realistic look at the job perspective.

I’ve also incorporated my experience in TV programming and sales in my teaching. I teach students about ratings, media sales, target audiences and niche markets. When I taught the graduate theory class for Strategic Communication, I emphasized audience analysis and showed students how to examine the audience demographics and psychographics. Students say it gives them a new way of looking at audiences and themselves. This knowledge is critical to students no matter which aspect of the media industry they work in the future.

Experiential Learning is a key component of the HPU experience. How do you incorporate that into your classes?

In my History & Development of Electronic Media class, the major assignment is to develop a program pitch, which hopefully can become a real TV show someday. More students are thinking outside of the box, proposing web shows, targeting niche channels and considering alternative platforms. Attending NATPE will deepen my knowledge of the media market and bring real-life advice and examples to my teaching.

One of the goals of my teaching is to make sure that students understand the dynamics between content provision and content promotion. I hope my students create programs that not only appeal, but also sell. By attending the conference and workshops, I could better relate media sales to the creative side of the industry, understand the managerial and economical challenges media outlets face today, and encourage my students to think strategically about how to cater to a more demanding audience.

How else will the NATPE conference benefit your students at HPU?

This is one of the biggest television conferences in the U.S. It is where television producers meet with executives to sell their shows. It will give me a chance to see what is being made now, what executives are looking for and how new media is playing a role in their decisions.

I also plan to make more industry connections to set up speakers for my classes, and to talk to other educators about some best practices of bringing all of these ideas into our classrooms.

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