Classrooms Without Walls

This story is featured in the Fall 2016 edition of the HPU Magazine, headed soon to a mailbox near you. Discover below how learning takes place everywhere in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication.


Dr. Wilfred Tremblay

Dr. Wilfred Tremblay

Experiential learning.

That’s what Dr. Wilfred Tremblay, dean of the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication, sees taking place every day.

At High Point University, students engage in hands-on learning from Ph.D. professors and industry professionals from the “Today” show and NBC Primetime.

They record news broadcasts in a world-class television studio where they write, film and edit their own program. In the gaming studio, they create characters from scratch and bring ideas to life. The school flourishes with opportunity.

“Communication by nature is experiential,” Tremblay says. “Our job is to prepare students to use technology to communicate as clearly and interestingly as possible. We teach them how to best articulate a story. That is why we have the best equipment available for our students to be taught by people with top notch professional experience.”


The Value of Tangible Experience

According to Dr. Brandon Lenoir and Joe Michaels, two professors in the School of Communication, real-world experience is the key to success in the industry. That’s why they focus on hands-on experience in their classes so students can pursue a broad spectrum of career paths.

Joe Michaels teaching

Michaels, artist in residence at HPU, is a television icon. He directed NBC’s “Today” show for 23 years, and is an eight-time Emmy Award-winning director and industry innovator. He directed the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics and spent over 40 years at NBC News and NBC Sports.

Students soak up everything he has to offer. If you want to work in the field of broadcasting, who better to learn from than an international broadcast legend?

“These students need real experience,” Michaels says. “That is why I constantly have them in the studio doing what they hope to pursue when they graduate. Journalism students write the script; electronic media students use the cameras and edit. If a student wants to be an on-air news anchor, then they’re behind the desk in the studio, anchoring the newscast. I want my students to walk out of HPU on graduation day, begin their career in a television studio and know exactly what they are doing.”


Leading a Political Change

Lenoir, a political communication professor, is also a pro in his field. He worked as a lobbyist, political campaign manager and political consultant. After that, he pursued a career in broadcasting and worked as a political reporter and anchor before entering the world of academia.

“When students realize I’ve done what I’m talking about, it improves my credibility,” Lenoir says. “I’m not just talking about something I read; I’m talking about something I did and how it directly applies to what they’re learning.”

Brandon Lenoir Debate Viewing Party

His hope is that students learn what it takes to build a thriving democracy. For example, students in his Political Communication and Campaigns course each volunteer 25 hours with a political campaign.

“The younger generation, ages 18–25, is the least politically engaged out of all of the age groups in the United States,” Lenoir says. “If we can get students involved in the political process at this stage, we are fostering a value of civic engagement for their future professional lives. If they’re involved in politics now, they will be involved in the future.”

Lenoir hosts debate viewing parties on campus where students discuss their thoughts on each of the candidates. He is also regularly interviewed by television news media, and often takes students to local news stations so they can experience the behind-the-scenes workings of a newscast.


Students Soar at the Presidential Conventions

This year, HPU brought interdisciplinary learning a step further by taking students to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

HPU students from a variety of majors, including political science and communication, attended the conventions to interview political leaders and attendees, produce stories and learn how to cover politics. Through it all, students gained a broader understanding of the electoral process, civic responsibility and other issues in American democracy.

Students even got to watch Michaels in action on a national network. He directed the CNN pool feed for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Communication and political science majors worked for CNN and ABC News behind the scenes at the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

“These students were able to see something that doesn’t happen often, an event that brings together all of the networks in one place — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox,” Michaels says. “I loved showing my students the interworkings of a pool feed and what it takes to direct something of that capacity. They absolutely loved it.”

WGHP, the Fox affiliate in High Point, aired the stories the students produced, giving viewers an opportunity to see the conventions through the eyes of a millennial. Local newspapers also printed editorials penned by students discussing their daily life at the events.

“Conventions of this magnitude encompass everything we teach under the roof of the School of Communication,” Lenoir says. “Event management majors witnessed an event on a grand scale. Journalism majors stumbled over stories wherever they went. And for students interested in video production, the fact that they can work with the best of the industry with Joe at the helm — that is experiential learning at its finest.”

Tremblay has led the legacy of the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication, which continues to emerge graduates who launch careers at major companies like Discovery Communications, People Magazine, Ellen DeGeneres Show, ESPNU, CBS Interactive, the Charlotte Hornets and more.

“Every professor at HPU is innovative in the approach they take to both teaching and learning,” Tremblay says. “Placing students in situations where they can actually apply their knowledge will serve them well throughout their life. When students take everything they’ve learned — both in and outside of the classroom — and use that in their professional careers after graduation from HPU, they can and will be successful.”


View this story and more in the Fall 2016 edition of the HPU Magazine:

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