Myron Belkind, Instructor
Tell Us About Yourself
I’m Myron Belkind, and since January 2011 I’ve been teaching the Advanced Writing courses for both the Political Management and the Strategic Public Relations programs. I also teach the Undergraduate News Writing and Reporting course for the School of Media Public Affairs, which shares a floor with the Graduate School of Political Management.
And one of the staff members at the GSPM knew about what I teach at SMPA and he said, “Wow, we could use somebody with your experience and background to teach the importance of writing to our graduate students. And it has been a great experience.” I originally went for the interview thinking my plate is full, I’ll find a polite way to say no. But when I learned about how the Distance Learning Program works I immediately plunged in to do it.
I have had the greatest of experiences in the past nearly 18 months teaching Distance Learning for the Graduate School of Political Management. And I have to say I was for 40 years a journalist, foreign correspondent for Associated Press, and I always say I have to follow the same guidelines I did when I reported as when I speak, and that is to be accurate and object–
What Course Do You Currently Teach?
I teach the Advanced Writing in the Strategic Public Relations program. And I teach Communication Elements in the Political Management program. Both emphasize a portfolio of communication assignments, from writing news releases, to writing feature stories, to (op eds?), to everything, to speeches, to doing a wrap-up proposal on a portfolio project.
And when I was brought in I was actually brought in, not just to teach it, but to revitalize the syllabi for the two courses to make them more interact–
How Have You Made Your Courses Interactive and Engaging for Students?
How do we make them more interactive? First we instituted a weekly class discussion topic. People say to me, “How do you have a discussion online?” And I say, “Better, with more participation than in a face-to-face class.” How is that? Okay, I send out a weekly class discussion topic related to an important media issue with public relations and political management ramifications, and I send it out every Monday. By Thursday 100 percent of the class every student has to give their-, his or her, input to the class discussion topic. And by Saturday they have to respond to at least two others of their classmates. By Saturday 100 percent of the students have taken part in the class discussion assignment, with meaningful, well thought out, and above all, well written pieces for the class discussion topic.
We also designed an electronic semester long portfolio project which every week is a different assignment, from, as I said, writing an announcement press release about a campaign strategy, to doing a feature, to doing an (op ed?), to doing a speech, to doing everything you need to mount a successful campaign.
And, we also instituted a peer review. Each student not only does his or her own draft portfolio assignment each week, they also do a peer review of another–
What Is Unique About This Program?
It is the innovations we have implemented in these two basic courses for the two programs, Political Management and Public Relations is unique. So the other advantage for George Washington University of course is that it is located in the nation’s capital, the world capital, you might say. And while Distance Learning students don’t physically get the benefit of being in Washington, they do get to come here periodically including for an annual online weekend. They get to participate in the full graduation.
I was so proud that last year when I attended the College of Professional Studies which the Graduate School of Political Management is the main component-, when I attended their graduation the student speaker was one of the online students from Columbus, Ohio. And I went up to interview with him in my proverbial way a former foreign correspondent. By being in Columbus, Ohio and taking part in a program centered in Washington, DC, he said precisely that’s why the program was so good for him. He said he wouldn’t have had the finances or the time to move to Washington because he has a full-time job with the Social Security Administration in Columbus, Ohio. So he was able to keep his job and do the Masters Program without leaving Columbus, Ohio except to come to the graduation ceremony where he was the honored student sp–
What Final Thoughts Would You Like to Share With Future Students?
My final thought is to let’s use the experiences that I had, that you’re getting hopefully from my students-, from either my students or other professors, and how what great potential there is through Distance Learning.
I always stress to people who know me that this is a very strictly administered course whereby all the students have to meet all the admission requirements of George Washington University, and they have to meet all the graduation requirements of George Washington University at the graduate level to graduate.
This is my-, let’s see. I’m just finishing my fifth semester of teaching, doing my sixth in the autumn. We do three a year. And I am just so pleased to be part of this program. And what really-, you know, you go into teaching, not for the money. You go into teaching for the hope you can do some good for the students. And my payment is the comments I read on the student evaluations every term.