The DESTIN International Project is a Real Education Reform for Modern Journalists

Private Higher Educational Establishment “Academician Stepan Demianchuk International University of Economics and Humanities” became a participant of the international project DESTIN “Journalism Education for Democracy in Ukraine: Developing Standards, Integrity and Professionalism” on November 15, 2018. The Faculty of Journalism has begun active work within the framework of the tasks of the grant project, which presented employees with many interesting professional challenges, which were successfully solved in the course of their activities.

The main objectives of the project were to audit curricula, its unification with European practice, the use of the European model of training in the context of adapting the benefits and programs to Ukrainian realities. In addition, the project team significantly increased the participation of the professional community and the public in the implementation of innovations, developed explanatory online media literacy courses for target groups and constantly assessment innovations.

The Instructive part of the project took place at the Bath Spa University, (United Kingdom) and included discussions on journalism in Ukraine and the European Union and preparation of a grant agreement for signing by Ukrainian and European partners. Participants  discussed in editorial teams ethics and the legal regulation of professional activities  in our country. Challenges for journalism education in Ukraine and the possibility of borrowing foreign experience to optimise educational processes were also discussed. The main tasks and possibilities of their gradual realisation were determined.

According to the results of the first Instructive Conference, the working team of the Faculty of Journalism met to get acquainted with the tasks and to plan ways to gradually implement them. The team discussed the implementation of the project at the Faculty of Journalism and planned the gradual development of the project. Each of the employees got acquainted not only with the set tasks, but also with the planned ways of their realisation. The working group shared the tasks and set deadlines.

As part of the project, representatives of the Academician Stepan Demianchuk International University of Economics and Humanities studied the system of journalism education at Linnaeus University (Kalmar, Sweden) and got experience of the work in the newspaper “Barometern”. They attended a lecture of education manager and coach Nina Hjelmgren, and inspected the training labs. The main indicators of new program development and training modules were considered in the university. A separate point of the cognitive trip was acquaintance with the work of Swedish Radio “P4”. The group studied the format of the radio station, the software concept of rating radio projects, technical support, compliance with journalistic standards at work and activities on social networks.

In November 2019, members of the project team went to study experiences to the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan (Poland). The working group, together with colleagues from other HEIs, worked on new standards for teaching journalism in their native times. The Faculty of Political Science and Journalism of the Adam Mickiewicz University conducted Oxford debates, meetings with editors, curriculum discussions and conferences.

Later, project participants from ten universities attended the meeting in Kyiv at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. The reporting conference was attended by foreign partners and participants from abroad. The adaptation of European scientific models was coordinated taking into account the development of central and regional media outlets in Ukraine. Interested organisations were actively involved in the activity, which had the opportunity to listen the report of the project coordinators for the National Erasmus Office (NEO) in Ukraine. All working groups worked in work packages: “Dissemination and Engagement”, “Sustainability”, “Media Literacy”.

At the end of 2019, active participants of the project attended the meeting in Kyiv for a detailed review of all components of the work program and analysis of draft versions of updated programs proposed by the team of the Faculty of Journalism of the Academician Stepan Demianchuk International University of Economics and Humanities. The compliance of the programs with the European Qualifications Framework was analysed separately and very carefully, and the assesment structure itself was analysed in stages.

When the reporting period was finished, Olha Mitchuk – DESTIN project manager, Doctor of Social Communications, Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Journalism, gave an interview on the project realisation and implementation of new programs of the first (Bachelor) and second (Master) levels in accordance with the European Qualifications Framework in the Academician Stepan Demiacnhuk IUEH Television Service. Project Leader explained that the main emphasis of the faculty was on the real reform of the approach to training, so that each graduate after graduation could professionally approach the performance of professional tasks of varying complexity in newsrooms of any type. An innovative approach will allow implementing and estimating the effectiveness of work as quickly as possible.

Each curriculum is prepared in the context of a real information environment in order to improve it not only for media professionals, but also for ordinary citizens. This is especially relevant according to the growing role of media education and media literacy not only in Ukraine but all around the world. Students of the Faculty of Journalism of the Academician Stepan Demianchuk International University of Economics and Humanities will have sufficient professional experience while still being students, which will reduce the period of their adaptation to working editorial conditions.

The next stages of the project took place in a remote format, as quarantine restrictions forced the scientific community to move their work through the ZOOM system.

The Governing Board Meeting in September, 2020 reviewed the previous minutes and assessed the quality and risk plan for the next part of the activity. Online courses for higher education have been approved and information dissemination issues have been addressed. A separate block was the discussion of problems that arose at the current stage of project implementation and proposals for their elimination.

The meeting of Ukrainian partners on the implementation of media literacy courses took place in November, 2020. A new type of activity became obvious after the start of the work with the courses. That is why the partners shared their experience of step-by-step implementation of the work package and selected areas of work on the realisation of tasks. The conceptual model required updating, which was worked out by the experience of Ukrainian partners in preparing and supporting online media literacy courses.

The Governing Board held a meeting in December in order to set tasks for a new stage of project implementation. The issues of purchasing equipment and preparing for open days were raised. National recommendations and provisions on Equality and Equity were analysed. The problems that arose at this stage of the project implementation were discussed and the sustainable development was noted, which allows feeling the benefits of the project implementation for future Ukrainian journalists.

First-year students of the Academician Stepan Demianchuk International University of Economics and Humanities managed to appreciate all the benefits, as they study according to a new educational and professional programme, which became possible thanks to the international project DESTIN “Journalism Education for Democracy in Ukraine: Developing Standards, Integrity and Professionalism”. Now they gain knowledge according to a qualitatively new scheme and can get the maximum benefits from the adaptation of the European experience into Ukrainian practice.

Olha Mitchuk