When Emily Corio was awarded the WVU IDEA Fellowship in early 2020, her plans centered around a course where students would work together on producing an in-depth podcast involving in-the-field reporting. The prestigious two-year fellowship is awarded to faculty who are innovative and entrepreneurial in the classroom, and after March 2020, Corio was forced to reimagine what that would mean for her students.
“The pandemic was and still is a major disruptor for teaching and learning,” said Corio, who is a teaching associate professor and journalism chair in the WVU Reed College of Media. “While disruptions are challenging, they also present opportunities for innovation. I had to change the focus of my project and have students work on individual podcasts, but this also presented an opportunity to focus on helping them develop their podcasts with an entrepreneurial mindset.”
Corio has always incorporated innovative storytelling techniques into her podcasting course. With the shift to online learning in spring 2020, her students were Zooming into class from locations across the state and the country, so she had to encourage them to tell stories that were meaningful in their communities, using technologies and tools at their disposal.
“One of the most important parts of educating students in media and news is helping them to get their work published. While that may not sound entrepreneurial in the traditional sense, it requires the same kind of skills and mentality – who is the audience they are serving, what need does their work fill and how do they pitch and promote it?” Emily Corio
Corio’s students have self-published podcasts on topics including being a Black actor in West Virginia, the video gaming industry in the state and how churches were reaching worshippers during the pandemic. Their stories have been picked up by public broadcasting stations and received national recognition from such organizations as Hearst, the Broadcast Education Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.
“Media evolves rapidly, and our faculty have a deep sense of obligation to prepare students for that change,” said Diana Martinelli, dean of the WVU Reed College of Media. “The IDEA Fellowship is both recognition of and support for these efforts.”
Corio was one of five West Virginia University faculty members chosen for the 2020-2022 Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Applied (IDEA) Faculty Fellowship. The program is overseen by the Office of the Provost and provides faculty with an opportunity to create curriculum designed to enhance students’ skills in innovation and entrepreneurship.
The IDEA Fellowship also offers training and professional development as well as collaboration between cohort members to further a culture of innovation across WVU. Corio participated in an online course offered by Babson College that highlighted how to incorporate entrepreneurial thinking into her journalism courses. She also partnered with Angela Uriyo, an assistant professor in Fashion, Design and Merchandising from the Davis College, on a WVU Launch Lab presentation on how to use interviewing to gain feedback for idea generation. Finally, as part of an Andrew W. Mellon Grant awarded to 100 Days in Appalachia, Corio led a virtual podcasting workshop in spring 2021 for faculty and staff from across the University.
Corio is the second College of Media faculty member to be selected as an IDEA Fellow since the program began in 2016. Jeffrey Moser, an assistant professor in WVU’s Interactive Design for Media program, was part of the inaugural cohort.