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Our Goal is Innovation

Screen media is a crucial source of information, knowledge and entertainment for a huge segment of the global population, an increasingly significant economy, yet also a source of anxieties regarding health, wellbeing, culture and politics. “Screen media and innovation” is a new MA program at Tallinn University, and it is all about innovation.

Screen Media

Please describe, what is the “Screen media and innovation” programme about?

On the one hand, we’ve tried to be innovative in designing the learning experience. The program based on what is called project and problem based learning in the educational sector (it’s an approach that has been developed at Aalborg University, Maastricht University, the Harvard Design Thinking in Education lab, and the as part of the Design Thinking Bootleg at the Stanford d.School) although some people may be more familiar with the term design thinking. It means that students work in teams to solve actual screen media related problems that they find interesting and relevant. 

On the other hand, and more importantly, our goal is innovation. We hope to inspire and train future innovators who will then go on to develop, shape and manage the media-, and screen industries of tomorrow, or help govern and regulate those industries.

How did the programme come about?

The people who created this program are all media researchers and media professionals. Some of us focus on media industries, others on media cultures, media institutions, media policies or media participation. And across all of these subtopics, we see the impact of the ubiquitous internet, ubiquitous screens, processes of platformization, digitalization, appification and datafication. 

We created this program, because we realized that there's only one way to make sense of today's complex media system - and that is as a complex system. So this program is an attempt to approach media in a holistic and systematic way, but also in a way that is manageable and interesting and engaging for students.  

Why is Tallinn University's BFM the right place to this programme?

Screen Media and Innovation is taught at the recently-built, well-equipped campus of Tallinn University, in the heart of the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn. Tallinn University has been ranked 301 – 400 in the Arts and Humanities subject ranking of the most recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Tallinn's medieval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the city has been listed among the top ten digital cities in the world and has one of the highest number of startups per person among European countries. The Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communications School offers a multicultural, international learning environment, where students and teaching staff come from all over the world. Diverse learning environments provide practical basic knowledge about cultural differences and  relations between language, culture and verbal and nonverbal interaction. Our recently renovated, modern campus houses Estonia’s first 4K cinema hall.

What are some of the ways that this programme is distinctive in Estonia/internationally?

Screen Media and Innovation is the first program at Tallinn University to follow the Project / Problem Based learning model. 

What kind of courses will be offered to students?

Every cohort of “Screen Media and Innovation” students works on solving particular screen media problems, which they derive - in teams - from the specific screen media related challenge that the teaching staff sets. An example of a challenge could be the dire situation of local broadcasting and journalism industries because of the convergence of attention and capital into the hands of social media corporations. One team could problematize this challenge by focusing on the analysis and development of how platforms and media industries are regulated, while another team could focus on prototyping an innovative transmedia solution for a local public broadcaster. 

The MA program takes four semesters (two years) to complete. The first semester is introductory, providing the students with lectures on project/problem based learning as such, as well as on the key topics necessary for understanding screen media - media innovation, media management and media economies, social media, transmedia storytelling and intercultural communication. Second and third semesters are for the teams to work on their problems/projects. This work happens in five phases of project/problem based learning (exploring, interpreting, ideating, prototyping and evolving). Every phase consists of teamwork and mentor meetings as well as seminars and mini lecture series on specific topics relevant for the particular phase (project management, critical theory and critical thinking, practical innovation, methods for gathering and analyzing data, media regulation and media policies, social theory etc). The final semester is for thesis work

What kind of students, with what kind of backgrounds, might be interested in this programme?

Our future students have previously studied or worked in the fields of media, technology, culture or social studies, possess independent and analytical minds and are driven by a desire to innovate. Good command of English is needed. 

What are the practical skills that students acquire during their studies? What jobs will students go on after they graduate? Academic prospectives?

“Screen media and Innovation” will help students make sense of the changes that ubiquitous screens, digitalization, platformization and datafication bring to media industries and media participation, and to learn how to solve complex problems and innovate in this context. The quality of teaching and the experience gathered through the creative learning system equip a successful graduate with the capacity to confidently and knowledgeably solve complex screen media problems and work in teams. People with such a profile are needed internationally in media-, and creative industry jobs as well as the public and NGO sector, but are also welcome to continue their education at the level of doctoral studies.

What in your view is most exciting about this programme?

I truly think this is an amazingly innovative, modern program both in the subject matter and in the approach to the learning experience. If I had to start my educational path all over again, I would definitely be looking for something like this. 

Have a look at the programme