Resources for Journalism Educators: J+D Launches New Teaching Tools

Playful experimentation is at the heart of Journalism + Design’s approach to journalism education. Our first few years of teaching have yielded an array of courses, tools, and lessons for integrating design and design processes into a traditional journalistic education. With funding from the Knight Foundation, we’ve developed these resources for journalism educators. They highlight the aspects of the design process that we think are most important for young journalists today and provide educators with new ways of teaching the basics of the trade.

We’re hoping that educators and others will dive into what we’ve made and use them in ways that best suit their needs in the classroom: whether you’re looking for something to complement a lesson you’ve already created, or you’ve drawn a blank on what to do in class and need a quick plan. We hope you’ll use these when you’re looking for new ways to teach interviewing, to guide students into taking an audience-centered approach or to introduce the concept of systems thinking into the reporting process.

Our hope is that the exercises and card deck will help young journalists to build a deep understanding of their audience and its needs, to prototype and test new ideas, and to assess their work in a thoughtful and collaborative way.

There are three principle resources available to educators on our site.

  • We’ve created 11, step-by-step exercises that faculty can simply print out and use right away for a class session. The exercises address everything from what makes a strong news lede, to how to conduct an interview, to using mapping to understand a complex topic. We’ll add more exercises to this section over the course of the year.
  • We’ve also created a deck of 54 cards that provide faculty with playful ideas for designing their syllabi, prepping an individual class session, and more. The deck includes “activity” cards that provide guidance through every step of the design process, from research to reflection, “make” cards, that offer creative constraints to help shape a project, and “wild” cards, which are meant to throw (productive) curveballs into the process.
  • Last, we’re providing syllabi developed by full-time and guest faculty, which are meant to be imitated, iterated on, and simply inspire.

These tools were developed by a team of folks: Blake Eskin, Irwin Chen, Heather Chaplin, Kim LIghtbody, as well as the educators at the Institute of Play. We playtested the cards with journalism faculty around the country including folks at CUNY, University of Wisconsin, and Northwestern. We wrote about these tools with the community of journalists and designers at, and these are all open source: here for you to use and—more importantly—transform. Our hope with all of these materials is that they spark even more conversation among journalism educators.

We’re eager for feedback of all kinds. You can email us at and tweet us at @journodesign. We’ll be updating these resources throughout 2019.