Intro to Immersive Journalism: Virtual Reality & 360 video

Instructor: Robert Hernandez

March 6 – April 9, 2017





The video below is a 360 video. To move it around in different directions, you can drag your mouse across the video display.

The video above was shot in 360 and is not compatible with every browser.

To watch the regular promotional video please click on the following link: https://youtu.be/9UmV2qji6Nk



Welcome to the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Intro to Immersive Journalism: Virtual Reality & 360 video,” offered by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin. This is a free course open to anyone from anywhere in the world interested in virtual reality as it applies to non-fiction storytelling and journalism, ranging from content creation to content consumption. Instructor Robert Hernandez will will explore the quickly changing landscape of this emerging technology, reviewing current VR Journalism experiences available. Learn more details below about this program and if you have any questions, please contact us at knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu.



Registering in the platform is easy. Please follow these steps:

  • 1. Create an account in the Journalism Courses system. Even if you’ve taken a course with us before, you may need to create a new account. Check to see if your previous username and password work before creating a new account.
  • 2. Wait for a confirmation in your email indicating that your account has been created. If you do not receive this, please check your spam folder.
  • 3. Log into the platform, scroll down until you see the course listings, and click on the “Intro to Immersive Journalism: Virtual Reality & 360 video” course.
  • 4. A button will appear, click “Enroll” to enroll yourself into the course. You will be able to access the course from the “My Courses” menu at the top of the page.
  • 5. You will receive an email confirming your enrollment.

Please add the email addresses knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu and filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

This course aims to provide journalists, media practitioners and the general public with knowledge about virtual reality as it applies to non-fiction storytelling and journalism, ranging from content creation to content consumption. The course will explore the quickly changing landscape of this emerging technology, reviewing current VR Journalism experiences available; looking at the diverse hardware/software to produce experiences; and the new ethical questions this new medium raises.

At the end of the course, you will come away with knowledge about:

  • How VR is being used in non-fiction, journalistic storytelling.
  • The differences between “live-action,” 360 videos compared with CG/3D, interactive “gaming” experiences.
  • How the different hardware and software can be used to produce these VR experiences.
  • How this new medium changes production, distribution and consumption.
  • How VR raises new ethical questions non-fiction storytellers need to keep in mind.

Access to a smartphone with Internet is mandatory. You will be installing VR enabled apps, including YouTube.

This course was planned as a training program for journalists, but it is open to anyone who has an interest in learning about the basics of VR journalism. You don’t need any previous experience with the concepts, tools or resources of VR journalism. Just bring your enthusiasm to learn from some of the best trainers in this field of immersive journalism in the United States!

This online course covers specific topics each week. The course is divided into five weekly modules.

Each week features video lectures, readings, a quiz and discussion areas in the MOOC course site. This course is asynchronous – which means you can login to the course site and complete these class activities throughout the week at your own pace, anytime. You don’t need to login in at a specific time, you can login at your own convenience throughout the week. There are no planned meeting times for this course.

This course is very flexible, but there are weekly deadlines that we recommend all students to respect. We recommend the following for each week:

  • Videos should be reviewed between Sunday and Friday
  • Readings should be reviewed between Sunday and Friday
  • Discussion Forums – posts should be made throughout the week, preferably before Friday
  • Quizzes – should be taken no later than Saturday (Note: weekly quizzes will remain open throughout the duration of the course for those who need more time.) We highly recommended that you do your best to not fall behind by meeting the weekly deadlines.

Please know that these are recommended deadlines. You can still return to a previous module and participate in the forums and submit or retake quizzes at any time prior to the end of the class.

Week 1: VR Journalism: Why now?


This week you will learn:

  • How technology has evolved to enable this platform
  • The quick history of VR
  • Journalism’s role in modern VR
  • The emerging landscape of VR Journalists

Week 2: VR Journalism experiences


This week you will learn:

  • The different types of VR experiences: Live-action vs CG/3D
  • The different consumption formats
  • Experience a variety of different VR non-fiction experiences
  • Begin to explore what makes a good VR Journalism project

Week 3: VR hardware/software


This week you will learn:

  • The different head-mounted displays (HMDs) available
  • The different cameras available to produce live-action, 360 video
  • The different software available to produce experiences

Week 4: The challenges in VR production


This week you will learn:

  • What VR content creators face when working on productions
  • Techniques and tips for 360 productions
  • New production workflow when working in VR
  • 3D/CG experiences produced via gaming engines, like Unity

Week 5: Ethics of VR Journalism


This week you will learn:

  • New ethical questions VR Journalists face with this medium
  • Keeping or removing the tripod: A debate in editing/altering reality
  • Is a pixel-by-pixel recreation enough for journalism?

Robert Hernandez, aka WebJournalist, has made a name for himself as a journalist of the Web, not just on the Web. His primary focus is exploring and developing the intersection of technology and journalism – to empower people, inform reporting and storytelling, engage community, improve distribution and, whenever possible, enhance revenue. He is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at USC Annenberg, but he’s not an academic… he’s more of a “hackademic” and specializes in “MacGyvering” Web journalism solutions. He connects dots and people. He has worked for seattletimes.com, SFGate.com, eXaminer.com, La Prensa Gráfica, among others. Hernandez is also the co-founder of #wjchat and co-creator of the Diversify Journalism Project. His most recent work includes Augmented RealityWearables/Google Glass and Virtual Reality — he and his students produce VR experiences under their brand: Jovrnalism. Their work can be seen in The New York TimesNPR and in their own iOS/Android app. He has served on boards that have included Chicas Poderosas, InquireFirst and the Online News Association. He is a Journalism 360 ambassador and a lifetime member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. He is the recipient of SPJ’s 2015 Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award. He has made it to imgur’s front page more than once.

To ensure that you receive course emails please makes sure that you have added knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu and Filipa Rodrigues (filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu) to your contacts list. Also, check your messages in the course platform from the course home page when you log in. We will be sending weekly emails with relevant course information and updates.

You will have until the end of the course to complete the class criteria. At the end of the course, if you are interested in the certificate you will have to fill out an online form and the Knight Center will review your record. The online form will be available during the last week of the course. After the form closes, the Knight Center team will verify if you fulfilled the course requirements. After confirmation of course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message through the course platform with confirmation that you fulfilled the course requirements and you qualify for the certificate. In this message, we will also send you instructions to download a PDF copy of your certificate through the course platform. You will be able to then download your certificate sometime between March 6 and April 9 before the course closes down. No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate. The certificate is awarded by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to the participation in the online course.

For those that meet all of the course requirements and pay a $30.00 (US dollars) administrative fee, a certificate of completion in PDF format will be available for download through the course platform. No formal university course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate. The certificate is awarded by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to the participation in the online course.

For those that want to receive a certificate of completion for the course, you must meet the following requirements:

1) Complete weekly quizzes with a 70% minimum score. (You can retake the quizzes as many times needed. Only the highest score will be recorded.)

2) Watch weekly videos and read the weekly readings. If you were NOT able to view the videos you can still qualify for the certificate if you passed all the quizzes. For some videos there were powerpoints available for review as well.

3) Participate in at least 1 discussion forum for each module. Note: In order to receive credit for participation you must post a thoughtful comment(s) that move the conversation forward or seek to provide reflections. Short posts such as the following examples: “thank you” “nice comment” “I agree” and “I disagree” will not count towards participation. To ensure your participation counts, please answer the discussion forum question(s) and/or respond to comments as thoroughly as possible.

4) Complete the online certificate form. The link will be available in the last week of the course.

5) Pay the administrative processing fee (if all requirements are met.) Administrative cost to process certificates: $30.00 (US dollars).

At the end of the course, if you are interested in the certificate you will have to fill out an online form. The online form will be available during the last week of the course. After the form closes, the Knight Center team will verify if you fulfilled the course requirements. This process takes at least a week after the form closes. After confirmation of course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message through the course platform with confirmation that you fulfilled the course requirements and you qualify for the certificate. In this message we will also send you instructions for how to make payment. After the fee is paid, it will take three to five business days for you to receive instructions through the course platform messaging system to download a PDF copy of your certificate through the course platform. The certificate is only available in PDF format. No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate. The certificate is awarded by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to the participation in the online course.

IMPORTANT: If you apply for the certificate be sure to log into the course platform periodically after you have applied for the certificate in order to read messages.

If you have questions please contact Filipa, the course assistant at: filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu

Please add the following email addresses filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu and knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.





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