Case-based education: A strategy for contextualising journalism curriculum in East Africa

Document Type



Graduate School of Media and Communications


This article explores a set of educational strategies used in a new Master of Arts in Digital Journalism aimed at strengthening the multimedia production skills of East African journalists. Drawing on constructivist theories of learning, the article argues that preparing journalism graduates for unknown futures requires curricula to be contextualised environmentally and cognitively. This has implications for both the process of curriculum planning and the strategies deployed in designing programmatic content and the learning experience. Citing the experiences of implementing a new Master of Arts in Digital Journalism in Kenya, the article describes an issues-framing process used to inform curriculum design to ensure the programme is environmentally relevant. It goes on to describe three innovative ways case-based education can be used to contextualise learning to ensure cognitive relevance. Integrating cases across and through the curriculum develops ‘cognitive flexibility’ in the form of advanced thinking and problem-solving skills. Such skills are essential for journalists to adapt to rapidly changing professional and social contexts. The outcome of this systematic approach to curriculum development is a flexible, spiral curriculum that promotes cognitive flexibility while addressing the discrete educational issues facing East African journalists. The approaches outlined might offer a replicable framework to maintain the environmental and cognitive relevance of journalism education in times of unrelenting change.

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