About Dr. Rocky Dailey, Ed.D.: Rocky Dailey is an Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University’s School of Communication & Journalism, where he also serves as Advisor for students of the Master of Mass Communication program. As Advisor, Dr. Dailey works with students to support them throughout the application process on through graduation. He guides students in developing their plans of study and advises their professional projects. Dr. Dailey also teaches courses in the graduate program on cross-platform storytelling, mass communication teaching methods, professional research, media administration and management, and professional health communication. His research focus is on the scholarship of teaching and learning in both online and honors education.

Dr. Dailey’s academic career includes serving as an adjunct at Grand Valley State University and Montana State University-Billings, and as an Assistant Professor in the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to working in academia, Dr. Dailey worked as a journalist in broadcast, print and online media during his career. His professional career began at KSFY-TV as a videographer and his most recent work was as the online reporter for the Billings Gazette. He received his Bachelors in Journalism from South Dakota State University, his Masters in Journalism from the University of Memphis and his Doctorate in Education from Montana State University.

Interview Questions

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of South Dakota State University’s online Master of Mass Communication program, and how it is structured? What topics are covered in the core curriculum and electives, and what are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program?

[Dr. Rocky Dailey] Our Master of Mass Communication program is structured into 8-week courses that take half of the traditional 16-week semester. The program is designed for the working professional and part-time graduate student. The core curriculum covers how to use different mediums to convey a mass message as well as issues in media law and how to use research to become better mass communicators. As the first and only online graduate program in mass communication accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC), our curriculum and instruction focuses on professional values and competencies. Of those competencies, the one that applies exclusively to graduate programs is that their work contribute to knowledge appropriate to the communications professions in which they work. This means that we must demonstrate that what our graduate students learn is directly applicable in the communications workforce. We must make sure our curriculum and instruction is timely and of real professional value. Students work with their advisor to develop a plan of study that caters to their individual career goals. We have had students go on to do investigative and business reporting, marketing and communications, documentary filmmaking, and mass communication education.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could we have more information on the cohort model that South Dakota State University’s Online Master of Mass Communication uses to facilitate student interaction and collaboration? Also, what online learning technologies does this program use to enhance students’ engagement with faculty and with course concepts?

[Dr. Rocky Dailey] We have graduate cohorts beginning every Spring and Fall, as our program has grown to the point where we have demand every semester. We use the course management system adopted by the South Dakota Board of Regents, which is Desire2Learn. As we have students from across time zones and oceans, our instruction tends to be asynchronous with advising happening with real-time video conferences. Interaction in the online classroom comes in the form of engaged discussions, where all students are required to participate; there is no way to “hide in the back of the room” so to speak. Students demonstrate their understanding of course concepts through professional project-based applied learning and informed discussion.

[MastersinCommunications.com] For their final graduation requirement, students of South Dakota State University’s Online Master of Mass Communication can choose between completing a professional project or additional coursework. Could you please elaborate on both of these options, and what they entail?

[Dr. Rocky Dailey] The professional project option is designed to give students an opportunity to develop work that can help them advance in the profession. The question we ask students when they propose their project is, “Who is the client?” whether that client is an actual organization or more of an audience than a true client. Sometimes the student has a non-profit or other organization they are involved with that needs communication help, and they work with that entity to create a professional project that meets the needs of both the student and the organization. They also work with their advisor to develop a project and timeline that best suits their goals These have ranged from documentary films and long-form journalism projects, to communication and marketing plans as well as independent professional mass communication research projects. The coursework option is an opportunity for those currently working the profession to directly apply their new knowledge in their daily professional lives. Students who choose the coursework option present a portfolio of their professional work, which demonstrates how they have applied what they learned in the program to become better in their professional role.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in South Dakota State University’s Online Master of Mass Communication program, and how can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems? Additionally, what career development resources and academic services are available to students of this program?

[Dr. Rocky Dailey] As an online program, our advisor is the main point person for all inquiries and issues related to the students’ education. We pride ourselves on being accessible and accommodating with our unique student body. As the advisor, I work with the students’ availability for advising, which often means we are connecting on nights and weekends. All faculty in the program also have regular office hours during which any student can contact them. Students who take advantage of this tend to be the ones who are most successful. We have heard students mention during the defense process that they had wished they had taken more advantage of this help. Students have access to the same academic services and resources as any other student, with more and more tutoring and training opportunities being made available online at the institutional level.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice do you have for prospective students in terms of submitting a competitive application for South Dakota State University’s Online Master of Mass Communication program?

[Dr. Rocky Dailey] We look for students ready to take the next step with their professional mass communication career, so we want highly motivated individuals who come in with some professional experience to build off of. Students who have a clear idea of what they want to do with their degree often make the best students and have the most success. An application that demonstrates both passion and clear goals gets noticed.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes South Dakota State University’s Online Master of Mass Communication program unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?

[Dr. Rocky Dailey] As the first and currently only online Master of Mass Communication graduate degree accredited by ACEJMC, our program undergoes an extensive and regular review covering both our curriculum and faculty as well as evidence of course goal achievement and degree retention and completion. All online courses must pass an internal Quality Matters review before they can be offered, which is something few other programs require whether they are an online or on-campus program. The review focuses on the areas of learning Objectives (Competencies), assessment and measurement, instructional materials, course activities and learner interaction, course technology, learner support, and accessibility and usability. Our program allows students to structure their education based on their specific career goals rather than to follow a prescribed path that may or may not fit their needs. Students take ownership of their educational path from the beginning.

Thank you, Dr. Dailey, for your excellent insight into South Dakota State University’s Master of Mass Communication program!