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Social Media Production – Reflexive Learning

It’s getting close to the end of the lecture series for my social media and my community media modules. It’s been a fascinating process to work through this year, as I’ve made some changes to the approach that I’ve brought to the learning opportunities. I’ve shifted from a ‘teaching’ style approach, to a ‘mentoring’ style. The main difference is that I’ve been using more reflexive and developmental approaches that emphasis self-directed learning and engagement, which give learners the opportunity to discover and explore new ideas and opportunities for social media practice.

We still seem to be dominated by ‘instruction’ as the main form of learning practice, especially when it comes to learning how to use media technologies and applications. This limits the focus of learning, in my experience to a ‘transactional’ approach that only recognises what people are able to undertake given the right instructions, whereas we might be serving the learners better if we can offer them opportunities to discover something about themselves in the process of learning?

This is a more open-ended approach, and it requires a less bounded and fixed view of the subject and the steps that might be involved for learners to gain mastery over that subject content. I’ve long thought of myself as a guide for learning, or a learning partner, who has a modicum of experience, but who in engaged in the same process of discovery and emergence that the less experienced learners are. This approach has its risks, in that learners can often feel that they are working in an unstructured process, however, if the process is well explained and is clearly recognisable, then learners can make the connections for themselves quite easily.

Playing Cards at the Start of Term

Last year I started off the first-year social media module by getting learners to play cards together in small groups. This had the advantage of learners being able to get to know each other, it took them away from the computer screens that they would otherwise be sitting at, and it gave them an opportunity to learn from each other’s experience. The simple process of learning to play cards is an incredibly effective way to impart knowledge and a sense of understanding of the rules of a game. Most learners pick card games up instinctively without giving it a second thought.

What I’ve tried to bring out in the module is a sense of social collaboration, so the coursework projects are designed around the idea that learners will form a social group who will undertake a social project, something that they can’t do virtually, but have to meet-up and interact with other people if it is to be successful. So there is a cake making group, a five-a-side football group, a film podcast group, a pub games group, and so on. The blogs that learners write about these activities are posted to the DIY-DMU site on the DMU Commons.

DIY-DMU Bloggs

Underpinning this activity is a layer of reflection using blogs and social media posts that learners can use to explain and identify what works in their social activities and what they have learnt. This is a process of development in which learners are expected to post content as they go along, so that they can incorporate their experiences and the comments and feedback that they are receiving from other learners on the module. As this is a social activity learners can look at each other’s blogs and are able to make improvements and changes to their style of blogging based on what they have seen that other people are writing. It’s a very social way of learning that doesn’t require a heavy-handed teacher to be pushing learners to do thing in a specific way and in line with a set of regulations.

Reflexive Blogs

As part of the process of reflection I’ve asked learners to include a reflective video blog, lasting about two minutes, in which they tell me what they have learnt. A couple of weeks ago we spent some time in the workshop looking at how these kind of video blogs work, and how they are understood by people watching them. Things like body language, eye movement and relating an extended set of thoughts emerged as fascinating things to watch out for, and to learn from. I got this idea from the videos that I’ve been making myself to introduce and summarise the topics that are being discussed in the lectures each week. This is part of the DMU Universal Design for Learning scheme, which seeks to make learning as accessible as possible for learners.

It was a revelation to me that I gained and learnt from making these videos, as it’s almost impossible to get feedback from colleagues as to the suitability of the lecture content I’m producing. We are all pressed for time, and the informal reflexive conversations that we used to hold over a cup of tea are less likely to happen. So checking-in with myself by recording these videos each week has been a great help. Hopefully learners will find the techniques of video-blogging to be equally as useful and an effective way to enhance their self-directed learning.

It’s also been interesting to experiment with different sensory-based techniques of learning, such as the Talkaoke session that we held, and the play-dough session. The dominant mode of information delivery in most learning sessions tends to be auditory and visual. What has been interesting has been the introduction of kinaesthetic, modelling, schematic and discursive forms of learning that go beyond the simple and well-tired techniques of ‘chalk-and-talk’.

At the end of the day, what I’m trying to achieve is confidence in extended thinking. This is why I’m still a fan of hand-written exams, because it’s an opportunity to engage the hand and the brain in a different kind of thought process, one that brings out a deeper form of thinking that can’t be deflected so easily by interactive media, the cut-and-paste mentality of writing, and the always-on media consumption that is encouraged these days. Sitting and contemplating is a difficult thing to do, but if we learn how to do it well, then we gain maturity and become something more authentic in the process. People who can look at a situation, evaluate it and develop an analysis, rather than just accepting it at face value.

I’ve got some ideas of how I want to develop these forms of learning practice, so I’ll keep posting blogs and videos that explain how these might work and be incorporate into the modules in the future.

TECH2503-17 Lecture Twenty-Four Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the final lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH2503-17 Lecture Twenty-Three Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-third lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH2503-17 Lecture Twenty-Two Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the Twenty-Second lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH1502-17 Lecture Twenty-Four Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the final lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1502-17 Lecture Twenty-Three Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-third lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1502-17 Lecture Twenty-Two Summary

This is a summary of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-second lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1002-17 Lecture Twenty-Four Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-fourth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology

TECH1002-17 Lecture Twenty-Three Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-third lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

TECH2503-17 Lecture Twenty-One Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-first lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH2503-17 Lecture Twenty Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twentieth lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH1502-17 Lecture Twenty-One Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-first lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1502-17 Lecture Twenty Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twentieth lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1002-17 Lecture Twenty-Two Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-second lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

TECH1002-17 Lecture Twenty-One Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty-first lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

 

TECH1002-17 Lecture Summary Twenty

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the twentieth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

Issues in Developing Curriculum for Media Technology and Production

There is an ongoing debate about the status of media studies as a subject and set of learning activities that suggest that the traditional focus on textual, institutional and political areas of interest are no longer the sole area of concern for academics and practitioners who are developing learning and teaching strategies that make sense in the highly changing social, economic and technical environment. For example, William Merrin suggests that models of media study and practice need to go beyond the ‘broadcast’ and ‘transmission’ age models of production and distribution (Merrin, 2014), something that David Gauntlet reflects by calling for a “media studies 2.0” framework based around creativity and participation (Gauntlett, 2015).

This is a debate that is ongoing and has real implications for the way that media courses are structured, planned and promoted. What might the intended outcome of a media studies or media production programme be when seen in the context of rapid and advancing change? How can media studies and media production programmes meet the challenges and needs of the future, such as the “Great Disruption” (Moore, 2016), with its requisite impact on social resilience, adaptation and planning for environmental change, increased urbanisation, technological automation and information management, as well as fundamental changes to the communications model, passing from the arbolic to the rhizomic mode of generative media (Deleuze & Guattari, 2013)?

This is a quick sketch of issues that I believe are important if we are to address future needs in the development and promotion of the media studies and the media production curriculum. This can best be summed up by asking if anyone needs media studies and media production courses? There has to be a point to our undertaking, such as addressing pressing social problems? This entails going beyond a market-based supply of skills needs, and addressing future concerns of sustainability and participation in communities of practice and interests.

How Focussed on skills are the courses we manage?

Most media courses have a strong sense of planning to meet existing skills needs, but to what extent are we investigating the potential skill needs of the future? As the media production and development working environments shift, so to are the skills expectations. As technical and social change occurs we have to try to anticipate, investigate and experiment with patterns of future skills requirements that are relevant for diversified media ecology.

Cognitive Diversity

Well-structured courses draw on strong emphasis of production, reflection and investigation, while also being mindful that it pays to be a generalist when planning for the future, and thus avoiding a too narrow focus on a limited and conforming set of ideas and core practices. The single-mindedness that academics and media practitioners bring to the development of their courses is admirable, but it is at the risk of failing to recognise and exploit the potential that is offered when we bring together mixed learning experiences and contributions. By introducing diverse learning opportunities, and using interdisciplinary and multiple modes of engagement and practice, it should be possible to enhance the learning experiences that address emerging technologies and practices, in a more collaborative mode of delivery than those that are addressed in the traditional linear and abstract forms of knowledge development.

Cognitive Expectation

It is therefore necessary to draw on different scholastic and investigatory traditions of practice and learning, exploiting and experimenting with interdisciplinary methodologies and approaches. If we avoid the narrowing of our expectations, and the conforming of our practices and routines of enquiry, then we can avoid the pitfalls of monological thinking that removes opportunities for discovery and investigation – with the associated limited range of cognitive expectation that accompany these practices and dispositions. Promoting interdisciplinary, collaborative investigative approaches and structured challenges, means that it will be possible to enhance the expectations of learners, while keeping them engaged in a rewarding and stimulating learning experience for its own sake, and not one that promotes deferred reward, status or approval as their primary outcomes.

Experiential Engagement

What we gain from these developmental learning traditions, which sees the cycle of learning as driven by an integrated sense of learning through practice and concept, is a reinforcing cycle of engagement that opens-up the learner’s expectations, rather than limiting their opportunities and potential for diverse outcomes. A narrow mode of engagement and participation only short-changes the potential that cognitive diversity offers. The potential for problem solving is enhanced if those who are engaged in the activities are able to recognise the inherent strengths of different cognitive approaches, while also being open to multiple opportunities for divergent and reflexive thinking. We are all enhanced if we use the multiple cognitive modes of engagement that problem solving requires, as we are more than the sum of our parts when we collaborate.

Reflexive Improvement

A more reflexive approach is one that utilises learner-centred development processes that are situated in practice and supported by appropriate concepts and ideas. The impulse to normalise this experience into pre-structured roles and expressions, limits and restricts the level of engagement that can be achieved if we simply view media practice as a purely functional task – usually learnt by rote and practiced with a limited sense of self. This classical mode of ‘banking’ learning leaves learners with poor techniques for self-actualisation, and undermines their ability to explore alternative forms of engagement and expression that would otherwise promote growth and self-awareness.

Participatory Engagement

The challenge, then, is to design learning programmes that allow learners to develop social engagement skills and to maximise their contribution to the group enterprise. In the collective intelligence models that promote learning through shared practices and shared understandings, learners are oriented away from classical models of learning that promote engagement as atomised and transactional. This means taking every opportunity to provide social and collaborative learning practices that enhance learners sense of belonging as part of a learning community, and thereby able to explore techniques for co-development and co-production that support innovation and problem solving learning.

Partnerships

However, it’s pointless trying to promote participatory forms of learning if they are not appropriately scaffolded with clear expectations that are drawn from ‘real-world’ projects. Partnerships that raise expectations, and are of an international standard, will be increasingly prized in the future, as they will give learners a sense that their individual learning experience is not being designed in isolation, but has a viable sense of meeting raised expectations based on the status of the partners and their progressive and forward-thinking dispositions. Leaving learners with local and limited expectations is no longer sustainable.

Collaborative Practices

The need to develop and enhanced collaborative practices, therefore, is something that can help to give a greater sense of externalised engagement to a learning programme, and thereby minimises the potential negative effects of a ‘bubble’ mentality. This ‘bubble’ mentality is on in which self-confirmation and self-regard limit the opportunity for realistic externalised engagement. The self-reinforcement of expectations promotes brittle and weak learning opportunities that are unattractive and require sustained (and wasted) investment in internal organisation politics and resource battles. It’s better to be seen to be working with external partners because they bring a different perspective to the learning experience, in the way that they enhance expectations for independent working relationships, founded on a future needs analysis, and a diversity of problem solving techniques and technologies.

Social Disruptions

To this end a needs analysis must address how challenges of social, economic, environmental, technological and cultural change and going to impact on future expectations of media production and media communication. If we only frame our learning practices in terms of what we already know, and not in terms of what we need to know, then we will miss the opportunity to prepare learners for the challenges that lay ahead of them, and the roles that they will be expected to perform as media-producers who are capable of meeting these challenges. Diversification of expectations of use of media, to include wider range of technologies and social uses (i.e. gamification, data management, social participation, virtual reality, digital mapping, media-supported-learning, etc.) should be regarded as a key strategic aim of all media courses.

Sustainability Needs

Diversification, then, is necessary because there is an ongoing requirement to addresses the significant and impending challenges of social and organisation development.  By introducing relevant problem-solving approaches to environmental, social and technological change, it should be possible to promote a sense of engagement with sustainability agendas, such as climate change, urbanisation, automation, globalisation, personalisation, data-integration, ethics, social and civic accountability (among many others). As the oncoming waves of change approach, we will need thinkers and producers who won’t be overwhelmed due to lack of preparation, fixed as they might be in a monological thinking pattern. It’s incumbent on all course planners, therefore, to build-in a sense of evaluation of their proposed learning practices, focusing on future resilience and sustainability, and the practical issues of communication and mediation, the use of technology and social engagement, and so on.

Technical Change

If we can’t promote a strong impulse for the exploration and utilisation of technology for social accomplishment, then we are simply narrowing the expectations and value of technology, design and engineering practices, leading to limited cognitive and practical experiences that won’t keep-up with technological change due to lack of support, investment and advocacy of the technical development process. If we promote the pragmatic and continual re-evaluation of the support that is built-in to our taken-for-granted technological practices, then we also engage learners in progressive and creative methodologies and practice that utilise diverse and experimental methods of investigation and problem solving. Why should we cut off the opportunity for continuous learning?

Innovation Expectation

So, media courses that are going to be fit for purpose in the future must therefore have a strong focus on discovery and engagement with emergent and open development practices. They must avoid any narrowing of expectations that would otherwise lead to a reinforcement of the existing solutions that are commonly available, which, over time, may prove to be insufficient and lack a sense of sustainability, resilience and future-proofing. It’s certain that many organisations are thinking about these challenges, and these organisations undoubtedly will become more attractive because they have a more explicit focus on future potential and possibilities of technological practices and media know-how. Therefore, if we comprehensively review our expectations about the media curricula that we offer, then we can begin to develop the supporting methodologies that will be defined by more open learning experiences and practices, and which are better suited to the emerging affordances of media technology innovation.

Outcome Diversity                       

Overall, then, it is my belief that media courses should manage the expectations that graduates so that they are better suited to a wide range of innovative practices, such as media production, research, technology development, teaching, campaigning, performance, R&D, independent media employability, and so on. If we keep narrowing and conforming our expectations to a limited set of established media practices and technologies, then we will reduce the ‘pool’ of ideas and expectations we have to draw on in the future. By reinforcing the methodological monology, we will only achieve what we already have.

Our focus should be on the way that graduates deal with change, how they are able to account for change, and how they can assess and evaluate the future potential of a diversified and emergent set of media technologies and practices. This means reviewing the status of our current curriculum and methodologies, and positioning ourselves and our learning partners in a direction that is more focussed on open learning experiences, supported by practices that anticipate changing social roles in media, and thus beyond in learning practices, research and development approaches.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (2013). A Thousand Plateaus. London: Bloomsbury Revelations.

Gauntlett, D. (2015). Making Media Studies: The Creativity Turn in Media and Communications Studies. Oxford: Peter Lang Publishing.

Merrin, W. (2014). Media Studies 2.0. London: Routledge.

Moore, S. A. (Ed.) (2016). Pragmatic sustainability – Dispositions for Critical Adaptation (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

 

TECH2503 Lecture Eighteen Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the eighteenth lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH1502 Lecture Eighteen Summary

This is an overview of the eighteenth lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1502 Lecture Eighteen Summary

This is an overview of the eighteenth lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1502 Lecture Seventeen Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the seventeenth lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH2503 Lecture Seventeen Summary

This is an overview of the topics that will be discussed in the seventeenth lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

Community Media & Community Development

One of the underlying and emerging themes of my teaching practice and research work is the potential for the development of communities of interest, practice and association.

I’m predominantly looking at this in the context of Community Media, however, the net is getting wider all the time, to include community development issues, civic participation issues, and social sustainability challenges.

There is a very good article in the Guardian today from George Monbiot, in which he describes the impact of community development projects.

What is interesting, and I’ve pointed this out to colleagues I work with in the Community Media Association, is that Community Media is not mentioned in the list of activities and accomplishments.

I’ve been contemplating this for some time now, and I’ve been asking myself if we are doing enough with our courses and the research we undertake, to develop and enhance the social and civic contribution that we make, both with and through, media and participatory media activities?

Hopefully I’ll get some time soon to write and post some regular blogs about these challenges,  and the potential insight that media scholars and practitioners can contribute that goes beyond the narrow skills and industry straight-jacket that is so dominant at present.

TECH2503 Lecture Sixteen Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the sixteenth lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH1502 Lecture Sixteen Summary

This is a short overview of the sixteenth lecture for TECH1502 introduction to Community Media.

TECH2503-17 Lecture Fifteen Summary

This is a brief overview of the topics that will be covered in the fifteenth lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH1502-17 Lecture Fifteen Summary

This is a brief summary of the topics that will be covered in the fifteenth lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1002 Lecture Eighteen Summary

This is a brief summary of the topics that will be covered in the eighteenth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

TECH1002 Lecture Seventeen Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the seventeenth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

TECH1002 Lecture Sixteen Summary

This is a short overview of the sixteenth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

TECH1002-17 Lecture Fifteen Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the fifteenth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology

TECH1502-17 Lecture Fourteen Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the fourteenth lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH1002-17 Lecture Fourteen Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the fourteenth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

TECH1002 Lecture Thirteen Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the thirteenth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

TECH1502 Lecture Thirteen Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the thirteenth lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH2503 Lecture Thirteen Summary

This is a short overview of the thirteenth lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH2503 Lecture Twelve Summary

This is a short overview of the topics and issues that will be covered in the twelfth lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.

TECH1002 Lecture Twelve Summary

This is a short overview of the topics that will be covered in the twelfth lecture for TECH1002 Social Media & Technology.

TECH1502 Lecture Twelve Summary

This is a short introduction to the topics that will be covered in the twelfth lecture for TECH1502 Introduction to Community Media.

TECH2503 Lecture Eleven Summary

This is a short summary of the topics that are covered in the eleventh lecture for TECH2503 Community Media Production.