Global practitioner

Global Practitioner in Media and Communication

This proposal is one topic option in the Professional Practice course. Students will choose a brief from a global organisation, visit London and Salford, work up a communication strategy, and reflect on the experience. The ultimate outcome is a global practice strategy document where the student accumulates the learning and draws out strategies for making a global practice happen.

The aim of the course is to assist students to move across the threshold from being a student to establishing international employment opportunities, and to make the shift while in the course. That is, becoming by doing. It is now possible, with smart use of social media and thoughtful strategies to build an active profile in media and communication while in study. This ties into the idea of the new student experience being one of a co-creator of his or her own learning [see http://bit.ly/rtuUYn].

There’s some aspects of this proposal that I think that are useful in thinking about future educational experiences. Two that I think are most interesting are:

  1. simple ideas are often the hardest to articulate, and
  2. education, particularly at this level is becoming by doing

First, a bit about the course proposal and how it came about.

Salford Uni is a partner institution in the EU educational consortium. RMIT is linked to Salford because of our mutual connections to the national broadcasters, BBC and ABC respectively. Now the links go deeper and include design, virtual space research and other activities.

We have been working with Salford to develop a full Masters program in Global Media and Comm. potentially with EU funding to support it. However this is slow and complex. To move it along I put up the idea of M+C running a MA course in global practice, which we can offer to Salford and other EU institutions. It will become a place where we can work with other educators to identify the logistics of running a collaborative program, mutual ambitions, capabilities etc of all partners.

To focus it I am designing it as a course that looks specifically at the pragmatic issues of being a GP. While it is important to understand cultural differences, taboos, styles etc, it is also necessary to simply look at what it means in practice. Hence the orientation is simply that.

1.

Not surprisingly it is difficult to articulate a practical idea, rather than the more abstract notions of difference in an academic situation. In a way it is easy to overlook a simple concept instead of stopping to take notice of it.

This is not to do with things like getting a visa, or finding a job or home [though they come into it obliquely]. It is about the strategies and things you can put in place that make it likely that you can take advantage of any opportunity that comes up. It is being able to observe, experience and get to know how M+C operates in other places; how to get involved on the ground; how to put yourself into the right position to act on it, and so on. More on what that set of capabilities is and how to educate for them at a later date.

I found the way to communicate the simple idea was to put it into a scenario that conveys the dimensions that are possible and things like the motivations of the student, so more holistic than a course description. Two scenarios follow as examples.

Scenario 1

A practice-based set project might be Media Futures. An Australian Journalism student would investigate a case of an international public media organisation (e.g.: BBC) and how it is responding to future technologies and practices. She would prepare an article, with interviews and examples of contemporary practice. In the same project, a Media student doing the same project would create a documentary along the same lines, exploring and using new media forms in the process. A communication design student could approach the issue using data visualisation. A music student could employ data sonification. A game design student could create a global game of media power.

All participating students would be encouraged to share information and resources about public media institutions in his or her home country. In addition he or she would develop a critical dialogue with their colleagues. Collectively the body of work would represent an insight into current and speculative practices for all to access.

Scenario 2

A written assignment could be to investigate indigenous media, and its diverse range of storytelling approaches and technologies. In this case a UK Media Studies student would research a range of indigenous media cases to ascertain any unique characteristics that appear in indigenous media but not mainstream media, for example. He would request support from Australian-based students in his research, thus prompting a discourse around the topic, as well as information that would be hard to gain from a distance.

The student would spend time in Australia at one of RMIT’s local partner institutions, such as Charles Darwin University NT. He would have access to archives in relevant museums and libraries as well as the ABC History Unit, CAAMA, File and Sound Archive and so on.

2.

The next aspect that I think is really useful to consider as we approach the time when universities have to work out what they are for [given it is possible to get a comparable ‘education’ elsewhere], is the notion of becoming by doing, and doing while studying. Again, a little tricky to explain. I noticed two things when teaching the IM2 course: 1. students are good at modeling activities to others; and 2. it is possible to create a real and positive professional reputation via social media before graduating.

Using these, I think it is possible to focus a course on both: modeling behaviour as a way to explore what the outcome is or could be; and projecting oneself into the world, already engaged.

One way to evidence these is to document them. For this I propose the following:

Global Career Strategy Document

A key component of coursework will be the Global Career Strategy Document. In this a student will research, test and initiate a career plan that focuses on direct entry into the industry and location he or she nominates.

For example, the Journalism student in Scenario 1 sets her sights on working in the UK. She knows that applying to work at the BBC would be unlikely to succeed. However, she is aware of the connection between the BBC and Salford University. As part of her project she develops an active profile on social media as an early stage media researcher. She develops a network of students and practitioners working in the field through a collaborative project (based on her Masters project) that she sets up on The Sense Network [http://www.thesensenetwork.com/] a global creative networking community. She travels to MediaCity for a 2-week exchange at UoS to meet and work with members of BBC Research.

The GCS document includes a reflection on the strategy to develop her professional persona and steps towards creating a global practice. It would also include reference to the practicalities of work permits, insurance and other employment considerations.

Structure of the course [based on PIES approach]

Propose

Propose a response to the brief supplied by an international organisation, which you will visit as part of this intensive course option. Prior to the visit you will have time to research the organisation and the issue they have asked you to address. As well you will be able to research the cultural conditions at play. You will be working in a multi-disciplinary team and alongside a team from Salford University UK [http://www.salford.ac.uk/].

Your proposition will cover the research you intend to undertake; the strategies you form with your colleagues to address the issue; and comparative existing campaigns or solutions. As you develop your solution consider what type of communication channel you will use. An understanding of the relevant media / communication industry sector [e.g.: social media, journalism, design, advertising] will be useful.

Implement

Form a team based on an agreement on the roles each member will be responsible for and the expected contribution from each. Your team will work intensively during a 2-week visit to Salford and London and will be operational before departure. Team communication and documentation technologies will be established and tested in readiness. You will develop your skills in negotiation and communication in the course.

Evaluate

As this is a multi-layered experience—including travel, team work, media production and presentation—you will benefit from a close examination of your own place in the situation as well as opportunities that you identify as you make your way through. Also pay attention to the professionals you meet along the way and the feedback they give you on your own performance as well as the outcome of the team proposition. You will be given an opportunity to interact with industry people on the tour. Your ability to reflect on critical incidents in the project and the knowledge you have built is rewarded in this course.

Showcase

This is a performance based experience and your chance to build your ability to present yourself as a compelling practitioner in a range of formal and informal environments.  These may include visits to the commissioning organisation to present your concept; meetings and social occasions with industry people; and time spent with staff and students at Salford and London institutions. We will also ask you to present your work to staff and industry people in Melbourne on your return. You will extend your ability to give an authentic presentation of your concept in this course.

Your participation in this course will include a subsidiary line of investigation that relates to your own intention to build your profile as a global practitioner, addressing questions such as:  What does it mean to be a global practitioner; what are the strategies you can build at this stage that could help in this ambition; what are the entry points and what steps are necessary to create this type of practice? This will form the basis of your Global Practice Strategy Document, which will operate as a showcase of your experience through the Global Practitioner course.

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