When writing for a blog which I aligned with university and used as an academic showcase never did I think I’d be talking about myself. As a performance audition successful applicant to graduating with a Bachelor of Communications and Media degree, this university thing we are encouraged to do has allowed me to be looking into fields that aren’t an actual title yet. To work with people that have skill-sets beyond our imagination yet the opportunity to collaborate and create trajectories that will change the world, one class that I’m going to share my thoughts on is a class that 14 weeks ago I was never going to take, and now rate with the reason I can safely say, it’s going to be okay leaving.
This is an excerpt from an essay I just wrote concerning the changing nature we face as a collective on the future of work. Now I say collective with the focus of University students. With changing situations, values and narratives coming from student situations this semester I was able to reflect on my own situation. I was able to interview someone whom I’ve formed close friendship with simply because of similar mindsets, and completed a class that tempted (without success) the idea of honours, simply because I’m not afraid to own my achievements.
To reflect and theorise on the trajectory of a professional career, firstly a focus must be shown on an individual value. Perhaps the most interesting method to understand and self-reflect is to approach a stranger, or person that isn’t well-known personally, but who you feel you can relate to and contribute with. This was a key moment when I was personally trying to understand the way working professionally has shifted from permanent to ‘gig’-like and what I then have to consider moving forward. I personally believe this model can be applied to a lot of disciplines and is perhaps why I personally resonated with the way of thinking. I approached a professional who has taught me a design thinking mindset within a tertiary setting. The opportunity to reflect on some of my glorious failures within a university atmosphere that isn’t focused on much else moving forward besides statistical marks, was liberating when he detailed that he wants to see more like this. Being able to publish works that haven’t worked and actively build on them with real world application feedback will showcase a head start into what he believes is the future of work for my degree, and that others should take note. I would submit an assignment with the outcome a failure, but the ability to then reflect on why it failed and apply it to the next prototype would infact be a method of teaching that resonates with entrepreneurial qualities. Now, interestingly enough, when on the verge of leaving the institution, I’m showcased to narrative practices and forming a connection with my own values and experience near narrative to shape my direction. The idea of telling my story of a series of events about how I got to a position within a engineering focused future, wasn’t how established norm would have cracked a market. For context, I’m a media and communications student trying to crack a niche market in drone technology, whereby I built a custom prototype using YouTube and Online forums to then pitch to engineering companies. Already, this isn’t an orthodox mix, however this very value of unorthodox practices has allowed opportunity within organisations that haven’t yet recognised the need for reflective practice.
BCM311 allows students the freedom the workplace and real life throws at you. Submission deadlines, class absence, safe spaces and perhaps attitudes towards hard work were all major stand out points that made this experience a refreshing time. Everything that the inertia scares me about the longevity of certain changes to work, this class compliments. I’ve never been too personal about life and detailed a lot, but it’s simply because I thought it fell under that inertia bracket of “professional VS. personal”.
Where the future of work is headed is simply the understanding of both within the workplace. Everyone has a story, and narrative practice simply gives the humility in people a chance to resonate and act on. We in media and communications sometimes seem unneeded in some disciplines, however we’re amongst the first implementing this narrative practice along with psychology. I’ll be the first to promote the awareness and addressing of mental health in the workplace from engineering, healthcare and the arts. The sustainability of the future of working environments relies on peoples well-being, and narrative reflection, practice and methodology starts with myself, as a media practitioner with the skills now in listening for these values in another person. It’s a gift, and it’s apart of a CV of achievements. I hope I can help others like I’ve always wanted to, and this gives me another foot in the door.
It’s been a pleasure, and not one drone was harmed in the completion of this class.
Earlier this semester, I detailed the beginning of a research project I wanted to undertake within the University to uncover the truths, myths and trends of student motivation toward starting and more importantly maintaining a project that would not only benefit the degree, but be a tool for creating and adding to the new age portfolio of digital literacy and competence when going to seek employment or start a professional career in a practise. My project proposal had a lot of ambitious research methodologies and aimed to gather as much information from students at the university as well as a survey and a background research into the generational trends that dictate student motivations
The feedback from the initial planning was succinct into a working model and a realistic plan. I’m conducting a focus group discussion with the tutorial class on Thursday week9 at 2:30pm class. This will allow me to ask the following questions to a sample of students that are required by the degree to complete projects or equivalent related to my project plan. The questions are as follows:
Focus Group Questions
- What motivations drive your projects at university across any subject?
- Do you complete projects or think about projects in the way that you could incorporate it into a professional portfolio or something you’re keen to pursue after university?
- Do your projects require extra motivations because they’re being marked at university, or does the feedback assist the final product?
- Do the topics or inspirations for a project resonate an interest?
- What barriers or “put offs” you believe stop you (and other students) from starting a project and making it publically available
- What projects have you done in the past that are digitally available for a portfolio?
- Are these projects possible career options, or could they be moulded into a career niche?
I’ve identified the timeline I want to stick to, and leading into week 8 (this week) I’ve narrowed down the questions I want to ask as well as the research I want to look into and see if I can crack the code university students and teachers have been trying to channel since I’ve began my learning career.
Follow my Journey;
These videos we a visual representation of the parking situation students at the University of Wollongong face if they decide to drive and park on campus. The day in the life video was a little project we thought would attract the attention of students on social media by generating a humorous and relatable video that would create word of mouth and stimulate discussion around the topic. We decided to film and actual search for parking before a class to add some authenticity to it. We showcased struggles people have with finding a spot in free zones, metered, and paid ticket parking as well as looking for people to take their leaving spot, asking around for carpool and how last resorts often stimulates anger as parks resort to a long way from main campus. This video aggregated content hoping to long tail effect the Facebook page and invite people to think they’re not alone in the situation.
The Vox pop was a primary research tool which we were able to ask students of UOW to voice their experiences, opinions and ideas about the parking dilemmas they’re faced with individually, that later showcased as the majority of the position on the topic. Another page promoter, this video allowed people to openly voice their opinions without people taking down their comments and suggestions, but rather publish them and analyse them.
Firstly, people were asked, describe UOW parking for them individually. From the results we saw the main talking points discussed were the price of parking being too expensive for a university student budget, especially P1. Some students also detailed that they were forced to park on the surrounding suburban streets, often away from campus resulting in them being late and/or exhausted mentally and physically for their day ahead. Another was that a big thing affecting uni was the cheating methods of carpool. Finding last minute carpool help when they didn’t have enough people for traditional carpool entry, vice-versa getting pulled out of class themselves to help in need friends who are late and need the convenience of carpool parking. Parking is “one of the biggest struggles of going to university” one student was quoted on saying.
Next we questioned “how long did it take you to find a park today?” hoping to get some reaction content, rather than generalised comments on time periods. We had a response of approximately 20-45mins taken for our surveyed group to find a park at Uni on that day. One result quoting a 45min search for a park, added that she also lived only 5mins away. Another quantitative response was that students get to uni at around 8:30am just to find a park regardless of their start times upwards of 10:30am.
Lastly, we asked them to voice their suggestions that had a lot of overlap but were taken on bored none-the-less. More parking was an obvious one, however some went into more detail, such as better uses of space. This elaborated into the suggestion of P4 being completely utilized for carpooling or general carpool expansion. Multi-story car parks were said to be a good idea and were encouraged for future renovations. A monetarization of people parking and making sure they are doing so correctly that would mean no space is wasted was also something that people want to see improved at UOW. The cost was another point made, that current prices should be reduced to accommodate a university students budget as well as students being able to have access to purchasing their own permits similar to staff if they could. Budgeting the university’s spending was an interesting find, with the re-branding of UOW corporate image being a hot topic with students who think the funds could be pointed at carpark issues.
Lastly, we had a discussion off camera with a university staff member who didn’t wish to be identified who suggested that the university provided a financial incentive for staff to park at home. Basically, the uni would pay willing staff to keep their car at home and take public transport, even if it’s just the cost of the permits that they have to buy anyway would be enough. This way, the majority of the car spaces taken by staff permit holders would be free for students. An interesting viewpoint to go amongst our results.
International students are given the opportunity to come to places like Australia to study and immerse them with the culture, yet sometimes the reception isn’t always positive. “A crucial element in the achievement of success for international students is not only their academic adjustment but also their adjustment to the social and cultural environment.”(Kell, P and Vogl, G, 2007) Socialising and deciphering written English language to spoken Australian ‘colloquial’ English language can prove challenging and often takes longer than international students expected to understand.
Within university life and in particular, campus living, international students at the University of Wollongong are abundant. Being able to meet them and ask a little about what they’ve experienced so far comes in slight variation, with some enjoying the task of adapting to the “Aussie” slang and try and incorporate it into their learnt speaking English, predominantly these students are from Europe or the US. The Chinese exchange students tend to keep to themselves in groups of other international or Australian born Chinese groups. These Asian groups, according to Kell and Vogl, are seen as homogenous or of the same kind, and it’s detailed that they then find it hard to fit into the mix of cultures and their overall well-being in Australia as they’re dealing with their own hardships including “homesickness, financial difficulties, language difficulties, problems dealing with university staff and other authorities, loneliness, isolation from other classmates and anxiousness about speaking in the classroom in front of classmates and lecturers” .”(Kell, P and Vogl, G, 2007)
The idea of language plays a major role in the adjustment of living and later studying in another country, and Australia is perhaps the greatest challenge due to our iconic accent. Studies have shown that the English spoken language of Australia and the written version vary tremendously and have been noted by international students as one of the key barriers in their understanding locally. These students spend time prior to coming to Australia mastering the written, formal English language yet when they arrive the “local accents, fast speech and Australian colloquialisms” reduce their ability to communicate effectively to locals. It’s noted that it’s not that these students find Aussie students unfriendly or disrespectful; it’s that they’re unaware on how to approach and/or hold a conversation fluently.
Some Australians have a tendency to uphold negative stereotypes towards international students deeming them to be lazy, boring or useless and thus, “too parochial, trapped within an Australia-centred view of a diverse and complex world” (Simon Marginson, 2012). Studies have proven the potential in students coming from overseas being effective and motivated workers who enjoy the mix of culture and professionalism. Their records from the institutions they have moved from indicate they’re more than ready for the workplace, excelling in marks sometimes greater than that within Australia. This concept of ethnocentrism which is “characterized by or based on the attitude that one’s own group is superior” (Sukhmani Khorana, 2015) keeps a narrow view and doesn’t allow for equality within the learning experience. The Indian and Australian governments are working on improving these situations for International Indian students studying in Australia, with a renewed focus on recognition of qualifications and a $1 million boost to the Australia-India Education Council.
Beckie Smith 2015, India, Australia to further collaboration, qualification recognition, The Pie News, Viewed 31st August 2015, < http://thepienews.com/news/india-australia-to-further-collaboration-qualification-recognition/>
Kell, P and Vogl, G (2007) ‘International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multiculturalism Conference Proceedings, Macquarie University, 28-29 September 2006.
Marginson, S (2012) ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, Lecture delivered at the University of Wollongong, 21 February 2012, available online at http://focusonteaching.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@cedir/documents/doc/uow119828.pdf
Sukhmani Khorana 2015, ‘Internationalising Education and Cultural Competence’, Lecture Powerpoint Slides, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 30th August 2015, < https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/course/view.php?id=6455>