Many thanks to all of your feedback notes, most of which were very positive, but here are our responses to some of the improvements that you have suggested.
“There is not enough help individually as everyone works differently, great as a group but people like me who needs to ask a few more questions so it would be good to see more one to ones early on in the module.” As lectures we want you to all feel as though you are supported on an individual as well as a group level. There are tutor hours available with Steve, Ross and Pete every week and you can sign up for these when you want, I’d also like to see the use of #260 on twitter to give more support. Please be more proactive on a Monday after lectures if you feel you need more support, just ask. There are 70 of you but there are 4 members of staff remember.
“I thought the four week project was a waste of time.” . A couple of people said this, a couple of people suggested it should have been done in two weeks. As the core module there is a requirement that certain skills are covered, this project was aimed at addressing those early on. I think the feeling is that it has reduced the time available to work on the essay, perhaps one resolution would be to introduce the essay topics in week 2/3 and running them in parallel, hand out readings to stimulate you academically whilst the practical project was underway. Indeed “Would like to be introduced to the essay sooner.” How would you feel about a more intense start to the year? – I guess we didn’t want to overload you straight after the summer break – but perhaps we should have? The feeling in the office is that a very small proportion of students follow up readings/articles etc suggested in the lectures.
“It’s confusing and complicated.” Is it? What is? So is this comment, well the first half of it is at least. I’ll assume this relates to the essay questions, I think it would be useful in the future to deconstruct each question to some degree as interpreting the questions seems to me a barrier. What else would make it less complicated?
“Too many different blogs. The course needs to be centralized.” There are a number of places to visit, the problem with having everything in one place is that it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to find, you’d just end up with one huge blog. What is not acceptable is where there are conflicts and inconsistencies with information.
There’s a few comments criticizing the essay. I’ve been amused by Pete’s growing anger every time he reads “Sorry, but I feel this essay is useless to a career in media 😦” His latest retort is “So that’s why the BBC give jobs to English Lit graduates!!!” Copyright is the foundation upon which most media is underpinned economically. I’d add that we’re living in genuinely exciting changing times. I’m uncertain if this note relates to essay writing in general or copyright privacy issues. An essay is essentially an exercise in thinking about an area, forming an opinion and expressing/presenting that thinking. Media is changing so quickly it’s anyone’s guess what path your careers will tread, what’s certain is that copyright, piracy, pro-suming, ownership and other essay topics will need to be fundamental to your thinking if you what to be anything more than a runner. And you don’t get to be a runner unless you can show the potential of being more than a runner. The technology will continually evolve at an ever accelerating pace, indeed we will all find it increasingly hard to keep up. However what will never change is the importance of thinking about issues (these particular ones and others) forming opinions and expressing them.
“Less writing, more practicals.” I bought an iPad2 in May – turns out I still need to type. The written word remains as important as ever, so for now I’d advocate you keep developing those skills. There is no better way of expressing and constructing your thoughts and opinions – it will also be the way others judge you, today, tomorrow and for the rest of your lives. You have all chosen to invest in educating yourselves to degree level, a decision I believe none of you will regret. I believe this for lots of reasons, one of those reasons relates to the jobs you would be exempt from applying for over the next 40 years. A degree has to have an academic core underpinning it – you have to write. “I think therefore I am.” But that thought is next to useless unless it is shared, and it can’t be communicated unless it is structured. Writing puts your thoughts in order – for yourself as much as anyone – this will spurn new thoughts. Your essay is an audio essay, that’s pretty practical in my mind. However I take the comment seriously, why less writing? Because it’s hard? Because you’re lazy? Because you don’t see the point? Because it’s boring? Because you don’t align it with doing? Writing is a practical activity for some people after all. Is it more about what you are writing? Do you need help writing? Should you be given a specific task/exercise to write a blog post about each week from the start of the year? The point of these three years is to encourage you to think for yourselves, to take responsibility for your own development, to inspire you, not to get you to follow instructions better. Writing embeds your thoughts by making the invisible visible, not just today but tomorrow and always. Your blog is your mind online.
“Britain in a day was a waste of time.” Echoed by a few of you, it was only 1 Monday and I hope a chance for you to do something practical that you didn’t have to write about! For those of you working on the essay question around how free culture has transformed the media, this was a directly relevant case study for you to get involved in and you should be taking opportunities like this to build your experiences.
“The module is good but I feel I would learn more if we were always in smaller groups because it will be more personal, more helpful and the communication between students and lecturers will be better.” There have been a lot of whole group sessions, do you feel happier speaking out in smaller groups? I’d certainly like to hear more of your thoughts, where you’re coming from. All teachers like the sound of their own voice too much. Personally I don’t want to teach you – I think that’s arrogant and patronising. I want to facilitate your learning and support your thinking. Should you be spending more time communicating in student groups?
“More one to one time with tutors.” We’d like more one2one with you too. We’re around all Monday and Pete & Steve take bookings don’t you know!
“Not enough content being taught in the module.” Hmmm not sure how to respond to this. By content do you mean media theory? Practice?
“Sort out timetables, respect students time and investment.” Agreed I believe a mutual respect is crucial. The vending machine by the loan shop sells chocolate bars for 70p. (The same bars were 30p when I was a student.) Who would buy one and bin it after two bites? You’d eat it all, even if you saved some of it for the journey home, by the end of the day it would be gone. Your degree is a chocolate bar, (I’d like to think it’s not being delivered to you in a machine) How many bites are you all taking? Some are eating more than others, anyone reading the small print on the wrapper before dropping it? (When I was a student my BA was free, next year degrees will be £9,000 a year.) You can all earn our respect, we do this job because when we see students strive to reach their potential it’s thrilling. If you feel unfairly disrespected, that’s a serious concern – come and have some of that one2one time mentioned above. And don’t give up the chocolate.
“Very informative, very helpful, blog in particular is great.” I like the blog, I think it is under-viewed but It seems like it’s a good way of communicating with you. I’m writing this on a Sunday evening with one hand as I have a baby asleep in my lap. My point is you students are never far from my thoughts. When I stumble on something that might interest you I tweet it. Did I mention you could follow me on twitter?
“Like that there’s only one challenging essay. Like the practical stuff. Like all the info learnt.” Cool beans.
“So far the module is OK I don’t have any problems.” WOW praise indeed.
“Understand the logistics of essay, only criticism is that the purpose of lectures to make it an audio is difficult. I understand the ‘media users’ I personally like to write essays.” This is the first attempt at an audio essay we’ll be keen to see how it works. It is an extra thing to do – however it’s in effect a 1500 word essay as opposed to a 3000 word one. The intention is to make it a media artefact, highlighting the crucial links between thinking, writing, structure and their very real relevance in creating a piece of media.
“I am pleased with the module so far the arguments we get are pretty strong and the topics covered are interesting. A lot of research needs to be done though, but I guess this not high-school level anymore, it’s uni.” My feeling is that school is becoming more and more about teaching for the sake of the school ie get the best exam results possible get the best position in the league table. Rather than teaching for the sake of the student, your learning, your development. Schools don’t teach pupils to learn, there isn’t space in the curriculum. Those of you who have learnt how to learn (as opposed to follow instructions) have done it for yourselves, supported by parents perhaps, teachers even, but on the whole not by the national curriculum. Answer me this. When do you stop learning?
“Good course, no complaints, well organized, electric calandar is fantastic.” Electricity is great isn’t it.