When Brian asked who David Gauntlett‘s book’s target audience is, media students or practitioners, I thought it was a trick question.
At that point in time, the answer seemed blatantly obvious. Gauntlett is a professor in the faculty of media at the University of Westminster (UK). His book in question is titled, “Making Media Studies”. So it was apparent that the answer is “media students”.
However, by the end of our workshop, my opinion has changed. Media is an ever-evolving landscape so practitioners are always learning, just like students. Gauntlett emphasises that to understand media, we need to actively participate and make things; “it’s about learning with media, rather than learning about media“. Hence, in this way, media students are also practioners!
So it’s still a trick question. But I’m not as quick to reply now. It’s an open-ended answer albeit a simple one.
This notion of active participation in media studies makes me think about “traffic” in the classroom. The classroom no longer represents a physical, passive setting where students absorb all information that a teacher gives. Instead, the classroom now represents an organisation.
To have a successful class, communication between teachers and students must be a two-way street. The student body and teaching staff depend on each other like how different sectors in a company/organisation do. We bounce off questions and ideas from each other. This way, both student body and teaching staff are learning, even expanding and exploring ideas beyond the physical boundaries of a room.
Therefore, to take full advantage of a learning session, students should be happy about exchanging thoughts and feelings while teachers ensure a safe and guided environment free of judgement. A class is a time for open conversations and guided experiments.
With this new-found meaning about the students’ role, I am more motivated to fearlessly share and receive ideas, and am very excited to experience how our classes and processes will continue to evolve.
What Gauntlett wrote, “our aims are primarily transformational“ has also reminded me and further inspired me about why I am learning media. He explains that we create media to better lives. He was also posed a question, “what kinds of knowledge do we need now?” To which, in ascending order of importance, he gave three points:
→ How things work (technical and economic knowledge)
→ How things feel and fit (emotional and embodied knowledge)
→ How to make a difference (creative and political knowledge)
I do not understand the second point well. I assume “how things feel and fit” refers to ethical responsibility that creators should hold; that we should be aware of how our products can be received/perceived the audience.
The last point sent me thinking: What do I want to do to make our world a positive place? How can I use media to achieve them? It may sound corny and dramatic but I do want to live a purposeful life. I want to study media because advance technology allows us to affect more people in a shorter time. So to affect others positively, media will be an efficient method.
To make a difference, we would require knowledge – and that’s why I am where I am in this moment.
Even though Gauntlett said that his three points are in order, I see it as a cycle. Like he has mentioned, all three points affect each other. Reading his blog has given me renewed energy to continue this path and be open to knowledge and possibilities.