Digital Story

Hi there, my name is Tolu Akintaro Welcome to my digital profile story.

my journey through research as a master’s student in Communication,culture and media started with my first day in media research class where I was first told to think of a research topic for my dissertation- I was a late enrollee so for me, confused was an understatement to how I felt . The essence of the I researcher was for students to think wide,think deep,think different and think upside down in some cases, think simple. The first topic I chose was on the objectification of women by men in the media and how viral advertising tools could be used to change the status quo. The topic was rather ambiguous to me, I found it hard to dissect it till I had an opportunity to visit Birmingham for an ethnography research that opened my eyes to research and research is live  in our everyday lives and activities- we breathe research, we sweat research we even sleep in research. It was then I remembered an incident that happened to me a couple of months ago where I was asked to visit a pastor for deliverance because I was still single and with the recent  increase in tv series and films from Africa that talk more on the singlehood ‘sickness’ . The scenario spurred my change in topic to Before 30: the labelling of single and unmarried women by  Nigerian women.

 

The singlehood identity placed on unmarried women according to Stevenson(2011) is found more in  societies with heteronormative ideologies who still hold on to the precepts of heterosexual marriages. Due to the fact that the pressure to get married is on the increase, the media has used this form of identity to increase its audience with reality shows like the bachelor, sitcom like Single ladies and even movies  (Dubrofsky & Hardy, 2008, p. 377). Nigeria has not been left out in this media trend as the title of this research was influenced by a current sitcom ‘Before 30 ‘ that portrays young ladies as desperate to get married. The above sitcom was one of the reasons why I wanted to research on how unmarried women are been labelled in Nigerian media both digital and terrestrial.

 

The next phase was to sketch the field i have chosen to research on.  I was to look at my topic from a broad picture. At this point, i had difficulties understanding what my lecturer requested I do consider I was unfamiliar with the new techniques of essay writing as it was totally different from how I was taught in my home country .I struggled with comprehending a vast number of theories  that related to post-feminist theories and post modernism. I  was focused on getting a good grade( which might not be a bad thing) without fully getting involved in my topic. I was stuck in  the quantitative approach to research for a long time, in fact… I just broke up with quantitative research to embrace the qualitative approach that deals with meaning rather than truth,statistics, charts, and really depressing calculations. Since I had  first-hand experience of the topic it made more sense to be thoroughly qualitative about it.

 

*** I wrote an ambiguous essay but the feedback helped me to restructure my topic.

 

The second stage was Beyond face value I had to focus more on the qualitative approach to research, at this point, I had chosen to use an auto-ethnographic approach but I was unsure of how much of myself I wanted to put out there. During the period of this second phase, I took a course in film studies where film critic Andre Bazin claims that people’s interest in a genre of film is influenced by how the actors have been able to live out their lives or fantasies on screen. It gave me an understanding of how I was to relate my experience to research but I was afraid to use myself as the case study for fear of getting shamed. Thankfully, my lecture advised it would be therapeutic. Unfortunately,  my essay did not turn out well because  I was still stuck in sketching the field and my writing style was not as academic enough. In fact it was more of a dialogue than an academic writing according to the feedback I received from it. In fact, I shed a tear during and after this essay because of the grade I got in it.

 

I had to indulge in reading a lot of articles, seminar notes and listened to recordings that related to my topic which was a criterion for the third phase of my research which was epistemology,ontology and methodology. The third phase was an eye opener, it exposed me to various theories that had been written on post-feminist theory though most of them were western scholars I discovered the number of African post-feminist was infinitesimal. My aim was to compare and contrast these theories on Feminist theories to my research topic since I hardly could lay my hands on African post-feminist scholars. It made me understand that most of the different  approaches to feminist theories were  due to scholars zest in finding meaning.

 

In the course of this study, I have learnt the importance of discourse and ideologies and how they shape conversations and  research. I believe that as each day passes, I would fully comprehend the topic and relate it to producing content for my newly created podcast site which is one area I am enthusiastic about.

 

Finally, for every stage through this research, I hope to use this quote  from Mills(1959)as a mantra:

 

“Be a good craftsman: Avoid any rigid set of procedures. Above all, seek to develop and to use…imagination. Avoid the fetishism of method and technique. Urge the rehabilitation of the unpretentious intellectual craftsman, and try to become such a craftsman  yourself. Let every man be his own methodologist; let every man be his own theorist; let theory and method again become part of the practice of a craft”

 

Mills 1959 p.224

 

#CheckPoint is #CounterPoint

After months of planning, travelling, calling for meetings, making presentations, sometimes tormenting my teammates just to get things done as soon as possible. We finally had to bring everything to an end on the 12th of July 2016. Still confused on what I am talking about?  I am talking about the media exhibition from our trip to Berlin. the theme for the exhibition was #CheckPointCounterPoint.

The aim of the exhibition was to critically explore Berlin’s barriers and restrictions, the creativity of the street, cultural identity through food cultures,light as a decoration and the cosmopolitan traveller. The interesting thing about this exhibition was that we all had to use theory to explain Everyday Berlin. I know it sounds interesting. i know but it took a while for every team to come to terms with what we were to do but finally…

The exhibition was produced by all students of MA communication Culture and Media. For a large number of us, it was our first time planning an exhibition. Though the pre-exhibition was nerve racking because it was sometimes challenging to communicate ideas to the Chinese students and sometimes, there was always a clash of ideas. I am glad we were able to overlook our differences and bring out something amazing!

 

Is Your Learning this Disruptive?

I have always seen myself as a fast learner especially when the learning is hands-on. Guide to Campus has given me the opportunity I have craved for all my life. It is incredible how much I have learnt in such a short time and I still have more to learn. Not just in the area of professional skills but even in life skills. One life skill I have learnt is: it is ok to admit that you do not know. That way you can learn from those who know. I am literally putting theory into practice.

On the 4th of July, I took a crash class on video editing and this was the result of the class so far.

The Before and After…

 

 

This project has made me know myself better, I don’t see my teammates as colleagues, I see them as a family- my family members from various part of the world. I have been able to learn  media professional skills without ripping my pocket. The supervisors are great at what they do, giving us the liberty to make our own decisions,mistakes and learn from them. c’est incroyable.

 

 

New Skills

Guide to campus

I have always wanted to learn  something new. In fact, I live every day with the motive of learning something new each day but life as it is, sometimes you don’t. For every professional interview, I have attended, that has been my mantra when I am asked: ”so what made you apply for this job position?”I always answer with…” I just want to learn new skills”. sometimes I felt I sounded dumb answering questions in that manner but ….

Fast forward a couple of weeks after my first storyboard was made which I was told was not bad at all. I am extremely proud to say that in the last one week I have been able to add three more skills to my professional sleeve. From improving on my audio editing skills on Adobe Audition (you can check out my podcast  on SoundCloud to find out more) to learning how to design images on photoshop and  BeFunky.com, to the most recent, video editing, directing and managing sound while filming. All thanks to the opportunity  given to me by the Guide to Campus project under the  Office of Teaching and Learning, Coventry University. I would live to remember this

In the past, I had an opportunity to learn audio editing but I took it for granted because I felt at the time my presentation and my writing skills were good enough to get me the job of my dream but I thought wrong. My lack of not learning other professional skills made me almost jobless at a time (or so I thought).

My advice to anyone who wants to be better at a career… learn new skills that relate to your career without been obligated to. There are a million talented people out there but what would make you different is what you have acquired or knowledge you have gained on your life’s journey.

IMG-20160630-WA0040

#Selah

https://otlcu.wordpress.com

 

 

Dear Vice Chancellor

Coventry University Logo

Following a discussion that ensued in my group during a class activity  on our first experiences in school and what we hoped to change on the course, so many of us had a tonne of things to say and most of these issues needed to be discussed one way or another. I decided to bell this cat by writing an un-mailed letter to the vice-chancellor of Coventry University.

By the way, the Vice-Chancellor and CEO  of COV UNI is John Latham (I just discovered many students do not know the name of the Vice-chancellor)

17

 

 School of Media and Performing Arts

Coventry University

West Midlands

United Kingdom.

 

3rd July 2016.

 

The Vice Chancellor,

Coventry University,

Priory Street, Coventry

West Midlands,

United Kingdom.

 

Dear Sir,

On behalf of every international student, I would first like to congratulate you and your indefatigable team for putting Coventry University on a global pedestal and introducing the world to the beautiful and multicultural city of Coventry. Coventry university in the last 2 decades has no doubt held on to been a modern university and a school that values student experience not just by the awards she has won but in making intentional efforts to hold on to her core values of strengthening student experience. Secondly, I would like to apologise in advance for the ‘non-academic’ style of writing this letter* but it is one and (probably)* only way I can express my thought without any bias.  Forgive my manners. My name is Tolu Akintaro and I am a Masters student in Communication Culture and Media. School of Media and Performing arts.

 

My decision to come to Coventry University has been one of the best decisions I made. The city is very  rich culture, history and opens her hospitable doors to people of various race and background which has made me feel more at home than any other country I have travelled to. Coventry University is an evolving school especially in the area of technology and engineering (I wish every other faculty could enjoy the kind of accolade  the engineering faculty have been given over the years).

In lure of the above, I would like to state what I would rather not term as complaints but suggestions to improve the teaching and learning in Coventry University especially as it relates to my course of study- media, communications and culture. First, for most international students  from Asia and third world countries who happen to be the majority of students in Coventry University, they face a major issue of writing essays the way and manner that is expected of them either due to the fact that they were not groomed to write in that manner or the writing style from their home country is totally strange to what is acceptable at Coventry University. I understand that it was due to challenges of this sort that the centre for academic writing was created. However, it seems to me that the centre is overwhelmed with the number of students it has to cater to year in- year out. For example, I have to book an appointment a month before just to see an adviser and another month to be sure my essay has been finally read by one of the readers(by this time, the deadline for the essay submission would have come and gone). I also discovered that the essay writing for the engineering department varies from what is accepted at Media and communications. Unfortunately, the staff at the centre for academic writing do not in any way point out these variations. (we are just required to write in a certain way- not regarding if the faculty accepts it). That been said, I would like to propose that all Faculties have a centre for academic writing both for Undergraduate and postgraduate students. That way, the burden on centre for academic writing would reduce to it’s barest minimum and students would be able to have convenient one-on-one sessions with the advisors from their various schools who have an understanding of what applies in every department.

 

Secondly, the school is known to develop professionals in various fields of endeavours and raise young men and women to embody what  the phoenix represents. However, I would like to suggest that mentorship should be given to both undergraduates and post-graduates students while at the university. These mentors would not take the place of counsellors at the mental health and wellness centres but can help their various mentees to understand and develop their learning styles and technique, help them to improve on areas where they feel the student is lacking and in need of help as it relates to the profession, and work with the student on finding more professional opportunities that are relevant to the-the students interest. I believe that this method would help many students to consciously develop their strengths in whatever field they have chosen.

Furthermore, as you know, Coventry university was once a polytechnic which from my understanding of the polytechnic curriculum is 60% practical and 40% theory and I personally expect that it should hold on to those values even though she has become a university. Unfortunately, the school especially my course focuses more on theories than on the practical aspect of the course. Inasmuch as the theories are helpful in our everyday lives, the practical skills are what would get us the jobs we hope to apply for when we leave the four walls of this great ivory tower. I am grateful for the opportunity to intern with the Office of Teaching and Learning on her media project #GuideToCampus. This internship has made me learn a plethora of professional skills I did not have an opportunity to learn while as an undergraduate and even as a postgraduate student. Most of the times I asked my lecturers to put me through some practical knowledge of tools that relate to my course, I am directed to watch videos on YOUtube or read a manual. This method of learning cannot be taken for granted however, I am more of a hands-on learner especially when it comes to using tools and gadgets I find difficult to use.sadly, my tutors hardly find the time to understand that. I fear for my colleagues who are settling for all that is taught in class because they might find it difficult to get media jobs in the near future without any form of professional  hands-on skill.

 

As stated above, the school is filled with students from Asia (especially China) and third world countries. I have discovered that the Chinese students in my class find it rather challenging to understand all that the tutor says in English considering English is not their first language. There is usually a lot of bickering in my class because the students try to translate the jargon said in English to Chinese. While they try to translate, they miss out on other important points the lecturer must have made. These students have been bashed unconsciously by the teachers because they try to understand by asking each other what the teacher meant. I would like to suggest that the courses on module be translated into at least two other languages besides English. That is, Chinese and French. I believe that the language society can work in conjunction with the IT department to make this work well. This would in many ways reduce the noise and bashing that the Chinese students face. With UK leaving the EU, I foresee that many students in the future who would apply  and gain admission to Coventry University would be students from China and African countries. I believe this would help future students embrace the school as an institution that looks out for their language problems.

 

Finally, I thank you and your team for being intentional in meeting the needs of students and making the university conducive for learning, I cannot trade this experience for anything in this world. Indeed the school attaining an award in student experience cannot be overemphasised. I also believe that the aforementioned would also improve the student experience in more ways than we can imagine.

I look forward to your feedback

 

Yours Faithfully,

 

Tolu, Akintaro

MA Communication,Culture and Media, Coventry University

 

*Because I have been penalised for my writing style in most of my essays.

* The brackets express my  deep thoughts on the issue