Paradigm Shift in Media Education and Research
By Alyssa Schoeneman, AEL Intern
So you brought your laptop to class with every intention of taking notes, but now you find yourself playing Farmville on Facebook. If you have ever wished that Facebook could be a required part of class, Media and Cinema Studies Professor James Hay is your man.
Hay’s AEL-supported course, Creative Industries (or Media in a DIY Culture), explores the multiple small ways in which we are encouraged to be creative every day, and the ways in which people distribute what they create, and brand themselves and their creations, in everyday life via communicative media. By integrating Do-It-Yourself cultural vehicles such as YouTube and Facebook into his course curriculum, Hay illustrates to students that enterprise has become a significant part of the fabric of everyday life.
“I have had to reinvent my classes and research interests to reflect what is happening now,” Hay said. “I have had to respond to the today’s Do-It-Yourself culture and the fact that there is a new value attached to self enterprise; that the idea of self-enterprise has been redefined in this period.”
His students’ interactions with user generated content, Hay said, have drawn him into designing coursework around Facebook and YouTube in particular; Hay finds himself inspired by his students to stretch beyond the media that he has researched and taught for years.
“Dealing with these social networking sites is a way that I have to stretch as a researcher and to grapple with new implications of self-enterprise surrounding media uses; in this way, I also have had to rethink my role as a media teacher and researcher,” Hay said. “But that is what I find exhilarating and fun… that I am able to be at the center of these changes and to discuss them with my undergraduate students.”
Hay continued to say that he finds the generational divide between himself and his students to be both challenging and rewarding.
“I am coming to terms with my longer-term connections with certain kinds of media (like TV and radio) and with my students’ connections with these new media,” he said. “I have as much to learn from them as I have to bring to them as a teacher.”
The faculty of the Department of Media Studies, Hay explained, is working to develop undergraduate courses whereby the students are not only trained in forms of analysis, but also in the practice of making or doing something with the media that they are studying.
“We are now, as a discipline, at a point where we no longer need to be a department that has a huge, expensive production component…we don’t necessarily need to be training students for careers in Hollywood making movies or TV programs,” Hay said. “I can assume that my students come to class with laptops or with various types of basic technologies through which they are creative in their daily lives and to which I can link my curriculum.”
Hay believes that there is an entrepreneurial spirit inherent in the rise of Do-It Yourself forms of technology.
“The Do-It-Yourself technology has broken down the old distinction of professionals who do it and consumers who use it,” he said. “There are many new kinds of enterprisers, distributors of things they make; they are not amateurs, but they are not professionals. I think a more accurate way of describing them is as entrepreneurs.”
Hay uses entrepreneurship as a point of reference to help students recognize the ways in which they make or do things on their own to their roles as citizens in the world; in his opinion, leading students to consider how the new value of self-enterprise is changing the idea of authorship, creativity, consumption and citizenship is the course’s biggest benefit to students.
For Hay personally, the course has other payoffs.
“A lot of the time I think about my undergraduate courses as laboratories that are trying to make sense of what is going on right now,” he said. “In this course, I am interested in exploring the current contradictions and paradoxes of being an entrepreneur with these media – the questions of going public versus maintaining one’s privacy, and of being simultaneously a producer and consumer.”
Hay’s emphases on up-to-date teaching practices and on creativity in curriculum planning are echoed by the AEL.
“I would say the Academy offers one path into thinking about what is happening right now,” Hay said. “It has been interesting to me as a historian to think of the ways that the mission of the University is being transformed because there is this broad collection of people, of professors across disciplines, who share an interest in entrepreneurship.”
He added, “Entrepreneurship is not something that is confined to the business college.”
As evidenced by Hay’s research and teaching, it certainly is not.
Entrepreneurial course taught by Professor Hay
Creative Industries in an Enterprise Culture
This is a course, potentially the first in a sequence of two, that explores the conception, role and place of entrepreneurship in the “creative industries’ as they move from a model of mass communication to one of individualized “produsage,” where the producer and the user are increasingly the same person.
Visit Course Catalog website for course availability
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About Professor Hay
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