International Education

Australia could potentially provide some of the best study abroad programs world wide – we’re a politically and socially stable country with a thriving economy, many good universities and many great opportunities for young people. So why are Australian universities losing international students if it’s such big business? The world is fast moving forward into what has been coined the Asian Century where Asian countries such as India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore etc. become the powerhouses for education, innovation, media and output in general. One the reasons Australia is beginning to lose international students is because more countries like Singapore and Hong Kong are investing more money into their tertiary institutions which can provide students with a degree that’s closer to home.

Unfortunately there are also much darker reasons as to why Australia is losing international students. Following the race fuelled violence towards Indian university students in Melbourne 2009, many international students left Australia in fear leaving people to believe that Australian’s can often be parochial (narrow minded) and ethnocentric (one’s own group is superior.) Peter Kell & Gillian Vogl’s paper International Students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes suggests another of the main issues that international students face are language barriers and understanding Australian colloquialisms: “Australian English has been depicted as featuring informality, abbreviated expressions, rhyming slang as well as descriptive similes.” Learning Australian English takes time and practice and often foreign students find it hard to converse with Australian people as they are often impatient and can appear “…ambivalent, distant and disinterested in international students and foreigners in general” (Kell & Vogl pg. 8 2006) This again lends itself to the idea of Australian’s being parochial and ethnocentric giving Australia a scarred reputation.

Australia is a lucky and country, we’re not even 200 years old and considered one of the Western super powers. We’ve been built on the foundations of migration and we should be opening our doors to cultural homogeneity and multiculturalism. Embracing the international community through the means of education is an enlightening and progressive step forward for Australia as well as economically and culturally beneficial.

Citizens of Australia, its time to adopt a more cosmopolitan approach and become global citizens, embracing and valuing diversity and difference and keeping an open mind.

International students come here not to take anything away from our culture, but to contribute to it. And that should be welcomed. 

Advertisements

Well, haven’t we become one big happy global(?) family!

Globalisation is not an easy topic to define as it’s quite broad: Globalisation refers to the international community, and it’s collective influence on technological development, economies, political movements, media representation and military interests. It is characterised by a worldwide increase in interdependence, interactivity, interconnectedness, and the virtually instantaneous exchange of information. (Khorana, 2013) It is a process that is feared by some and embraced by many mainly because it is almost unavoidable, after all there’s no ignoring the two McDonald’s they’ve built in my hometown of 35 000 people. Every technological event we’ve had since the fifteenth and sixteenth century has led us towards global interrelatedness. Now (with many thanks to the instantaneity of the Internet) communication itself has been globalised and we’re able to interact with people, business’s, celebrities, government, media, experiences on a whole new level in real time. There are now many platforms that allow us to create communities and form relationships that transcend geographical location, race, religion and bring down cultural barriers – exchanging and communicating to create a world that is interconnected. Marshall McLuhan’s utopian term the ‘global village’ imagines a world where media transcends the nation-state in a democratising process that gives everyone’s voice a chance to be heard and enables information to be freely shared. Interactive media facilitates participation in global communication and debates and offers entry into public space. (Globalisation reading, 2013)

I wish we could live in a world with unicorns, rainbows and world peace too.

There is a much darker, more realistic side to globalisation, where the wealth that the global society is generating isn’t being equally distributed. Tied up in secret handshakes and big banks, the money that should be helping to create a egalitarian global society is only helping to further the gap between the world’s richest and poorest.

Manuel Castells paints more of a negative portrayal of what’s to come for human kind with his envisaging of a network society ‘while the media have become indeed globally interconnected and programs and messages circulate in the global network, we are not living a global village, but in customised cottages globally produced and locally distributed’

So where do we go from here? Time will tell. Does globalisation lead us down a path of cultural hybridisation and multiculturalism or do we walk the road of hegemony and loss of cultural identity?

I’ll leave you with this video, Google are a company who are one of the biggest benefactors of globalisation. An interesting thought for a planet that should be united by freedom of information and democratising process separate from the nation-state

Reflection

Monologic Media- A Thing of the Past!

This was the first topic I felt I completely understood in terms of concepts, this was also the first post that I felt fully confident submitting. I was able to understand how convergence changes the role of both the producers and consumers by studying the beginning of Reddit. Writing about Reddit help me fully grasp the concept of an open platform. 

Buzzzz goes the Hive Mind

This post was probably my favourite to write. Just as I was pondering on how I could cover citizen journalism, the Boston Bombings occurred. In the days that followed the tragic incident, we saw people across the world come to Boston’s aid through the internet. Writing this post taught me about the hive mind whilst getting a real-time, real-world demonstration of how it works by monitoring sites like Reddit and 4chan. 

Harry Potter gets lost in a Monsters University 

Harry Potter played a huge part of my childhood and like everyone else, i’m still waiting for my letter to Hogwarts. This topic taught me about the emergence of transmedia storytelling and how different transmedia storytelling approaches have changed. I was unaware of how many different ways I interact with new films and franchises. 

Thank you dear readers (all 2 of you), you’ve been fabulous. 

Image

The Two Sides of Anonymity on the Internet

Image

Anonymity on the Internet – If we were to liken it to any character it would have to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. “Anonymity” Jekyll is the good side of being anonymous on the Internet. He allows freedom of speech and the free flow of information. Whilst on Mr. “Anonymity” Hyde is the very worst type of person on the Internet, he is more commonly known as a troll. Trolling isn’t something that’s easy to define, however I’m always interested in what Urban Dictionary has to say:

1. Trolling

Being a prick on the Internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent bystander, because it’s the Internet and, hey, you can. 

Trolling has a lot to do with cyber bullying and abuse that comes in the form of comments, pictures, memes, private messages, videos etc. Unfortunately, for me and the rest of my gender (I’m a girl) we are being targeted by Internet trolls and it isn’t particularly nice. People who hide behind their screens hurl virtual insults and constantly target female bloggers, activists, musicians and artists. Abuse such as ‘bitch’, ‘slut’, ‘whore’ and violent threats are seen in comments to women who try to have a voice. 

Late last year, the infamous Reddit troll Violentacrez was named and shamed by a Gawker article, sparking debate on the wider web about censorship. Michael Brutsch aka Violentacrez was a regular contributor and moderator of controversial subreddits. The most infamous being r/jailbait – basically a collection of images that border on child porn. He was known for submitting content that displayed misogyny, gore, violence, incest and bestiality. And why? In an interview with CNN’S Anderson Cooper Brutsch tries to explain that when he had a bad day at work, he’d “let off steam by trolling”… Right! Because when I’ve had a rough day at work the first thing I feel like doing is uploading a picture of a half naked pubescent teen on the Internet.

Don’t be like Dr. Jekyll and let Mr. Hyde takeover, people need to stop abusing the right to remain anonymous on the Internet. Freedom of speech is important, please don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

Clickity Click Go the Keys of Activism

The first protest I ever went to was when I was 6 years old. What did I have to protest about at the age of 6? Not a lot, but Australia as a whole had an important message. In 2000, on a freezing cold morning in May (we stopped in the Blue Mountains on the way and played in the snow) my mum, dad, my aunties and cousins along with 250, 000 other people took to Sydney Harbor Bridge in support of Indigenous Australians.

This is a pretty distinct memory of mine, someone wrote ‘SORRY’ in the sky with an airplane and my feet hurt after walking all the way from Hyde Park to the bridge. What did stick with me, and has till this day is the coming together of people to represent something they believe in. That wasn’t my only experience with political activism at a young age. We also went to Sydney and Canberra to protest the war on Iraq.

I think these demonstrations taught me the value of becoming part of something bigger than yourself, and that every voice – even a six year old girl’s, can make a difference.

 My best friend and I at our very first Protest for Peace

Image

So what happened to my generation? I know I wasn’t the only kid at the protests I went to with my parents. Where did the marches and demonstrations go? Why doesn’t Gen Y seem to be present in political activism?

Well actually we’re still here, we’re just employing a new concept to make our voices heard. It’s called clicktivism. Oxford Dictionary describes clicktivism as “the use of social media and other online methods to promote a cause.” The most pressing issues for our generation (outlined by the age) are marriage equality, asylum seekers and climate change.

Clicktivism was employed recently with the now viral, rainbow-crossing trend. In homage to the rainbow crossing on Oxford Street (Sydney) being removed, James Brechney created a temporary rainbow chalk crossing in Surry Hills and put a photo of it on Facebook. People started to share the picture and within a week there were DIY rainbows sprouting up everywhere; from sidewalks and streets in Canberra…to Kenya.

It involved not only sharing photos and hashtaging #diyrainbow, but it also involved going out into the community and creating your own crossing to raise awareness about equal-marriage in YOUR neighbourhood.

Even my University got colourful

Image

Clicktivism is evident all around the world and is being used in many different ways for many different causes. In the case of Kony 2012, Henry Jenkins believes that many young people got their first experience of clicktivism by having the video forwarded onto them by classmates and friends. What was interesting about this case though, is that the only goal that the movement had was to create awareness about Joseph Kony and his crimes, in the hope that he would be arrested by the end of 2012.

Most of the campaign was based around people sharing and ‘liking’ the video on Facebook and unfortunately it has resulted in something called commodified activism. Essentially it’s taking activism and turning it into a novelty or trend, the issue gets lost behind the stickers and t-shirts and actions fall by the wayside to someone ‘liking’ a post on Facebook.

Here’s some slam poetry from a guy who feels pretty strongly about commodified activism

What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is everybody’s.

Image

Remember when you were a kid at the school library, hanging out with your friends and drawing pictures during a rainy day during lunchtime? You want to draw something but have no idea what, then your friend draws a flower, and you like that flower but you want it to have different coloured petals. You draw that flower, and your friend accuses you of copying. But! You protest, MINE is DIFFERENT to YOURS. MIIINE has blue and pink petals and YOURS has purple and red.

I remember justifying it to her as taking her idea and making it better – needless to say she didn’t appreciate that. Little did I know, I had just remixed her drawing.

Of course, as any 19 year old would, I primarily associate the term ‘remix’ with music. However, what I didn’t understand was that the meaning of the word remix extends much further than a few music samples thrown together to create a different song.

Remix is a culture, living and breathing in our society. Lawrence Lessig* wrote that remix culture is ‘a society that allows and encourages derivative works by combining or editing existing materials to produce a new product.’ This reshaping of ideas can be anything from remixing music

To reinterpretations of art,

Image

To textual mashups. One of the most popular textual remixes is known as Slash fiction, which is kind of like gay-soft-core-romantic, readable porn. Here’s a slash fiction example in the form of Harry Potter, pretty extensive stuff.

Remix culture is however problematic. Much like my “reinterpretation” of my best friend’s flower there are no clear lines that determine what is copying original content and what is reshaping it. There are two sides to the remix debate.

This article outlines that on one hand there is the  movement that believes in making information free. Creative Commons was born out of this movement and is a platform that allows creators to decide how much of their content can be made available; “ it gives them [the creator] an opportunity to make it [content] more available than what the copyright legislation outlines” – Jessica Coates, Australian Centre for Creative Innovation

On the other hand, we’ve got the artists, inventors, musicians and authors who are just generally pissed off that they’re not receiving any real recognition or pay for their work. Filmmaker and copyright laywer Peter Carstairs views remixing as making money off other people’s ideas and creations: “Ripping off another person’s songs isn’t about the free-flow of ideas. It’s about ripping off songs without paying royalties.” Which is probably fair enough.

The problem with remix culture is that the lines of copyright laws are becoming more and more convoluted as the internet pumps out more and more content that can be reshaped, reinterpreted and remixed.

*To see more of Lessig discussing remix culture, see this here video

Harry Potter gets lost in a Monster’s University

Transmedia narratives are described by Henry Jenkins as: “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.” Essentially it’s giving the audience other points of contact and engagement with the story- which in my view, is a pretty excellent way to franchise and the future of entertainment.

Funnily enough, I grew up with transmedia narratives – in fact my whole generation did; yes the dreaded Gen Y. From young ages, we were able to interact with the story through different mediums which took our entertainment experience to a whole new level. What made this change so revolutionary? The gaming console, the computer, and the wider web!

Take Harry Potter for example. Lucky little me got to log on the very first Harry Potter website when I was 6 years old! Through this website (created by Warner Bros), I became part of the Hogwarts universe: I was sorted into a house by The Sorting Hat, Olivander chose me a wand and I could play Quidditch with other online users – and this was in 2000! Now, with the 7 books and 8 movies completed, the magic has still not left Hogwarts and the market is still well and truly there, a new website was launched last year in conjunction with Sony and J.K. Rowling. The site tells the same story of Harry potter and Hogwarts, but creates a different and ongoing experience for Potter fans.

In terms of facts and figures, the website was a huge success generating 36 million unique visitors, 3.5 billion page impressions and 158 million + spells casted and potions created in less than six months from the launch date. However, after reading a couple of reviews, it seems that the Pottermore experience is pretty lack lustre.

Different types of transmedia stories are unfolding and becoming increasingly accessible to people of all generations. So long as you have an internet connection and a computer or smart phone, you can become part of a larger universe. For example The Lost experience employed the idea of collective intelligence in order to piece together the puzzle of the TV show. Henry Jenkins describes the link between transmedia narratives and collective intelligence:“Transmedia storytelling is the ideal aesthetic form for an era of collective intelligence… art in the age of collective intelligence functions as a cultural attraction, drawing together like-minded individuals to form new knowledge communities”

One transmedia narrative I was particularly looking forward to unfolding was Monsters University, a sequel to the much beloved movie of my childhood Monsters Inc.

Disney Pixar had it pegged perfectly. In 2001 the box office hit Monsters Inc was released, I was 7 years old and in my second year of primary school, In June 2013, when the upcoming sequel is released I will be half way through completing my first year of University. My point? They have targeted the audience of this film to the whole of Generation Y. Not only that, Disney Pixar set up an extensive interactive website that looked exactly like your regular universities page.

Pretty sweet right? Even down to the Twitter page. In an attempt to create the Monsters University transmedia tale, something must have fallen short, where you should have been able to enrol as a student on the MU website, they failed to provide the opportunity. Even though the movie’s release is just over a month away. The Facebook page that has been set up with real college like anecdotes with the potential to interact with me as a student has now fallen victim to one way advertising of the actual movie.

I was pretty peeved so I sent them this Tweet:

Monsters University, started, but then it looks like forgot to put fuel in the car and it died, like a poor University student’s attempt at study.