Generally speaking, I like a challenge, but I was honestly quite intimidated by the requirements of the task. I have always believed in quality over quantity, but from the outset, it seemed that this project required both – and this was rather scary! From coming up with a topic, to narrowing that topic down, through to the research, development and the presentation of our final speech and report, there were many problems that our group faced – from differing fields of interest, to changing group members, language issues and experience with academic research, all of which were factors that could potentially affect the quality of our project. In this reflection, I will break down my perception of the roles, progress, strategies, problems, connections and intersections that we as a group (and myself individually) encountered, and the way in which this manifested in our final product, which can be found here, via Weebly.
From the very outset of this project, reaching as far back as the “brainstorming” in weeks 1-3, it was clear that I had no other option but to take on the major “leadership” role within the group. This is a role that I felt extremely uncomfortable in, as it eventually resulted in my having to take on a very high workload in terms of organising meetings, leading discussions, writing, editing, research, organising interviews, creating and writing presentations for the hurdle report in Week 11, and the final presentation on the 30th May. I am also not a “delegator” by nature, and felt that my attempts to organise the group meant that my frustration was often visible to my fellow group members. This, in turn, made group meetings even less productive than they were to begin with, and I take responsibility for this. Sofia, another group member, was a great resource to have, and she also took on more than what was required in terms of producing a good project. From here, we were able to pull together the bulk of our final report, and overall, I am surprised and pleased to say that it went quite well! I think the issues we faced were largely due to the time constraints of having several weeks to complete the task, or more to the point, we simply did not have time to address the issues that were holding us back, and simply had to “push on” in the name of getting things done. In retrospect, I would not take on the role of leader or delegator again – in an asignment this big, anyway! I am happy with what we have produced, but it was overall a very stressful experience. I am usually happy to take on more work than is required in the name of producing a strong project, but in this sense, the group dynamic was far too unbalanced, and for this reason, I will definitely make sure that I do things differently in the future, “stepping back” if necessary.
In our final group meeting, after having resolved many of the issues that were surrounding this assignment, we spent some time reflecting on the topic we had chosen. It was interesting to note that, if we were to do the project agian, everyone in the group would have chosen a compeltely different area of study! The progress we underwent in coming to our final topic was quite an extended one – ranging from American programming on Australian television, to digital literacy and communications technology in developing nations. In finalising our topic, “The Influence of Hollywood on Australia’s Film Industry” we discovered that there was a lot of information that we could focus on, which was helpful in exploring a topic that directly affected the audience that we were trying to reach. In the last 3 weeks of term, the apparent urgency of getting this research online and edited seemed to hit the group, and this is where most of our “progression” actually took place. I would definitely address this earlier next time, by suggesting a more gradual “group editing” approach that would take place throughout the semester.
As mentioned previously, due to the time management issues we faced as a group, we did not allow a lot of time for “strategising” throughout the process of this assignment. Instead, we simply chose a topic and “jumped in” to our research, which resulted in a very confusing amalgamation of research in Weeks 6-8! We eventually narrowed this research down to several areas that corresponded fluidly with one another, but this did not happen until relatively late in the game. Strategies for next time would definitely include more communciation; while we did have very regular group meetings (usually after class), we we would often underestimate the issues that needed addressing in these meetings, or overestimate the amount of time at our disposal. As a result, important things sometimes slipped under the radar. Our strategy, in the end, was just re-reading and revising the research we had accumulated until a “common thread” could be drawn between each topic that was interesting, as well as informative. We also applied this strategy to “narrowing down” the content in our oral presentation, and this was definitely the area where we worked together the most successfully as a group.
Below is a breakdown of the two main issues that influenced the way in which we worked as a group, as well as the ways these problems were addressed and/or resolved throughout the semester.
1. Differing Fields of Interest/Experience Levels/Perceptions of the Course.
Throughout the project, it became evident that each group member had drastically different fields of interest, none of which were accurately reflected in the topic we ended up choosing. Sofia has had experience in music marketing (as have I, but I am personally intersted in writing and digital literacy in developing nations), Charles was interested in the making and editing of short film, and Karina was a relatively late addition to our group, which meant that she basically just went along with whatever we’d come up with! For this reason, it could be said that our group was not as “actively interested” in our topic as we could have been; however, as we went along, it became clear that the information we had unearthed as not necessarily common knowledge among media practitioners, and that some people could certainly benefit from learning what we had discovered. It was this discovery that kept us “interested” in what we had discovered, because we knew that we would be communicating information that was extremely relevent to our audience.Tactile issues, such as essay-writing and the use of Harvard referencing were more easily addressed, however this did place the onus on me in completing and editing the bulk of the research, as I was the only native English-speaker in the group (apart from Sofia, who speaks Spanish and English as dual-first-languages). Overall, while language was an issue, it was an overriding sense of disconnect betweent the group members that posed the biggest challange to us.
2. Language/Cultural Barriers
This was a main problem in the group, as it affected everything from the runing of group meetings, to getting “on the same page” with the goal of our project, to writing the project itself and presenting it in class. Along with language, however, came cultural barriers – which meant that everyone in the group was primarily interested in media issues that affected their country of origin (Our group contained members from Australia, China, Indonesia and Mexico – which, as you can see, each represent vastly different media landscapes!). Since we are all currently studying in Australia, this was the country that we decided upon in conducting research on the influence of Hollywood. The idea of “cultural imperialism” originally came from Sofia – due perhaps to her nuanced sense of America’s infleunce on modern Mexican pop culture. While this turned out to be a bit of a “blanket statement” in what we were trying to achieve in our topic, it did give us a starting point that influenced the way in which our areas of research intersected with one another. In addition, one of our group members faced a variety of personal issues throughout the semester, which eventually meant that she was unable to contribute much of her own input into the group.
Connections and Intersections
While this reflection does come across as critical of our group and the progress we went through in creating our assignment, it cannot be denied that I do see the overall value of this course. “Self education” is something I believe in, and from this process I have learned that you only get out what you put in, in terms of discovering the dymanics of new media landscapes. I was happy with our overall assignment, as it provided an engaging resource for media students who will one day work within the industry we have looked into. Similarly, although I would have probably chosen a different topic if I was to do it agian, I did enjoy learning about the structure of the Australian film industry as – despite being in this course for 2.5 years – I have never undertaken Cinema Studies as an elective before! I have always focussed on radio, online and audio media throughout this degree, and it was refreshing to delve into something different for a change. While I would do many things differently next time (which, apparently, is next semester?) I have taken a lot of positive learning from this experience, and will now know how to approach large-scale group research projects in the future.