Growing up in post-war Croatia, I recall TV programs being vastly different from those we get to enjoy today and as it jogged my memory to the point of very first thing I saw on TV, I couldn’t help but wonder what my aunt’s perspective on this would look like. These earliest TV memories of mine were exactly what greatly shaped my initial understanding of the world outside my country and enticed me to gain a more in-depth view on the topic of wordly matters, so naturally – I expected my aunt’s TV experience to be somehow complementary.
” News of the spreading of television viewing around the world and its imminent arrival in Yugoslav homes in the latter half of the 1950s provoked a familiar mixture of anxiety and enthusiasm. The prospect of mass television viewing prompted fears of cultural mediocrity, physical and mental passivity, but also inspired utopian projections of a more integrated, educated and culturally refined society. ” (Mihelj 2013: 255).
She began her grand TV memory recollection by explaining the extent of influence then Yugoslavian government had on all media outlets. Being born in 1957. to a rather poor middle-class family, she couldn’t enjoy the privilege of her family owning their own TV.
Regardless, she remembers that time with great fondness and tells me that only one family per mile owned a TV and were even kind enough to host news watching several times a week. Educational shows for kids were not as numerous but one in particular, as my aunt claims, shaped her childhood popularly dubbed as ‘Medo & Slavica’.
“What you need to remember here, is that we lived within a regime governed by a single, powerful but extremely charismatic dictator. Everything passed through his filter and if it was seen as a politically sensitive material or a piece of enemy propaganda, it would be purged right then and there and we’d never get to see it or hear it,“ she explains.
But not everything was as grim. She continued on by telling me that content-wise, TV programmes were actually entertaining for the most part. In the beginning years of TV broadcast, the news was taking up a large part of the daily TV schedule – three times a day in fact. If you couldn’t watch it on TV, you’d hear it on the radio, she says.
Yugoslavia might have not been the best country to grow up in, but it certainly cared about keeping its citizens cultured and well-informed, as there was an abundance of quizzes, informative shows for all ages, sport and festival broadcasts, and both foreign and locally produced films.
My aunt wouldn’t get to watch her own TV until she was 16. But she only remembers how much the content improved overall – there were teen shows that taught young men and women behavioral etiquettes, something that I as a millennial would love to have seen, but right now have a hard time wrapping my mind around. She remembers how her father insisted on the whole family watching documentaries. “He was so adamant, wouldn’t take no for an answer,” she said.
But as it turns out, things she learned have stuck with her all those years. My own understanding of this was that having to absorb all this media content would somehow ruin her TV experience to all the other content in the future, but that was hardly the case.
As much as some of it seemed quite technologically limited, she says there is a lingering feeling of gratitude for all of it as it prompted her to explore further and seek out every bit of knowledge she would show interest in. Now, at the age of 61, she agrees with me that TV can still play a vital role in people’s lives if we find a way to effectively enable quality informative content worldwide.
1. Mihelj, S. (2013). TV in Yugoslavia, Screening Socialism. Loughborough University. Retrieved from: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/socialsciences/screening-socialism/television-histories/tvinyugoslavia/
As I’m sitting in the classroom of multiple cultural dispositions, I can’t help but notice how fresh and different the view of time and space is nowadays. Even just several decades ago, it would have been hard to imagine so much diversity in the classroom located in a predominantly Asian-oriented society. Or perhaps if we thought of a place, we would imagine it with physical properties. It would be even harder to comprehend the ease with which we can just reach out to anyone, anywhere in the world with an instant message, or buy something made halfway across the world and have it in our hands in a few days time.
” If all clocks and watches in Berlin would suddenly go wrong in different ways, even if only by one hour, all economic life and communication of the city would be disrupted for a long time. In addition, an apparently mere external factor: long distances, would make all waiting and broken appointments result in an ill-afforded waste of time. ” (Georg Simmel, 1903).
But here we are, and as I’m sitting in the classroom with dozen other students enjoying their break time, I casually discuss political affairs of my country with my Canadian friend while shopping for a set of antique handmade chopsticks meant as a gift for Indian newly-weds – this surely gives a different definition to the concept of time and space, as it shows they could be more abstract than our traditional understanding of these terms. This is where the media jumps in. As explained by Simmel, it appears we see an undeniable bond between technology (media in this context) and time and space around us, whether we’re talking about economy, politics, science or entertainment. Every and any form of disruption to the media channels is guaranteed to have a lingering effect on the said environment.
” The very word “globalization” is a fake. There is no such thing as globalization, there is only virtualization. What is being effectively globalized by instantaneity is time. Everything now happens within the perspective of real time. ” (Paul Virilio, 1995).
If all these media outlets were suddenly taken away from us, it is certain we would feel the hindering effect for quite some time. I myself would be affected significantly, should I choose to tell a story online and tomorrow, ‘online’ simply ceased to exist. That way, my concept of time and space would once again become much more limited as I would only have the ability to tell my story to people in my proximity.
Provided that the ‘online’ communication channels remain intact, however, time and space remain quite fluid and my story is easily reached by millions across the globe. Evidently, it is certain we cannot deny the powerful abilities of the virtual media space and time; especially as we witness the perpetual development and subsequent change of our world because of it.
Long gone are those days when robots looked entirely rudimentary and possessed very few if any, human-like characteristics. And with each breakthrough in the field of robotics, humanity hits new milestones in order to personify robots further by giving them proper fluid motions, more relatable faces and of course – state of the art artificial intelligence that could have revolutionary effects on how we perceive robots through their transformation, instead of simply seeing them as mere ‘machines’.
Indeed, robots came a long way and are no longer seen as something slightly more than a common ‘house appliance’. Instead, they are now (quite ambitiously) being made in our own image to act as our friends, companions, lovers, and helpers; and even though they are still very much limited by their programming and their abilities not yet being limitless, we are drawn to them in many ways.
In a more recent research, a group of people has been shown a robot dinosaur being treated with affection in one video, and in the other, with immense violence – all the while their reactions were recorded and later on reviewed by the researchers and the participants themselves. They showed aversion to the violent treatment of the toy robot
Perhaps in some way, we see greater potential in robots than we do in some of our fellow humans, and as Ackerman explains it in his article, he would never ever treat his robot cruelly regardless of the fact it doesn’t have feelings – because he DOES. He claims that perhaps that is what this huge question is centered around; humans showing sympathy towards robots because every cruel action also reflects on ourselves.
” If while watching WALL-E, your heart broke just a little bit when you saw the title character desperately travel across outer space in search of true love, it doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Sure, WALL-E is a robot. But its cute, anthropomorphized look and all too human desire to end its loneliness made us subconsciously forget that it is not human. ” (Stromberg, 2013).
At this point in time, it is not difficult to imagine creating lasting relationships and friendships with robots that might soon possess the most sophisticated artificial intelligence yet. Now let us put this in perspective – if we had such sophisticated androids with the most versatile AI that enabled them to perfectly blend into our society and we couldn’t tell the difference between biological and mechanical, would we choose to care more about humans or would our feelings towards both groups exclusively depend on our experiences with them, should we learn how to distinguish between the two? Why would friendship with a highly sophisticated robot be any different than friendship with a human?
In reality, the difference is almost non-existent, save for the biological component of our human companions.
” We might believe that our pals share our values and are acting honestly, but just as with robots, we have no great insight into their inner mental life – all we have to go on is the stuff on the outside, just like with robots. And if you think a brain is just a machine following rules, why would a brain that has been simulated in silicon be any different? ” (O’Malley, 2018)
Clearly, if we are wired to care about our own kind, it is only normal to expect us to act with empathy and sympathy towards an entity that thinks in great detail and will soon possibly even have the ability to process and express genuine emotions – even if that entity is encased in a non-biological vessel. To quote Ackerman: ” So maybe this research just says good things about humans. Maybe this means that we really are decent folk, and that we’ll treat robots well because not treating robots well reflects badly on ourselves. “
Since it’s conception in the second half of 19th century, modeling has seen immense growth and has developed exponentially, becoming an almost self-sufficient industry that in a very powerful way, tailors trends and influences how masses see fashion and glamour, but also how they process and accept aspects of contemporary popular culture. Seeing as we are living in a materialistic society it is only normal to expect large brands to further reinforce their status by appealing to their customers in any way conceivable. However, we would not expect exclusion of any model that is not white to be the efficient way of generating good publicity.
We would expect 21st century to be quite progressive and with zero tolerance for any form of discrimination based on someone’s racial features, but modeling industry still remains one of the harshest work environments if you happen to be a model of color with ambition. James Scully, an American casting director who now has over two decades of experience in the high-end fashion industry is disgruntled by the amount of racially discriminatory practices that go on among agencies, managers, casting directors, makeup artists and fashion photographers. As a fashion enthusiast, and someone who happily recalls better times in the industry, he is avidly outspoken about issues that involve treating girls as ‘numbers and objects’.
” In Europe, not being diverse is not a problem for us.”- this is the refrain I heard all too often. We have black and Asian casting directors being told not to cast black and Asian models to their face! A prominent photographer once said to me, point blank: I don’t shoot blacks. ” (Scully, 2016)
This issue persists, Scully says, but with the rise of social media, models who have been discarded by the industry are getting a voice and power to grab the careers that they deserve. Many of these models are direct about their struggles and will openly call out large brands and designers on social media. And as much as reasons for not hiring them are outrageous by today’s standards, through repercussions started by these social media posts – designers, agencies and other fashion industry entities get an opportunity to review their business practices and see how it molds their reputation in society. Still, we are not seeing the change we’d want. Models of color such as Marcia Mitchell, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn have publicly stated they are not getting jobs because of their race. Sarah Ziff, president of the Models Alliance, states that this problem is difficult to tackle in the industry that is so highly exclusive and hires people based on their physical appearance. She adds that Civil Rights Act strictly prohibits refusal of employing due to racial or ethnic origin; but this anti-discrimination law does not cover models because they are considered ‘independent contractors’.
Another controversial case of racial discrimination within fashion industry has been reported by an US student who, in her time working for Abercrombie & Fitch, has witnessed all employees and models of color being sent home before arrival of the former CEO, Mike Jeffries. Student claims that managers made sure all employees that didn’t fall into ‘thinnest and whitest’ category would be sent home before company’s CEO was scheduled to visit – one hour before their shift normally ends.
Some say that it is perfectly acceptable for a company to have preference while hiring but this preference alone may have a very destructive impact on what we teach our youth – and we cannot allow ourselves to teach them to think that being any other color than ‘white’ is inadequate or destined to fail in modeling world one day.
Living in this day and age, almost all of us have reached the point where we take ‘selfies’ featuring ourselves using certain product or service, belonging to a brand that may or may not be well established and extremely popular in the society that cares quite a bit about their projected image. Multinational corporations as well as smaller, newly formed brands all welcome public participating directly in their marketing campaigns by displaying their own images with the marketed products. For them, it means a lot in terms of promotion and exposure and for us, it’s a convenient method of telling which items are desirable and of higher quality, and which ones we shouldn’t spend our money on.
However, having a brand nowadays does not necessarily require an army of public relations managers, secretaries, brand developers, and marketing specialists – the versatility and availability of social media tools enable one person to take all these roles. In other words; one boss to rule them all.
And despite all of this sounding like a dream job arrangement for some, it is vital to understand that when a single individual decides to evolve themselves into a brand of sorts, they have multitude of factors to consider and strategies to prepare in order to capture people’s attention and in turn, gain positive feedback that will generate popularity. The sole definition of a personal brand is quite clear nowadays and before one can venture deeper into official self-branding, there are two components to bear in mind – one’s social identity and individual (personal) identity and how they may overlap.
An accomplished freelancer and agency founder Amelia Garvey states that whether we decide to cultivate our professional reputation or not, we already have a personal brand and that everything else is just a method of sharing that same reputation in a consistent way. This would mean that all of us have the same inert potential.
She briefly reflects on some advantages of personal branding and how it may generate something big should we develop an effective strategy of attracting like-minded people.
” Personal branding does a lot of good for you and your business. In our hyper-connected world, it’s how you establish yourself in your niche field. It’s a way for you to make sure that your audience sees you the way you want to be seen — and, by extension, your business. By figuring out your personal brand and how to share it with your audience, you’ll start building up client lists and driving sales. ” (Garvey, 2018)
Brand Branding Connection Idea Technology Concept
As much as it may be appealing to create your own personal brand that would best represent you and help you become distinguished among many competitors, the development of personal brand can also prove to be quite challenging. Many of us tend to get over-excited and disregard the facts which make us not notice rising problems before it’s too late. This can mean anything but in many cases, individuals can slip up in various stages of their brand’s development because not everyone expects the process of having your own brand to be so trying. The worst part about it is that it requires consistency of effort – we cannot dedicate ourselves completely to the brand and tirelessly post on social media for a certain period of time and then one day fall out of the loop.
Another downfall is that there is not much room for spontaneity and overall freedom of expression – something that we decide to display on social media for the sake of our brand may be harshly criticized and misunderstood no matter how well it was intended and this may result in several limitations should we ever attempt to create an additional or a completely new and different personal brand.
” It requires a lot of effort and constant updating of the many social media outlets. It feels like social media is actually making people anti-social. I have been to social gatherings where people were more invested in their phones than socializing. Crafting your personal brand is not an easy task and requires a lot of effort, however, don’t your family and friends deserve a disconnected you. ”
Having all this in mind one should consider the matter of taking personal branding, onto a more professional level, more carefully. There is no doubt that it can be a rewarding experience as well as an excellent learning ground for those who wish to establish themselves as a brand, but it is vital to review the amount of effort and sacrifice that goes with it.
Always highly regarded Japanese ingenuity has been finding its way into various layers of our lives with intent to generally improve and innovate lifestyle among other conditions we deem essential for enjoyable and contented living. Out of this, came, not only a wide array of scientific discoveries but also what we now consider to be fundamental entertainment genres that took the world of fun and interactive multimedia by storm; ones we can hardly imagine our days without, provided we are avid fans of the Japanese-fabricated entertainment tools of course.
Reaping the benefits of an autoethnographic observation from a western perspective on Japanese gaming world, I will determine what made Japanese games rise, temporarily fall and recently gloriously recover their once dazzling fame.
If we are to observe Japan as a country with immensely rich history and vibrant yet exceptionally disciplined culture, we can probably see just how it came to be that Japan, out of all other countries with access to modern technology, became what many consider the absolute leader in video game creation – its creativity going hand in hand with a hundred-year-old excellence and painstaking attention to detail, all of which gave birth to, possibly, most fertile video game industry the world has ever seen.
However, video games we have the privilege to enjoy today had much more plain predecessors that, what they lacked in detail, certainly compensated for in terms of fun they brought to the audience of early gamers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Japanese began this outstanding tradition by producing some of the best electro-mechanical arcade games on the market as early as 1960’s with an amazingly accepted release of some of the greatest classics such as Periscope, Space Invaders, and Duck Hunt among the other behemoths of “prehistoric” gaming some of us still remember with great fondness. Space Invaders, for instance, are recalled with a quite joyous nostalgia by Telegraph’s gaming editor Tom Hoggins, who described it as one of the most important video games of all time, that, released in 1978 brought tremendous amounts of fun to players who enjoyed blasting waves of descending aliens into oblivion. Its simple pixelated graphics laid pathways for many contemporary games that are made in Space Invaders’ image because of such huge success the game witnessed throughout the years. It goes without saying that, despite their simple graphics, these games were still in a great advantage because they had engaging mechanics with enjoyable objectives and a fun soundtrack to match it all.
” It is arguably the title that announced gaming’s arrival as a mainstream pursuit, while its gameplay loop is another that has stood the test of time. Its pixel-art, meanwhile, is some of the most recognizable in the world. You might even see ceramic mosaics based on the aliens in cities all around the world, installed by the incognito French artist ‘Invader’. ” (Hoggins, T. 2016).
Pac-Man is yet another simple but outstandingly prosperous game that remains one of the most played games to this day – with tournaments and championships scheduled in its honor regularly where the most skilled players get a chance to increase their high-scores until the last man is “left standing” and takes the title of a white dot-eating champion. Even though at first glance somewhat repetitive, Pac-Man boasts rapid playing rhythm that truly requires a player to have adequate skills in order to advance with their high-score, and this is something that all retro games, whether mechanical arcade or computer-based video games have in abundance.
I also noticed this in my observations; what we call evergreen games are those that receive constant attention and individuals I observed tend to come back to games with similar or same features – simplicity is celebrated and there seems to be a lot of varieties on a single topic.
Brian Ashcraft describes Pac-Man as a type of game that had an enormous impact on gaming evolution, ascribing this to its basic and timeless game design, and concept that inspired countless other games throughout decades.
But Japan didn’t stop at simple and engaging content. Japanese game developers saw fit to incorporate country’s rich cultural heritage into endless game titles, and quality of graphics, as well as game performance and its features, became increasingly important. Characters retained their classically Japanese elements and characteristics while also allowing the player some sort of freedom of customization – while allowing them to enjoy the game while simultaneously learning about its rich culture. Japan also known for being the pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics, made sure that each new game that was released, looked more and more realistic, constantly re-inventing game mechanics and its features – while the global population of gamers took it all in with absolute bewilderment, giving Japanese gaming culture an immense boom.
” Whereas Western games often favor immersion and spectacle, thrusting players into worlds that are increasingly lifelike and trimming away “gamey” visual design, Japanese games often embrace their inherent mechanicalness. It’s not unusual to see complex menus, reams of text-based dialogue, or arcade-like action in modern Japanese releases. ” (Webster, A. 2017).
After a brief fruitless period in the more recent years, Japanese gaming industry came to a sudden halt. Released games received less well-meant attention and were described as nothing short of mediocre. A crisis surely, and one that can be ascribed to sudden lack of originality from the side of Japanese developers. From my autoethnographic research point of observation, one gamer said while starting up 1985 version of Super Mario, that it felt almost as if Japanese developers failed their most devoted fans by not staying faithful to what they did best – complexity of the game inside and out, uniqueness in aspect of graphics and concept itself is what made fans rush to get the newest Japanese titles back in the day before the crisis occurred.
Things, however, changed to worse once Japan started glorifying western concepts and methods and lost what we all considered to be its golden touch. Webster also blames growing prominence of mobile games for the slight downfall of Japanese gaming industry, claiming that they were much more affordable while they offered more or less the same amount of entertainment for just a fraction of the price.
Fortunately, this bad game-making deadlock the industry got caught into didn’t last too long and developers once again went back to ensnaring the audience with savory titles sometime in the recent years.
While playing an enjoyable game of Tekken 7 with a friendly fan of Japan’s gaming classics, he briefly mentions how Japan seems to be much more aware of its global audience nowadays and how before that didn’t seem to be the case. That being said, this is coming from observing a young African-American with an impressive collection of some of the most popular newer and older Japanese titles: Mario Kart, Super Mario, Metal Gear Solid, Tekken, Dragon Ball, Silent Hill, Phantasy Star, Soul Calibur and many others – in other words, a huge fan. He touches on this topic further:
“I remember how in early 2000s Japanese games seemed to be somehow limited in the Western game market. Some were really difficult to understand and I didn’t feel like I accomplished much even after finishing it, but when looking into the Japanese version of the same game, I noticed an abundance of extra material and features. As a foreigner who just really loves Japanese games, it made me upset and left a really bad taste. I felt left out.” – Joshua, 22
Chaisiri, an avid Quora contributor and a scholar of Asian Arts, explains how and in what magnitude Western and Japanese games diverge in terms of style and effort that goes behind them.
” One of the differences in Japanese vs Western gaming culture is the prevalence (and persistence) of arcades. Many Japanese game developers grew up with visits to the arcade, which tends to have action-oriented games of dungeon brawling like Black Tiger to head on versus battling like Street Fighter II. These are very ‘impact’ intensive games, how movement and attacking is balanced game mechanically has to be taken into consideration with how it’s portrayed visually and audibly. ” (Chaisiri, A. 2015).
The following gamer whose devotion to Japanese games I observed while playing against him, made it very clear how much of a fan he has been ever since childhood and how important Japanese classics were to him growing up in a family where visiting the local arcade center occurred on a daily basis as any other form of entertainment in his area wasn’t available. He goes on to tell me how intense Japanese games are compared to any other Western game out there on the market while admiring the visual and conceptual aesthetics of the game we are playing.
“Okay let’s look at the details – see how exaggerated some parts of Tekken are, like the character’s body proportions, physics-defying attributes and such? That’s what I’m talking about. You won’t see that in games like Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed. Japanese, whatever they do, always stay very passionate so you see that in game design too. They’re not afraid of whacky and colorful designs whereas western games just stick to the rules so the games all seem kinda mass produced. When you involve Japanese into any creative process, it becomes more individual.” – Tim, 24
As expressed earlier in my research, some aspects of gaming seem to be deeply embedded into gaming culture and once the audience is unable to have access to those features any longer, they become disenchanted by the genre, sometimes in its entirety. As far as Japanese gaming industry goes, it is certain the developers are back on track and have a much better understanding of what truly lies behind the global demand for games. If I learned anything from my observations, it is that each genre has its audience and Japanese developers now possess the right kind of sensibility and versatility that can appease even the most captious of fans.
For the duration of the course, the sources I have reviewed offered a decent insight into what my research topic could be roughly founded on, even if initially I wasn’t entirely certain which aspect of media and communication I would have a greater interest in.
Initially, I was planning to consult my research partners and see whether their fields of interest are relatively close to one another and upon doing so, we agreed on keeping our research topic within the field of modern communication technology. We aimed our focus onto something pragmatic, something that is deeply rooted into communication sector already and has a fair number of users or followers, and correspondingly, we opted for social media, smartphone and learning applications and relevant user habits.
After careful review of my own personal preferences and areas of interest, I have concluded that perhaps my personal fondness for technology and communicational aspect of it could be the right direction in terms of a research topic and research material – and as a result, learning apps became the epicenter of my research interest.
Their indisputable popularity and overall amazing availability made them the absolute perfect tool for casual or serious learning, therefore I was compelled to see what kind of opinion would my peers have. Taking language learning apps as an example here, we can all agree that the method of learning depends on the individual themselves, so in reality, the best way to go about it would have to include a comfortable learning environment. Duolingo, for example, is noted as one of the most popular language learning apps that are held in high regard because of the strong and credible sources of the learning materials and exceptionally supportive community that help each other learn through constant communication in that particular language. It is vital to mention that all these apps have unique approaches to learning – that way they can adapt to a larger number of people that will, naturally, have different learning needs.
” Over time, a lot of ideas coalesced into what is generally known as the “communicative approach”. This catch-all label refers to methods which prioritize the function of language as communication, not structure. The idea is that, if you are speaking to someone, it’s good to get the grammar right, but it’s OK if you don’t. ” (Groves, Hopkins, Reid, 2015).
While developing my portion of the questionnaire, I focused more on qualitative information rather than quantitative and if I were to repeat this research, I would approach the quantitative aspect slightly differently, giving it more attention despite my lack of knowledge of statistics. I am convinced that if I had better statistical insight, I would have better understood the fine differences between similar percentages in results. Another thing I should have paid more attention to was the number of ranking options and double-barreled questions. Looking back, I shouldn’t have written as many seeing as questions could have been simplified. According to Charest, those have to be avoided because the respondent is asked to give one answer to two different questions.
In hindsight, however, BCM210 proved extremely beneficial for future research practices, if any are to occur, and all experiences gathered have offered me a much better understanding of a truly diverse teamwork.
Having an opportunity to team up with academically driven individuals who appreciate favorable aspects of technology, came to be an extremely constructive experience where working side by side greatly helped inquire about our focus group’s habits of using social media, smartphone features, and learning applications. Having our research divided into these three aspects aimed to narrow down the research topic and ensure we don’t stray away too far into the irrelevant matter – from a personal point of view, that seemed to be a wise option, seeing as all three of us weren’t too sure on which aspect of technology to focus on first, and aware that the field of technology is too broad and numerical research results won’t be easy, if at all possible, to analyze and properly explain in qualitative terms.
I am convinced that my choice of research aspect is overall reasonable and well expected but would have offered better results if I had an appropriate access to more adequate sources that are of scholarly nature rather than having to rely on the popular internet portal articles that, despite having abundance of detailed information, aren’t entirely written in ways that offer solid information for academic purposes.
” Academic journals mostly come with more than one option for researching. This actually widens the scope for exploring your chosen subject. In general, the two kinds of research commonly used include quantitative and qualitative research. As for quantitative research, then it’s known to focus only on the measurement and conversion bit. It deals with a lot of information and statistical data. As for qualitative research, then it’s mostly to do with opinions, impressions and verbal data of sorts. ” (Scholarship Positions, 2013).
As mentioned on APIA, scholarly articles attempt to discuss and outline the merits of other explanations and viewpoints which are in contrast to their views. They do not seek to justify their own opinions and conclusions as only credible truths, but rather acknowledge the contrasting opinions as credible too and then clarify why they draw different conclusions, and as such, they help us understand the pros and cons of the claims expressed in the journals from several points of view.
Briefly touching on this in my previous post, #BCM210 Individual submission I mentioned that my rationale behind choosing learning applications as a researchable aspect greatly corresponds with my understanding of their practicality, efficiency and the incredibly powerful impact they made upon their initial appearance. Seeing as technology suffers very few hindrances and only seems to be moving forward in terms of its abilities, I considered that learning applications will only become more sophisticated as well, and will offer even more flexible learning methods where the user will assume complete control over how, when, where and what they choose to learn. As a user of learning apps I can also fairly testify to their usefulness and after gaining a glimpse into our survey results and interview with the focus group, it is clear to me that learning processes can vary from person to person greatly and learning applications may just be a way of overcoming that obstacle.
” As you can see, the benefits of mobile technology in the world of education are numerous and thanks to the continued efforts of skilled app developers all over the world, these benefits are only slated to increase as time goes on. Education can be a difficult process for both educators and students and with the help of mobile technology, many of the traditional problems that tend to arise are now falling by the wayside once and for all. ” (Macwan Urvish, 2017).
In this particular case, I allowed for my personal experience with learning apps function as a guideline, considering they are constantly going through a changing phase and we witness their evolution with every new update.
My general love for knowledge and the kind of eagerness I demonstrate around newest and ambitious software and gadgets definitely reflected on my idea to research this aspect and see whether my peers (fellow students, international and local alike) share the same type of enthusiasm for learning apps.
And again, as a user of several well known learning applications such as TED, Duolingo, SkillShare and Photography 101, I can see their value and can mostly nod in agreement to statements I heard during the focus group interview where several students reported that having the freedom of choice in society that pushes their students a lot, gives quite a bit of room for breathing and works as a motivation to take up a new hobby or learn something completely new.
Some of these apps are quite specific with a narrowly defined field, while others let you choose from a fairly broad palette, but eventually it all comes down to a premise that our learning abilities are at their peak efficiency when stress factors are at their lowest – therefore offering the best possible environment and relaxing base for whatever subject we may want to get more deeply involved with.
As indicated in our research group submission, the main focus of the research remained divided into three subcategories, where we aimed to gain a deeper understanding of how our focus group recipients perceive their habits of using various aspects of contemporary communication technology. The three aspects we chose to focus on were pertaining to general usage of social media and the overall time spent on it, as well as the reasons behind it, smartphone usage and the reasons behind it, and lastly, the rationale behind using learning applications and their most preferred type.
Deciding to focus on the hindmost subcategory of our research question, I decided to gain a more in-depth glimpse into reasons, habits and specific opinions on the general importance of learning applications. Initial rationale behind delving into this exploration on learning apps emerged from my previous understanding of their importance and how well received they were in early stages of their appearance and development, however, it came to my attention that I should be focusing on the present and future aspects as they are more closely associated with the concept of ‘contemporary communication technology’. The importance of learning applications has been gaining recognition by an ever-increasing number of individuals due to their availability and versatility, and as Rajput writes, it is crucial to offer individual freedom where the students and the teachers can hold free discussions and choose their own method of learning. He continues on to say that simplifying the topics, which is hard to achieve for the majority of the students, will help in increasing the popularity of a certain learning app.
” With the advancement of technology and introduction of educational apps, students are not required to invest their time and money to buy the required study material from the shops and libraries. These educational apps help the students who are unable to visit the library on a regular basis, by providing required study material in just a few clicks. Educational apps also help the readers to discover a variety of eBooks with a mere click. ” (Martini, 2017).
Survey data indicates that learning applications are perceived as somewhat important by 42.1% and that 75.8% of surveyed recipients have from 1 to 5 learning apps installed on either one of their devices. Furthermore, 50% of our focus group recipients consider learning apps to be an important factor for the overall future development of educational systems. It is a notable mention that during the focus group interview 3 out of 4 individuals expressed general optimism regarding the importance of a role that learning apps may have in Hong Kong’s education sector in the near future, while one disagreed when asked whether she thinks apps will be taken more seriously as a learning tool.
While in surveys my questions focused on sheer numbers, with focus group interview questions I aimed to find out as to ‘why’ recipients had certain opinions rather than ‘how many’. It was beneficial to know reasons behind their opinions, as it gave me a more substantial understanding of their reasoning and thought process on this topic.
What can be concluded from the interview, confirms that the ability to learn freely and at one’s own pace seems to be the deciding factor when deciding which learning app to install. Another important factor that needs to be pointed out, is that our focus group, as well as the recipients that filled out the survey, are all belonging to the university student age group, meaning that they are well versed in all the aspects of modern technology and tools it has to offer. Leyden writes about how young people’s connection to technology makes them an excellent group that gets quite a bit of advantage when it comes to mobile learning. She also mentions how it encourages self-learning, therefore increases students abilities while at the same time offering an overall comfortable and stress-free learning environment they have control over.
The prospect of seeking employment within a culture so vastly different than your own may seem difficult enough as it is, seeing as the role will have to include much more than fulfilling one’s work duties. When we join a new work environment, it’s important to, for the best performance and peace of mind, to familiarize yourself with the superior and colleagues, flow of things, office etiquette, and most importantly – the cultural context in which it all boils down to.
As Angela Spaxman writes; there is a significant number of unspoken cultural norms and it agitates the primarily perceived image of Hong Kong as a westernized city, which makes it difficult for some people to blend in with their local coworkers and make an easy transition from their native culture onto the one of Hong Kong. Another aspect Spaxman mentions is the importance of feeling relevant and needed at work, regardless of the quality of work that is done. She emphasizes how to a westerner it may seem mind-boggling as to why would someone stay at work 11-12 hours unless they were truly swamped with work, but in Hong Kong, it shows dedication and preserves face.
This leads me to ponder my first ever full-time employment and reflect on my home country’s culture to see which parts made it extremely difficult for me to adapt. As it is almost customary for the most Europeans, I signed a contract with a local English tutorial center and expressed the enthusiasm about starting to work as soon as they want me to – it’s important to say that this part wasn’t me trying to appeal to local mentality, simply because I knew almost nothing about it at the time.
I did know, however, about the importance of humility and keeping to myself which in my mind didn’t go really well with the company’s policy of thinking outside the box.
I was perplexed. Do I comply with the group thinking or do I think outside the box? Obviously, I couldn’t have done both, not if I wanted to preserve my sanity. Should I keep to myself and let superiors deal with big problems or should I speak up if I have a good idea? Being quite pragmatic and wanting to get things done, I’ve made a huge mistake during my first meeting.
The first thing that struck a nerve with me was the fact that this meeting lasted over 7 hours. Back home they say; if you can’t get it done fast, don’t waste any more time on it. I noticed that among the coworkers who attended, only foreign staff expressed their discontent, ever so subtly not to upset their superiors,
Problems discussed were quite trivial however and I knew for a fact they could’ve been solved in the first 2 hours of the meeting, should everyone put their heads together and make those cogs inside spin a little. I grew weary of sitting for such a long time and raised my hand offering a solution.
Western staff looked at me as if I just fed a starving family while local staff had a mixed look of anger and disbelief. Either way, I offered my solution to which my boss smiled. What I didn’t know yet, was that the worst is yet to come. Even though he expressed his gratitude and praised me for solving the problem, following day he invited me to his office where the whole Human Resources department had been waiting in absolute silence.
” The annoying thing is that they say they’re hiring you for your Western knowledge and expertise. But whenever you share your opinion, it’s rejected or you’re told it wouldn’t work in Asia. No further explanation. ” (Marcus Goes Global, 2009).
They all proceeded to tell me that, even if it means a clear solution, I don’t have to be the one to say it because, well, I just joined the company and it makes other people lose face.
The surprised look on my face couldn’t be obliterated by anything. I didn’t understand why am I getting a warning ticket for making a significant problem go away. Another thing that left me scratching my head was the fact it took four Human Resources managers and two teacher managers to tell me this.
While I was scolded for removing an obstacle, I quickly recalled my problem-solving experiences back in Croatia in form of a flashback. Procedural mechanisms at work are not exactly loved so all the employees work as efficiently as possible to just get it out of the way. If the problem arises, whoever has the solution will be addressed to make sure it’s identified and dealt with – that person may be a vice president, a CEO or a janitor. It matters little if it helps bring the solution to the table.
Following months, very few local coworkers spoke to me. In hindsight, I should have probably kept to myself instead of trying to help out people that were struggling with paperwork that I’m quite familiar with. Apparently, one of them launched a formal complaint about me claiming I am attempting to do their work for them. So I have been slapped on the wrist yet again which lead me to just endure my contract period instead of looking to prosper in the corporate world of Hong Kong.