Reflection

I arrived at this topic when I met Charlotte from the USA and we made a connection talking about how we both enjoy travelling. When having to link the narrative design to a topic of our choice, we wanted to focus on communication across time zones as we both know it can be tricky to stay in contact while abroad and when you return home. We both love travelling and have both experienced being a student studying abroad for at least 6 months. I believe that it was a good decision to pair up with Charlotte as we built a friendship and worked really well together bouncing off each others ideas and learning new things. The topic choice, I believe, was a good choice as we both have experience in this area and we were able to find people to interview easily through our university connections. Our goals for the assessment were to achieve a final result that allowed us to show that communication across different time zones can present itself with challenges, although not always necessary.

Our research is based off primary research that we gathered ourselves. As this was a narrative story project, we found it best not to use many other resources besides our own. Although to help us with our digital story telling foundation, we referred to the Nick Couldry article to help us conduct our assessment. We organised interviews with 4 students that are studying abroad at UOW with very different stories and backgrounds. The research method of interviews was a positive aspect of the project as we were able to create a video adding another platform to our digital project. The one struggle we had during the planning stage was ensuring it stayed within the requirements of media relativism. Once we had worked out the basis of our research, we had many ideas and struggled to decide what was going to be the strongest points to our narrative story. My background of studying and working overseas influenced what I thought was going to be the end result. From my experience I was expecting that once overseas, students didn’t keep in contact with home very much, if at all, and once returning it was hard to stay in contact as students adjusted back to their old lives. The project was produced on the platform, WordPress, with a video element showing an edited version of our interviews. While I wish that we were able to be a bit more creative with our presentation, the blog was what we felt comfortable doing. Adding in the video element was a fun learning experience for the both of us as we learnt the basic editing skills and were able to expand the project onto another platform of media presentation. Presenting this assessment, I personally would have presented our findings on a different platform such as a video, although I am happy with our results  of the final project for the subject, Media, Audience and Place.  The introduction is at the bottom of the page, thus meaning you need to work backwards for the narrative story and was justified as it is a series of blog post for the effect.

Having the background knowledge of studying abroad and Charlotte being connected to many international students at iHouse, we were able to easily relate to the topic with our background knowledge. This assessment as been a huge learning curve for me as managing multiple assignments and other commitments outside of university has allowed me to focus on my time management skills and how to approach assessments before the deadline. Learning about iMovie was also a new stepping stone for me. I had used the program before, but about 6 years ago, so I was not updated with the technology. It took a lot of clicking and playing with the program before working out how to effectively use the program and complete editing before the date that Charlotte and I set for ourselves.

The research with the international students that we conducted was the highlight of my experience working on this project as I got to implement the ethics that I learnt from BCM210 into this assignment (as well as making new friends). I created a Participation information sheet which students read and signed before we started the filming process. It informed the students that they were a part of academic research, that they would be filmed for academic purposes and that they could remove themselves from the project at any time with no questions asked.

This research can be used in future for students that are considering studying abroad. It can also be useful for individuals that are looking for secondary research based off personal experiences. The research shows that as time goes on for the student abroad they are more settled with their new life, thus they make less contact with friends and family at home. Time zones can not be deemed as a problem unless there is an emergency they needed to contact home for. Research also showed that the students were able to get live updates with friends via Facebook and Snapchat which allowed them to talk less, but still stay updated. The geographical distance made a huge impact on how often they would make contact across time zones but the apps made it so easy for any given time.

Overall, I am satisfied with the presentation of the narrative project and it has helped me develop confidence, video editing skills and a more professional outlook. Charlotte and I worked well as a team overcoming differences with ideas to find a common ground while exploring new ways to go about things. I could not have asked for a better International student to work with on this project.

 

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Reflection of Traffic

Hey Sam, what’s traffic?

Traffic: the movement of people or vehicles along the streets, water or air. It could be heavy traffic (which everyone hates) or no traffic (which everyone loves) (Dictionary 2016). Or there is Trafficking that is the illegal trades of people or goods for exploitation purposes (Australian Federal Police 2016).

Hold up, we’re talking about ONLINE traffic not human trafficking or transportation traffic!

Well, in that case then online traffic is the sending and receiving of data by the number of visits to a website (Marketing Terms 2016).

Hmm… Much better and much more relevant.

Let’s talk specifics:

When I became aware that it is actually really important to have people viewing your blog and important to make it discoverable and we were challenged to improve the traffic to our blogs I first thought that it was going to be impossible, because hardly anyone who follows me actually reads my blog. Although this has allowed me to only improve my blog and add necessary things that were needed. I realised that the only people that actually read my blogs are the tutorial teachers that mark my blogs for assignments, as you could see in the stats that my blog views on word press would spike at that time of the semester. When I started this subject, I would just blog and that was it, I only saw it purely for academic and university assignment purposes and not for anything else. I struggled to see the purpose of getting people to read my blogs – now it is becoming more clearly I have found that I enjoy blogging more and I see it much more than just for assignments and compulsory blogging.

Since assessment one (1) I have taken on the feedback to improve my blog, my writing and to gather traffic, after reading the comments from my tutor I realised that my blog needed to undergo a major facelift. I’ve done some tweaking to get the most out of my WordPress site and hope to keep it going throughout my degree, and hopefully after graduating also as it can be used as a portfolio. The following points are ways that I have improved my blog:

  • Regular tweeting
  • Adding a twitter column to my site
  • Tag and category usage
  • Updated the appearance of the blog
  • Having personalised posts and not just posting for uni
  • Use of images even creating a GIF
  • The use of hyperlinks on the blogs backing up my referencing

Every time I post a blog, I now like to tweet to the twitter-sphere and let them know that I have uploaded a blog. I will always tag it #BCM240 to attract the attention of fellow students and teachers. If I have enough characters, I will also use the hashtag (#) tool to attract more attention. Having done this for the last 3 or 4 weeks, I have noticed a spike in views to my blog, it was a small spike, but it was a start. Here is a sample of a blog that I tweeted out for week 9’s blog:

screenshot-8

From the image above you can also see that I tweet regularly, whether it is a retweet about something exciting happening (The Chainsmokers new song ‘All we know’ – if you haven’t heard it, go check it out!). Or even if I am tweeting about something on TV, I am learning the ways of tweeting and understanding the importance of generative traffic to your sites (yes I am a major amateur to Twitter).

screenshot-9screenshot-10

On my Blog site, when I revamped it, I did a few things which I personally think made it more appealing. Firstly put categories into tabs on my main page to allow viewers to find blogs easier. You can see this in the above picture. I feel that this makes it easier for UOW readers to find what they are looking for. When I graduate, I plan on changing these because I am aware that readers are probably unlikely to understand what the subject codes mean, but for now, my main audience is Communication and Media audiences. Secondly I added a twitter column to the side of my blog along with a tags section. I found this more appealing visually as well as it having links to other social media accounts of mine attracting more attention to my Twitter account, thus giving followers regular updates of my blog.

 

During the break I was lucky enough to get out and explore and I have always loved taking photos so I decided to add in a “Creative Editing” Category to my WordPress site. Having added this section allowed me to find my creative side with images and adding this section to my blog boosted traffic to my site dramatically. I had received comments on my photos from a professional photographer with some constructive criticism allowing me to understand more about photography and explore more options with my camera. Having personalised a part of my WordPress motivates me to continue improving my site and to continue my passions that I lost a few years ago.

When blogging about facts, I discovered that if there are images on the blog, people are more likely to look into, explore ideas and keep reading. Over the last month or so, I have been adding in visuals to my blog posts which improved traffic to my website. I even created a GIF file of my attention span which took me a long time, but showed me the benefits when I posted my blog. It was originally going to be a video upload, but I didn’t want to pay so I spent hours cutting, cropping and turning the file into a GIF image. Personally, even if it doesn’t attract a lot of traffic, I still am proud of the improvements my blogs have seen from my first semester at uni to now.

To show that my blog has seen improvements of trafficking, view the image below to see the results of the number of views over the past few months.

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While numbers of views are important, I believe that it is important to reach a global market, not just the University of Wollongong community. Check out who’s been checking out my blog in different countries and how they have been able to find out about my posts (either via Facebook or Twitter or WordPress itself):

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I cannot be certain which of the strategies that I have specifically spoken about has allowed my views to increase but as a combination of all of these strategies my blog site has seen an increase in views. I believe that the advice from teachers and others has helped to improve my WordPress blog site and it is exciting to see my site blossom.

 

References:

Australian Federal Police (2016) Human trafficking. Viewed 3 October 2016, <https://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/crime-types/human-trafficking>.

ChainsmokersVEVO (2016) The Chainsmokers – all we know (audio) ft. Phoebe Ryan, Viewed 3 October 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEi_XBg2Fpk>.

Dictionary (2016) ‘The definition of traffic’, viewed 3 October 2016, <http://www.dictionary.com/browse/traffic>.

Marketing Terms (2016) Website Traffic. Viewed 3 October 2016 <http://www.marketingterms.com/dictionary/web_site_traffic/>.

UNODC (2007) What is human trafficking? Viewed 3 October 2016, <https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html>.

All images are from my personal social media accounts:

www.twitter.com   (@SammScholte)

www.wordpress.com (https://itissamiam.wordpress.com/)