Melk Abbey Library, Austria (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Our MACT cohort has done a lot of exceptional work. Both as individuals and as a group, we’ve completed all sorts of research papers and case studies to better understand communication and technology and apply our findings to our professional fields. To me the purpose of what we’ve done as students is not to just summarize our findings for a grade, but to extend the information available to us. As graduate students we have to continue building on the theories and artifacts to build new knowledge.
As a cohort, we have an opportunity to play a major role in the knowledge surrounding communication and technology. We have all sorts of tools available to us that weren’t around for the theorists we’ve learned from. We have to capitalize on the very tools and environment we’ve studied to share what we know.
I hope every student, regardless of cohort or faculty, is able to publish their work and knowledge in some form. Whether it’s through social media, conferences, poster sessions or other outlets, letting the next group of students know what we’ve done will only help develop our field. Knowledge is meant to be shared and extended.
I’ve personally found blogging to be a quick and easy way to share information and connect with others. No need to publish every day. Even a quick blurb about some of your work or anything related to it. Be sure to use tags, provide links and search for related blogs.
Related article: MACT Experience
Source: PhD Comics
I’ve finished my last elective and am now ready to start the final project this fall. Researching my topic and finalizing the paper will take until early 2012.
There’s no question that a graduate program is extremely challenging mentally. There’s all sorts of information to soak in and apply leaving little time for anything else. For me personally, there has been a lot of frustration and stress chasing a master’s degree, but it’s been a rewarding experience.
Some advice for anyone looking into the MACT program or any other graduate studies:
1. Have a plan. Working full time and coming home to readings, assignments and groupwork takes a lot of time. Plan out your course work and stick to it.
2. Make time for your own stuff. You’ll have to sacrifice a lot so the challenge is figuring out what you can and can’t cut out.
3. Book a time slot in the week for catching up on stuff. Your studying time will get pushed around a lot, so be ready to make-up for it.
4. Use your cohort and faculty for support. It might be tough to explain to family and friends why you’re spending all that money on a graduate program, let alone what exactly you’re studying.
5. Choose a topic you genuinely want to research. You’ll be spending hours and hours studying it, so make it enjoyable. Motivation to read a 30+ page article can be difficult to find, so do something you have a real interest in.
It’s an exciting time to be a graduate student. Traditional methods of learning are still around, but its worth exploring the new methods and tools available to students. I found that a lot of topics in communications and technology remain unchartered and students have the freedom to explore these areas further.
I’ve used my third elective to work on my literature review, which will be used in my final MACT research project. You can find my application form here [PDF]. This includes my list of readings and assignments approved by the MACT program.
I started with an initial reading list, with the work of Henry Jenkins and Axel Bruns as foundational concepts. After assessing this initial list, I conducted a systematic search for literature to understand what has been done on my research topic.
In terms of sports fans and participatory culture, the initial readings I came across fell into three categories:
- Research that examined the consumption of sports by fans. This would look into what and how much they were consuming.
- Research that examined why sports fans behaved the way they did. This is where the psychology theories would be applied. Why do fans get aggressive? Why and how do they identify with teams and players? That kind of stuff.
- Research that examined how fans engage with sports. Video games, fantasy sports and activity on message boards are examples of fan engagement.
Based on these three categories, I think fan engagement is the one closely related to what I’m pursuing. Plus, not much has been done on it.
Then I did a systematic search of all the literature available to explore fan engagement even further. It will be these readings, along with Jenkins’ and Bruns’ work, that will make up the bulk of the final literature review due in August.