Alumni Impact Report

impactreport-166The Alumni Impact Report was recently released to highlight the amazing work done by University of Alberta graduates around the world.

Highly recommend checking it out as it focuses on student success and the role the U of A has played in their lives.

You can read all of the content here at the New Trail website. Fantastic work by everyone involved!

MACT: “Harness the Power to Connect”

Nice little video put together by the Communications & Technology Master’s Program at the University of Alberta. To learn more about the program, including the research being done by faculty and staff, check out the MACT website.

Below are a few of the posts I’ve written about the program, including my experience and research interests.

You can also view my final research paper through the University of Alberta’s Education and Research Archive .

Alumni Council Meeting – U of A’s Economic Impact, Alumni Weekend, Venture Mentoring Service

ualberta-wallpaper05-fall-campus-640Attended my first Alumni Council meeting this morning. Thought I’d share some of the highlights here.

Alumni Weekend was a huge draw this past week with numerous events being held to celebrate past graduates. For a recap of the events, check out the Alumni Association’s Storify feed.

The study that examined the impact that University of Alberta alumni have had on the economy is well worth a read. Lots of numbers got published in the past few weeks in the papers, but there’s more to the research worth looking at. Dr. Anthony Briggs, one of the authors of the article, gave the group some additional insight into the alumni’s innovation and entrepreneurship, including what factors played a role during their time on campus. The full article is available via New Trail.

I also liked Dr. Briggs’ assertion that the U of A can’t be viewed as a “vessel” for research and innovation, but rather, more as a catalyst. For example, students may not start up new companies while on campus, but down the road, they may put together their ideas for launch.

The U of A is also embarking on a new program that will connect experienced entrepreneurs with fellow U of A alumni looking for guidance. The Venture Mentoring Service is set to launch later this year and aims to replicate a successful program offered by MIT.

Update (2013, November 20th): U of A alumni start up service to mentor young entrepreneurs – The Gateway

I also want to point out the fantastic work being done by the University Wellness Services. The group promotes healthy living and offers support to students and does a great job reaching out to students. To learn more about the great initiatives they have going on, including the Heroes for Health project, visit their website.

University of Alberta Alumni Council

bigmenulogoHappy to announce I’ll be joining the University of Alberta Alumni Council! I’ll be the representative for the Faculty of Extension which includes all the programs including the MACT Program.

You can read more about the Council and their mandates on the main website.  It’s been great getting to know all the members, who are all very proud alumni looking to make a difference.

If you’d like to get involved, the Alumni Association is looking to record 2,015 alumni volunteer experiences by the Alumni Association’s 100th birthday in 2015. If you’re looking to volunteer or would like to submit your volunteer experience, check out the Alumni Volunteer Challenge website.

Presentation of MACT Research at the ‘Friends of the U of A’ Annual Meeting

Enterprise Square, Edmonton

Enterprise Square, Edmonton

A group of us from the MACT program were invited as guests to attend the Friends of the University of Alberta annual general meeting on May 23rd at the Faculty Club. It was a great event that brought together the U of A Alumni group, the local business community and academic researchers. The Faculty of Extension and members of its MACT program were asked to provide a presentation showcasing their research accomplishments and the role they’ve played in the community.

Faculty of Extension Dean Katy Campbell started things off for us discussing the history of the faculty and the current research being done locally and internationally. A short video was shared with the group.

MACT Research

Dr. Ann Curry, a professor for the MACT program, then gave some background information about the program and what topics students cover. Dr. Curry currently teaches the Research Methods course for the program and has written books on censorship and intellectual freedom. More about Dr. Curry can be found at the MACT Professoriate Directory.

I then presented my research of online hockey fans and their role in the development of information regarding the game. I didn’t get into too much details about research methods, content analysis, etc, and instead talked about how fans are engaging with the game using hockey analytics. You can find my final research abstract, along with those of other MACT graduates here: MACT Student Research Project Abstracts.

Glenn Kubish then discussed his current research project examining the Stephen Duckett ‘cookie affair’. Glenn explained how the event played out from the newsroom’s point of view and in the digital world. For an excellent summary of his research, you can read “C is for Convergence!” or check out his blog.

Heather Gray discussed her current research into video conferencing and how an individuals perception of another person can change depending on how much of the person they see. Heather brought some great stats from her study that would be of interest to anyone that uses videoconferencing. You can check out her blog for more.

Teresa Sturgess then discussed her research into mobile device etiquette and the potential impact it has on businesses. Teresa’s research is an interesting one since companies are typically consumed with keeping up with mobile technology, that the personal, human impacts could be overlooked. You can check out her blog for more.

Dr. Tommy Barker, the newest professor of the MACT program, then discussed his research in risk communication with an emphasis on public health. Dr. Barker will also be teaching the Case Studies in Risk Communication course this year. More about Dr. Barker can be found at the MACT Professoriate Directory.

Thoughts

The event was a great opportunity for the MACT program to connect with the community and promote its research and accomplishments. I strongly feel the MACT program and its students will continue to play an integral role in the development of the communications and technology field. It’s especially encouraging to see past and current students using the tools and networks available to connect their work to various industries, to academic research development and to the community.

I’d like to thank the MACT Program, the Faculty of Extension, and the Alumni Association for the opportunity!

Community-Based Research and Evaluation

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A graduate certificate is currently being offered by The University of Alberta’s Community University Partnership (CUP), which focuses on community based research and evaluation. The program brings together researchers, practitioners and community members to share knowledge to develop and refine best practices.

The Community Based Research and Evaluation (CBRE) certificate program requires four courses:

 – INT-D 500 – Introduction to community-based research and evaluation
 – one (*3) graduate-level course in program planning and evaluation
 – one (*3) graduate-level course in quantitative research methods
 – one (*3) graduate-level course in qualitative research methods

Unfortunately for MACT students, COMM 501 (Applied Research in Communication and Technology) cannot be used to fulfill the course requirements. Here’s a description of the course:

Course overview: Introduction to quantitative and qualitative approaches for conducting research into technology-mediated communications. Guides students in their topic selection and development for their culminating project.

Learning objectives

  • Understand the necessity and process of grounding research questions and methodologies within a body of scientific literature
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the differences and similarities between two main research approaches – qualitative and quantitative
  • Become familiar with a number of specific data collection methods
  • Explore the research process and scientific method
  • Focused the students’ research question for the applied research project, its relation to the appropriate literature, and a choice of suitable research methods.

I find this odd for two reasons:

  1. The COMM 501 course is very heavy on research methods and theory, including quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods.
  2. Both the CBRE certificate program and the MACT program are under the same Faculty. If anything, the two programs should work together to accommodate and benefit both sides.

Potential Benefits

For MACT students: Additional course work seems like a good supplement to a graduate degree, especially for students in the MACT program whose final research project is community focussed.

For the MACT Program: Students complete additional course work that could be applied to the MACT key competenices

For the CBRE Program: Potentially more students working towards the certificate.  More students from different fields would benefit CBRE and achieve the goals of the program

If any MACT students are interested in putting together a case to get COMM 501 accepted as an approved course, I’d be happy to help. I don’t have interest in completing the certificate any time soon, but figured there might be some interest among current and future MACT students.

Get Blogging Comrades

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

MACT Project Update

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:

  1. Research that examined the consumption of sports by fans. This would look into what and how much they were consuming.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.