MES16 (Rome) John Cabot University

I presented my research findings so far at my first international conference at this year’s Media Education Summit 2016 and what an amazing place to do it – Rome.

All roads lead to Rome, mine certainly did. I’ve visited before over a decade ago now but it felt different, I felt older and appreciated its beauty, vibe and energy more compared to then. So many people talking, hanging out and relaxing as life evolves around them. Local kids were creating snapchat films late at night in the Ghetto area as we watched on. What’s gone wrong with our culture? The pictures aren’t great, I just didn’t have time to think about their composition and I didn’t care.  I still enjoyed showing off my Spanish skills whenever I could whilst haggling in the late night markets – my good old comprehensive teacher still serving me well, nod to Mr Brooks.

Our Lady overlooking all living and breathing smokers in the John Cabot campus made me laugh, the furniture was exquisite, food outstanding, fashion as confident as always, the streets very cool without trying and Yoko Akama’s keynote in many ways signalling the way forward regarding how I see the future of education praxis…

uncertainty for disruption

“strategies to disrupt our own certainties,

interrogate social norms/ habits

‘breakdowns’ as generative

demands reflexive, open and candidness”

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uncertainty is at the centre of our inquiry

“feel our way forward toward unknown

question knowledge in disciplines

explore this together with people”


At this moment in contemporary academic history, the theme of disruption resonates with me because my own action research cycles were about disrupting what we do in ‘subject media’ by dismantling and then articulating the transferable skills elements. It is also about disrupting the agenda and curriculum in many ways which wrongly (in my mind) sustain a dominant focus on Maths, English and IT and discount (data/ statistics/ assessment/ Ofsted remit) the important employability stuff that our students need to be conscious of and confident conversing about.

Interestingly the theme of ‘disruption’ also ties in with disrupted Journal of Media Practice peer review online experiment I have been part of over the summer months: The experiment seeks to internationally unify diverse researchers/ practitioners by exploring/ sharing how we might challenge the traditions of academic norms and communicate our findings whilst questioning and celebrating newly emerging pathways to knowledge generation. Janneke and her team are bravely and rightly dealing with such issues at Coventry University.

In an age of uncertainty (on multiple levels – political, technical, economic, educational etc.), the challenge is to remain certain in the paradoxical situatedness that our knowledge lacks certainty and in fact our role is to disrupt taken for granted assumptions on not only how we validate research but what counts as research. Some people will not agree or might think the process of questioning knowledge in this way does not bear any weight or credibility but my simple response is why not? There needs to be a justification for the counter argument as to why our starting point should not be ‘uncertainty.’

In fact I am beginning to think myself, should the validation of research degrees be a collaborative process that actually engages the participants themselves and/ or non-academic panel members? Just because the current system continues to represent the traditions of the way things are done, this doesn’t mean that they are necessarily the way things should be done in the future.



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