Authors: Bruce Woolley
The University of Queensland (UQ) has developed Work Integrated Learning (WIL) courses for groups of 10 students at a time to travel to Vietnam to engage in intercultural learning and working as foreign correspondents for a dedicated UQ multimedia website. Their radio, television, print and photojournalism reports have also been made available to media around the world under Creative Commons arrangements and have been published and broadcast by Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Local Radio, ABC News 24 (TV), ABC News Breakfast (TV), community radio stations 4ZZZ and 101FM in Brisbane, APN and Fairfax newspapers in Australia and Vietnam Television (VTV). The students obtained credit for a full subject - JOUR3401 ‘Independent Learning’.
These courses (in November 2012 and April 2014) reflect UQ’s objective of increased internationalisation of the curriculum. A review of literature identifies the main pedagogical arguments for study abroad, and the value of WIL courses.
Student reflections both before and after these 10-day courses illustrate how much they learnt about a) Vietnam, b) multimedia journalism practice, c) intercultural understanding, 4) foreign correspondence, and d) themselves - and how these lessons were internalised. This investigation concludes that such courses serve a valuable role in the undergraduate journalism curriculum and can be provided cost-effectively for small groups of highly motivated students. Financing was provided by two Short Term Mobility Grants from the Australian Department of Education and were valued at $21,500 for each course to cover travel expenses for 10 students each time. UQ covered the cost of sending three academics and all associated administration each time (another $10,000 on each occasion).
The UQ School of Journalism and Communication (SJC) has taken two groups of students to Vietnam to do course work as foreign correspondents for dedicated websites (www.vietnamreporter.com.au and www.uqinvietnam.com.au) in November 2012 and April 2014. These projects have been organised as part of the broader commitment to internationalisation of the curriculum and the development of students’ intercultural capabilities.
This article reports on the students’ experience in both WIL courses where they were exposed to intensive, immersive and experiential teaching and coaching by a lecturer (the researcher who is a former foreign correspondent for the ABC) and two tutors with expertise in editorial and technical production.
In the method of research, the work entailed:
a) an extensive review of the literature in the field of 1) WIL in Higher Education and in journalism education in particular, 2) Journalism Reporting Field Trips, 3) Internationalisation in Higher Education, and 4) Intercultural Communication;
b) reflections on practice by the students themselves, who filled out questionnaires both before and after the trip about their expectations and experiences, and
c) reflexive practice by the researcher. (Ethics approval was obtained from UQ; approval number 2012001234).
Keywords: work integrated learning; journalism education; University of Queensland; work related learning; internationalising curriculum