The idea for my final project in BCM 240 seemed to come very naturally to me. I am currently studying abroad but also am very close to my family and closest friends from home and have done my best to stay in regular contact with them. Therefore, I have often thought about the time difference between my home in Boston and my current university in Wollongong, even just as simply as thinking at least once daily about what time it is back home. Meeting Sam helped to clarify my idea for my digital project even further because she had just returned from the part of the US where I am from, and we began talking regularly about our experiences abroad. In deciding on the topic for our project, we did have to rework the idea a bit initially to turn it from a strictly informational project about being abroad in order to incorporate media use’s effect on studying abroad.
In doing my digital project and looking into how people handle communicating with family and friends in different time zones, I hoped to talk to people from a variety of different countries and social and cultural situations about their experiences. Although I have used pretty common forms of media to communicate with people back home, such as Skype and Facebook, I was also curious what applications other people had used and how they had liked them. Specifically, I was interested in seeing the variation of communication, both in mediums and frequency, between people from different countries, and therefore varying time zones and cultures. I felt that the best way to accomplish my goals for the project was to rely on primary research conducted on my own and telling my own story with minimal outside research aside from sources I had already found regarding communication while abroad, which helped me to find apps that may be of use, or sources that I had used in formulating my project plan.
Therefore, I found people from four different countries to interview in a video, some who were currently studying abroad and some who still spoke to friends who had studied abroad in past semesters. Through talking to such a variety of people, I was able to learn about the differences in media and communication between different cultures and time differences. In order to bring together mine as well as all of the interviewees’ experiences, I followed the guidelines for the elements of an educational digital story.
Ideally, I think it would be have been really interesting and eye-catching to do just a video to document the use of media while away from friends and family. However, I was not confident enough in my videography and video editing skills to effectively accomplish an entire video well, so instead I just incorporated a video made with iMovie into the blog posts. This allowed me to utilize my blog and blogging practices that I have developed throughout the semester. To gather and present my research, I used some of Nick Couldry’s strategies, including “informal modes of participation” by conducting casual interviews and the use of “social media platforms popularly used for the circulation of narrative materials” by using my blog to share my project.
In his interview, Eden mentioned that although Skype is useful, he uses Facebook video chat more often because Facebook makes it more convenient since it encompasses messaging, audio calls, video calls, pictures, and emojis into one platform. This shows that Facebook has had success in adding services and will probably continue to experience success while Skype may see a decline in usage by people who have Facebook. While Evelina, Breanna, and Eden all only mentioned Facebook, Snapchat, and Skype, Nabil also mentioned Viber and WhatsApp and didn’t mention Snapchat. This shows that smaller apps with fewer functions have broken through to become popular in less developed countries like Bangladesh where larger and more all-inclusive platforms such as Facebook are not used as much.
Overall, I am happy with the end product of my digital project because I think it was very interesting to learn about different people’s experiences with communication across time zones, to evaluate their experiences by comparing and contrasting them to my own, and to share these findings as well as everyone’s stories through blogs, videos, and pictures. It was good to get a sample of students to interview that were from different countries to give us a wide range of experiences. Just as I am interested to see how much and in what context I communicate with people I met abroad after I go home, I think it would be interesting to go back and interview the people again after this semester and see how they have kept in contact with people that they have met here.