From the old world to the new, from the UK to China, cultures are rapidly changing. Driven by globalisation, spurred further by the breakneck speed of technological progression, almost everything we knew about how we think and behave is transforming before our eyes.
At the centre of this 21st century cultural development is media in all forms.
Last year, the gaming market generated around US$138.7 billion in revenue, with growth dominated mostly by smartphone games. That same year, social media surpassed print newspapers as a news source for Americans. The world’s largest economy China is spending billions of dollars to develop homegrown media and entertainment companies to rival global giants like News Corporation and Time Warner. The implications of the changes spearheaded by digital media alone are massive.
Then again, cultures change all the time. What sets this epoch apart from the rest is the sheer, unprecedented scale of it all. We are on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where extraordinary technological advances will merge the physical, digital and biological worlds that will fundamentally change the way we live, work and relate to one another.
As the World Economic Forum wrote: “The speed, breadth and depth of this revolution is forcing us to rethink how countries develop, how organisations create value and even what it means to be human.”
It brings huge promises and potential perils to all industries. The media is no exception. As automation allows machines to take over routine tasks, consulting group McKinsey estimates up to 375 million workers may need to change their occupational category by 2030, and digital work could contribute US$2.7 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
As artificial intelligence and machine learning become the norm, digital media employers will seek candidates with inherently human skills. The top three skills workers need to thrive in 2020 will be complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. These will be required to stand out when new technologies and new ways of working take over.
So how does an aspiring media practitioner prepare for this? A significant part will depend on the quality of your university education.
For a media studies degree that will prepare you professionally and personally, here are four universities to consider:
BREDA UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES – NETHERLANDS
Passionate about gaming? Whether you want to be an award-winning game programmer, visual artist, or producer and designer, look no further. With Breda University of Applied Sciences’ Bachelor of Science in Creative Media and Game Technology/International Game Architecture and Design (IGAD), you’ll be prepared for these jobs and more in the AAA industry.
As one of the few global schools that offers a complete AAA game development programme, you’ll be equipped with all the creative, technological and commercial skills needed to thrive in this tough, yet exciting field.
Students choose three disciplines as part of this programme: programming; visual arts; design & production, with the programme being rated in the top ten globally according to the Rookies rankings for Game Development schools. It also won Best Educational Institute in Europe in the Grads in Games Awards 2019.
Forget exams and standalone courses. Instead, look forward to a 100 percent role-based learning (RBL) educational structure, where students are self-driven learners in a simulated game development studio, working on different game projects either individually or in groups, and attending workshops.
Studying here will be a truly international experience. More than three-quarters of teachers are from abroad and the programme is 100% English. More than 100 countries are represented on campus within a 7,000-student cohort. Being a Dutch city, English is widely spoken, while the city itself is affordable, friendly and safe.
UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER – UK
If you’re an education professional, the MA in Digital Technologies, Communication and Education would be a great course to advance your knowledge and skills on the impact of digital technologies and media.
Education has been a discipline of study at Manchester since 1890. Today, more than three-fourths (78 percent) of its activities are defined as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. Students come from all over the globe for a chance to gain a degree that will be recognised across the globe.
This postgraduate degree will enhance your communications skills, encourage you to design your own educational materials using digital technologies, to critically evaluate the use of digital technologies in educational settings, as well as assess and apply relevant research and methodologies.
For this course, classes are a mix of lecturer input with group work, computer and video activities, simulations, problem-based learning and class discussions. Critical reflection is encouraged through enquiry-based learning (EBL).
Various forms of assessment should be expected, including practical project work (ie. creation of a website or other educational software); a written literature review or other essay of approximately 3,500 words; criticism of existing software, websites; creation of a teaching portfolio; writing reports on schools or other educational settings; collaborative group work.
UNIVERSITY OF ZAGREB – CROATIA
The Department of Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Zagreb offers one undergraduate programme of information sciences and five graduate programmes (archival science, library science, informatics, social-humanistic informatics, and museum and heritage management).
With data growing exponentially, graduates with the skills to analyse, collect, classify, manipulate, store, retrieve, move, disseminate and protect information will be highly sought after.
For the undergraduate study option, core courses include information technology fundamentals, introduction to information studies, communication technology fundamentals, and mathematics. The range of elective courses offered include Media culture, fundamentals of information literacy, fundamentals of digital image and text processing and digital educational libraries.
For those aiming for rigorous research in this field, the department also offers a doctoral study of information and communication sciences, which represents the highest degree in scientific research advancement in the field of social sciences as well as information and communication sciences.
All courses are interdisciplinary, with most sharing similar instructional contents. This allows students to choose between several modules and later specialize in a particular discipline within the field of information sciences of their choice.
KOÇ UNIVERSITY – TURKEY
The undergraduate programme at the Media and Visual Arts Department in Turkey’s Koç University provides a triumvirate of educational aims for aspiring media professionals: a foundation in theory, the creative application of theory and the skills to manage a career.
Students start with an introduction to contemporary mass media systems and the various factors -historical, economic, political, and cultural- that have shaped their development. This is complemented by modules like Foundations of visual language; Introduction to Java programming; Creative Thinking in Design; Writing in Media; Video Basics; and Visual Design.
This is followed by Independent Studies, where students will investigation one or more topics of interest with the guidance of an instructor, culminating in a presentation of a research paper or project at the end of the term. For their Graduation Project, they will have to pick a medium to work on – either television, video, documentary, web, interactive interface, animation, video gaming, advertising, visual arts, social media, corporate identity – and focus on the whole development and documentation of its production cycle.
For postgraduate options, interested applicants can choose from the Design, Technology & Society graduate programmes culminating with a graduation project (Master of Design degree), a Master’s thesis (Master of Arts degree) or a doctoral thesis (PhD degree).
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International
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