Media-Apparition and The Connected BCM Classroom – a Small Research

A research proposal on how Communication and Media students at UOW use their media in class (lecture & tutorial)

Note: for ‘media-apparition’, see my previous post.

Let me take you to…

A lecture theatre. The lighting is dimmed so that the only source of light is the projected screen. Ah, no, I was wrong. The only sourceS of light are the large projector screen, and about thirty laptop screens plus about ten or twenty smartphone screens.

w 20170821 bcm241 lectheater
A typical BCM lecture seen from the back row (artwork by me)

…the connected classroom, …

If you are a student doing Communication and Media Studies at UOW, the sight above is by no means alien. In fact, you might have long been a part of it.

Our university is not at all alone in this. In 2010, the Centre for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan surveyed 1415 students, half of which “reported bringing their laptops to class at least once per week” (Zhu et al. 2011, p. 1).

Across campus, laptops and other mobile devices, such as iPads and smartphones, are appearing in greater numbers in the classroom.

At Washington University, many faculties have successfully integrated tablets and laptops in teaching and learning, and the results are recorded here.

…the connected-yet-disconnected students, …

However, a prominent issue is the connectedness – students being able to surf the net and get on social media platforms during lectures – in many cases leads to the disconnection of students from their current physical space and the lessons.

“… bringing their laptops to class increased the amount of time they spent on activities unrelated to learning, such as checking email and social networking.” (Fisher 2015)

… and a little research project.

As promised a few weeks ago in a previous post, I would carry out a self-experiment on my own use of media in class this session at university. But now, since a suggestion from my lecturer (thank you, Sue!) has had me thinking hard, I decided that I would scale it up by making it a part of my BCM241 research on How BCM (Communication and Media) students at the University of Wollongong use media in their class (lectures and tutorials), which aims to answer some following questions:

  • How does the use of media in BCM classes clear the limitations of physical spaces and create a loom on which media spaces are interwoven?;
  • What exactly are the pros and cons of the connected BCM classroom?;
  • What other issues might the connectedness raise? (e.g. in terms of fairness – students who aren’t adequately equipped with devices might face certain disadvantages);
  • And ultimately, what might be the most efficient design for a connected classroom (lecture/tutorial)?
w 20170821 bcm241 Pitch
The connected classroom (artwork by me, also used as signature illustration of the project)

The research consists of two simultaneously conducted parts. The first starts out with some secondary research from both scholarly and non-scholarly sources (ezines, news article, etc.). Primary research includes a survey (if time allows – this is not a priority), a focus group (see Duke’s university guide) with BCM students, followed by 4-5 one-on-one interviews with BCM students and teaching staff.

The second part – my focus – would be collaborative ethnography, particularly observing the learning environment with the students in it and performing a document analysis (Bowen 2009) of online discussions on forums such as Whirlpool Education. That self-experiment would be my autoethnography, which helps “[display] multiple layers of consciousness” and connect these individual’s experiences with the bigger picture painted using the other methods (Méndez 2013). These would be done consistently throughout the session, complementing the aforementioned steps.

The final outcome would then be designed into an interactive digital story/essay, using my own illustrations and the help of a simple, quick-to-learn software e.g. Quest.

Throughout the project, I will closely follow the rules and ethics applied for researchers, for example, the MEAA’s Code of Ethics. Everything will be published here under the BCM241 category – I hope you guys enjoy!

Mia (Minh-Anh)



Bowen, GA 2009, ‘Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method’, Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 27-40.

Duke University 2005, Guidelines for Conducting a Focus Group, Duke University, viewed 22 April 2017, <;.

Fisher, B 2015, ‘Laptop Use in Class: Effects on Learning and Attention’, The Teaching Center, Washington University in St. Louis, 22 August, viewed 15 August 2017,>.

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance 2017, Media Alliance Code of Ethics, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, viewed 16 August 2017, <>.

Méndez, M 2013, ‘Autoethnography as a research method: Advantages, limitations, and criticisms’, Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, vol. 15, no. 2, viewed 15 August 2017, <;.

Zhu, E, Kaplan, M, Dershimer, RC & Bergom, I 2011, ‘Use of laptops in the classroom: Research and best practices’, Centre for Research on Learning and Teaching, no. 30, pp. 1-6.

Author: Minh-Anh Mia Do

book-smart and sugar-addicted || the written word & all things linguistics || email:

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