Multiple Dimensions of Media Communication Skills: New Demands for Transnational, Trans-Cultural Knowledge Exchange

Multiple Dimensions of Media Communication Skills: New Demands for Transnational, Trans-Cultural Knowledge Exchange

Michael Singh (University of Western Sydney, Australia) and Guihua Cui (University of Western Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0243-4.ch010
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This chapter develops a conceptually informed and empirically grounded account of professionals navigating and negotiating media communication skills and carving out spaces for transnational, trans-cultural knowledge production and exchange (Singh, 2009). This chapter is intended to help engineering and IT professionals better understand the ways in which different approaches to media communication skills can shape transnational, trans-cultural knowledge flows by illustrating different ways to create East/West or South/North exchanges. This chapter focuses on building grassroots professional partnerships locating media communication skills in bottom-up dispositions to periphery/centre exchanges of knowledge. This chapter concludes with methodological reflections on media communication skills in the life history of a professional in this field to provide an indication of ways of envisioning and designing grassroots or bottom-up approaches to transnational, trans-cultural knowledge exchange.
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This chapter uses life history research (Goodson & Sikes, 2001) to better understand media communication skills in the context of transnational, trans-cultural production and exchange (Singh, 2009). Specific focus is placed on Western higher education in preparing engineering and IT professionals via international education, global research networks and student mobility (Chubin, Donaldson, Olds & Fleming, 2008; Singh, Kenway & Apple, 2005). Consider for a moment the case of Australia which has the highest proportion of international students in higher education in the OECD: 20 per cent in 2006. Education is Australia’s third largest export industry, with the higher education sector accounting for 60 per cent of all education export revenue in 2007 (Bradley, 2008, p. 12).

However, compared with OECD countries, a ‘relatively low proportion of Australia’s higher degree students are international students’ (Bradley, 2008, p. 12). Evidence for this chapter is drawn from the data collected from twenty four research students from China who are a part of this small cohort. Further, a risk to Australian higher education is that international students from China are ‘concentrated in a narrow range of subject fields’ (Bradley, 2008, p. 12), mostly in management and commerce. Those in this study had worked in China for up to eighteen years prior to coming to Australia, albeit with very little knowledge of media communication skills. In 2008-10 they came to Sydney (Australia) for a Western research education. Many had long dreamed of studying in an English-speaking country. Their imaginings had been incited by mass media images and communication.

Using life history research this chapter addresses the questions of how media communication skills is defined and engaged by their professional practices, and how this may enhance their likely benefits. The life history method used to generate and analyse evidence for this study is explained in terms of the symbiotic relationships between individual professionals and the multiple societies to which they belong. The chapter then proceeds to analyse the media communication skills for the possibilities these present for transnational, trans-cultural knowledge exchange, specifically for connecting intellectual projects in Australia and China (Singh, 2009). The first section of this chapter situates this study in a review of the literature which provides an initial conceptualization of media communication skills.

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