Marketing
Creating Networks and Interactions Through Podcasting
Nives Zubcevic-Basic
Department of Management & Marketing
Tash Hobbs
Learning Transformations Unit

For students, interacting, networking and engaging with industry is key because Marketing is dynamic and changing. Equally important is student to student interactions as each student brings their own insights often from culturally diverse, international settings that are of benefit in a globalised work environment.
However, after two years of remote, self-regulated learning, Marketing Units need to actively create an environment and assessments to facilitate interactions between peers and industry to support international and local students.
To do this we have formulated a reflective podcast assessment that students will create through acting as country or regional experts and explore perceptions of the other.
Resources
Shareable teaching and learning resources for this project coming soon!


Problem 
Domestic and international students wish to engage with each other but lack the opportunities to do so (Study International, 2016). Exacerbated by COVID-19, students reported the lack of social interaction as their most pressing concern (Almendingen et al., 2021). Council of International Students Australia (CISA) urge universities to bridge the social and cultural gaps between domestic and international students, and to develop assessments which require a more meaningful collaboration between them (Study Interntional, 2016).   

As AACSB Assurance of Learning expectations focus on competencies, addressing digital literacy will be crucial for undergraduate and postgraduate students as they move into industry.   

Marketing communication is a dynamic and global field. Professionals are required to collaborate with colleagues and clients across borders. Furthermore, there is an expectation for graduates to be digitally fluent once they enter the field. Despite the rapid innovation in the field of marketing communication, the dominant form of marketing assessment across universities is centred on long-form written tasks, often based on hypothetical scenarios. To integrate digital and information literacy with critical thinking, and to allow greater collaboration between local and international students, we sought to modify the existing individual written student assessment to a digital podcast that reflects student communication with each other. 

Project overview 
The project requires students to create a reflective oral piece based on conversations with each other and extensive academic and industry research in the form of an audio vignette based on a set topic (short 5-minute podcast - Adobe Audition). The content must include local (Australian) and global examples. All students are required to act as country or regional experts and explore perceptions of the other. That is, they are to give cultural and marketing communication/branding insights from their respective backgrounds and those of others. The design is student-centred, involving social learning through the creation of small groups that comprise local and international students. The students work together to gather information and record discussions for the podcast. This is done as a group activity requiring interaction and relationship building. However, the creation of the podcast and assessment remains individual. This decision has been made to eliminate as many barriers as possible to genuine connections being made rather than students concentrating on how the performance of each other will impact on their first assessment grade, as well as set up a level of trust for a subsequent group assessment. This also means that each student will have the opportunity to develop technical and information digital literacy skills through editing the podcast in Adobe Audition. For equitable participation of students in a Hyflex environment the option for engagement and interactions in discussions online and/or to present questions and record answers asynchronously is scaffolded into the curriculum.  

Emergent outcomes 
The project sought to advance the learning and assessment experience by moving from a written marketing communication assessment, towards the development of a podcast based on in-depth research and cross-cultural student collaboration. Students, interacting, networking and engaging with each other and having the capability to conduct research and critically analyse the content in order to present a 5-min podcast is an important graduate capability aligned with industry needs. Equally important is student to student interactions as each student brings their own insights often from culturally diverse, international settings that are of benefit in a globalised work environment. Specific to the semester activities, students reported improved familiarity and skills with Adobe tools and features via classroom experiences where they planned, created, produced and published digital content. As part of the assessment outcomes, students expressed greater confidence in their digital capability. Students also noted the value of creating content through a digital tool which allowed them to communicate content in a novel and professional way.  

Digital literacy outcomes 
With a focus on technological and information literacy, students were supported using detailed instructions and resources on Canvas. Students also had access to Adobe Coaches who supported their technical understanding through coaching in class. Weekly activities were scaffolded to support their digital skill development and their research and collaboration capabilities. The assessment was split into two parts (a and b). The first part ensured they conducted topic research, explored industry best practice, prepared questions for their class interview session, and indicated to the teaching team whether they had access to devices required to download Adobe Audition. The second part of the assessment was the creation of the podcast. These steps sought to embed an iterative and reflective digital literacy development process over the semester. Skills were evidenced and assessed via the submitted task which required students to develop a 5-min podcast with cross-cultural perspective peer and industry perspectives.  

A major focus of this proposal is the social nature of the assessment preparation, where increased opportunities for student interaction support international student engagement focusing on equitable access. Students have choice in how they interact:  
• face to face  
• online synchronous (connection in real time) 
• online asynchronous (sharing questions on discussion boards e.g. Miro, Padlet for peers and industry partners to record responses). 

Key learnings 
Upon completing the project, the teaching team reflected on key learnings. First, we recognised the requirement to scaffold the digital learning experience for students (both related to the technical use of Adobe Audition, as well as skills in choosing and applying digital information). This was done via structured weekly activities and regular check-ins with students. Despite their daily use of digital technologies, students expressed some trepidation around their ability to develop digital skills in six weeks. However, these fears were quickly alleviated using detailed resources on Canvas, weekly activities, and the weighting of the assessment being split across parts a and b. Weekly in-class support was required for the development of critical thinking and effective communication. The requirement of finding best practice industry podcasts in part one of the assessment assisted their understanding of not only how to develop a compelling story along with what elements make a podcast successful. The assessment description was incredibly detailed and was written in a step-by-step format with multiple contingencies in place (e.g., Not having access to a laptop, not being able to attend class for the interviews, etc). This provided greater direction and ensured that the information was consistently presented across the teaching team. Having these contingencies in place was incredibly useful for the hyflex environment. For the undergraduate unit, we had students and staff away for various reasons during the semester. A hyflex approach allowed students to continue with their learning and assessment development without being disadvantaged for not being able to attend on-campus classes.  

Impact 
Data collected at the end of the teaching period reported increases in student confidence with their digital literacy and perceptions of skills in critical assessment and communication using digital tools. 

Undergraduate: 
- Perceived digital literacy increased from 2.67 at the start of term to 3.88 at the end of term (1-5 scale). 
- 100% agreed that the regular classes assisted their ability to complete the assessment. 
- Diverse peer perspectives were considered a very (50%) and extremely (25%) important part of their education. 
- In terms of their confidence in speaking to peers from diverse cultural backgrounds, 56% were extremely confident, with 25% very, 12.5% moderately and 6.25% slightly confident. 
- 81% agree that using Adobe Audition helped improve their digital literacy skills while 19% disagree.   
- Student comments: “Having a workshop for how to use Adobe Audition was very helpful”; “I had to use alt software (spotify) to record my podcast which was much simpler and easier to use” 

Postgraduate: 
- Perceived digital literacy increased from 2.57 at the start of term to 4 at the end of term (1-5 scale). 
- 100% agreed that the regular classes assisted their ability to complete the assessment. 
- Diverse peer perspectives were considered a moderately (14%), very (72%) and extremely (14%) important part of their education. 
- In terms of their confidence in speaking to peers from diverse cultural backgrounds, 43% were extremely confident, with 43% very, and 14% moderately confident. 
- 100% agree that using Adobe Audition helped improve their digital literacy skills.  
- Student comments: “it really helped that we got tutorial videos that taught specific features of the software”; “It was nice to have an assignment submit in a different format that is not written.  Fun to put it together and get to be a podcast creator for once.” “It will be better that more workshops of adobe training were run from the beginning of the unit. Therefore, we have more changes to practice and be confident in using it” (note, adobe coaches were unable to run the session as they got covid). 
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