When Dr Anita Brady’s students tell her they can no longer blob happily in front of the television, the Media Studies lecturer feels a sense of achievement.
“My job is to ruin mindless media watching for them,” says Anita, who has been awarded a 2012 Victoria University Teaching Excellence Award. “After studying with me, I hope they will forever be analysing what they see and hear.”
Using topical examples is central to her approach. This year, some of Anita’s students have been discussing Beyonce’s recent half-time performance at the Super Bowl and last year students debated coverage of Valerie Adams’ Olympic gold medal.
“I’m quite prepared to change the topic of a lecture I’ve prepared if I go on a news site beforehand and find a new story that is relevant to what we are learning,” she says. “Subject matter in the media is constantly changing so my teaching material has to do the same.”
Anita was commended by the judges for finding innovative ways to keep students involved in learning by, for example, encouraging them to contribute ideas for class exercises and allocating plenty of time for class discussion. “Ideas generated from their own engagement with the media are an important part of the course.”
Last year she went even further, surveying her students about their media preferences and asking them to match the results against current theories about media use for an assessment exercise.
“They really enjoyed using data they had created themselves and it led to some interesting discussions about the relationship between theory and practice.”
Anita subsequently quizzed her students about how the survey could be improved.
Anita believes engaging students and having enthusiasm for the subject are central to being a good teacher. “It might sound twee, but I absolutely love what I do and students tell me they find that infectious.”