The University of Newcastle, Australia

Scholarship helps advance knowledge of virtual communities for student communications

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

As a recipient of the 2017 International Development Scholarship for UON professional staff, Student Communications and Information Officer in Student Central, Jayne McCartney recently attended the Social Media Strategies Summit (SMSS): Higher Education Conference in Boston, where she learnt about ground-breaking work in the area of virtual communities, and collaborated with leaders in the field.

Jayne McCartney

Jayne also visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emerson College, Harvard, the University of Massachusetts Boston and New York University.

“I’ve always found that attending conferences really inspires me and re-energises me in my work. Knowing that Boston has a reputation as an international centre for higher education and is considered a world leader in innovation and enterprise, this scholarship was an opportunity simply too good to pass up.

“My scholarship created the opportunity for me to develop my knowledge of virtual communities for students in higher education, and see the advances in this dynamic space,” Jayne said.

Jayne emphasised the importance of integrating the ‘student voice’ in student communications, and is confident after attending the SMSS conference, that UON is paving the way in this area on a global scale.

“Institutions are realising the crucial need to incorporate the authentic student voice in their communications strategies and practices. This can be achieved by ‘student takeovers’ on social media, as well as a variety of other student ambassador activities," she said.

Jayne believes UON is at the forefront of this strategy with their student blog, UON Navigator – a project managed by the Student Communications team, working in conjunction with a team of 10 student content creators.

During her time away, Jayne received much praise from international colleagues in response to the UON Navigator program.

“The response to Navigator internationally inspired and motivated me to come home and ensure we continue to support and develop this fabulous initiative. Time and again as I spoke to other university staff abroad, the feedback I received about the work we do was that it is without a doubt world-class, and even world-leading,” Jayne said.

A key takeaway of Jayne’s scholarship was her motivation to continue forward with ground-breaking and world-class strategies and activities in the student communications space.

“I will definitely be bringing my specific discoveries in social media and student communications to my team and utilising that knowledge to enhance our current practices,” she said.

Jayne encourages other UON professional staff to apply for an International Development Scholarship in the future.

“One of the fabulous things about this scholarship is that it’s genuinely available to staff across the diverse range of roles within the professional staff cohort at UON. It’s a generous and flexible scholarship that provides the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.

About the scholarships:

Launched in 2016 as part of the University’s NeW Futures commitment to increasing global engagement, professional staff scholarships of up to $10,000 support overseas travel for professional development. The experience will also benefit UON by growing our international networks for collaboration. The applications for the 2018 scholarships will open in February 2018.


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