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Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management

Overview of Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management

This submission presented work carried out by 20 members of staff in the Departments of Media; Performing Arts; and Criminology and Sociology at Middlesex University.
  • REF 2021 Impact Case Studies

    • Bridging the Digital Divide: Creativity research resulting in digital upskilling

      The impact we achieved 

      Despite increasing emphasis on online access in the public and private sphere, the digital divide is widening, with 52% of the workforce (17.2 million) lacking essential digital skills for work (Lloyds Digital Index, 2020). Middlesex research has used creativity to provide an adaptable model for effective and future-proofing digital upskilling which has made the following impact:

      • Influenced development of qualifications by OCN London (particularly their Essential Digital Skills Qualifications) and the Royal College of Nursing’s Learning and Development Pathway for their Representatives
      • Resulted in new methods for generating and capturing ‘backlist’ sales in publishing
      • Changed perceptions of digital exclusion and influenced practice in charities and NGOs
      • Influenced policy thinking within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) via membership of its Digital Skills and Inclusion Working Group (DSIWG)
      • Enabled professional writers to advance their digital practice

      The research behind it 

      Change in the digital sphere is rapid, and equipment and discrete digital skills can quickly become obsolete. However, digital upskilling largely centres on provision of online access, equipment and/or technical training. Undertaken by Dr Josie Barnard, our research has identified that this approach alongside entrenched assumptions of ‘digital natives’ were inhibiting progress in enabling digital skills acquisition. Its impact is underpinned by the following research projects, located within writing practice, which analysed problems of ‘digital exclusion’ and provided solutions to digital skills acquisition with an emphasis on creativity and humanisation:

      • A submission to a House of Commons’ Culture Media and Sport Select Committee report Supporting which identified creative flexibility as key to providing ‘future-proofing’ digital upskilling
      • Pedagogical pilots using Twitter which considered and empirically tested the notion of ‘digital natives’ and if creative thinking and social media skills could be taught
      • Research on how so-called ‘digital natives’ could re-purpose existing leisure-time digital skills for use in employment and learning contexts
      • A set of assignments which focused on using learners’ inner resources to tackle digital challenges, including repurposing of existing skills, having ‘in person’ support, using senses and emotion, and deploying familiar ‘old’ technology (e.g. pencils) to build confidence
      • A BBC Radio 4 documentary Digital Future: The New Underclass which further examined the humanisation of digital skills acquisition and barriers to learning through a combination of statistics and interviews with digitally excluded citizens
      • The Multimodal Writer – a ‘model of creativity’ comprising ‘writerly resources’, ‘writerly personas’, ‘expert intuition’, ‘inner auteur’ and ‘creative projects’, which can be personalised by each user and applied to digital challenges according to need.

      The people involved

      Research at Middlesex was undertaken by Dr Josie Barnard.

      Read the PDF of the case study submission

    • Blockchain and the Creative Industries: Investigating, Demystifying and Promoting the Uses of Distributed Ledger Technology

      The impact we achieved

      This research looked at the potential opportunities and challenges which blockchain technology offers the music industry. The work by our Blockchain for the Creative Industries cluster led to the report ‘Music on the Blockchain’ acclaimed as “the most in-depth look so far at how the music industry can benefit from blockchain technology”.

      Impacts of the report across the music sector included:

      • Informing understanding and shaping debate on the music industry in the UK
      • Enabling international awareness of Britain’s creative industries
      • Informing UK government policy on data management
      • Influencing decision-making on the use of blockchain
      • Inspiring innovation and new blockchain initiatives.

      Beneficiaries have included creators, digital entrepreneurs, incumbent music businesses and governmental authorities.

      The research behind it

      Our researchers considered where blockchain could be transformative for the music industry, as well as highlighting barriers to adoption, and some disadvantages. They worked in an interdisciplinary way and in partnership with music industry professionals.

      We identified four areas where blockchain technology has potential for the music industry:

      • Providing a networked database for music copyright information
      • Facilitating fast, frictionless royalty payments
      • Offering contractual transparency
      • Providing access to alternative sources of capital for artists.

      These research findings were communicated so that all potential adopters and sponsors of the technology could use and understand them.

      The people involved at Middlesex and beyond

      The research team included Marcus O’Dair, Dr Richard Osborne and Dr Zuleika Beaven.

      The team worked with David Neilson, a computer scientist at Middlesex, Paul Pacifico then CEO of the music industry trade body Featured Artists Coalition, and Nick Mason, the drummer with Pink Floyd.

      Read the PDF of the case study submission

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