My Education Week: “People are savvier in a digital era”

My Education Week: Rosie Hand, programme co-ordinator of the masters in advertising at DIT


It’s the first day back after the bank holiday. I cycle into the DIT campus at Aungier Street most mornings. I’m not an extreme cyclist – I don’t have all the right gear – but my intentions are good. I bring my younger kids to school and then go on to work. It gives me time to plan my day on the way in , and decompress on the way home.

Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve been here for more than a decade. I began lecturing in 2001 when I left the advertising industry and started my academic career. My role grew and, now, as well as teaching I’m running the M Sc in Advertising.

Students have definitely changed since the Celtic Tiger. Their expectations have changed and their focus is tighter. This is a generation of digital natives. They have grown up on social media and they spend a lot of time looking at and deconstructing communications from both traditional and new media.

They share their own ideas through Facebook, Google Plus, and DIT’s own web platform.

I also coordinate the postgraduate diploma in advertising and digital communications, which is run jointly by the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) and DIT.

First up, a seminar arranged by the head of school for first-year tutors on the transition to college – we are already planning for September. Then, programme planning, interviewing, and reviewing the portfolio of 2013-2014 intake to the masters in advertising.

There are two strands on the masters . One is aimed at creatives: the art directors, copywriters and content creators. The other is aimed at executives or, as they’re known in the industry, “suits”. The suits focus on strategic planning and digital communications, client leadership and marketing.

These roles are blurring, as new digital technologies mean an inevitable crossover in terms of roles and responsibilities. That’s where I come in: my doctoral research is exploring these changes and what they mean for the future of the industry.

I’m in my second year of a doctorate in business administration with the University of Nottingham Trent. I fly over around three times a year for a few days of classes, and I really enjoy it. There’s a very diverse group of people from all over the world on the course and it’s a really lovely, compact, walkable university city.

Next is a two-hour scheduled block of one-to-one sessions advising my research students who are at various stages of completing their thesis, usually finali sing methodology or conducting research at this stage of the academic year.

I spend the day preparing students on the masters in advertising course for an upcoming showcase. This is the capstone piece of their programme.

Students form two competing simulated advertising agencies. We interview for a managing director and creative director for each agency, just like the real world of advertising.

Their task is to create an end-to-end integrated campaign from a professional brief. This year their brief was delivered to them by senior management at Hyundai. It culminates with a showcase on June 6th where the competing “agencies ” present and more than 120 industry people attend. It is a highly competitive event and jobs and careers have been launched at this showcase.

It’s always an interesting time. The students on the course have been friends and collaborators and suddenly they are set against each other. It gets very competitive. There can be the occasional spat. There’s banter and even a little good-humoured industrial espionage as each side tries to second-guess the other’s ideas.

Next, I take a portfolio preparation workshop, preparing students for a very exciting event, Portfolio Lab 2013, where our students will meet some of Ireland’s top creative directors and get a chance to get informal feedback on their portfolios.

Portfolio Lab 2013, hosted by IAPI and the Institute of Creative Advertising & Design (ICAD), is on May 29th and is certainly keeping me busy. Students work with their lecturers as well as with practitioners from the advertising industry to prepare a strong portfolio. The event offers students the opportunity to have face-to-face time and get their work critiqued by industry experts.

They are excited about showing off their work. It is also a great networking event for students looking to work in the advertising industry; they can’t afford not to take advantage of it. Internships can often come out of the process.

I think students now accept that they are unlikely to walk out of college and into a salaried position. A certain period of interning is par for the course.

Class time. Sometimes, because the students are so immersed in digital, it can be difficult to get them off their smartphones during class. This technology has really changed our lives for the better. We have access to information and communications so easily, but at some stage it is important to be able to take a step back and have time to reflect and think. However, if you’ve got your smartphone with you on holidays and are answering emails and on call, you’re not switching off.

As someone working in the world of communications, I’m quite careful about what I let my kids be exposed to. What type of ads should they see? What type of products is it okay to market to children? What type of content are they reading online?

This is an ongoing debate in marketing and communications. What’s most important is that children have digital and media literacy, and that they can discuss and debate what they see.

Communication is positive and helps shape society, and children are a part of society, so they need to understand it and be able to engage. I do find the debate interesting, and enjoy discourse about communications: which ads people like, which ones drive them crazy, and where those ads should be.

Being able to critically engage is very important – and today, in a digital era, people are savvier about marketing than ever: companies have to be creative and engage with their consumers.

Lecturers have to be continually on top of the latest research, particularly in a field such as advertising.

On Saturdays and Sundays, I get up at the same time as during the week, and sit down to focus on my doctoral work. There are always documents to submit and deadlines to meet; I enjoy the dynamism but, if I’m honest, I miss getting a lie-in.

My children get up and we take a trip out to Howth, buy fish on the pier, feed the seals, enjoy a rare moment of good weather and head home.

In the evening, we get a babysitter and walk the short distance from our home into town to have dinner with friends somewhere with good food and a cracking atmosphere. And no ads.

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