10th – 17th November, Jenny Ostini

Introducing Jennry Ostini, a media historian working on a post-doc in learning and technology. This week, she’ll be discussing her experiences in the digital humanities whilst tackling important topics such as academic identity, alternative academic careers and being an academic mum! We’re really looking forward to following her feed for the week! 

Hi I’m Jenny Ostini (Twitter handle: @follysantidote). I’m currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the (takes a huge breath) Digital Futures Collaborative Research Network hosted at the University of Southern Queensland’s Australian Digital Futures Institute (ADFI). My postdoc is on learning in a technology-rich environment (which is also a bit of a mouthful). It’s a really interesting place to find myself as my PhD was in mass communication history and I would consider myself to be a media historian. My thesis looked at how the news media and political discourse in the United States between 1919 and 1989 constructed particular “common sense” stories of human rights. I tried to examine how US political discourse reached the point at which a person or news article could say “so and so is a human rights violator” and assume that their audience would share the same understanding of what that meant.

I came to this postdoc thirteen years after completing my PhD via a range of other work inside and outside of academia. I’ve taught undergraduate journalism, worked as a contract evaluator of community health programs, sold shoes, worked for a no-for-profit organisation in essential services policy and social sector capacity building, done freelance editing and consultancy and ended up back in academia as a middle-aged postdoc.

Oddly enough it was my work in the community sector that led me into a digital futures research centre. I was working on how to engage adult community sector workers in continuing professional development and capacity building for their organisations. As part of it, my organisation was experimenting with various ways of delivering online learning and engagement and I was able to bring my mass communication training and interest in storytelling and education to the project. This led me sideways into my current work on digital literacies and research on knowledge sharing within the wider community that a) may not have signed up for an educational experience and b) may regard traditional sources of knowledge with distrust. I am working on research projects in communicating climate variation information to farmers and on developing toolkits for helping women learn the skills they need to avoid online violence. I’m also working on an ethnographic study of how teenage girls use technology in their everyday lives.

I hope to talk about digital literacies, learning and knowledge creation in general, reinventing yourself inside and outside academia, being an academic mum, managing academic identity when your work cant be easily pigeon holed, issues you might encounter in an alternative-academic career, and issues you might encounter being a non-traditional academic. I look forward to our discussions very much.

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