Professional Skill #12: Essay Writing?

When I first read Richard Miller’s article The Coming Apocalypse there was a point he made which seemed to trouble me: ‘literature is a refuge for those who cannot contend with the present’. It wasn’t after many hours of internal debate that I suddenly awoke in the middle of the night and understood what Miller meant by this. Communication and media students are expected to constantly be on top of the current media trends and debates which sometimes can change from one day to the next. This requires constant research on an individual’s personal time. Learning to navigate the latest social networking platform can take hours to become fluent, yet is essential to gaining employment.

In his article, Miller has identified that currently Universities have their students in media degrees tied up writing long essays that essentially will never be read by anyone other than the teacher marking them. Throughout my degree I have written plenty of essays that gave me plenty of knowledge, but not necessarily any practical skills. This is a fact that inspires a great deal of anxiety. My experience with employers in the media and communication field have asked for tasks such as maintaining a social networking presence such as a Facebook or Twitter account. They have indicated they need blogs written, and research conducted of social networks and opponents social networks. Not once have they every required an essay written, a skill which my degree has provided me with exceptionally well.

Miller proposes that Universities should be creating multimedia essays. Very rarely so students ever solely access print resources for their knowledge requirements. Why not translate this change into assessments aswell, and give students the knowledge to remain functional in a rapidly changing mediascape? I finally understand what Miller was talking about and I agree that Universities are stuck in literature as they don’t know how to contend with the current technological world. Higher education needs to learn to adapt to this new world, and generate graduates who can effectively function in the professional world.



Miller, R 2010, ‘The Coming Apocalypse’, Pedagogy Winter, vol.10, no.1, pp: 143-151


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