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July again... the passing of the 2013-2014 academic year (part one)

Flora and Paige with their proud programme leaderBarely a week after the summer graduation ceremony seems a reasonable time to reflect back on the academic year. 'My' BA (Hons.) Festival and Event Management students filled the front couple of rows at the Usher Hall, all gowned up and clapping each other's successful traversing of the stage in gowns and heels, with smiles and confident strides. It's the best day of the year, wouldn't you say? All that hard work being recognised in a distilled moment of personal achievement, in front of family and friends. Good speeches, lots of clapping and a final chance to exchange contact details for the future. (The university is swift to dispense with the average graduate's email account these days: praise be for the plethora of social media available to us.)True to form, there were a fair few students-graduands-graduates that I know much better now than I did a month ago. Four years of sharing classrooms, batting emails back and forth, marking coursework and supervising dissertations... it all counts for little against the experiences of a ceilidh and a shared fire alarm on George Street. I see this as perfectly natural in a reasonably sized programme of 300-350 students: dance floor kilts and ball gowns are understandably more memorable than a string of sleepy 9:00am seminars.Back to the social media though, for Twitter has become a much larger part of the communication I have with Edinburgh Napier students. Over the past couple of years it's become a very interesting (and fun) way to keep track of which projects some students are involved in. It also brings a bit of continuity to my relationship with those students: no longer do I wave them goodbye at the end of a module until the next time our paths cross in the classroom; now I can follow their work, comment and congratulate. They in return get to see a bit more of me, which is grand and probably helps me moderate my public Twitter utterances!When I was an undergraduate, from 1997-2001, I was quick to compartmentalise my life. Late September to Easter was for university, with a few distractions around Christmas. As the summer began to loom I would line up a summer job in Edinburgh, something festival related. By late August I was looking forward to a September of travel, before starting it all over again. What I didn't do was mix it up particularly well – I think I'll always have a deficiency in this area. I wasn't consciously building a career while studying, just enjoying myself and filling in the time. Only in retrospect is there a pattern and perhaps some sense of direction: the ends (becoming an academic at Napier) justifying the means (spending ten years flitting between one project and the next). These days I see much more focus and direction from many of the students I work with and this is a good thing. They have careers outwith university: studying is just one of the things they're doing while in Edinburgh. It took me years to work this out and it didn't really happen until I spent a year doing a Masters (2004-2005). Social media (the tweets and the LinkedIn updates) has helped open this up to me, giving me an insight into the breadth of industries, venues, locations and organisations that the students are involved with.I'm happy to report that the future is bright in this regard for there are plenty of third year students keeping me posted of their achievements through the magic of 140 characters. Many of them are out on work placements at the moment, or have been involved in consultancy style live projects. The transition from third to fourth year brings the most marked changes of any such progression: suddenly the distance between September and graduation doesn't seem so far once you're back to school for the last time! I'm looking forward to working with the next cohort of final year students, once I've made the most of my compartmentalised summer holiday.___Image: Flora and Paige with their proud programme leader, 4 July 2014.

July again... the passing of the 2013-2014 academic year (part two)

#10wos 02: All the colours (30 June to 6 July 2014)