Content Analysis of Study Abroad Websites

My approach to this digital story was based on a proposal for a content analysis of images from university study abroad websites. I was interested in how these images portray the study abroad experience to students. The resulting digital story is not only about how study abroad websites create expectations for students, but also about how content analysis can be a useful method for understanding that issue. I tried to show some of the strengths and weaknesses of the method, and provide images that represent the codes I discussed in my proposal.

My original plan was to show a large number of the images from my content analysis sample along with several data charts demonstrating the results of the counts. Once I began working with the images and creating my storyboard I realized that the resulting impact on the screen was rather weak. I found that I could more elegantly illustrate my points by showing a small number of photographs that exemplify certain codes, allowing the audience to make their own judgments about the pictures. In addition to giving examples I also posed several questions to the audience, in order to let them ponder how they would have done the analysis, and also to help them understand why I made the choices I did. I also selected music that related to the pictures lyrically and in tone, but without overpowering the messages on the screen.

Turning my academic paper into a multimedia story forced me to think about not only what parts of my content were most important, but also about how I could convey my message more clearly in a limited amount of time and with very little text. In most of the projects I have done in my academic career I have been at liberty to use large amounts of text to explain and argue my points. This project, however, forced me to think of ways to communicate the same message in an altogether different, and hopefully more accessible way.

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