Verandah journal– interdisciplinary WIL in digital publishing

Case Studies

Institution:

Deakin University

Discipline:

  • Creative Industries

Model/s of WIL activity:

  • Industry/community based projects

Level the activity is delivered:

Program-wide

Verandah journal– interdisciplinary WIL in digital publishing

Verandah Journal frames an interdisciplinary innovative WIL experience as a curated and narrated professional transition.

Verandah Journal has been running for 37 years as a not-for-profit undergraduate student-run initiative. The creative outputs have grown from an annual 120 page literary and art anthology, to an ebook publication and a yearly digital non-printable works gallery (Offset digital). This innovative project is overseen by an industry board and a liaison staff mentor. Each year an interdisciplinary team of ten, including five editors and three graphic designers, with up to six embedded internships, manages the social media campaign, the submission, selection, and editorial curation, sponsorship and grant applications, production, launch and sales, and interviews/handover for the next year.

Length of time the WIL activity has been/was in operation

The inaugural publication was in 1985. The program has successfully run for 37 years as a cost-recovery student-run journal. The last 10 years it has been a semi-autonomous microbusiness with an industry board, required to break even on production yearly. The past four years the program has evolved into integrated interdisciplinary internships, a PhD professional development module, digital gallery of non-printable art-based contributions (Offset), and an identifiable Verandah publishing brand.

How does the WIL activity demonstrate good practice and/or innovation?

Verandah, as a responsive project in experiential WIL, is a leader in sustained and ever-expanding interdisciplinary experience. The project interlinks editing, publishing, project management, graphic and visual communication design, social media campaigning, grants and sponsorship applications and acquittal, and promotion/sales. Working with a real project incorporating financial and time pressures, participants reflectively adapt their curated folios of this work experience as a professional transition into changing work environments. Verandah has strong links to the editing/publishing units in the writing degree, replicable across interdisciplinary approaches to writing and publishing sector-wide. This focus is supported by the Australian Institute of Professional Editors industry standards stipulating interdisciplinary skills for freelance editors.

Who benefits from the WIL activity and how?

The Verandah project provides interactive networks between the student editors and communicators, the board’s industry representatives and skilled staff mentors. The student participants move from observing the confident handover team, through a year-long managed process that enables their confidence to grow in demonstrating a clear curation/narration of their own capacities. Two to three past Verandah editors per year have developed careers in writing-publishing or aligned industry areas contributing job readiness and confidence. The industry board has provided feedback over ten years on the value of real and intense experience, observing the growth of each team’s employability. The university benefits from the high-quality outcomes and industry benefits from the growth in adaptive students as they develop their professional transition skills.

How does the activity embed successful evaluation processes?

The Verandah project has embedded evaluation through the project with clearly defined goals, process and ongoing input from experienced mentors who have worked in industry as well as education. Each team evaluates their own personal goals and Verandah goals as they reflect on their evaluation of process by updating a Survival Guide as a handover document to the next team, including process templates and advice. Verandah outputs are sold on not-for-profit basis. Success is indicated by the cost-recovery, meeting objectives of legality, aesthetics, equity and access, and cultural value for money. The yearly acquittal report, overseen by a mentor, enables the Head of School and faculty to determine the overall value of the operation and program, and agree to further support in the following year.

What are the broader/longer term impacts for stakeholders?

Participants in the project develop professional and clearly identifiable capacities to support the transition from a discipline-specific focus on design, editorial and media skills to a stronger perception of work behaviours, competencies and connections, values, and attitudes. The project provides demonstrable and curated outcomes that enable participants to develop the narrative of their human skills and values. These are articulated through the interpersonal responsibilities of producing Verandah Journal, and folio evidence that narrates reflective practice and work readiness. These eportfolio narratives clearly demonstrate personal worth and skills, adaptability to change and resilience in the employment market. This ongoing adaptability to the writing/publishing and communications areas is demonstrated by anecdotal evidence of two to three Verandah editors each year over the last ten years entering the related work areas.

How is the WIL activity integrated into curricula? Include how it incorporates the preparation, implementation and reflection/debriefing phases of WIL.

Verandah operates as an interdisciplinary capstone experience across programs. Each annual team, mentored by the Verandah liaison staff, provides an updated Survival Guide handover document and revised selection criteria callout for the next year’s applicants across editing and graphic design. This process ensures preparation, implementation and reflection are driven by the editorial team’s learning reflected both in updating the Survival Guide, and Verandah applicant interview decisions. The curated outcomes are an ebook and paperback print version of the annual anthology plus digital gallery/showcase. The narrated outcomes (initiative, personal capacities, sense of self) are debriefed during reflections on the selection criteria and interviews.

Describe how the case study is informed by relevant theoretical or empirical literature, research and/or scholarship.

This practice-based project offers a flexible, curated demonstration of graduates’ skills and provides the foundations for a graduate to adapt to a challenging future work environment (Australian Industry Group 2018). Verandah journal expands on the principles of Chin and Mohd Rasdi who describe a portfolio career as the protean career where the individual has greater responsibility for their career choices and opportunities (2014: 203) and Bennett (2009) who highlights the need for graduates to have a clearer articulation of self-identity, the narrative of values, intrinsic success, human skills, personal and professional growth.

What are the plans for the WIL activity in the future?

The Verandah WIL support team initiated a postgraduate Prize in Writing in 2022, with four editing interns selecting high quality fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry from submitted Deakin creative research projects in Masters/Honours (7000-12000w equivalent). Usually unpublishable commercially because of length, the four edited pieces became the inaugural 40 page anthology (SPARKS), launched in June 2022 under the Verandah imprint, with distribution on a just-in-time printing/ebook basis. Verandah and the WIL team will develop more internships for editing, social media and journalism students while establishing sustainable small press digital publishing and distribution strategic futures.

References

Australian Industry Group (2018). ‘Skilling: A National Imperative’, Workforce Development Needs: Survey Report 2018. AI Group. Available at: https://cdn.aigroup.com.au/Reports/2018/Survey_Report_WFDNeeds_Skilling_Sept2018.pdf (accessed 10 December 2020).

Bennett, D. (2009). Academy and the Real World: Developing realistic notions of career in the performing arts, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 8(3): 309–327 doi: 10.1177/1474022209339953

Chin, W.S. & R. Mohd Rasdi (2014). ‘Protean Career Development: Exploring the Individuals, Organizational and Job-related Factors’ Asian Social Science, 10(21): 1911-2025.

Case Study Team Leader

Associate Professor Denise Jackson (ECU)

Karen Le Rossignol

Senior Lecturer, Deakin University