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Reflection Nienke van Rijn

Logo https://stories.scrollytelling.io/reflection-nienke-van-rijn

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This course was quite different than the other courses that I followed during my masters or even during my bachelor degree. In my bachelor’s, I followed some courses that were hands on, but there was not any ‘real’ contact between the students and people who are actually in the 'real' working world.

That is one of the reason I found this course very interesting. I liked the fact that we could learn a lot from within the company, and ask everything we wanted to know. This way, both the start-ups and the students could look at things from another point of view. For us, this was a good chance to not only think about the academic aspects, but also put the theories and knowledge we have, to practice.

The owners of the start-ups could, in their turn, make it clear to us why some aspects of their business was more than theory alone. For Scrollytelling, the owners took a lot of time to show us the different aspects of their company. Not only did they answer all questions we had about the company, they gave us insights on how they choose clients, added us to the company chat and they even gave us access to their product, the software. 

On our turn, we could make the start-ups look at their own company in a different way. After focusing on a company for a long time, the owners could tend to have a micro view of their company. I think it was a good change for them that we look at Scrollytelling with more of a macro view. This way, I think we noticed and tackled some points that the owners of Scrollytelling had not discussed for a while. For instance, we asked them about the goals for the company, and they told us Scrollytelling had reached their last goal. Since then they did not get together to set a new goal. After mentioning this to Martijn and Joost, they thought of a new goal and more of a business plan for Scrollytelling  

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The thing I thought was difficult was that we, the students, went into the course somewhat unprepared, because we did not have a lot of information about what the goal of this course was. I would have liked more of an explanation of the course beforehand, because I did not know what to expect. Therefore my fellow group members and I were not sure what to tell the Scrollytelling team what we could mean for them, as they did not have a clear idea what to expect either. This way, we lost some time finding out exactly what we could do for Scrollytelling and what way they could be of help to us.

The advantage of not having too much information was that we actually had to find out the best way to go with the business ourselves and therefore think more out-of-the-box than with the other courses at the university. This meant that we had more freedom to accommodate the business and ourselves with finding the best way to be of service to Scrollytelling. As I was not used to this before this course, this was quite difficult at the beginning, as I expected there to be more guidelines. At the end of the course I actually appreciated it, as we were free to fill in the report the way our group saw fit. This was also a good way for the three of us to each choose and look into a subject that fitted with Scrollytelling and that we were also interested in ourselves.

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I thought a quote from Turner was very interesting and was very fitting in the case of all start-ups, but also Scrollytelling in particular.

"With a prototype in hand, a project ceases to be a pipe dream. It becomes something an engineer, a manager, and a markering team can get behind" (256)

Turner continues to say that it is also about the stories that the products/prototypes tell. That is what I liked about Scrollytelling; the fact that they not only have a good product, but that they also have an clear idea behind the product. Scrollytelling does not just want to sell the software to everyone, but their goal is that the clients make good, qualitative and interesting stories with their software. This means that they will in some cases exclude clients that would bring in money, but I think that is quite good if the company does that to stick to their ideals  

What is important, is that Scrollytelling made certain decision to be able to keep these values. Where most journalistic companies have to take on projects for businesses or use their product for branded content to earn enough revenue (Deuze; 15), Scrollytelling does not do this. I think that it is good that they are maintaining the journalistic values that they want, and it definitely shows that even if they are not growing fast; Scrollytelling is actually growing, one appropriate client at a time.

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The group dynamic was quite well, as we were all interested in different parts of the company and the research question for the company. Though we discussed the theory on brand awareness as a group. For the final report, we divided the parts of the report evenly.

During the course we worked together quite well, without any problems. If one of the group members had less time to spend on the project, the other group members picked up the work for that week, while switching it around for the next.

Last, we were invited by Scrollytelling to work on the project at their office (which is the room in the photo on the background), as that made it easy for us to ask them questions if that was neccessary. This made our group work even easier, as we did not need to wait for an answer, but could get to it right away.

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I very much enjoyed working with Scrollytelling, as the owners, Joost and Martijn, were very open to us from the moment we through the door at our first meeting. They immediately invited us to stop by whenever we wanted or needed to. The first research question they gave us was quite broad, but luckily Joost and Martijn were very open to us changing the question to something that was suitable to both them and us.

Soon after the collaboration with Scrollytelling started, we decided, as part of the course, to do a SWOT-analysis for the start-up. The main problem for Scrollytelling seemed to be the fact that both Joost and Martijn had too little time to be able to grow the company, as they both also have side businesses. Soon after we told them our (early) conclusion, they decided that they wanted Scrollytelling to be more of a priority.

This, on the one hand, made Scrollytelling very accessible to us, as the owners showed us that they appreciated our opinion and insights. Furthermore they showed us that they were actually willing to listing to what we were saying and that partly because of us, they started to discuss their future plans of actions for the company. On the other hand, their willingness to take our advice was a bit difficulty for us as a group, as Scrollytelling decided to implement this right away. That way, we had less of a clear conclusion to draw in our final report. Of course, this was the right step for Scrollytelling to continue growing their business.

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As I mentioned before in this reflection, I really enjoyed this course as it connects students to the post-academic world. If I could give a tip for next year, that would be that the groups with the start-ups could be divided in a different way.

This year, the start-ups were chosen by the students, based on interest for the company, which is a great way to get students enthusiastic. I would suggest letting maybe letting the students take a test; for example the Belbin team roles test,
which should point out what kind of a role a student would take in a group. This is a different approach than normal, but it could benefit both the student as the start-ups as there are three different thinking students in the group.

In the case of the Scrollytelling team this course, it was already the case that all team members automatically took on a different role in the group, but it could be interesting to try out and see whether this would benefit group work.

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To end, I would like to mention the things I enjoyed and learned from the most during this course: 

- Assignment for a 'real life' company
- Out-of-the-box thinking to answer a question for that company.   
- Discovering A-Lab - see how multiple start-ups function in one building and benefit from each other
- It was a whole different course than all my previous courses

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- Deuze, Mark (2017). Considering a possible future for Digital Journalism. Revista Mediterránea de Comunicación/Mediterranean Journal of Communication 8(1), 9-18

- Turner, Fred. "Prototype" in Digital Keywords: A Vocabulary of Information: Society and Culture, Benjamin Peters (ED), Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016, pp. 256- 268.

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