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When A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking came out in its 6th edition last fall, its LaunchPad got so much more than just a refresh. It’s a totally revamped experience for your students! Let’s check out all of the new features...


So that students can do all course work in one place, there is now an e-book built into LaunchPad for online reading. Or, if students do not have access to the Internet, they can read the mobile-friendly downloadable e-book.


Having an e-book in LaunchPad for Pocket Guide also means that our LearningCurve adaptive quizzing now has interactive links to the readings, rather than simply page numbers, as in the previous edition.


We have a whole slew of new video options in this edition! Each Part from the book has its own video in LaunchPad that shows the concepts from the chapters in action. In addition to a new full-length sample speech, “Going Carbon Neutral on Campus” in chapter 22, we also have the “Needs Improvement” version of the speech, so students can see a shining example and a what-not-to-do example of the same presentation, to allow for comparing and contrasting. As always, the speech video is cut into small chunks as well, to highlight particular aspects such as the introduction, source citation, and delivery styles.


Lastly, LaunchPad for the 6th edition of A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking comes with our video assessment program powered by GoReact. Speeches can be recorded right into LaunchPad through the website or through a mobile app, and then can be assessed using time-based comments, markers, and rubrics. You can see our COMMunity post on video assessment here:

If you’d like a personal tour of LaunchPad, sign up for a session with me, your Learning Solutions Specialist:

With a new co-author, a new chapter on Gender Communication, new Making Relationship Choices case studies, and new Video Assessment tools, Reflect and Relate, along with its corresponding LaunchPad, offers more interpersonal communication coverage than ever before.


The resources available in LaunchPad truly do live up to the title of the book. Students work through reflection activities such as journal entries and self quizzes, and then relate to the material with our flagship offering – Making Relationship Choices case studies, featuring “The Other Side.”


Making Relationship Choices activities immerse students into a situation they’re likely to experience in real life – Choosing Between Friends, Struggling with Family Transitions, and Dealing with Mixed Messages. Students are provided with a communication concept for background, then are presented with the “Case Study,” which lays out the scenario. Then, they are taken to “Your Turn” – 5 short answer questions that require reflection on the situation. Next, we see “The Other Side,” a video in which the other person involved tells his or her side of the case study story. As in many real-life situations, this video shows information which wasn’t available when crafting a response to the Case Study. The video reminds students that even when we do our best to offer competent responses, there always is another side to the story that we need to consider. Lastly the student is asked to take an interpersonal competence self-assessment to evaluate their previously submitted responses and is given a chance to think about what he or she might have done differently. New to the 5th edition are MRCs for Gender Communication and Workplace Relationships.


Also new to the 5th edition is our video assessment program, which provides students with the space to view, analyze, and practice interpersonal communication skills. Both instructor and students can record, upload, embed, or live-stream video to share with the class and analyze together. Multiple comment-delivery options are available including text, audio, and video to deliver powerful feedback. Customizable visual markers allow the user to pinpoint critical aspects of video being discussed. The possibilities are endless.


Other resources available in this LaunchPad include Journal entries for topics such as Ineffective Listening Behavior and Self Quizzes that look at skills such as Evaluating Empathy. Our video library contains 60 clips that show communication concepts in action, such as “You” Language and Avoidance. Of course, we also have a full test bank, pre-made quizzes, and our popular LearningCurve adaptive quizzing has been completely updated.


To learn more about LaunchPad, schedule a one-on-one session with your Learning Solution Specialist: Macmillan Learning Support Center 

As insults go, “fake news” has not yet reached the point of vacuity of, say, “your mother wears army boots.” Because of its excessive and less-than-strategic usage, it is edging into cliché territory. That is a knife that, though dulling, cuts both ways. That it’s being used to the point of triteness means that many are comfortable slinging that particular bit of slander about.

This former journalist repudiates the ease with which the phrase is used to denounce or discredit critical or unflattering reportage. That the term is inelegant is a bit beside the point, I think, because those who are inclined to reach for it are not hunting for le mot juste. They are most likely scooping up verbalisms that they imagine are more cutting than cunning.


Peers in classrooms and newsrooms have asked me on many occasions to weigh in on what “fake news” means and how to respond to or guard against it. My response has most often been that responsible reporting is its own defense. Bluster won’t quiet a bully whose purpose is to cow and not correct so I hardly ever broach the matter of silencing a crank. Dotting I’s and Crossing T’s, eschewing cut corners and holding firm on never publishing supposition or rumor is the truest armor of a news reporter.

I have, however, given more thought on ways to help news consumers better identify reportage that falls short of traditional journalistic standards either because of incompetence or fraudulence. I call them the Three C’s of Fake News:

Content. News consumers should first examine the content of the article or report. Consider these questions: What information is being shared and is the information attributed to a source that is named. If the source is unnamed, is it clear why the source is not being named – that is, is it clear to you what is at stake by revealing this information – termination of employment, bodily harm? Does the threat seem reasonable based on the nature of the information?

If the information is challenging previous reports or popular thinking about some issue, is there evidence being offered as support or is the challenge more a matter of perception or viewpoint? Ask yourself why you should abandon what you have believed was true about the matter for something that is not demonstrably or verifiably true.

Additionally, you should ask if other sources have reported similar findings or if the information being shared is an “exclusive.” Exclusives can indeed result from the industry and resourcefulness of a news organization, or it can be information that was dressed and planted – or leaked -- with the hopes it of passing inspection, especially when deadlines are looming or it’s a slow news day. Much mischief finds its way into the news hole that way.

Construction. News consumers should also consider the news’ construction because clues to fraudulence might be found in its crafting. Consumers might consider if the article or report focuses on the authenticity or truthfulness of its information by citing sources by name, attributing all facts and opinions and letting what is disclosed speak for itself.

However, if the article is crafted around innuendos and suppositions and masks facts in inferences and hedges conclusions, red flags should go up. These constructions are often marked by language like “believe,” “think,” or “feel” to refer to sources other than the writer. The article might contain large sections of unattributed information, leaving readers to wonder whose perspective or viewpoint is being represented. This could be a sign of fictionalization.

News consumers can gauge the authenticity of a report by the number of times the writer uses the construction “source + said,” as in “Mayor Brown said on Monday ….” Reports that are thoroughly attributed and transparent are much less likely to be hawking fakery. Verification and corroboration are the pillars of responsible journalism. Articles that include personal experiences for which there were no other witnesses and thus cannot be verified are not necessarily fake; they should be weighed differently and the information assessed with the understanding it is the speaker’s account. Articles that refer to other reports should include citations or working links to the source material. Examining the linked material for political or promotional affiliations would be wise.

Common Sense. And, finally, readers and viewers should consume news with healthy portions of common sense. Most simply put, news consumers should ask if the report makes sense based on common knowledge, previous reporting or even their personal experiences. Do some events seem too good, too appropriate or too convenient to be true?Just because an article does not make sense or smells funny does not necessarily mean the item is fake; it does mean one should handle the information with caution and scrub it using the guidelines above.

If, in the end, the article writer’s position seems to be more combative or confrontational than informative, then the news consumer is likely not dining on news or at the very least competent reporting. It might be propaganda. And, as we all know, propaganda was “fake news” before fake news was cool.

Macmillan’s first edition public speaking text, Speech Craft, has a personality of its own. Fittingly, its corresponding LaunchPad reflects that personality, as the book’s author, Joshua Gunn helped develop several of the activities for it! As your Learning Solutions Specialist for Communication, let me walk you through these features as unique as the author himself.

One of the most exciting New LaunchPad feature are Digital Dives, written by Joshua Gunn himself. Students often struggle to apply what they read to their actual presentations.  These were designed to help with that. Each chapter (except for chapter 12) engages students in topics at a deeper level through the use of podcasts, videos, and critical thinking questions, ranging from speeches given in the real world to real student speeches. They also promote Community Building by engaging students to think about the audience as a community.

An example of a speech from the real world can be found in Chapter 9, on Style and Language. It focuses on the use Repetition and Rhythm, and asks students to first read the transcript of a eulogy given by Barack Obama and then watch a video of it. What students take away from this is that while writing repetition into a speech seems silly or pointless, seeing and hearing that repetition (and the rhythm of it – the way in which its repeated) helps students to realize it’s importance and impact. 

Chapter 11 on Presentation Aids looks at understanding the slide in a classroom speech. Students get to looks at its role in a speech - which is meant to enhance your presentation, not give it for you or distract from it. See sample screenshots below:

Student presenting speech with slides  Student presenting speech with slides


Clearly, one of these is great, the other…not so much. So, students are asked the Questions: Which speaker presented their slide show more effectively? How could each speaker improve his or her delivery? 

      The author has also left his mark on our new sample speeches. The Car Cookery full length Informative Speech is actually a speech he presented, and in LaunchPad it is delivered by a student. And, we can’t forget about the instructors. Joshua helped design the chapter slides, and the instructor resource manual was written by Joshua’s mentor, Laura Sells.

      Of course, the LaunchPad also contains all the other great LP content you’ve come to expect from Macmillan, including an ebook, outlining tools, LearningCurve Adaptive quizzing, and our new Video Assessment Program – Powered by GoReact.   

      If you’d like to learn more or get assistance setting up your LaunchPad course space, sign up for a demo with your LSS Specialist:

What's Your Love Language?


Have you ever received a gift from a friend or romantic partner, only to wish you could spend more time with them instead? Have you ever given someone a hug only to find that physical touch makes them uncomfortable?


According to Dr. Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages, that may be due to a predisposition in how we prefer to receive and give love to others. Though this book was originally published in 1995, new editions and online quizzes have ensured that the concept is still highly discussed in academia, friend circles, and (of course) social media.


For those unfamiliar with love languages, the theory suggests that there are five main ways in which we show our affection for others, and that we each have a preference for both how we receive affection, and how we give affection.


For example, if you enjoy baking cookies for your friends, that doesn't necessarily mean that you want your friends to bake for you in exchange. Instead, you might appreciate having your friends offer to help pick up groceries, or hearing them praise your baking skills. Of course, while your friends might be grateful for the time you took to make them, they might have preferred that you spent that time with them instead.



These individual preferences can lead to communication problems, especially when we unknowingly prioritize our relationship goals over theirs (#relationshipgoals, anyone?). When you bring your partner out to a nice restaurant, you may consider that a sign of love, but they might be wishing you'd just clean the kitchen instead. 



Whether or not you subscribe to this theory, it's important to consider the ways in which we express our affection for others, and make sure that we're paying attention to their preferences for how they want to be treated. It's also important to recognize how we want to be treated. Once we recognize and communicate those distinctions, we can ensure that we're giving and receiving love in the ways in which our loved ones - including ourselves - deserve.


See below for a list and a brief description of each of the love languages discussed in Chapman's book. Of course, you'll likely enjoy expressions of love in all five categories, but the theory of the five languages is that there are one or two you respond to more than the others, whether or not you realize it right away.


Words of Affirmation - Verbal or written communication that encourages, validates, and offers active support and appreciation. Examples: "I love you," "I really admire you," "I'm here for you."


Acts of Service - Helpful, thoughtful deeds that show your attention to their needs and your willingness to help ease their burdens.  Examples: Offering to help with their cleaning or cooking, driving, or running errands.


Receiving Gifts - The thought, effort, and care that goes into the choosing of a gift can mean a great deal to those receiving it. 



Quality Time - The act of giving someone your undivided attention (that means not looking at your phone, but at your partner) while talking or participating in an activity together. 


Physical Touch Physical touches like hugging, kissing, or even holding hands can prove a powerful way of providing support, attention, and a feeling of togetherness. 



What do you think of these five love languages? Can you think of other examples of showing someone you care about them? How might understanding another's primary love language help you improve your relationship with them?


Whatever your primary and secondary love language, I hope you have a great Valentine's Day!


That ubiquitous rhetorical query “know what I’m sayin’”? – which actually shifts the real work of comprehension from the speaker to the listener – has become a motto for too many of the young people whose work I grade. Along with hours devoted to citing comma faults, run-ons and wacky elliptical sentence structures, I spend a great deal of time wandering through the thickets of convolution, imprecision and excess that are growing in my students’ heads. Exchanges with colleagues in communications and other disciplines indicate that, as I suspected, I am not alone. Is it just that K-12 educational priorities don’t appear to be articulating with post-secondary approaches and expectations? Is there also a cultural shift among young people underway? Is intuitionreplacing explication? The writing of my young charges is plagued with wordiness and disorganization.




America’s third president is attached to the quote “The most valuable of talents is never using two words when one will do.” The pithiness of this remark models Jefferson’s stated principle, which might also be rendered, “say what you mean with precision and dispatch.”  


My students’ overwrought renderings might point to a lack of proficiency or imprecision in word choices. But I feel it is more complicated than substituting “rapidly” for “very fast” or “because” for the dreaded prolixity of “due to the fact that.” All of these are encoding choices that all writers wrestle with.


I suspect my students’ problems are also rooted in idea formation, the step that precedes encoding in the familiar simple communication model. Students struggle with written expression partly because they are inexperienced wordsmiths but most often because they’re not sure what they want to say.


Sometimes while reading responses to prompts, I feel as though I’d walked in on a student mid-cogitation, before the idea had set and settled.


“What is going on here?”


My markings tend to be less about “correcting” structural faults and more about “coaxing” or “teasing” out the passage’s purpose. Rather than jot “this is what you might say ....” on a section made muddy by verbosity, I highlight or circle the passage (I still prefer pen and paper grading) and insert in the margin, “What is it you’re saying here?” or “Rethink this section. Your point gets lost.” Thus putting the responsibility of comprehension where it belongs -- on the writer.


I often direct students back to their thesis statement – provided one has been crafted – and ask how the highlighted passage relates to what the statement promises. Does it add a dimension, elaborate on an earlier point, support an argument? In conferences student frequently admit they’re unsure.


“So why write so much?”


“I’m trying to meet the assignment word count” was too often the response.


An idea without substance or concreteness is easily lost in the woods, I’ll say. Certainty can hack through acres of wordy brush. “Go back and think some more.”




I frequently find myself following my student’s meandering prose into a thicket so dense I have difficulty determining where I am or how I came to be where I was. Lost.


Occasionally the brush has been made thick by compound, complex and compound-complex sentences that are overly burdened with subpoints, caveats, asides and parentheticals that don’t deepen the argument or expand the point. They simply radiate without clear direction or inclination. They are, as the kids say, “just some random stuff.”


Outlines are not an absolute cure for such disorganization – having an idea with layers that merit exploration is the true cure – but charting a course before pushing off from shore surely can’t be a bad idea if one intends to do more than just paddle around, if one intends to actually go from point A to point D.


Aside from forcing a sequencing onto ideas, outlining, to my mind, helps the writer-thinker determine if the trip is, indeed, worth taking. If, in fact, point A is substantively different from points B, C and D.  If there are no identifiable or palpable distinctions between the points then the journey would be “pointless.”


If, on the other hand, these points are related but different, and markedly so, then an outline would be useful in laying out the comparison, the pros and cons, the chronology, the evolution or the flow. That is, an outline would be a useful map from thesis statement to conclusion.


No, you can’t have “good writing” without “good mechanics.” But, more fundamentally, you can’t have “writing” without “thinking,” for as celebrated author David McCollough says, “Writing isthinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard.”  (My emphasis.) If our students are reminded of this and are coached through the fog of their hazy thinking they might actually find their writing more productive and enjoyable.


Know what I’m sayin’?

Video is a crucial feature across all Communication courses, and Macmillan wants to make it easy to implement, effective for students, and, hopefully, fun to use as an instructor!


The Video Assessment Program - powered by GoReact - is a feature that we're going to revisit many times this year on Tech Tuesdays, so we'll start off with just a brief introduction today, and go into more detail as the semester goes on!


The program allows both instructor and students to record video, from a laptop, video camera, or mobile device, directly into LaunchPad, where time based comments and rubrics can be used to leave feedback and provide assessment. Comments and grades appear right alongside the submitted video!


As always, if you'd like to learn more about LaunchPad and/or the Video Assessment Program, feel free to sign up for a demo with your Learning Solutions Specialist: 


Here it is in action!

By Ernest L. Wiggins


Though a journalist by trade, I developed an abiding interest in persuasive communication during graduate school.  I have formally studied the intersection of media messages, group identity and social justice, focusing most of my attention on advertising. I routinely teach a course in mass media criticism, and 1/3 of class time involves the close reading of commercial advertising and cause / idea promotions. I am constantly searching for material that reflects contemporary popular culture. I recently discovered sexuality and gender roles front and center in ad campaigns from around the globe and not just as subjects of promotion. We are finding them as framing devices to convey other messages. For example:


Service with Pride

Volt, Sweden’s print campaign sponsored by the Swedish Armed Forces for the 2018 EuroPride festival in Stockholm, features separate male and female models dressed in battle fatigues and gear, sans helmets, applying rainbow-colored camouflage paint to their faces. They are standing in front of a wooden fence or scaling wall, suggesting they are preparing for training.  The copy in English reads: “We don’t always march straight. But no matter where or when we march, we always stand up for your right to live the way you want with whoever you want. Read more about how we work to protect freedom and the right to choose the way we live at”



The ad’s messaging works on several levels. Most obviously it is reminding viewers that male and female members of the LGBTQ community (those not marching “straight) serve in combat roles in the military. The copy also places personal liberty at the center of Sweden’s national identity and as part of the military’s defense mission. On another level, the campaign also serves as a recruitment tool targeting the LGBTQ community, particularly those skeptical of the army’s support. That the soldiers are shown applying the paint rather than posed with the paint already applied suggests individual agency, openness and decisiveness. This small motion challenges the notion of hiding among the ranks. Additionally, both models are facing the camera, eyes locked on the viewer, their bodies open, all of which suggests boldness and courage.  These are familiar themes at Pride Festivals around the world.



The Havas agency’s E45 skin cream 30-second spot features British Olympic champion turned professional boxer Nicola Adams sporting her trademark partially shaved head, what might be described as gender-nonconforming outfits and athletic apparel.  She is shown engaging in her training regimen in various international locales as her voice-over says: “In my life, I never like to sit still. All the traveling, the training, the hard work, everything I do, it takes a toll on my skin. Some days it needs a little bit more. New E45 rich. It’s everything my skin needs. Just straight-up skin care.”



Adams, who publicly identifies as bisexual, is an LGBTQ icon in Great Britain. As a celebrated face and national treasure, Adams lends substantial gravitas to the endorsement of a product that is not targeted at the LGBTQ community, people of color nor women. Casting Adams as spokesperson acknowledges, yes, her renown but also her substantial appeal across a spectrum of potential consumers.  Additionally, Adams delivers the message that hard work and self-care are companions, challenging the perception among some that female athletes are indifferent to their appearance outside of the arena or the ring.


Playing with Clichés




MullenLowe’s series of spots for Aruba Tourism Authority turns around the male-centric marriage proposal trope – and acknowledges that it’s doing so -- to cut through viewers’ gender-role expectations in service of a unique promotion. In each 60-second ad, a male-female couple in their early to mid-30s is show vacationing together – strolling along a beach, dining al fresco, sunning on a sailboat. The woman tells her companion she has enjoyed their time and wants to take their relationship to the next level. She presents a boxed ring (a solid band) and presents it to her companion, whose face then, in slow motion, bursts into a broad smile and tears. They embrace and the moment dissolves into a love weepy song and the pitch. “Let’s keep the cliché of proposing in front of the sea. Let’s end the cliché of men doing it. Win a trip to Aruba to propose to your boyfriend.”



While being played for laughs, and targeting women viewers, the ad, commendably, asks audience members to consider the social convention at the heart of the commercial’s narrative: Why does the man have to be the one to propose? But, not so commendably, in one instance the campaign overplays the man’s reaction to the point of grotesquerie (see above), leaving viewers to wonder if this is how the ad creator views a woman’s response – as ridiculous. In each of the spots, the female character includes in her build-up to the presentation of the ring a status report of a relationship that might appear static– we’ve lived together for five and half years,we’ve been together for seven and half,you can’t live with your parents anymore. Again, if the ad messenger is turning around familiar scenarios, then the messenger is suggesting that marriages liberate adult women from their parents. While it is likely that this accurately represents the reality for at least some women in the targeted audience, the commercials’ narratives would indicate the ideal customers for this promotion have status and means and are not lodging with Mom and Dad.


These campaigns take refreshing views of sexuality and gender roles and put them to use in selling products and / or ideas while challenging viewers’ conventional notions and expectations.  Each strikes me as affirming (perhaps even celebrating) the richness of human diversity.











Erika Gutierrez

A Back-to-School GIFT

Posted by Erika Gutierrez Sep 28, 2018

Congratulations on the new academic year! We hope your students are off to a grand start and are well on their way to a successful fall semester. Time flies, and it is surprising that we are already a month into the semester. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Erika Gutierrez, and I'm the Senior Program Director for Communication & College Success here at Bedford/St. Martin's and Macmillan Learning. It's been a pleasure to read  and share the Back-to-School posts from our authors. Joseph Ortiz, Choices & Connections, started off the series with a post called, “Back to School Tips 2018: Trigger Scripts,” that presents a compelling way to draw students into course concepts by using communication based dilemmas or trigger scripts. Christopher Martin, Media & Culture, wrote an excellent piece, “The End of the Summer of Media Merger Mania,” to spur conversations about current mergers, their goals, and their potential impact on culture and our media experience. Thank you Joe and Chris! Also, I want to send a thank you to our associate editor, Melanie McFadyen, for her work on the Communication COMMunity site.  


We created this site to provide a space for instructors to connect with one another and with our authors and to share teaching ideas and professional resources. Now that September is almost over, we have one last fall Back-to-School post to share that we hope you will enjoy and that will help you accomplish your teaching goals. We are sharing Communication in the Classroom: A Collection of GIFTs edited by John Seiter, Jennifer Peebles, and Matthew L. Sanders all from Utah State University. GIFTS is a popular term for Great Ideas for Teaching Students. Organized in chapters by research area, each GIFT selected for this professional volume includes information about the author(s) of the activity, a detailed explanation, and a debrief drawing on the instructors' experiences. There are 100+ teaching activities included! If you are interested in sharing new GIFTS on the community site, reach out to us!



This book is an invaluable resource for anyone teaching a communication course who is looking for new ideas to spice up their classroom and engage students. This resource, as well as our other professional resources, are available for you to download from the community site. To access them, register for an account at the top right-hand corner of the screen, and download GIFTs here.


Student engagement is key, and it's our goal to provide you with the professional resources to help, from class activities and video assignments, to blog posts with tips and tricks from other instructors, and now to GIFTs. Look for emails this fall about upcoming webinars with our authors and an upcoming webinar on our new video assessment program powered by GoReact. We hope that you make use of the community’s open resources and events and have a wonderful and successful semester!


Very best,

Erika Gutierrez 

The summer of 2018 has been a momentous one for media merger mania. Although this sounds like a topic for a high-level economics course, the approved and proposed media mergers involve a number of name-brand companies, and will have a significant effect on media culture, journalism, and what we’ll be watching and streaming on phones and other screens in the coming years.


Among the proposed mergers:


  • AT&T’s takeover of TimeWarner
  • Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox
  • Sinclair Broadcasting’s acquisition of Tribune Media,
  • a Sprint and T-Mobile merger
  • a re-merger of CBS and Viacom


The most recent wave of mergers waited upon the decision of a lawsuit between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and AT&T over its planned purchase of TimeWarner, which would signal whether the Department of Justice would prevail in enforcing antitrust law. A federal judge approved the merger on June 15, which put Warner Bros. studios, HBO, and Turner under the corporate umbrella of AT&T, one of the two major mobile phone companies. The DOJ decided to appeal the decision, but AT&T still proceeded with its work, renaming its new subsidiary “Warner Media.”


AT&T’s reason for the acquisition was to control a huge flow of media content to stream on its mobile phone network so it could compete with other digital giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Netflix. AT&T’s CEO says they want to deliver a “mobile-first entertainment experience.AT&T has a head start with HBO, which is already streaming premium content, but it will need to continue to produce hits like “Game of Thrones” in the coming years to compete with all of the other digital media companies that have the same idea.


Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox (including its movie studio, but not Fox News FS1 sports, or Fox Broadcasting Network), approved in July, was proposed for the same reason. Disney now adds to its roster films like Avatar, Titanic, and the X-Men franchise, along with shows like “The Simpsons” and “This is Us” (broadcast on NBC, but produced by 20th Century Fox Television), along with cable channels FX and National Geographic, and majority ownership of Hulu. Disney reportedly will roll out three streaming offerings: 1) an entertainment channel (with Disney animation, Marvel films, Pixar Films, Star Wars, and everything else in the Disney and Fox film libraries) – people are already dubbing this Disneyflix, 2) a sports stream (Disney owns ESPN), and 3) Hulu, of which Disney now has controlling ownership, for streaming television shows. Disney looks to be a formidable challenger to Netflix.


Still awaiting approval are a Sprint and T-Mobile merger. There are only four main mobile phone companies in the U.S, and these two are the third and fourth largest, after AT&T and Verizon. A&T tried to buy T-Mobile in 2011, but it was rejected by the Antitrust Division of the DOJ on the basis that it would have hurt competition in the business. Will this merger survive the same standard?


After splitting in 2006, CBS and Viacom may re-merge, too, although that story has become complicated by the bad blood between Viacom’s leadership and CBS’s Chairman and CEO Les Moonves, who also became subject to a sexual misconduct investigation this summer after another blockbuster report of a #MeToo case by Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker magazine.


Sinclair, already the largest local TV station owner in the U.S., would have become even larger with the TV station properties of Tribune Media, reaching about 70 percent of U.S. TV households. Of particular concern is that the Sinclair, which has a history of imposing right-wing politics on its local stations’ newscasts, would have created a broadcast version of Fox News. As the FCC began to make regulatory approval more difficult, the deal fell apart in August.


Historically, half of all mergers and acquisitions are failures, and the planned synergies across the various subsidies are never realized. Consider, for example, the disastrous AOL–Time Warner merger of 2001 or News Corp.’s expensive bad bet on the success of Myspace in 2005. Time will tell with the mergers of 2018. Did AT&T and Disney invest billions to create even better (and more profitable) media experiences for the post-cable world, or did they waste their money by misreading the path consumers would be taking in the future? Like with earlier mergers, we should know in a few years.

Dr. Ortiz is an author of Choices and Connections, and has taught for over 30 years, beginning in 1983 at Clovis Community College (NM). He joined the Scottsdale Community College faculty in 1989, where he teaches courses on human communication, interpersonal and small group communication, and digital storytelling. In support of student learning, Dr. Ortiz is heavily involved in the use of classroom assessment tools, service learning, collaborative learning methods, and the use of online technology. Below, read more about one of his teaching methods, the use of trigger scripts.


Competing with the commotion of memes, Spotify playlists, viral videos, and Instagram postings that consume our students’ attention, teachers must somehow design lessons that invite interest in our subject matter. Among the various ways we can catch and hold student attention is to use instructional activities that they will find intellectually stimulating and relevant to their lives (Bolkan & Griffin, 2018). A strategy that I’ve found helpful for engaging students is the use of trigger scripts for introducing a lesson.


A trigger script is a vignette that conveys a communication-based dilemma, and a resolution or conclusion is not provided. Trigger scripting evolves out of the work of performance studies scholars who use excerpts from literature for the expressed purpose of promoting audience discussion about social issues (Valentine & Valentine, 1983). Vignettes can be crafted out of literature; or in my case, I’ve simply employed my imagination and creative writing aspirations to fashion trigger scripts. Here’s one example, which I’ve entitled, “I’ll be 2 hours late”:


You’re out running errands when your romantic partner text messages you that s/he’ll be about two hours late coming home from work. You decide to stop at the mall to kill some time. About 30 minutes later, you pass by a patio bar and see your partner with three other co-workers having drinks. One of the co-workers is someone that you have long suspected is attracted to your partner. How would you feel? What would you do?


I use this trigger script as a basis for starting a lesson on communication competence and its characteristics in my introductory interpersonal communication course. When I present this in class, I always give students time to think and write a response to the two questions before moving them to small discussion groups. I give the small groups two ground rules: (1) You’re not trying to agree on the right answer, and (2) Don’t go “Dr Phil” on anyone (i.e., avoid judgment).



The energy in the room is palpable during the small group discussion, and it reaches a crescendo when I debrief the entire class. Students state that they would feel deceived, jealous, outraged, and some mention that they’d be unfazed because they trust their partners. The discussion then leads us to examine what it means to be effective, appropriate, and ethical in forming a communicative response to this situation. We also begin exploring concepts of perspective-taking and behavioral flexibility.


In addition to writing your own trigger scripts or excerpting them from literature, you can draw vignettes from film and television programs. A television program that is a ready made trigger script is the ABC program; What would you do? I use an episode that pertains to a disruptive baby in a fine dining restaurant for introducing the unit on conflict. I start the lesson by posing the dilemma orally:


You’re at an upscale restaurant (I ask them to name an expensive one in the city) to celebrate a special occasion. A baby at an adjacent table starts to get fussy, eventually crying loudly. How would you respond?


Student responses range from ignoring the disruption (avoidance) to giving the parents a menacing stare (passive aggressive). We then watch the episode in class (c. 8 minutes). The trigger script serves as a springboard for a classroom discussion about the various styles of responding to conflict, including a consideration of the personal, cultural, and relational factors that impact how we respond to conflict.


Although I use trigger scripts for classroom instruction, the strategy certainly can be adapted for online teaching by using discussion forums. Whether it’s in the classroom or online, the management of student attention is increasingly tough to do, but it’s an important prerequisite to learning. The judicious use of a trigger script is a practical way of engaging students to see the the personal relevance of the topics we teach.            




Bolkan, S.  & Darrin J. Griffin, D. J.  (2018) Catch and hold: instructional interventions and their differential impact on student interest, attention, and autonomous motivation, Communication Education, 67:3, 269-286, DOI: 10.1080/03634523.2018.1465193


Valentine, K. B.  & D. E. Valentine, D. E. (1983) Facilitation of intercultural communication through performed literature, Communication Education, 32:3,303-307, DOI: 10.1080/03634528309378546

Melanie McFadyen

Welcome Back!

Posted by Melanie McFadyen Aug 23, 2018

While it may be too early to start eating pumpkin-shaped candies or drinking pumpkin-spiced lattes, the inevitable truth is that summer is once again ending. Of course, that's exciting in itself, as it means fall is on the way - and a new school year with it!



This year, Macmillan is welcoming the new academic year with a series of back-to-school blog posts written specially by our authors. Each Thursday over the next few weeks, we'll have a new blog to help you start the semester off right - including tips for keeping students engaged, trends to discuss in class this fall, and more. We'll also have another message from our team announcing the addition of GIFTs, our professional resource to help you better communicate in the classroom, to our community site.


Be sure to stay tuned over the next month! You can get notifications of our new blogs to your email by clicking the "Follow" button in the right-hand corner of the page. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the rest of the summer, and have a wonderful start to the new academic year!



The Communication Team

Macmillan Learning

In my journalism classes, I used to teach using the building-block method. I would set up my class in chunks: present the material, assign a story, require follow up reports and peer reviews, and have students turn in an assignment. This process took about four weeks. Then I would do it again with new material, a new kind of story, and more follow-ups that resulted in another story. At this rate, I was lucky if my students could write four stories a semester.


The building-block method is good for perfecting old material before moving on to new material, but it went against my teaching philosophy for writing: "practice makes perfect."


Learning by Doing


Short deadlines and multiple priorities are hallmarks of the newsroom. No one has time to help anyone else because they’re so busy themselves. You don’t get a long, leisurely introduction to the job. You just do it.


Journalism, like public speaking, takes practice, practice, and more practice. You can’t teach someone how to feel when they’re interviewing an intimidating figure. You can’t teach them how to know when someone’s lying to them. You can’t teach them to know when the story just isn’t going to work out.


So how can you give your students lots of practical experience in doing what the pros do? Turn your classroom into a newsroom.


To replicate the newsroom, turn the first three weeks of the semester into Journalism Boot Camp, covering newsworthiness, the inverted pyramid, research, interviewing, and anything else you feel it's necessary to cover in a class setting.


After that, assign stories with deadlines and send the students out for reporting. The time they spend reporting takes the place of class time. By the end of the semester, students will write around 10 news stories.


But, what about all that grading?


Imagine 20 students per class, 10 assignments per semester. That’s 200 assignments to grade per class. What if you teach four classes? Now you’re up to 800 assignments. And that doesn’t include the labs, quizzes and tests that require attention.


That’s why the class is like a newsroom. In my class, students get four assignments at a time and can turn them in in any order they like. There’s a catch: when they turn in an assignment, they must make an appointment with me the next week to edit it. Since they are out working on stories, my class time is freed up for individual appointments. Each student gets 10 to 15 minutes of my undivided attention as I edit (grade) their assignment.


Most of my grading is done on the spot, in the classroom, with the student. No more sending back assignments with feedback they never read. No more wondering if they understand my feedback, or even care. Now I get to look them in the eye.




I do bring them back into class for a week near midterms and again near the end of the semester. They discuss how their stories have gone. They talk about what went well and what didn’t, much like reporters do in the newsroom. Students share how they handled situations that others found troublesome. They take suggestions from each other and offer their advice.


Students have even set up outside groups to discuss assignments and how to approach them. Our “newsroom” has become more collaborative.


The best part is that by the end of the semester they’ve gained a great deal of confidence, and I really enjoy grading their work.


Marti Gayle Harvey is a Lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she teaches journalism. 


Some see writing as a solitary process. Some teach it as a solitary process. However, teaching writing as a group activity lets students explore how others approach learning the craft, allowing them to come up with their own approach.

The writing process generally goes from thinking of a topic, collecting information, crafting a message and revising it. When done in a solitary environment, feedback is important but lagging because of grading time. When done in groups, feedback is immediate and, since it comes from peers, it seems more like a conversation than a lecture.



I use a form of flip teaching. It consists of students being introduced to a concept through online content by reviewing materials for a basic understanding. When students come to class they work on a low-points, graded lab, applying the concepts to a concrete example. Finally, a classroom discussion among the groups allows for a review of the lab allowing the teacher to guide the discussion making sure concepts are covered and understood.

I found that the lab portion needed more pizzazz. Some students would finish labs early and just sit there waiting on everyone else. Others pulled out their phones. The room was quiet, and students were bored. I was, too.

One day I put them in groups of three, mainly because I could cut down my grading, but it also kept the room from sounding like a crypt. They had to talk to each other.


I had them work on changing a story from passive to active voice. This is one of the hardest concepts for young writers. They must determine if the subject is doing something or if something is being done to it.

The exercise was a hit. I caught them explaining concepts to each other. They got immediate feedback. The lab results were much better, too. They “got it” much faster.

And they laughed. They laughed at each other. They laughed at themselves. Mostly they laughed when they tried something and it didn’t work. Eavesdropping on their conversations convinced me that they were having fun. They were learning.



I came to the conclusion that they learn better from each other than they do from me. One reason is that group work allows for highly differentiated learning styles.

Visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic learning styles adapt spontaneously to group work. If someone needs to hear it, there is always someone in the group willing to let them read it to them. If someone needs to do it, they can “break it down” for the other group members. Visual learners will understand the structure and reading/writing learners are usually the scribes of the group.

Another reason that group work works is because it is fun. Especially if it’s nothing more than a low-points lab. They get to explore concepts, don’t have a lot to lose if they’re wrong, and they get to do more than sit around on their phones waiting for the rest of the class to finish.

The idea that nonverbal signals can be used strategically to influence an outcome or reveal unspoken information about others has captured the minds of researchers and the general public alike. This fascination with nonverbal communication is apparent across various forms of media, such as articles analyzing nonverbal messages in politicians’ speeches, TED talks, and even television shows.


Nonverbal communication plays a significant role in both the conscious and unconscious processes of encoding and decoding information. Although the effect of nonverbal communication on others’ perceptions is often discussed, the influence of nonverbal communication on self-perception should not be overlooked. Research by social psychologist Amy Cuddy suggests adopting expansive postures, or “power poses,” can significantly affect personal feelings of power. Cuddy’s work provides evidence that embodying states such as confidence or dominance through power poses, even and especially when a person does not feel powerful, can positively influence personal feelings of power.


Here are several nonverbal communication techniques for both feeling and appearing more confident:


Take up space.  Humans and animals often display specific postures and behaviors in response to success and failure. For example, research by Jessica Tracy and David Matsumoto (2008) found congenitally blind athletes demonstrated the same nonverbal expressions of victory (arms raised in a “V” shape, head tilted back, expanded chest, etc.) as athletes born with sight, suggesting nonverbal displays of pride and shame in response to success or failure may be biologically innate. Expansive postures related to feelings of power can also be observed in nature, with animals and creatures often physically taking up space in order to establish dominance.



To project confidence and increase personal feelings of power, think about opening up. Focus on keeping your shoulders back and your chest open and maintaining good posture by standing or sitting up straight with your feet grounded. Remember to breathe deeply and relax your muscles. When interacting with others or giving a presentation, use open and authentic gestures to support your verbal messages and signal confidence. Avoid adopting contractive postures such as the "penguin gesture," which refers to keeping your arms close to your sides while gesturing from the elbows down.



Smile. Smiling can significantly influence others’ perceptions and responses. A study conducted by Grandey et al. (2005) indicates people who smile authentically are not only perceived as more likeable and courteous, but also appear more competent. Many research studies support the idea that smiling is contagious, suggesting it is difficult to control your facial reactions when looking at someone who is smiling.


Smiling can also positively affect one’s mood and emotional experience. A famous psychology study conducted by Strack et al. (1988) examined the effect of manipulating facial muscles on participants’ experiences of humor. Participants reported more intense humor ratings when holding a pen between their teeth in a way intended to mimic muscle activity associated with smiling, suggesting facial expressions can influence one’s emotional experience.


To boost confidence, practice smiling more often. Even if it initially feels forced or artificial, the simple act of changing your facial expression can significantly improve your mood and positively affect those around you.


Dress the part.  Research suggests clothing can powerfully influence not only how others perceive us, but also how we perceive ourselves. For example, Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky (2002) found participants displayed increased selective attention when wearing a lab coat compared to their task performance while not wearing a lab coat. Interestingly, the participants’ performance was influenced by the symbolic significance of the clothing. Participants who were told the lab coat they were wearing was a doctor’s coat displayed increased sustained attention compared to those who were told they were wearing a painter’s coat. 


Other studies suggest wearing formal clothing can likewise influence self-perception due to positive symbolic associations. In a study conducted by Bettina Hannover and Ulrich Kühnen (2006), participants were asked to arrive dressed either formally or casually. The researchers found participants who were dressed formally were more likely to select formal trait adjectives to describe themselves, while participants wearing casual clothes used more casual adjectives to describe themselves. 


To feel and appear more confident, make sure to dress appropriately for the situation. While it is important to conform to clothing norms, especially in professional contexts, consider adding a subtle accessory or distinctive feature to project uniqueness and independence. Research suggests individuals who slightly deviate from clothing norms are perceived as having higher status and competence than conforming individuals, a phenomenon known as the “red sneakers effect." Pay attention to how you feel while wearing specific clothing and take note of outfits in which you feel most powerful.



Speak slowly and intentionally. Just as confident nonverbal communication involves taking up physical space, it also involves taking up temporal space. A study by Hughes et al. (2014) investigating the effect of intentional vocal manipulations on others’ perceptions suggests people who speak slower are more likely to be perceived as having confidence than those who speak faster. Interestingly, female participants in the study tended to speak more quickly when attempting to portray confidence; however, this strategy was largely ineffective. Researchers also found that both men and women who spoke with a lower pitch were generally perceived as being more dominant. Another study examining the effect of vocal pitch on voting behavior suggests voices with a lower pitch are associated with favorable personality traits such as attractiveness and dominance.


Remember to speak slowly and take pauses in order to communicate with confidence. People tend to speak more quickly and with a higher pitch when they feel nervous. Pay attention to your vocal pitch and try speaking with a lower-pitched voice to portray greater power and confidence. Consider varying your pitch within your vocal range to emphasize your message and match the emotions you would like to communicate.


Note: It is important to remember the cultural context when considering nonverbal communication. The techniques discussed above are most applicable to a Western cultural context and may not convey the same meaning in other cultural contexts.