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Recent reports from Common Sense Media revealed that American teens spend an average of nine hours per day using media, excluding time during school or for homework. If you think that's a lot, additional reports state that parents, too, spend about the same time. When generations young and old are spending more than one-third of their day using media, it's no wonder that Steve Barrett, Editor-in-Chief of trade magazine PR Week, called media literacy "the social issue of our time."  In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election and the controversy surrounding "fake news," media literacy has become a buzzword for educators and journalists alike, who now see the need for media consumers to be able to understand not only what "fake news" is, but also the importance of knowing where they're getting their news, what biases are possible in the news they're consuming, and what message this piece of news is trying to send.

 

So, in case you missed it, here are a few places where we can see media literacy gaining traction around the country:

 

 

Are any media literacy initiatives occurring at your school, in your state, or in other communities? Leave a comment below!

Kate George

The Reality of Fake News

Posted by Kate George Employee Nov 29, 2016

Since the very beginning of the 2016 election, the media have been a key player. Donald Trump was able to use his star power and his active social media presence to breeze past his opponents and win the Republican nomination with very minimal advertising spending. He publicly fought with media personalities, such as Megyn Kelly, and entire news media companies, like the New York Times. Even now, as the President-elect, he continues to tweet his thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.

 

But as the election came and went, its relationship with the news media has, if anything, become more complex. In recent weeks, Internet news has been brought into the spotlight, and many people are questioning what impact “fake news” had on the outcome of the election. In a time when a quick Google search or a scroll through your Facebook newsfeed can return thousands of “news” stories, ranging in quality from extremely well researched and reputable, to utter lies, those who are not critical media consumers may take any “news” story that passes through their Facebook feed as fact, without verifying the validity of that particular story. A recent article in the New York Times explores how both Google and Facebook are looking into their algorithms and trying to weed this fake news out of their sites to ensure that only reputable news is being spread.

 

As the generation who is most heavily immersed in social media, but at the same time is less practiced at the art of determining a credible source from a bogus one, your undergraduate students may be even more susceptible to these fake news stories than their older counterparts. As your communication students study the news media, how can you guide them in the right direction? One instructor at Merrimack College has compiled a list of fake, misleading, clickbate-y and satirical news sources that has been shared many hundreds of times and can be a great starting point for a discussion.

 

Have you incorporated a more in-depth study of fake news into your classes since the election? What ideas do you have for helping students become more critical of their news sources?

Media examples are crucial when teaching a mass communication course. Luckily, LaunchPad for Media Essentials has a wealth of samples available for your students to view so that you can practice convergence in addition to teaching it!

 

LaunchPad for Media Essentials has over 50 video clips with accompanying short answer questions to help students think critically about the topics discussed. We have several clips per chapter, organized by chapter, so it’s easy to assign based on what you’re teaching in class that week.

 

Our videos range from interviews with the chairman of the FCC to learn more about Media and Democracy and Net Neutrality, to clips from Pop Culture including Saturday Night Live, Transformers, or the music video for Uptown Funk. These videos give a behind the scenes look at media and issues that will help students understand how the media works.

 

In addition to our video library, you can also upload any video or audio clip saved on your Computer or embed a video from YouTube using our video assignment tool, which allows for time based commenting.

Additional suggested videos are available in the Instructor Resources Manual, which can be found under the resource button in LP.

 

LaunchPad for Media Essentials also includes our game-like quizzing tool LearningCurve to motivate students and adapt to their needs based on their performance. LearningCurve includes reporting tools and metrics help teachers get a handle on what their class knows and doesn’t know. There are also two pre-made traditional quizzes for each chapter, which can be used in conjunction with LearningCurve.

 

If you’re interested in seeing LaunchPad in action, please view the brief screencast below, and be sure to schedule a demonstration with Learning Solutions Specialist Heather Halter http://www.meetme.so/HeatherKimball.

 

 

You can access LaunchPad for Media Essentials here: http://www.macmillanhighered.com/launchpad/mediaessentials3e/ To get access, enter your email address in the box that says “Request Instructor Access.”

 

Just because A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking is a bargain priced book, it doesn’t mean that we cheap out on the resources! Our LaunchPad contains priceless tools to help your students become better public speakers.

As a former public speaking instructor myself, I found that videos are a great way to connect students with the presentation process. LaunchPad contains over 200 videos, many of which also have multiple choice questions associated with them to create a well-rounded Activity.

 

Our videos feature real students, presenting real speeches, which are shot professionally. Simply type a term in the search box on the LaunchPad homepage to find one that will be perfect for your students. Great examples of full length speeches include topics on Preventing Cyberbullying and Becoming a Socially Conscious Consumer.

 

Not only do we have full length sample student speeches, we also take those videos and cut them down into smaller segments, so that you can focus specifically on a particular part of a speech. Talking about instructions? Use our clips on Attention Getters, Thesis Statements, and Previews. Lecturing on delivery? Assign students our Speech Clips on Effective Eye Contact and Effective Gestures.

 

We take our videos one step further through our “Needs Improvement” clips, which demonstration what NOT to do during a speech. For example, see speeches with Logical Fallacies, or a student using too many Vocal Fillers and Not Enough Eye Contact. While showing great sample speeches is certainly helpful, I found that students internalize these clips more; they don’t want to make these mistakes in front of their peers or when a grade is on the line!

 

All video clips can also be incorporated into a Video Assignment, which allows for time based commenting and rubric grading functionality. Click here for more information on how to build these activities: https://community.macmillan.com/videos/1383

 

In addition to our large video library, LaunchPad for A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking also contains an interactive version of James McCroskey’s PRCA and PRPSA to assess Communication Apprehension, A Relaxation Audio Download to help those apprehensive students, plus Speech Outlining guides and  templates, and tutorials on Presentation Software and Avoiding Plagiarism. Of course, LaunchPad also contains our ever popular LearningCurve adaptive quizzing.

 

If you’re interested in seeing LaunchPad in action, please view the brief screencast below, and be sure to schedule a demonstration with Learning Solutions Specialist Heather Halter http://www.meetme.so/HeatherKimball.

 

Bettina Fabos, an award-winning video maker and former print reporter, is an associate professor of visual communication and interactive media studies at the University of Northern Iowa. She is the author of Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age, 2016 Update, and Media Essentials: A Brief Introduction, 3/e. 

 

Q: What courses are you teaching this semester?

BF: Digital Culture and Communication (http://uni.edu/fabos/dcc/dcc.html) is a class about the major issues facing us today with regards to the Internet. Interactive Digital Communication is a foundation interactive digital studies class that combines web development with design and some digital citizenship.  

 

Q: What has been your favorite course to teach and why?

BF: I loved to teach Mass Communication and Society, especially assigning students our oral history project towards the beginning of the semester, where they interview a person in their 70s or older about the way they grew up with media, so we can integrate their histories in class throughout the course of the semester. I don’t have a chance to teach it right now because I am very active in our Interactive Digital Studies (IDS) program, and my favorite course there is probably Digital Culture, which has some connections with Mass Comm and Society. I also like to teach Interactive Digital Visualization, and I love to teach the foundation IDC class, too. This is when I see students discover they are really good at code or design, and that’s pretty thrilling.

 

Q: What advice do you have for other instructors who teach this course?

BF: I would say help students make connections with their own personal and family histories as much as possible; I would say show a LOT of videos and play a lot music; bring in current events with each class; try to make the radio chapter—which can be tough (why should students care about radio networks?) but so important—interesting by helping them visualize what it was like to live in the 20s, 30s and 40s, and make comparisons between radio and the Internet, since there are so many comparisons.

 

Q: What are some of your research interests?

BF: I study digital archiving, interactive timelines, public memory, critical literacy and I pull all this together through creative digital projects, like the Hungary timeline I’m working on right now. It tells the story, over 16 online chapters (filled with photos and animation) of how my Hungarian family emerged from serfs to become successful farmers, and how they survived the calamitous 20th century.

 

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges students face now when they enter college?

BF: I think one big challenge is getting to know the students in their own classes, because students come today with their phones, and are immersed in their little personal bubble before class, and don’t reach out to each other, so I have to work extra hard to build community in my classrooms.

 

I think another big challenge is that Universities are underfunded. Students often have to work longer hours to pay for college, and are strapped financially. Universities are also putting too many students in classes, and hire so many adjuncts who are underpaid and don’t have time to schedule office hours. Ultimately this kind of “that’s the way it is” and “we all have to tighten our belts” environment affects learning and students. I don’t believe this has to be the future. Our society needs to invest in education.

 

Q: What motivates you to continue teaching?

BF: My students are so amazing. I love being the first one outside their family to tell them that – just a simple comment like that can ripple through them their entire lifetime, and I’m completely aware of the impact I have on my students.   I’m taking my four student collaborators to Hungary next June to present our Hungary project to the U.S. Embassy, the Fulbright Commission, and the Central European University, and two of them have never been to Europe before. So this is incredible, being able to introduce them to things they would have never done before.

 

On a personal note...

Q: How do you spend your time when you're not teaching?

BF: I love reading just about anything well written. I like to cook and have dinner parties. I play the violin and I have lots of musician friends and we play chamber music together. I LOVE to hike in Switzerland (I have Swiss citizenship), and getting inspiration from traveling. I grow lots of flowers, and I make cakes for friends. I do yoga but I’m sadly inflexible: I still haven’t even perfected “Downward Facing Dog”!

 

Q: If you hadn't pursued a career in higher education, what career path do you think you would have chosen?

BF: I could have made documentaries (that was my path before I met my husband Chris – my goal at one point was to travel around the world making interesting travel documentaries); written children’s books or teen novels; owned a café…I could have fixed up houses and flipped them. Sometimes I worry that I spend way too much time in front of a computer screen!

 

What’s your favorite TV show or movie of the year so far?

BF: I like Swedish police dramas like The Bridge. I’m into Stranger Things. This year I have not had time to see one movie—I go for TV series over movies these days! I have watched Spotlight three times though!  

 

Q: What was the last book you read?

BF: In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi.

 

Q: What book has influenced you most?

BF: I would say a series of interviews by Bill Moyers called A World of Ideas. I was a failed journalist, living in Switzerland, working as a secretary for a nonprofit foundation, and I picked this book up (it was a fortune in Geneva’s one English bookstore), and it changed my life.

 

Q: Where is one place you want to travel to, but have never been?

BF: I would love to go to Buenos Aires.

 

Q: When you sit down to listen to music, which artists or genres do you go to most?

BF: Indie music like Kishi Bashi; early, early baroque like Monteverdi; anything my daughter Olivia tells me to listen to…she is such good influence on me!

 

Q: What is something you want to learn in the next year (Communication-related or otherwise)?

BF: I’d like to learn more JavaScript, and become a better gardener. We live on a prominent corner in Cedar Falls so the pressure is on.

 

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you (i.e. What's your "fun fact"?)?

BF: I’m pretty shy, and I don’t like to speak in public!  Teaching, actually, is difficult for me for that reason. I don’t like to be considered “an expert” like some people, because I always consider myself a work in progress. My husband, Chris, is such an amazing public speaker and gives radio and TV interviews all the time. I am much better as a behind-the-scenes person.

With the 4th edition of Reflect and Relate comes the first time we’ve had a full media package to accompany the text. That means that you now have access to LaunchPad for your Interpersonal Communication course, which contains carefully selected and custom curated content for each chapter of the book.

 

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 involvedtells 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.

 

Other resources available in this LaunchPad include Journal entries for topics such as Ineffective Listening Behavior and Self-Assessment Quizzes that look at skills such as Evaluating Empathy. Our video library contains over 75 clips that show communication concepts in action, such as “I” Language and Power Distance. Of course, we also have afull test bank, pre-made multiple choice and true/false quizzes, and our popular LearningCurve adaptive quizzing is available with this book for the first time.

 

If you’re interested in seeing LaunchPad in action, please view the brief screencast below, and be sure to schedule a demonstration with Learning Solutions Specialist Heather Halter http://www.meetme.so/HeatherKimball

 

Kate George

The Great Debate(s)

Posted by Kate George Employee Sep 29, 2016

Source: Joe Raedle/Pool via AP

 

With the presidential debate season officially underway after Monday evening’s event at Hofstra University, public speaking and debate are in the forefront of more and more mainstream conversations. Embracing the spirit of convergence, I sat and watched the debate unfold across three screens: the TV on which I watched the debate, my phone where my Facebook News Feed was overrun with opinions, articles, and memes of the event (Hillary’s sassy shoulder shake later inspired this amazing gif), and my computer where I followed the NPR fact checker.

 

Throughout the evening, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the ubiquity, not only of discussions of the event in general, but specifically of the conversation of the art of debate and of public speaking that surrounded it. What makes an individual “the winner” of the debate? Who decides the rules of public speaking in such a forum, and what happens when one of the participants throws all the rules out the window? What level of preparation can and should be expected of those given the chance to participate in such an important tradition?

 

In reading and participating in several such conversations, I couldn’t help but think what an amazing opportunity this series of debates will be for students studying public speaking this semester. They will see that public speaking is vitally important, not just as an assignment in a class they need to pass to graduate, but as a life skill that can help them succeed in school and beyond. They can analyze, in real time, modern public discourse, and have conversations with their friends about these events. They can predict, and later reflect upon, what effect these debates will have on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The possibilities are endless.

 

How are you incorporating the presidential debates in to your public speaking classes this semester?

A very special congratulations to Steven McCornack for winning Best Article Award from the International Association of Language and Social Psychology! Steve is the author of Reflect & Relate, 4e, Interpersonal Communication & You, 1e and the newly published Choices & Connections: An Introduction to Communication, 2e. 

 

For more details on Steve's paper, click here

Recent findings from the Pew Research Center may come as no surprise: 92% of American teens report going online daily, and 24% say they are online "almost constantly." 71% of teens are on Facebook, followed by Instagram and Snapchat with 52% and 41%, respectively. 

 

Social media may seem pervasive among American youth, but a small population of teens have opted out. In an article from The Wall Street Journal, Future Tense Fellow Christine Rosen discusses this group of teens who are rejecting all social media and their reasoning for doing so. Of the teenagers whom Rosen spoke to, they didn't see the need for social media in their lives because they thought it was "just a joke" and not "valuable communication." One teen believed "there's nothing really new or creative on it" and that it "will be pretty much be gone" in ten years.

 

By removing social media from their lives, this group of teens is not susceptible to what Rosen called the "immediate and chronic danger" of social media: teens who frequently use social media are more likely to compare themselves to their peers and evaluate their self-worth each time they receive (or don't receive) "likes" or responses to what they've posted.

 

Do you have students who have rejected social media? Do they feel it's "just a joke"? Do you think there's a way for these teenagers to use social media in a way that feels more authentic to how they want to communicate with their peers? 

            Last week I started reading Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg on my morning commute in an attempt to be more productive. In his book, Duhigg systematically dissects the habits of highly successful individuals and their habits, but what really caught my attention was his chapter on successful teams. In the chapter, Duhigg examines a study on team building conducted by a group of psychologists from MIT and Carnegie Mellon that took place back in 2008.  Researchers had recruited around 700 individuals and divided them into 152 teams to complete tasks that required varying levels of collaboration. The teams took part in activities that ranged from maximizing time grocery shopping together to arriving at conclusions for fabricated disciplinary cases. Each task varied in difficulty and required teams to spend a significant amount of time together. From your own experience, what are some elements you think has an impact on a team’s success? What do you think the researchers discovered?

 

Did the teams with the smartest individuals succeed more often?

Were the winning teams more decisive or aggressive compared to their counterparts?

Would they establish tasks and distribute work evenly?

Did the interactions between team members appear more casual or strict?

Did they consist of individuals that had similar socioeconomic backgrounds?

 

            The answer is, none of the above. The most successful teams didn’t have any traits that the researchers would’ve deemed obvious, like IQ levels or social dynamics (some great teams were loud and chaotic; others were calm and soft spoken). After taking a closer look at each team’s interactions the researchers came to an unexpected conclusion. Individual intelligence did not correlate to the performance of the team. Neither did logistics like work distribution or approaches to the tasks.

   The most successful teams managed to create environments that raised the collective intelligence of everyone in the group. Adversely, the least successful teams created norms that decreased the collective intelligence and productivity of the group. When it came down to it, there were two traits that researchers linked to an increase in collective intelligence.

 

 

 

  1.  Each member spoke about the same amount. On reviewing videos of team interactions, researchers found that all of the members in successful teams spoke in roughly the same proportion. The specifics of how they were talking didn’t matter. Some groups were yelling over each other throughout the task, while others were patient and took turns. The researchers called this trait “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.”
  2. The greatest teams tested as having a high social sensitivity. Before forming teams, researchers tested the social sensitivity of each candidate with an empathy test. This involved showing candidates photos of people’s eyes and asking them to identify what they were feeling. Men on average guess correctly 52% of the time. Women on average guess correctly 61% of the time. Team members with high social sensitivity seemed to know when someone felt left out or had something to say. They spent more time asking each other questions. The most successful teams also contained a higher proportion of women.

 

 

If you’d like to test your social sensitivity, click here to take a quick quiz!

In the wake of the shooting at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub in June 2016, Ryan Fitzgibbon launched a petition on change.org asking the Unicode Consortium to remove the pistol from its vast set of emoji. "Together," Fitzgibbon wrote, "Let's show Silicon Valley that we're capable of communicating without weapons, and ask for an official removal of the gun emoji to bring awareness on a global scale to this important conversation on gun violence." The Unicode Consortium--of which Apple, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and Oracle are members, among others--promotes international standards of encoding and votes on emoji that are officially encoded and released for public use.

 

To date, Fitzgibbon's petition has received 364 signatures from around the country, though some people expressed that they signed the petition solely so they could leave a comment to say how "silly" and "pointless" it was. "Why are you worrying about this stupid emoji??" one signer commented. "Are you going to ban pictures of guns too?"

 

Fitzgibbon's efforts may seem minimal, even futile, when considered within the large, complex and divisive issue of gun control in the United States, yet he is not alone in seeing the role of emoji in communication, and the role of communication in reinforcing cultural beliefs and norms. On August 1, 2016, Apple announced that with their release of 100 new emoji for iOS 10 this fall, they would also add a bright green water gun, meant to look like popular super-soaker style toys. This would replace the handgun emoji.

 

In June 2016, Apple also blocked a proposal from Unicode that would add a rifle emoji, intended to represent the Olympic sport of rifle shooting.

 

Still, Apple's actions beg the question: so what? 

 

In a culture where the value of visual communication has risen in mass media and social media, emoji enrich (and even replace) text-based messages to express emotion that can sometimes be lost in translation, or rather, lost in a mediated communication context. Apple has reported that millions of people use its iMessage software, with 200,000 messages being sent each second, so with each release of a new emoji set, Apple has made efforts to be more inclusive with its offerings. Emoji depicting people now embrace more racial and gender diversity, and Apple's next release this fall will include emoji representing families with single moms and single dads. Removing an emoji such as the handgun marks the rare instance in which Apple has made an effort to be exclusive. As inclusive emoji attempt to strengthen tolerance among diverse populations, removing an emoji marks Apple's attempt to strengthen intolerance of gun violence by removing guns from conversation, diminishing the normalcy with which we talk about them.

 

Apple's decision to remove the handgun emoji was made independent of the Unicode Consortium, but this decision still recognizes the tech giant's power to influence cultural values, and will likely set a precedent for similar decisions in the future. Whether Apple and other tech companies have the right to influence cultural values is up for debate, but as for now, it is easy to see how Apple, in a country that is stalemated on how to handle gun violence, is actually doing something about it, and doing the most it can. 

When I was six years old, I caught a Pikachu while playing Pokémon Red on my first Gameboy. For me, it was a pretty momentous event, but who did I share the experience with?

  • A few playground friends who shrugged me off to play double-dutch.
  • My parents who told me to go play with the other kids.
  • And finally, my older brother who took my Gameboy away to prove to me he could raise a Pikachu better than I could.

Unless I was showing off my Pokédex or card collection, my young gaming experiences were mostly solitary, but today, gaming is no longer restricted to the individual. All major gaming consoles, like Xbox or PlayStation, come with their own internet-based social media access, allowing player to connect, play with, and share achievements with a vast expanse of old and new friends. Players can feel like they’re being social without actually being around anyone, which is an improvement from past gaming technology, but still doesn’t help players sharpen their interpersonal skills in the way real-life interactions would.

 

pokemongo-retailers-hed-2016.png

Pokémon Go has taken gaming to the next step. When asked about this new craze, Media & Culture author Christopher Martin said:

 

"This game bridges the gap between gaming and augmented reality. It literally takes the game everywhere, out into the community, out into the world."

 

It would be difficult to find a Pokémon Go player who disagrees. Unlike most gaming platforms (and unlike many social media networks), Pokémon Go encourages communication in the real, physical world, rather than in front of a console. Pokémon Go players often get together in search of a Pikachu or a Charmander; there are even Facebook groups for particular geographic regions(Pokémon Go in the Hudson Valley, for example), which plan walks and meetups for different Pokémon Go Teams (Valor, Mystic, and Instinct).  When I joined, there were about fifty members from my hometown. Now there are almost 1,000. While I am strategizing with members on how to take over different “gyms” nearby, I’m also connecting with people from my high school that I’ve *gasp* never spoken to before.

 

JS95133587.jpg

 

Like all forms of communication, there is a dark side to Pokémon Go. People are walking into traffic and crashing their cars while playing, while some criminals are even using lure modules as bait for robberies.

Rather than focus on the negative conflicts arising from these events, I’d like to stay a little more upbeat about the future of gaming and augmented reality, and how these can improve the ways we communicate. A shared love of Pokémon Go   is transcending social norms. People of all ages, ethnic groups, and social backgrounds can be seen huddling at Pokéstops, lure modules, and areas of high activity. Real world gaming is making it easier for people to connect with each other without most of the anxieties they may usually face. It’s an unspoken invitation to communicate.

“Hey, there’s a Legendary around here!”

“What’d you catch?”

“There’s a Pokémon here I couldn’t get! Can you give me some advice?”

“Let’s meet up and get our gym back.”

JoeOrtiz.jpg

 

Joseph Ortiz is a Professor at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, AZ. He is the author of Choices & Connections: An Introduction to Communication, 2e.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q. What courses are you teaching next semester?

JO: During the fall term, I teach two courses: Introduction to Human Communication and Interpersonal Communication. For the spring term, an introductory small group communication course—and occasionally digital storytelling-- is added to the mix.

 

Q: What advice do you give your students who have public speaking anxiety or general communication apprehension?

JO: Start your preparation early. Know the central idea to be communicated. Compose a structured outline and practice with it. Get feedback from trusted others. I design my course in a way that builds upon these steps using low-stakes speech assignments to help students gain confidence.

 

Q: What has been your favorite course to teach and why? What advice do you have for other instructors who teach this course?

JO: I really enjoy teaching the Introduction to Human Communication. It’s an opportunity to introduce students to the breadth and richness of our discipline while providing them with life skills. My advice to others teaching this course is to identify three to five “take-aways” for the course. In other words, several years from now, what do you want students to

remember about your course? For example, I want students to be poised and confident when presenting messages. Develop ways of integrating these “big ideas” as recurring themes in your lesson planning, assignments, and assessments.

 

Q: What are some of your research interests?

JO: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

 

Q: If you could create (and teach) a brand new course for your department, what would it be?

JO: Communication Ethics and Responsibility.

 

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges students face now when they enter college?

JO: Many students at a community college are uncertain about their academic purpose. Additionally, they are often underprepared for college level work. I respond to this challenge by creating an engaging and personally relevant course experience, and by having early interventions to direct students to academic support resources when needed. I’m fortunate to be on a campus with highly qualified staff that provides high-impact tutorial support, counseling services, and academic advisement.

 

Q: What motivates you to continue teaching?

JO: Students amaze and challenge me. I love learning about their views of relationships, technology, social issues, and popular culture. I remain a student at heart without compromising the boundary of professionalism.

 

On a personal note...

Q: How do you spend your time when you're not teaching?

JO: I treasure time with my family. I also enjoy reading and following sports. During the summer, I succumb to the Siren Song of Netflix; I’m presently binging on Cheers.

 

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

JO: I’m a leisure cyclist. Scottsdale has a system of beautiful bike paths for riding. I also enjoy discovering craft beers, and I’m trying to find the nerve to brew my own!

 

Q: If you hadn't pursued a career in higher education, what career path do you think you would have chosen?

JO: I started college with plans to attend law school. I would likely be practicing law in the public sector focusing on human rights, life quality, and social justice.

 

Q: What was the last book you read?

JO: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. It is an insightful look at one woman’s experience in the STEM field with detours into fascinating facts about botany and ecology.

 

Q: What book has influenced you most?

JO: It’s tough to identify a single book. From a personal standpoint, I would have to say, To Have or To Be? By Erich Fromm. The book broadened my perspective of the fundamental question of what it means to live happily. Among the books that influenced my teaching is The New Peoplemaking by Virginia Satir. I read her work early in my career, and it helped shape my experiential approach to teaching communication skills.

 

Q: Where is one place you want to travel to, but have never been?

JO: I want to see the Vatican for its religious and historical significance, and the art.

 

Q: When you sit down to listen to music, which artists or genres do you go to most?

JO: My musical taste is eclectic, ranging from composer, John Rutter, to Pitbull. But my playlist is heavily populated with 70’s classic rock and pop music. And I will stop anything I’m doing and listen reverently to any music written or produced by Burt Bacharach.

 

Q: What is something you want to learn in the next year (Communication-related or otherwise)?

JO: Although I can cultivate a great flowerbed, I’m a frustrated vegetable gardener. I want to get better at container gardening, especially root vegetables.

 

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you (i.e. What's your "fun fact"?)?

JO: I was a competitive long distance runner in college. In the late 70’s, I was a founding member of a still thriving running club (over 500 members now) in Southeast Texas called, The Sea Rim Striders (www.searimstriders.org/whoweare.php).

Peach.jpeg

 

Summer's here, and this peach caught my eye. Set on the blue ledge of my office, it became the perfect example of complementary colors.

 

When we're preparing a movie, we think about complementary colors, and all kinds of color combinations. I ask my students to do the same for their video projects.

 

Colors convey meaning, emotion, and genre. They are part of telling a visual story. For example, thrillers generally have deep, dark blacks and highly contrasting colors. Documentaries -- or movies that try to feel documentary-like -- use a color palette that is narrower. When I was producing Titus, the first film Julie Taymor directed, she didn't want the color green in the movie. Green conveys hope, and Julie didn't think Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus should feel hopeful.

 

We can ask our students: Do you want the colors to pop? Do you want your video to feel more monochromatic? Simply paying attention to colors, and using color as part of your design, can make a video feel much more professional.

 

Blue and orange are "complementary colors," and when you put them next to each other, as in this photo, they seem to vibrate. I found it striking to see such a powerful example of color-in-action right in front of me. You probably remember the color wheel. It has six colors arrayed around a white central circle. Red is opposite green; yellow is opposite purple; blue is opposite orange.

 

The color wheel isn't random. Those opposing colors are called "complementary" due to the physical nature of the human eye. If you stare at a blue wall for a long time and then look at a white wall, you will see an orange after-image. Why? Because the color receptors in your eye become tired looking at the blue wall, so they relax when you look at the white wall, and your brain "sees" that as orange for a few moments. That's why complementary colors are so powerful when you put them right next to each other.

 

But enough of the science. Colors are just one more way we can convey narrative and emotion. When we use them in our classroom work, suddenly, subconsciously, things feel richer and more purposeful. I got so swept away after I took this photo that, taking a cue from T. S. Eliot, I decided to eat the peach.

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Dan O'Hair is dean of the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information. He is the author of Real Communication, 3e, A Speaker's Guidebook, 6e, and A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking, 5e.

 

Q: What advice do you give your students who have public speaking anxiety or general communication apprehension?

 

DO: I have students take slow, deep breaths just before speaking.  I also encourage them to become completely familiar with their introduction so that they can start off very well prepared.

 

Q: What has been your favorite course to teach and why?

 

DO: I love teaching public speaking because it gives me a chance to watch the dramatic improvement in student’s speaking skills over the course of the semester.  I also enjoy teaching interpersonal communication—the content is interesting and relevant to just about everything we do in life.

 

Q: What advice do you have for other instructors who teach this course?

 

DO: Most instructors I have talked with think it is a really good idea to respect students for where they are in the first few days of class.  Some will be more confident and accomplished than others.  Being flexible with varying degrees of skills goes a long toward building trust with students.

 

Q: What are some of your research interests?

 

DO: I have studied how communication can be improved in hurricane warnings.  I have conducted a great deal of research on how physicians and patients can communication with one another more effectively.

 

Q: If you could create (and teach) a brand new course for your department, what would it be?

 

DO: I am very interested in communication technology and social media, so I plan to develop and teach courses in those areas.

 

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges students face now when they enter college?

 

DO: First, financial costs are the biggest challenges I hear from students. Second, sometimes students have not developed the same expectations as their instructors.  This is an issue that can be worked out with better communication.

 

Q: What motivates you to continue teaching?

 

DO: I love my students; I love trying to make them laugh, and I love to challenge them to think differently.

 

On a personal note...

Q: How do you spend your time when you're not teaching?

 

DO: I love playing golf, although I wish I was much better at it.  And, I love being with my family and especially my 2-year old granddaughter who never fails to challenge me.

 

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

 

DO: Reading, golf.

 

Q: If you hadn't pursued a career in higher education, what career path do you think you would have chosen?

 

DO: Attorney.

 

Q: What was the last book you read?

 

DO: A historical biography about Hitler as a youth.

 

Q: What book has influenced you most?

 

DO: The books written by Carlos Castaneda about Native American mysticism.

 

Q: Where is one place you want to travel to, but have never been?

 

DO: Spain and Italy.

 

Q: When you sit down to listen to music, which artists or genres do you go to most?

 

DO: Classic rock; jazz.  My favorite group is Rush.

 

Q: What is something you want to learn in the next year (Communication-related or otherwise)?

 

DO: How can I become wiser.

 

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you (i.e. What's your "fun fact")?

 

DO: I was an Eagle Scout at age 13.  Scouting was about the only thing I lived and breathed back then.