Lessons Learned, Communication Happened in #UOAC

There is one particular suggestion I would make specifically to any students interested in taking a communications course:

  • TAKE A CLASS WITH PIERRE LEVY (  on Twitter) because his reputation speaks for himself…

(The course I took is CMN 3109 – Advanced Theories in Communication)

I recommend this for a number of reasons, and not only because of the genuine excitement and commitment he has for his classes. I strongly recommend taking a class with him because he implements communication techniques, platforms and theories within his class. Yes, you will need to go to lectures and yes, you will need to pay attention to what the prof is saying. But this class is different in that the notes are collective, the communication is constant, and clarification is instantaneous. How many other courses provide this kind of access and openness, right? In my experience, not many.

Twitter in Class?!

The main platform we used online was Twitter, under  where we create a community of students taking small, concrete notes about the topics discussed in class. This is what made learning in this class accessible and interactive. There was communication both verbally within the class and virtually within our Twitter sphere; we curated data and information, tailoring it to our individual needs by making the messages concise (I mean they had to be, seeing as Twitter only gives you about 140 characters).

This is an inherently cool resource  because the sources of the information are multilayered; each topic is discussed and referred to from different perspectives by people you know are in the same position as you as a student. When someone in the class doesn’t understand something, everyone else is there to help you understand.

There is a support within the class and a comfort in knowing that your notes are all connected by this unifying tool… not to mention that Prof. Levy is very tech-savvy and uses tweets to spring board into new topics.

But this is all stuff that you could see for yourself on the Twitter feed. Now you might ask yourself, “What will I take away from a class like this? Sure it sounds cool and all, but will this actually teach me anything?”

The answer is yes, you will definitely learn a thing or two from taking this class and it’s not just a memorized date that you’ll never use again.

What will you take away from a course like this?

One of the most important things you can take away from this class is that everything is a matter of perspective. What I take away from this class will be different from what my colleagues might take away from it or what you, the reader, might eventually take from it as well. We experience things differently and though our understandings of concepts may be collective in part, they are also individual and unique to each of us. The same goes for any kind of dialogue in the physical or virtual worlds.

Messages are always interpreted. Regardless of your original intentions behind an action, a sign, a symbol, a word, a sentence, etc… the message you are attempting to transmit is up for interpretation once you put it out there. Once you learn the ins and outs of dialogue and rhetoric it is your responsibility to think before you speak or act.

Be as aware as possible when communicating in the new Algorithmic Age. You might see it called the Algorithmic Sensorium in the  thread but it generally refers to communicating through digital means and social media.

It is, at times, impressive and surprising how far reaching your message can be on platforms like Twitter. Communication is an entity that is constantly evolving and becoming more innovative. Some of the tweets in  have been re-tweeted by colleagues or followers of the prof, or those of our peers… but these are people that you’ve never been in contact with before. When you post online or tweet, your message could go farther than you could ever imagine.

Don’t limit yourself by not educating yourself. It’s a bit of a paradox though, so pay attention. Recognize that knowing everything is impossible; no one individual is able to know everything there is to know about everything. Here’s a quote that demonstrates just how much you can’t know:

Makes sense right? But on the other side, learning is everything. You cannot achieve as much as you can achieve, communicate as effectively as possible, or have the greatest impact with your actions if you do not push the limits of your knowledge. In particular, expanding your understanding of different communication components such as rhetoric, grammar, dialogue, media will inevitably help you expand your understanding of other perspectives and the world. Know that you cannot be all-knowing but always remember to push the boundaries of your knowledge.

Also, know the impact that technology in this Algorithmic Era has on the world. It might seem all green and renewable on the outside because the Internet is in the “cloud” but the “cloud” still requires space, energy, and resources in order to house all the data that is constantly being trafficked between individuals. Although this point somewhat coincides with the earlier one about awareness in the digital age, it is important that we do not remain blissfully unaware of the impact that our connectivity can have. You can READ AN ARTICLE HERE written by Bryan Walsh, a senior editor at TIME, that discusses how much electricity an iPhone really uses when you take into account Internet data storing facilities and data usage. Essentially, smartphones require more power to function than you may think.

Final Thoughts

The Internet is an extremely vast array of data from a vast array of sources on a vast array of platforms. Its overwhelming. But it is also a web (the World Wide Web) that connects us to one another and to information. It is our job to use it responsibly and to its fullest potential; a job that is only achievable through the means of effectively educating those who seek to use it. And you may ask, “Where can I start?”

The answer stands in using the tools at your disposal. Start with reading through  because our whole class took notes there for our Advanced Theories in Communications class and you might find a tweet or two that make you pause and think. As long as you’re willing to think about it, engage in it, and use critical thinking skills to make sound opinions and decisions on the reliability of sources, you’re on the right path to learning more and expanding the limits of your connected world.

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