About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Define Communication

I found it interesting that in the draft report on skills for the 21st century that "communication" skills came up. What is interesting is that:

1) there are many types of communication
2) most "communication" departments are subsections of other disciplines or at least share faculty
3) while often a requirement for most schooling, very little is few programs include a separate communication course as a requirement for education degrees. In addition, communication education usually is within the interdisciplinary communication departments (if at all) and very little training and research is focused on teaching communication.

I think there needs to be greater focus on how communication is being taught, especially in the lower grades.


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia Ora V

George Bernard Shaw believed that the greatest barrier to communication is the belief that it has happened.

Many say communication is a two way process - one has to be able to transmit and the other has to be able to receive and for the whole thing to work there must be reciprocity of both features.

Fundamentally that process is supposed to do it all. Not so. The experiments in getting the Fax machine to work showed that it was not that simple and a whole science of communication protocol was developed.

Perhaps this protocol may be useful for communication by other means.

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

V Yonkers said...

I think the fax machine, as originally envisioned, was intended for use as a one way communication tool. Interestingly, enough, I think it was integrated with other tools that made it a two way communication tool.

When it became popular in the US in the early 1990's, our office often used it in tandem with the telephone. I worked on a management training program in Hungary in which timely communications (including the post) was slow at best. We faxed training material to be translated, updated financial reports, and drafts of time sensitive materials (such as RFP's). There was very little two way communication via the fax, although follow up conference calls were used.

For the most part, today, faxes are used by those that do not have computer access or access to scanners. With the growth of mobile technology, fax machines are obsolete, as they don't work without land line phones or computers with fax.

I am interested in your comment about the "whole science of communication protocol was developed". My understanding is that the model has not changed but how we react to model changes. There is one-way communication and two-way communication. With the two-way communication, the sender looks for feedback (which might include silence). If the sender does not look for feedback, then communication is one way. I think in our current society, we are teaching students to only be one-way communicators. We aren't teaching them to look for feedback (both verbal and non-verbal). I spend half of my class for communication majors, teaching them how to look for and ask for feedback as many don't know how to do so.

While this sounds simplistic, there are many factors that affect encoding, decoding, transmitting, sending, and receiving the message including audience, message, "noise", and interference.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā koe V

You are right that the Fax was originally operated as a one way communication system, but if you learn something about Fax protocol you will find that this was only how it appeared superficially when looking at the machine working.

In fact the electrical operation of it could only be progressed to something useful by introducing a two-way electrical communication between transmitter and receiver - with reciprocity.

That's what I referred to when I mentioned about the development of the science of communication ;-)

Ka kite
from Middle-earth

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Further to your comment V,

Communication means that not only do you receive what I have sent you but in order that I know that has taken place, I need a confirmatory reply.

Some email systems do this automatically. But even so, it doesn't tell me that you actually read and understood my email. So the attempted communication, even with the feedback to let me know it's received, may not have taken place if you didn't read and understand it.

Let me use a metaphor, from the writings of Ashliegh Brilliant. One of his hilarious one-liners reads:

I waited and waited, and when no answer came I knew it must have been from you.

V Yonkers said...

True about the communication. However, silence is a form of feedback (non-verbal).

I think many people miss these communication cues. Perhaps because I have worked and lived in various countries (I'm sure you can relate to this also) I am much more sensitive to these non-verbal cues.

For example, as I was trying to recruit participants for my dissertation overseas, I would get complete silence. I thought perhaps they did not receive the information or did not understand what I had sent. However, I also suspected that this was a way of saying they did not want to participate without insulting me, as that has been my experience on projects I had worked on in Latin America. This was in fact the case as I confirmed with their superiors.

I learned (the hard way) while living in Costa Rica how to detect through the use of excuses if someone really knew what they were talking about or if they were just being polite. (I can't tell you how many times I became hopelessly lost before a Costa Rican friend clued me in that the people giving me directions had no clue what they were saying; they were only being polite). The expectation for Costa Ricans is that you will give some answer (otherwise you are being rude).