Effective Communication: My thoughts for Badge Evidence

I am working towards Digital Professional in Higher Education badge and at the moment I am finishing my work on the Communication badge. The last activity for the Communication badge is to:

Write a blog post (200-300 words) including your answers to the above* and reflect on the experience of completing them. Comment on two of your colleagues’ blog posts for this badge providing constructive and supportive feedback.

* Give an example of where you have used technology to communicate effectively online and face to face. What are the considerations for each to be effective? Show how a QA process within your institution has led to enhancement for the student experience, eg Choose Section B QAA Code of Practice “Student Engagement”, identify a method of communication and illustrate how it could be improved to enhance your practice

Effective communication is an enormously important not just professionally but in all aspects of life. Communication includes exchanging information by speaking, writing, gestures or other medium. Electronic communications have made communication much quicker and the cost of communication have reduced over time – for example voice calls made over data connectivity (VoIP) was much cheaper than the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

While answering the questions given, I have been thinking about cross cultural communication and the need to understand unspoken language in a given setting to be able to communicate effectively. For example, I recently completed two interesting MOOCs. How to read your boss offered by University of Nottingham and Improve your intercultural competence offered by Perdue University, both on the FutureLearn platform. While the first one focused on reading gestures in the familiar, British environment the second course explored the intercultural communication taking a case study of a foreign student working in an unfamiliar culture. It is easy to stick with what you are familiar with, but it is more exciting to explore something different and it takes much more courage to do that.

When you are working in a second or subsequent language, like I do, no matter how proficient you are in the language there is likely to be situations where there are things referred to, idioms used and so on that completely throws you out of your language comfort zone. Luckily our good friend Google is here to help.

This challenge can sometimes be overcome in mediated communication, for example in email where there is more time for the participant to understand the message and respond, or worsened, for example in telephone communication where you cannot see the gestures and other visual cues but need to reply synchronously.

It is also important that you approach any communication open minded – easier said than done. If you have preconceptions of the person, the situation etc you are more likely to interpret the message in a different way than was intended. Any communication to be effective you need to listen – not listen to reply but actually listen to the message communicated. If you are preoccupied with other thoughts listening to the message communicated will be difficult as it may be shadowed by your own pre-conceptions. Being aware of the possibility of the challenges people may face in communication for example, language or articulation difficulties or disabilities (for example, hard of hearing or non-verbal) will also help you to be a good communicator.

Thinking about examples for badge evidence showed me that I am using technological tools for communication more than I realise even in face-to face settings. For example, in the Online Learning Research Centre meetings I use www.slido.com as an audience engagement tool in face-to-face presentations. There are critics who accuse new technologies for killing face-to-face interactions. However, I believe it is us who are in control not the technology. The responsibility to use a technology to our advantage or disadvantage is with us. As digitally literate professionals we need to make sure we use the tools available to us to our advantage.