In thinking about how the field of communication can participate in the conversation about digital learners, I feel that the discipline is positioned to be a pioneer in education for the digital age.
I am a media scholar. In laymen terms, I research how media (from videos, to photos, to writings) impact the lives and identities of individuals and their overarching societal culture. Take for instance what classrooms look like- thirty years ago, people were taking notes by hand and attendance to lectures was necessary to succeed. Nowadays, as discussed in class, we are living in an age where information is instantly available and readily shared. The very culture of higher education is changing, shifting, trying to reflect the lives of the students they serve.
I feel the need, at this point, to point out that sentence again. The very culture of higher education is changing, shifting, trying to reflect the lives of the students they serve. I personally struggle with the “research first, students second” approach I have noticed at various universities. Of course, research is an integral part of education and vital to the growth of academic disciplines. However, if we are ignoring our students’ needs, their specific path to success, just in order for academics to pump out research, I think we are failing as educators in higher education.
We mentioned that there is no blanket statement, so clear one-size-fits-all way of teaching students today. However, I would argue that the same applied to students thirty years ago, and will continue to be true thirty years in the future. Students are ever-evolving, adapting to technological advances in society that inevitable impact the way they learn. I think it is vital for educators to take these advancements and changes into consideration and try to apply them in the classroom.
Take communication research, for example. Performative studies can be applied to the way people perform their identities online, so we should be integrating those points into our lectures. We should encourage students to apply concepts to their own lives- their actual, complex, messy lives!
The Talbert article (“Four Things Lecture is Good For“) really stood out to me, particularly how “information transfer” was not on the list. Rather, there is an emphasis on teachers performing their research, engaging students and connecting. I specifically loved the section about telling stories- in communication studies, we are very aware of how narratives shape our sense of reality and help us to connect with one another. Therefore, I think other disciplines can apply their own stories to lectures, offering students an opportunity to connect to their professors deeper. After all, a student who is thriving in their imagination and passions is more likely to be engaged and thrive in your class.