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The article below was featured in Campus Technology Magazine and online on May 15, 2013.
Tiny Radio in Class: Podcasting Returns to Campus
By Dian Schaffhauser
When 99% Invisible blew through its fundraising goal on Kickstarter by four times, the “tiny radio show about design” brought renewed attention to the lost art of audio podcasting. It also piqued the attention of Associate Professor John McArthur, director of undergraduate programs for the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. McArthur had been seeking out a topic to try in a pilot seminar he was holding this spring as part of a department exploration to figure out how faculty and students might interact in a more collaborative way on campus.
And that’s exactly what happened. In the course of the seminar McArthur’s students used podcasting as a mechanism to learn how to compose arguments in the form of telling a story. Plus, it gave them a chance to interact with faculty in a mode that put them in the role of “producer.”
How a Podcast Report is Put Together
In an era of quickly produced videos that go viral on YouTube, the concept of producing a podcast may seem a bit antiquated. Why go audio when visual rules the day?
“We wanted to create an interactive and fun way to connect people to their social media – and show how it can cause some introspective reflection,” remarked Taylor Nelson, one of the designers of the project. “It was a short, simple, and sweet way to interact with people on campus. And the quiz took less than a minute to complete – a definite plus for the busy-bodies around Queens!”
Students in the digital literacy seminar at Queens University of Charlotte designed an interactive experience for their peers on campus as a class project. The student-designed project was simple in concept: create a quiz that offered twelve outcomes to define a person’s “ideal” social media use.
The rationale for designing a quiz was to demonstrate to users how they interacted with the technological world (i.e. varying forms of social media) and how that could affect their time spent. Ultimately, the quiz encouraged reflection about personal connections to the digital world. According to Renee Hobbs, reflection is one of the five key components of digital and media literacy. Hobbs’ white paper, Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action was one of the key readings in the digital literacy seminar, led by Dr. John A. McArthur, an associate professor in the Knight School of Communication.
The quiz was created using the online tool inklewriter which allows writers to design “create-your-own-adventure” type experiences incorporating text and image. The quiz is still available online here.
The team, made up of students Nick Alito, Hannah Fraser, Greg Jaudon, Taylor Nelson, Douglas Sewell, and Katelyn Smith set up a table near the university cafeteria, with varying devices on which passers-by could take the quiz (iPads, cell phones, QR Codes, laptops and links). Candies and funky stickers proclaiming results from the quiz served a approachable rewards for participation.
“We hope that through our project others can become aware of their interactions on social media. We want them to be able to use social media effectively and enjoy the results of it.” Student Hannah Fraser continues, “Our project gave people a social media identity that best suited their interests. Whether people were most interested in current events, keeping up with friends via text or through photos or creating their own videos there is a place for everyone in the social media world. Discovering what you want to get out of it is how you decide which site to invest your time in.”
The twelve results used in the quiz were derived from six mainstream social media outlets and represented two extremes for the use of each outlet:
- Facebook Creeper
- YouTube Sharer
- YouTube Director
- Pinterest Dreamer
- Pinterest Hoarder
- Job Seeker (LinkedIn)
- Job Connector (LinkedIn)
- Hashtag (#) Horror
Below are some images of happy quiz-takers proudly displaying their results:
The digital literacy seminar at Queens University of Charlotte is part of the university’s interdisciplinary exploration seminar initiative intended to enhance faculty-student interaction on campus. Read about other projects and initiatives created by this seminar in past semesters.
Dr. John A. McArthur is an associate professor of communication and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. This article and the accompanying photographs were produced by students in the digital literacy seminar, spring term 2013.
“What colleges have been doing isn’t wrong or irresponsible. But, it is insufficient.” These opening sentiments from Dr. Terrel Rhodes, AAC&U’s Vice President set the stage for considering the change facing higher education at the 2013 conference on general education. The meeting’s setting along Boston’s Freedom Trail was a telling metaphor for for a conference both honoring the vibrant history of collegiate work and calling for a revolutionary momentum required to rethink higher education.
Opening speaker Dr. Bobby Fong, President of Ursinus College, asked attendees to consider the benefits and drawbacks of technology as a driver of change in higher education. He fears the development of a class-based system of higher education where some choose liberal learning while others are offered career credentialing. In his words, “Knowledge mastery does not equal learning…There is a real-world serendipity at play that leads to learning.”
Plenary speakers Peggy Maki and Sarita Brown both presented visions of the future of higher education. Maki, a higher education consultant and author of Assessing for Learning, suggested that the future for faculty is to become learners of misunderstandings, misconceptions, and errors in logic. Our role, she says, is to invest ourselves in the knowledge synthesis and application business.
Brown, director of Excelencia in Education, laid a framework for meeting and welcoming the post-traditional undergraduate student to higher education. Excelencia focuses on the successes of Latino students, inviting colleges and universities to work with the demographic changes in the American population.
Closing speaker, the renowned psychologist Dr. Robert J. Sternberg, advised attendees on the need for measuring college-level learning through multiple measures, both direct and indirect. Not only must we cause students to learn, we must be able to show that they did. And, this learning is the goal of the college experience – not just the college classroom.
Throughout the conference, presenters in sessions shared their work on campuses from New Hampshire to Southern Utah in general education. During these sessions, some key takeaways for me regarded the need for general education to incorporate student choices and student-directed learning opportunities.
I’m continually excited to be considering general education as a subject of study and brainstorming about how colleges can move their work forward into a new mindset.
PUBLIC ART, COMMUNITY, & QUEENS DIANA
“Public Art, Community, & Queens Diana” investigates the history and life of Young Diana, Goddess of the Hunt – a bronze statue in the center of the Queens University of Charlotte campus. The statue, cast by Anna Hyatt Huntington, arrived at the university in 1940 and has served as a campus icon for decades. Queens staff members Adelaide Davis and Reena Arora share their knowledge of Diana’s history, stories, and voice as “one of the most important pieces of public art in Charlotte.”
ABOUT ROYALS RADIO at QUEENS UNIVERSITY OF CHARLOTTE
Royals Radio is a product of Queens University of Charlotte, and Dr. John A. McArthur. The program is an episodic, podcast series produced by students and faculty in an interdisciplinary studies class at the university. Each episode has a different producer and topic, but every episode studies the 30 acres of the university’s campus and the stories that can be found within. Listen to past episodes of Royals Radio on SoundCloud via the directory found here.
Season One of Royals Radio was produced in spring 2013 by William Boyd, Moiah Faulkner-Wheeler, Raleigh Green, Max Kaczynski, Brittani Pedersen, and Bree Singletary as part of a university-wide “exploration seminar.”
Puzzled? My students are. At least in name.
This semester at Queens University of Charlotte, I have the pleasure of designing and facilitating an “exploration seminar” in the art of puzzling. The “Puzzled” course gives students the opportunity to learn and think about a variety of problem solving strategies, not the least of which is codebreaking.
Students in the course range from freshmen to seniors, but all participants are already challenging their assumptions about how classes operate. In the first two sessions, students worked together to solve group puzzles which tested their problem solving strategies. The first required them to define the rules of the puzzle, and the second used their assumptions about the rules to challenge their decision making processes.
Later puzzles will challenge participants to attempt problems using algorithmic, heuristic, trial-and-error, and brute force strategies, to name a few. And then the course will move into cryptography.
Cryptography (the study of “secret writing”) might be a topic you’d hear about in the halls of MIT, the Naval Academy, or training sites at Langley. But here in Charlotte, students will be getting a taste of the basics of secret writing, codes, and ciphers using Simon Singh’s popular The Code Book as a guide.
Over the course of the semester, students, will study, decipher, and encipher messages of their own, and connect their learning to current digital encryption strategies.
Puzzled is a one-credit-hour exploration seminar in puzzling and codebreaking at Queens University of Charlotte.
Exploration seminars at Queens are intended to contribute to faculty-student interaction within the university by providing opportunities for faculty-student teams to investigate topics of mutual interest. These topics are typically interdisciplinary (or non-disciplinary) in nature. Other past examples at Queens have included seminars in topics like digital literacy, philosophy of the body, the “ordinary heroes” project, latino tastes, and random acts of kindness.
Over the holiday break, many Christmas festivities ensued, a new year began, and “university professor” was named the least stressful job of 2013. (Notably, this last bit of news has added more than a little stress to the lives of my colleagues around the nation).
My present to myself this holiday was something you might not readily expect of a professor of communication. I unplugged from the communicative power of social media. I spent time with my family, I read books, I wrote a couple of things, and traveled. I may have also tweeted and updated Facebook a couple of times, but these were non-professional updates about things like New Year’s eve and a rousing Yahtzee match.
Did an absence of social media decrease my overall stress? Maybe. Did I miss my connections in social media? Sure. Did I arrive for spring term rejuvenated for a new semester? Absolutely.
Unplugging for short bits of time in an always connected world may give us the space we need to think, to reflect, and to re-engage.
I return to the university this January ready to learn and to contribute to the learning of others. I’ve got some exciting projects underway with a variety of talented graduate students in the Masters Program in Communication. And I’m teaching public speaking again after a several year hiatus.
Likewise, I hope this new year finds you rejuvenated and looking forward to thinking about what you are learning.
“We did this to make people realize that what they tweet is public information and can be seen by anyone.” First-year students Nick Simonetti and Jeremy Swick created a project called You Are What You Tweet for their freshman seminar course in digital literacy at Queens University of Charlotte.
The premise was simple: ask students to wear one of their tweets on a nametag on their shirts. Simonetti came up with the idea, and Swick chronicled some of the tweets on Instagram. Swick commented, “People should take responsibility for what they say on Twitter. When you tweet, that information is public.”
Simonetti and Swick hoped that by taking tweets out of the digital format and turning them into physical, wearable signs, people would stop to think about what they tweet. As Simonetti points out, “Some people just don’t have the same filters you might expect.” Some nametags were emblazoned with profanity or derogatory language, but at the very least, people were owning the tweets they had written.
Swick was surprised to learn that some students were apprehensive about recording their actual tweets and posting them on their chests. He hopes that this means they were considering the public nature of their tweets. Other students gave a lot of thought to their tweets, Swick said.
Below are some of the other tweets that authors offered to share with the project creators:
The You Are What You Tweet project was part of an undergraduate seminar in digital literacy led by Dr. John A. McArthur, an assistant professor in the university’s James L. Knight School of Communication.
I was privileged to present a paper – “Digital Cities: Urban community development through information design” – at the annual conference of the National Communication Association in Orlando, Florida.
The paper is an extension of my work on space, technology, and user-experience. The theoretical argument sits at the intersection of information design, city planning, and placemaking. The presentation slides and examples of case studies are included below:
To kick off the panel, Darlene Hadrika presented a beautiful animated short film created by students at the University of Central Florida that showcases nonverbal communication in eye contact, body posture, and music.
Lon Smart, a head character artist at Walt Disney Parks, showcased some of his work (which includes the Lion King’s hyenas and Mulan’s MuShu.
Smart explained a few features of facial animation. first, he explained that Disney characters have such large eyes to exaggerate the expressions and uses the body movement to over emphasize action. Anime and Japanese animations teach us that size and shape of eyes indicates heroes and villains.
During Smart’s time working on the hyenas on Lion King he encountered a particular challenge: how to portray a villain who is mean yet funny. Moving the hyenas from happy to shocked takes a series of designs that exaggerates the head from (1) smiling to (2) small to (3) large, stetched, and overly shocked to (4) settling into the expression.
And the expression can give a lot of information. According to Smart, in many Disney animations, if the character is thinking about something new or deciding what to do (or lying), the character looks up and to his left, if he’s remembering, he looks up and to his right.
In a nonverbal animation, animators must be able to tell a story in a quick sketch. Portray a story in 3-4 lines. “Think with a pencil,” by communicating expression and story first, then embellish and appreciate.
For example, over a lunch break, Smart created a MuShu scene that is totally nonverbal. An explosion happens and MuShu casts false blame by pointing to the cricket. No dialogue. When Smart saw this in the theater, everyone laughed at this nonverbal humor. Someone in the theater exclaimed, “That Eddie Murphy is so funny,” attributing the humor to the voice actor rather than the animator. Smart just laughed and shrugged.
Kim Johnson, a costume production designer, discussed transitioning the characters from film to the stage in the Lion King – animals as a “people performed live expression.” She used the gazelles to demonstrate how to blend costumes with color and pattern into the puppets.
Timon is an example of difference. The character in a park can’t change facial expressions, so the body posture and gesture have to change dramatically to welcome kids. In the Broadway show, the puppet and the actor merge. The puppet doesn’t change expression, but the actor does.
Rafiki transforms into a person in makeup. Rafiki brings Africa with sound. The music drives the experience of Africa, not through a mimicked costume, but through the same feeling.
The actors portraying Scar, must instead lose the person in the character. The costume helps, but the nonverbal body positioning really sells Scar’s disdain.
Smart and johnson point out that when characters of any sort leave the movie and enter the parks, they lose the ability to change facial expression, but *teaser* that will soon be changing. Technology will be invading the characters in the park to allow them to change facial expressions.
Finally, Louise Mares of the University of Wisconsin shared her research. She observed that children receive lots of a movie’s ideas through nonverbal communication, but they often missed the verbal message of the plot. She compared first time viewers of Sword and the Stone with those who had seen it before.
Asking the question, what happens when a character undergoes a physical transformation, Mares found differences in cognitive understanding. The older kids called “conservers” understand the character transition without issue, but younger non-conservers did better only with repeated exposure.
She asked children to retell the story, then asked them about the prevailing feelings. Her learning indicates that kids do not understand sarcasm. They have poor understanding of moral lessons, negative emotion was hard to eradicate with happy endings, and ironic cues are often misunderstood. But they appreciate the beauty and action of the scenes while learning about narrative structure.
At the 2012 National Communication Association annual convention, researchers from around the country shared their work in a panel titled ”Intersections in Nonverbal and Health Communication.” I was drawn to the panel because most of the papers incorporated some kind of communication technology either in the research design or the methodology. Here’s a quick recap of the presentations:
Chronemics in Health Communication
Ashley Barrett and Dawna Ballard, University of Texas-Austin
This paper raises the issues between Electronic Health Record (EHR) Implementation and the stability of the doctor-patient exchange. How does the presence of a computer in a medical interview impact doctor-patient communication? Early findings suggest that, well, it depends. Computers detract from eye contact and doctor observations of nonverbal communication. Its presence in the patient meeting reduces relational tasks (vs. information tasks) and disrupts the temporal order of the conversation. Early research finds that doctors are resistant to EHR implementation, but not for the nonverbal reasons mentioned here.
Nonverbal Narratives in Health Communication Interventions
Peter Andersen, San Diego State University
Andersen and his team have been developing narrative-based emotional communication artifacts to encourage healthy behavior (like wearing sunscreen). “Narratives eliminate argument,” says Andersen. “It’s hard to argue with a story.” The team’s grant-funded work has been primarily with sunscreen advocacy on ski slopes, though it has potential to be applied to behavioral issues across health (and other) fields.
Autism Self-Advocacy on YouTube
Jessica Hughes, University of Colorado-Boulder
Hughes studies videos representing “neurodiversity” and disability rights, specifically through the communicative autistic nonverbal communication presented in I Stim, Therefore I Am (Yergeau, 2012) and In my language (Baggs, 2007). Because nonverbal communication is grounded in ”neurotypical” patterns, engaging with phenomenological study of autistic communication leads to this question: can nonverbal communication attend to the levels of experience of neurodiversity? Whether or not it can, at the least, Hughes makes stronger the case the YouTube has the power to advance all voices.
Nonverbal Behaviors during Expressions of Resistance to Diet and Nutrition Changes: An Analysis of Videotaped Provider-Patient Interactions
Ashley Duggan, Boston College and Ylisabyth Bradshaw, Tufts University
Resistance to lifestyle changes may be well-predicted by nonverbal communication patterns, such as slouching, eye contact avoidance, closed behavior, negative tone of voice, contempt, inconsistency between verbal and nonverbal, compensation behavior, heavy sighing, self-adaptors (like self-touching). Using StudioCode to assess video observations, Duggan and Bradshaw have invested in the power of video-based observations. On the issue of nonverbal expressions of resistance, the team says, “The behaviors were far less subtle than we anticipated.”
Creating Community without Words
Cindy Larson-Casselton, Concordia College
In Dr. Larson-Casselton’s nonverbal communication courses, students are paired with an Alzheimer’s patient or stroke victim. Working with these almost-entirely nonverbal populations grounds student learning in a service learning component with high levels of relational training. (Note: students, facility, and families of patients all work together for a successful relationship and learning experience that honors the patients).