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).
The Teaching Professor Conference was full of good teaching ideas and resources. Here are a few from selected panels I attended. For further information on one of these strategies, leave a comment here.
Engaging Students in their Own Learning
Angie Nippert and Kris Bransford of Concordia University and Karen Moroz of Hamline University
The four engaged learning strategies presented in this session, drawn from reading instruction, were intended to encourage processing time for learners and create opportunities for instructors to be intentional in course planning.
RAFT (role, audience, format, topic)
Double Entry Journal
Effective Pedagogical Strategies for Engaging Students in Online Learning
Jay Gabbard and Patricia Desrosiers of Western Kentucky University
Pulling from trends in online education, these ten strategies can assist talented instructors apply their talents to web-based platforms:
Adobe Connect Learning Software
“Getting to Know You” Forums and Videos
Future Professional Development
Tegrity Video Capture
Weekly Course Agendas
Regular Personal Checkins
Virtual Tours of course management sites
Tips for using the technology
Winning Hand! Cooperation and Critical Thinking via Card-Sort
John Huss of Northern Kentucky University
We all like to teach in the manner that we learn the best. Unfortunately, that’s not the best strategy for learners. Manipulation of tangible concepts creates a kind of learning that promotes creative thinking and problem solving. Card-sort lessons are classroom activities that engage participants in thinking through difficult scenarios teaching either content or problem solving, or both. Huss provided participants with multiple versions of card-sort examples.
“A lecture about discussion is always a bad idea,” says Jay Howard of his keynote speech at the Teaching Professor Conference on June 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. Howard, Professor of Sociology and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Butler University, says effective discussions require careful planning and structuring.
Norms exist in college classrooms. The professor’s job is to plan ahead to set better norms early in the term. Below are some of the typical norms and strategies for changing them:
The norm of civil attention
The norm in the college classroom is not to pay attention. They must only create the appearance of paying attention to support the norm. Research shows that college professors support the norm by not calling on students unless they signal they have an answer (Weaver & Qi, 2005).
Strategies for breaking the norm of civil attention:
The norm of the consolidation of responsibility
In the college classroom, regardless of class size, 5-7 students will make 75-95% of comments (see Howard, Zoeller, & Pratt, 2006). Some of this can be personality-based. For example, introverts would rather process before speaking whereas extroverts generally think while speaking. But what else separates speakers from non-speakers?
According to Howard, Zoeller, & Pratt (2006) student age (older students participate 4 times as much as traditional college aged students), instructor gender (students in classes with female instructors participated 3 times as much as those with males instructors), and seating (students seated in the front third of a room was 2 times more likely to speak than the back two thirds). Student gender and race didn’t have a significant impact. In addition, talkers perceived participation as a course expectation whereas non-talkers perceived classroom participation as optional.
Strategies for breaking the norm of consolidation of responsibility:
Use the board to highlight the key points in the discussion
Overtly emphasize the key points
Why bother with classroom discussion? It increases learning, increases critical thinking, makes students co-creators of knowledge, and makes class more interesting and fun
“Any discussion protocol is a game that you play in class, linked to your course aims,” says Burdick.
Using Film Noir as a backdrop for classroom techniques, Dakin Burdick, Director for the Center for Teaching Excellence at Endicott College in Massachusetts, advanced the conversation on classroom discussions at The Teaching Professor Conference June 2, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Burdick used the group of 84 professors in the room to model 4 of the more complex discussion protocols shared in his session:
Each participant left with a guide to 20 discussion models that can be applied in any classroom. Burdick’s guide to discussion also included an online equivalent for each discussion protocol.
Imagine a scenario in which a professor used one of the 20 during each class meeting to inspire conversation. Every class would be different and more opportunities to engage might inspire discussion.
“Stories are interesting in ways that normal conversation is not,” says David Noah. In Noah’s freshman seminar course at the University of Georgia, students are invited to be part of a hero’s journey* that combines narrative design, digital storytelling, and personal experiences.
“I wanted students to journal in a reflective way about their own academic experiences be able to engage their own experiences?” Noah’s twist on the assignment was to have each student tell his story through a fictional character and narrative, written in the third person.
Students in his class wrote their stories, orally presented their stories, and created digital presentations for their stories. Each presentation was dramatically different. The written stories were submitted weekly and compiled for the two other presentations. The oral presentations became a performance event. The digital stories combined the recorded word and image in a way that gives stories an emotional pull unlike the visual or oral imagery alone.
Some key learning that informed the course:
Students asked if the stories needed to be true. Different arenas have different requirements for truth, says Noah. Journalists, for example, are expected to get as close as possible to the truth, whereas short stories about childhood are often embellished and expanded.
“I expected hero’s journeys, but what I read were more like immigrant stories – people arriving to a new country, with a new setting and a new vocabulary.” When freshmen arrive on campus, says Noah, we might want to hand them a dictionary of collegiate vocabulary, like majors, departments, and key contacts that can acclimate them to a new setting.
Noah used a gaming motif to complete the course grading. Students were assigned avatars and Noah created a weekly leader board with the avatar names that showed overall score. Scores started at zero and, each week, the scores were tallied.
*Noah used Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s journey as a framework for storytelling. The Hero’s journey, according to Campbell follows the following pattern: Ordinary world, Call to adventure, Refusal of call, Mentor, Crossing the first threshold, Allies, Enemies, Tests, Belly of the whale, Ordeal, Reward, Road back, Resurrection, Return with Elixir
This session was presented at the Teaching Professor Conference held June 1-3, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Consumption of online media is a hot topic in the study of digital literacies and at NCA 2011, the annual meeting of the National Communication Association occurring this week in New Orleans, Louisiana.
This morning, I had the pleasure of responding to competitive research surrounding the topics of Facebook, social networking and online media consumption. I’ve incorporated my responses into this blog post in hopes that the presenters can have this resource for their writing and to inspire further research avenues in digital and media literacy.
From Loving the Hero to Despising the Villain: Sports Fans, Facebook, and Social Identity Threats
James Sanderson, Arizona State University
Capturing months of data from a Facebook group entitled, “Get Out of Our City Brian Kelly,” this content-based research identifies fan reactions to a social identity threat (an event that could be damaging to a group’s sense of self). In this case, that threat was the sudden resignation of a winning football coach, Brian Kelly, at the University of Cincinnati.
Sanderson’s excellent review of research in this area makes the case for viewing Facebook as a gathering site for groups. Through an extensive content analysis, he identifies five particular response categories related to threat response on this site: rallying, stigmatizing, victimization, intimidation, and degradation. While I was reading the selected comments left in this Facebook group, I was shocked by the comments of these fans. Many were vile and vulgar, vitriolic and reprehensible. The author spends some time discussing the comments from the vantage point of misogyny and homophobia, but never as simply hateful.
As our society invests in online group participation and response, I am left wondering what our role as researchers is. Should we document instances like this one or should we find ways to ask our fellow citizens to move from participation (kind, hateful, or otherwise) toward real, tangible contribution to a conversation. Perhaps the answer is both.
Sanderson’s expose of this behavior is well-constructed and thoughtful, with the ability to move us forward as we consider fan communication, digital literacy, and civility.
‘Tell Me What Company Thou Keepest, and I’ll Tell Thee What Thou Art’- Homophilious Relationships on Facebook
Mia Fischer, University of Missouri, and Amanda Ruth-McSwain, College of Charleston
So-called social media gurus and rockstars have often suggested that Facebook connects us with people we already know whereas Twitter connects us with those we want to know. This anecdotal claim might suggest that the authors are right: if we explore Facebook, we might find that people who like each other in real life tend to like each other online. So, our tendency to surround ourselves with like others in real life would be evident in the digital world.
In this exploratory study, Fischer and Ruth-McSwain set out to identify if that evidence exists. The study examines Facebook profiles and their similarities to the profiles of their friends. The researchers identified several classes of homophily (profile-friend similarity) including age, education, employment, facebook uses, network size, nationality and ethnicity, religious and political affiliation, and sexual orientation. Even though the researchers admit that their study is only exploratory, these classes of similarity can advance our thinking about online connections.
One of the limitations of this study is that a user’s assessed Facebook friend profiles were selected in an alphabetical order. This methodology might limit the type of diversity found in the sample (for example, last names are often culturally or ethnically based, in a way that could create issues for an analysis of the first 10 Facebook friends in an alphabetic list).
Nevertheless, the authors successfully attempt to explore and expand our understanding of Facebook as a tool for connection between and among people.
Facebook, Blogs, and Fake News: Teens Seek News with Attitude
Regina Marchi, Rutgers
The fact that the youth of America prefer The Daily Show and the Colbert Rapport to traditional broadcast news programming may come as no shock to many citizens. But, teens’ rationale for this preference might surprise us. Marchi’s investigation into teen news consumption is at once revealing and thought-provoking.
Teens interviewed in her study reported feeling that major television networks repeatedly “force-feed” them the same news in the same format. Conversely, satirical news options made the news relevant to them. Moreover, the satire acted as a catalyst for teens to seek out multiple sources with varying ideas about the topic addressed. This subtle difference between serving as a filter for consumption and serving as a catalyst for engagement with multiple perspectives might be an interesting angle for this paper, or future research, to address more deeply.
How might mainstream news sources learn from the preferences of these teens? Marchi suggests that, at the least, producers need to be paying attention to the changing landscape of personal news.
Talking about the YouTube Indians: Images of Native Americans and Viewer Comments on a Viral Video Site
Maria A. Kopacz and Bessie L. Lawton, West Chester University
Native American portrayals on YouTube and their resulting comment feeds were assessed in this study to determine what factors influence the tone of viewer comments. Based in thier review of relevant research, the authors utilize existing media stereotypes to characterize the videos and assess user-generated responses. It might be interesting, in this case, to also look at author intent. Perhaps the case could be made that the tags placed on the video could be suggestive of author intent. Combined with user-response, research can give a broader picture about responses to these videos.
Whereas many of the responses to videos in this study are positive, the majority are reportedly negative. Again, I am left wondering how this type of user-participation in media might be honed into a contribution to media making. Using this data, the public relations approach of educating an audience is rightly addressed in this study and well-justified. As the authors note, accurate information should and can be presented alongside stereotypical information. The question remains: will people respond? And, if they do, will their responses to accurate information contribute to a productive conversation?
Is Public the New Private? A First Look at Multitasking and Online Video
Lara Zwarun and Alice E. Hall, University of Missouri – St. Louis
“Results may not always be what the researcher expects.” Zwarun and Hall are surprised by their findings in this study, and their findings suggest that the ways we immerse ourselves in media are changing. The real story here is in the relationship between public space and media immersion. In public spaces, viewers indicated that they were less distracted and more immersed in media than did their counterparts who viewed the same media in a private space.
This study, which was conducted primarily among college students raises all kinds of questions about media use and its relationship to demographics, socio-economic status, generational divides, and access to multiple forms of technology. I wonder if future research into online video viewing could control viewing in some way or seek out different demographics that may (or may not) be likely to access online information in different ways.
The chair for this panel, Thomas Ksiasek of Villanova University, is a perennial NCA presenter and I enjoyed hearing him speak at NCA two years ago on his own research.
The timely, current nature of these excellent studies leaves me concerned about the publication timeline imposed on academic research. I hope that these papers can continue to advance the field, but the field of digital and media literacy is moving faster than our current publication model. As we continue to do this type of research, we may find ourselves pushing the boundaries of academic publication – not from the perspective of quality, but rather from the angle of currency.
Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opened her comments to students at Queens University of Charlotte this way: “While you’re in college, find your passion.”
Dr. Rice, who has served as US National Security Adviser, Stanford University Provost, and is now a Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, spoke at Queens on October 25, 2011 to a packed student lecture and later to a sold-out crowd at the Blumenthal Center for Performing Arts as this year’s Learning Society Speaker.
Rice said she is often asked how she became so successful. Her answer: “I started as a failed piano performance major.”
As a freshman at the University of Denver, Rice says she arrived on campus to find that the piano performance majors could sight-read things it took her a year to learn. So, she decided to change majors. After stumbling into a Soviet Studies course, she found her passion: international diplomacy.
Rice shared three tips on finding your passion:
- Don’t let your passion be determined by other people or what they say when they look at you.
Rice noted, she’s sure people asked, “What’s a black girl from Alabama doing as a Soviet Studies major?” She could have chosen to be constrained by this critique or to pursue her passion. Luckily, she chose the latter.
- Find your passion and doors will open for you.
When Rice became a Soviet Studies major, she didn’t think about becoming Secretary of State. But, as she progressed through her career, she found that following her passion allowed her to open doors to roles she was excited about. “I have my dream job,” she says of her role as a university professor.
- Even when your second passion comes along, you can still have your first passion.
When she was the national security adviser, Rice received a phone call from Yo Yo Ma, the reknowned cellist, who wanted to perform with her. She remembers thinking, “Sure, Yo-Yo Ma, we’ll jam.” Rice says she was under no delusions that Ma wanted to work with her for her prowess on the piano. Rather, her second passion, Soviet Studies, opened doors for her to live out her first passion, piano performance.
“It’s important to have both a vocation and avocations in life,” concludes Rice.
Rice followed her brief comments by taking many questions from a panel of students and the general audience. They ranged from foreign policy issues to education to linguistics. I found Rice to be an engaging speaker and a natural teacher.
DrumSTRONG, a movement founded by Charlotte’s Scott Swimmer, brings people together through sound and rhythm. In 54 countries around the world, drums circles have sprung up with the hope of drumming to beat cancer. Livestreaming, YouTube, and blogging have all contributed to its spread.
The Swimmer family’s story is inspiring. In a family of cancer survivors, Scott sought to expand the care of cancer patients through drumming. “We all have a drum,” he says, with his hand over his heart.
Swimmer’s motivational story recounted his family’s story of crisis and triumph that resulted in hope for people around the world. At TEDxCLT, Swimmer and the folks of drumSTRONG brought that hope and joy to the crowd by creating a drum circle in Dana Auditorium:
Swimmer was a featured presenter at TEDxCharlotte, on October 15, 2011. TEDxCharlotte’s theme for 2011 is “Dream Makers and Risk Takers.” The stories shared by presenters are inspirtational accounts of dreams realized – ideas worth spreading.