In six years as an instructor-of-record in Communication Studies, I have had the privilege of instructing independent studies, overseeing 50 students in a survey course, facilitating an online course, coaching students in an extracurricular context, hosting special-topics workshops for researchers, and running faculty development workshops.
Specific courses I have taught include:
- Critical Issues in Social Media
- Rhetorical Criticism
- Digital Dining and Viral Media
- Introduction to Communication Theory
- Argumentation and Advocacy
- Techniques of Group Discussion
- Public Speaking
- Fundamentals of Human Communication
Throughout these courses, I learned that students who are entering the college classroom for the first time in 2019 are accustomed to instant access to information, and I view one of my primary roles to be helping students access, interpret, and critique that wealth of knowledge. Rather than shutting technology out of the classroom to preserve a traditional learning environment, I productively include cell phones, social media, and laptops in my lesson plans. Highlighting the relevancy of students’ digital technology links critical thought to everyday communication and fosters lifelong analytical practices, and the pervasiveness of varying opinions and arguments online increases communication instructors’ responsibilities to teach information literacy across multiple contexts.
I fundamentally approach education as a collaborative activity, based on listening to and respecting student insights, considering disparate student backgrounds, and encouraging communal classroom critiques. While I may be the instructor of record in my courses, I am certainly not the only one capable of making insightful contributions. However, students only become willing to engage collaboratively when the teacher makes clear her willingness to listen honestly and openly, so I try to use honest expressions of my own doubts, struggles, and victories in understanding to bring the processes of theory and research to life. Moreover, as a new media scholar, my students are frequently a vital source of new information; they keep me updated on platforms and trends I would not otherwise be aware of, making me unquestionably a better researcher. Once I have established a willingness to critique my own biases and privileges and express gratitude for student insight, cultivating a culture where students are willing to do the same comes almost naturally. Through transforming the classroom into an engaging and welcoming space for collaborative learning, I want students to have agency in their learning journey and feel empowered to adapt classroom concepts to their own lives.