Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Communication (6 Cs of 21st Century Learning Writing Project Part 3)

Here are our thoughts on communication. What does it mean to communicate well in the 21st century classroom? Welcome to new writer @techmagfront!


Communication: Giving and/or receiving information

A beautiful sunset, a Van Gogh painting or a Bach concerto are forms of one-way communication. A message is delivered to the receiver. It used to be that advertisers, news channels and teachers were one-way communicators who delivered their message to their audience. In most areas of our lives now, there are fewer one-way communications. In two-way communication, the receiver can respond to the sender. We can email the news station or send a Tweet to an advertiser to voice our opinions about their messages. As teachers, we are no longer ‘pouring knowledge into empty vessels’ - we are using two-way communication to understand what students already know, what they are interested in, what they don’t like, etc. in order to build relationships that will improve teaching and learning.

Technology enhances our ability to communicate effectively. If I can’t write, I can use voice-to-text software. If I don’t like speaking in public, I can record a video ahead of time. If my family lives far away, I can Skype with them to hear their voices and see their faces. We no longer have to wait for news reports because we can see footage and hear messages about world events as they happen via social media. This ability to instantly communicate with people all over the globe has many benefits but also has the potential for problems.
Whether it is through body language, art, speaking, or the written word we are communicating. A clearly stated message is one goal we all hope for when we communicate, and for many of us, we also hope that our communications lead to conversations and to learning something new.


I have learned a lot about communication in the  past number of months. Personally, I can now honestly say I can divide my career into BTE/TE (Before the Twitter Era/Twitter Era). Most of the thoughts I have about the TE probably belong in the collaboration post, but I have never communicated more effectively than I have recently, but for that to happen, I needed to learn a new text form-the 140 character tweet.

When I think of 21st century learning, tweets are just one of many forms of communication our students will need to learn. Others could be emails, text messages, posting to YouTube channels, chatting while  playing Minecraft-the list goes on. Clearly, in the classroom, it's not enough to fall back on our old lists of "text forms".  New types of texts are being created everyday.  Yesterday's Facebook status update is today's SnapChat, is tomorrow's...? We can't possibly teach them all.

The question remains, how will we teach our students to communicate in this world we live in? What matters the most about communication in the 21st century?

Whether the mode of communication is writing or speaking, I think authenticity and authority of voice is probably the most important thing.  

Can you reach your audience, and effectively and persuasively communicate your message? Can you make a personal connection?  
Can your tweet (blog post, essay, speech, video, etc.) stand out from all the rest of them?
Can you argue succinctly and coherently from a point of view?
 What separates "signal from noise"?

Voice is what matters, regardless of the type of spoken or written text forms we teach our students. We must help our students to find their voice, regardless of what medium they are working in, or what type of presentation they are giving.

Communication: making your voice heard.

Jason Richea @jrichea

Communication, like each of the other 6 C’s, receives a lot of dialogue & discussion amongst academic professionals. We often hear in our staff rooms complaints regarding the delivery of messages by our students through their written and oral work. I find myself in these discussions quite a bit, and am constantly reminded at all the different ways messages are communicated.

These ways may have never been so numerous than they are now. And these messages conveyed in all sorts of different languages - and I’m not talking about foreign languages, but the modifications we’ve made to English/other native languages (U know? lol). I think this is a challenge for many teachers to accept and acknowledge that it’s not about the spelling, but about the message. That’s what communication is really about, is it not? Believe me, I’m not about to say that spelling & grammar does not matter; but does it matter as much as it once did?

In a world where we are bombarded by hundreds of messages each minute, it’s the message that stands out, which receives our attention. When we are in our classrooms, it’s the message that provokes thought, dialogue, discussion, critique, and our collective attention that is effective communication. Whether this is lengthy verbal conversation, or a brief 140 character message conveyed in a Twitter chat, it doesn’t really matter, so long as the results are what was originally intended.

In the 21st century, it is so important that we teach our students how to access the media necessary to convey their message. How to convey their message in a way that grabs others attention. And how to use the conventions of the chosen media to do this effectively.  We live in a world now where social media is King, and the communication that we receive revolves around this media. As Clay Shirky once said, 

“The Internet is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversation at the same time. The Internet gives us the many-to-many pattern. For the first time, media is natively good at supporting these kinds of conversations.”

Therefore, unlike definitions of the past, where communication is all about imparting or exchanging information between a few, 21st century communication is all about conveying your message in a way that captures the attention of hundreds (or thousands if you are Taylor Swift). Because if you want to stand out in today’s age, and have your voice heard, you are going to have to scream it from the top of the Twitter/Snapchat/YouTube/Facebook/Tumblr/etc.  mountain.

Communication = Capturing the Attention of the Masses

My Post on Communication @tina_zita

Communication sometimes feels so natural that we forget how often we are sharing messages with others in our day to day interactions. From when we wake up to when we go to bed we are tweeting, emailing, chatting, discussing, singing, dancing (well for me the last two are just in my car). If we want to help students become effective communicators in a digital world, we first need to be able to articulate what makes an effective communicator.

Here’s my stab at it.

Effective communicators have a clear message in mind. I don’t mean being eloquent. There are some that can string words together in mesmerizing sentences that have no core message. Effective communicators know what they are trying to get across. They have a clear message in mind. Their voice shines through. This also means that effective communicators know they have something to add to the conversation. No one’s voice is unimportant.

Effective communicators know that they have a toolbox of communication tools and that text is just one of them. Whether I know it or not, through the way I stand, my body language, and facial expressions  I’m participating in the conversation. In a multi-modal world, more and more of our communication tools have transformed past plain text or speech. To be an effective communicator we have to pack our toolbox full of a variety of tools with a variety of mediums. Effective communicators also understand which tools they communicate best with and how to switch between tools which leads us to the following.

Effective communicators understand their audience and are able to adapt accordingly. Firstly, if effective communicators want to understand their audience they have to listen and truly invest in understanding the other side. Secondly, they need to adapt their message to their audience. Communicating with my friend and communicating with my boss require my message to be finely tuned. Finally, they have to change their tools accordingly. A song may be an amazing form of communication when sharing an inspiring message but it may not be the best tool if I am applying for a job. Preparing to be effective communicators in the 21st century requires code switching and critical thought. Our message stays the same but how and when we communicate that message needs to transform between platforms, events, individuals.

If I had one wish it would be for learners in our care to understand they have a message to share, many ways they can share it and to critically make choices on how best to do that each day with the audiences around them.

Communication: clear message, deep toolbox, understanding audience.


The most effective  communicators are able not only to convey their message, but also their passion about the subject, which in turn moves others to think, reflect, or take action.  The way that they convey that message can take on many forms:  spoken word,  song,  poem, video, poster, photograph, painting, etc.  No matter what form the communication takes, it is ineffective unless it inspires others to care.  Also, in order for others to care about the message, it needs to be conveyed in a way that will be relevant to the audience - as teachers, we know that better than anyone.  Think of the greatest communicators of our century:  Martin Luther King, Jr, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Steve Jobs - none of them has ever left their audiences indifferent to their message.  Think of a great book, movie, song, or painting, inspiring long and heated discussions. Bottom line, good communication never 'falls on deaf ears' and a great communicator’s voice cannot be ignored.

Communication:  Conveying relevant messages that inspire others.

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