Sunday, September 18, 2016

Communicating Effectively

Communicating Effectively

This week, we learned about communicating effectively while working on an Instructional Design project.  For this assignment, we were asked to watch a video that has a purpose of communicating in three different modalities: as written text, as audio and as video.  This was very interesting for me because it showed to me the importance of being mindful of clear and concise communication in whatever form you are communicating.  Below, I break down each form of communication in more detail. 


What does each message mean?
In the email message, Jane is speaking with Mark about an ETA on a missing report.  This is important to her because his report contains data that she needs for her report.  At the end of the email, she suggests that he can even send the data in a separate email, maybe suggesting that he doesn’t even need to do the report.  But the way that she says this at the end makes the message even more confusing.  Jane is making the message confusing because she is forgetting to avoid ambiguity.  Dr. Stolovitch talked about avoiding ambiguity in our video this week.  (Laureate Productions, n.d.).”  The message is kind of confusing for Mark and that it comes off as kind of unprofessional in my opinion.  If Jane would have taken the time to write the message a little more clearly, she could have made her point a little better.  She opens and closes the email professionally, which is a good thing.  Overall, this is an ok way of communicating.  Not the most effective. 


What does each message mean?
The voicemail message from Jane to Mark comes off as being a little friendlier.  You can hear in her voice the importance of the message and that there is some sincerity in her tone.  Dr. Stolovitch said in his video that tone can have an impact on any communication (Laureate Productions, n.d.).  When communicating to a coworker in a voicemail, tone is one thing that the sender needs to be aware of and make sure they are using the proper tone.  Jane is anxious to get the report from Mark because it is so important for her report that is also due.  But in the message, you can hear her anxiety, but it is also being presented in a tone that shows she is trying to be professional.  The end of the message, just like in the email, is rather confusing and hard to comprehend exactly what she is saying.  The wording of it is confusing and would cause me to have to listen again if I was Mark.  In the email, I was able to re-read the message to comprehend the final sentence.  In the voicemail, I would have to listen to it a second or third time to understand her message.  Overall, it is a good piece of communication, but is just as effective as the email. 


What does each message mean?
This message from Jane to Mark is by far the most effective of the three forms of commicating in my opinion.  In the message, Jane is speaking to mark in a fair tone, and she has a smile on her face as she is talking.  She doesn’t look upset or anxious.  Dr. Stolovitch talked about the importance of body language when speaking face-to-face (Laureate Productions, n.d.).  In this message, her body language is welcoming and is not confrontational at all.  The only thing that I saw as being closed off is that she has the patrician between her and Mark and her arms are crossed on top of the patrician.  This could be taken by Mark as being closed off and a little frustrated with Mark.  The ending of the message is a little bit easier to understand from Jane.  She says that she needs the data but Mark could just send the data in a separate email if needed.  I didn’t have to watch the video a second time to understand that discussion. 

Overall Evaluation:
As we moved from one form of communication to the next, the message became clearer for the viewer.  The most confusing was the email.  As people are reading emails, tone can be interpreted by the viewer that wasn’t meant by the sender.  This happens quite often in my personal life.  Written text offers no tone and is open for interpretation.  That can be a terrible situation.  The voice mail was a little more effective for the viewer because tone was interpreted by the listener; it was present in Jane’s voice.  The only thing that made the voicemail difficult was a lack of body language.  While listening to the voicemail, you are still kind of unclear whether Jane is anxious about getting the data from Mark and is she is upset he hasn’t sent it to her yet.  When we got to the face-to-face interaction, it became clear that she wasn’t upset and presented some comforting body language.  The patrician of the cubical in-between the two people could be viewed as a bad thing, but to me the look on Jane’s face was telling that she wasn’t upset at Mark.  She is just anxious to get her report finished, which needs Mark’s data to finish. 

For Future Use:

As I move forward in my career, I will be able to use the most effective form of communication with my team.  This exercise helped show me that the form of communication is dependent on the message that needs to be conveyed.  If it is just a quick reminder about a meeting or some other deadline in the project, an email can be used to communicate.  I will only use emails in the future if there isn’t any chance of tone being interpreted by the reader.  Quick messages that are not about some ones lack of performance can be effectively communicated by email.  Voicemails to me can be a tricky thing to use.  It allows you to convey the tone of your message, but there is not chance for the listener to see your body language.  I will probably avoid voicemails completely, unless it is to ask a co-worker to stop by so we can chat or to call me back so we can talk.  I will never leave a message for someone with information that is important and that should be done face-to-face.  My preference for communicating is in the face-to-face form.  This exercise this week helped me understand that with visual evidence.  In a face-to-face meeting, you are able to convey your tone, body language and your overall demeaner to your audience.  You can give them ease by having nice open body language with a soft tone in your voice.  Or if you are in a pinch, you can show them that this is important with your body language and an urgent tone in your voice.  The problem is that face-to-face meetings can’t always be accomplished.  So, I can now see how I have to evaluate my communication choice before just sending an email to a co-worker.  Taking the time to evaluate before can help make the project go so much smoother! 

-         - Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.).  Communicating with stakeholders [Video file].  Retrieved from

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A flop from the past...

A flop from the past…

Looking back into the past can be difficult sometimes.  I have very little experience as an official Instructional Designer or as a Project Manager.  But, I do have experience as a teacher creating lessons on a daily basis for an elementary school classroom.  When asked to think of a project that wasn’t successful, it made me think of a project that I tried to complete when I was working in an online school teacher English Language Arts to Kindergarten through 6th grade students.  This was a difficult year to begin with.  This was my first teaching job outside of my student teaching and had only been a student in the distance learning environment.  During the first quarter, our school saw the importance of communicating with the families from a distance.  Up until that point, we were trying to just communicate with the families via email and telephone.  This was in 2009 and Skype had just been introduced the year before.  As a staff, we wanted to be able to have access to this technology to be able to communicate with the students and families on a daily basis.  Our principal wanted to speak with the district to get approval for using this new Skype technology for communication.  Looking back on this project, there were some things we did well as a staff and some things that we failed on to make the project unsuccessful.
Well, let’s start out with what we did well as a staff during the project.  From the beginning, our principal was well organized and had a team of three of us to present this idea to our district.  The team consisted of our principal and three teachers.  I was one of the teachers and the other two were the math elementary teacher and a middle school math teacher.  Together, we put together the proposal for the district to allow skype usage for our school.  We presented to the district the importance of communication to our families while teaching in a distance learning format.  The presentation was well organized and made it clear how important it was to communicate when we had no face-to-face contact with the students.  In the presentation, we also focused on making connections with the students to motivate them to work from a distance.  As a team, we also worked well together and never really had any arguments during the project.  The project came together cleanly and was well rehearsed for the presentation to the district higher ups. 
Looking back on the project now, I can see where we dropped the ball as a team as well.  First of all, we forgot to discuss the technological side of using this new technology.  We didn’t present an idea to the district about what technology would be needed for each staff member.  We didn’t mention that each staff member would need a webcam, microphone and program licensure to use on our computers.  This was a huge mistake because it showed that we didn’t look into what it would take to use the program on a daily basis.  We were so focused on just getting the program to assist in our communication that we failed to see the technical side of the implementation.  We also didn’t speak to the district about what each student would need to have on their side of the communication to be able to Skype with their instructors.  The students would also need a webcam, microphone and licensure.  The biggest mistake we made as a team was that we neglected to think about the security it would take to run this program on computers in the schools network.  Speaking with IT of the district prior to the meeting would have helped us speak of security during the presentation.  After our presentation, one of the people asked about security and how we would make sure our network stayed secure while using Skype.  None of us, not even our principal had an answer for this question.  This was detrimental to our project.  This made it very clear to the district that our staff wanted to use the program, but didn’t do our homework to make it a reality. 
Now I can see how important it would have been to have a subject matter expert on the team to help us with the technology side of the presentation.  A technology expert could have given us the logistical information that we were lacking in our original presentation.  They would have also been able to discuss with us and the district committee about the security issues that Skype could bring to our network.  We assumed as a staff that we could just convince our district to allow us to use it for its teaching impact.  The subject matter expert could have helped us succeed in the project.  In hindsight, we were doomed from the start by not putting our egos aside and bringing in someone who could help use with the technology part of the project.  Now I can see how important it is to make sure we have everyone we need on the team to ensure we are covering all of the bases.  Technology is a big part of these projects in education and having someone involved with technology expertise will help be more successful in the future.