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April 2011 Archives

Communication Makeover

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Marcus Lee, a student in his junior year at Penn State, started blogging for the university this semester. His passion for writing has pushed him to investigate how technology is affecting the way students and teachers communicate both inside and outside the classroom.


Face to face verbal communication has always been the fastest and easiest way to express feelings or share ideas. Stone was the original paper, and a chisel was the pen for the ancient Egyptians as a way to communicate with lines and lines of pictures that each had a special meaning. The English mastered the handwritten letter, creating personalization with each stroke of the feather tipped pen. Then came the electronic revolution as the radio, telephone, and television jump started a buzz as people realized they could communicate with the world. However the most important feature in our world today is the Internet, an electronic source that allows individuals to communicate with the use of a computer and express ideas via the world wide web. Since the Internet's first use in the 1970s, the web has gone from private to public and has expanded the meaning of free speech, especially in social networking outlets.


Today the Internet is used to bring people together through a number of outlets. Social networks like Myspace and Facebook have been great for adults and children, allowing a freedom of ideas to roam free without hesitation. Blogs have become a trend today not only for personal use, but for educational purposes. It is a piece of what is on your mind at the time but without barriers. Barriers hide the truth, making the story less meaningful. Blogs tell a story, report the news, or simply provide entertainment. Whatever the use, they pack a big punch in a short piece.


More and more college professors are using blogs as a part of the classroom setting. The meaning of use comes from the lack of limits, from the fact the professor wants the student to write without having to worry about the cold walls of a classroom and the hard plastic of a seat. The professor is only worried about the student being comfortable. The more relaxed students are, the better their writing will be. It sounds cliche, but classrooms are like dungeons with Professor Dragon spitting flames at everyone. Being allowed to do work in a forum that doesn't have limits is always a plus. 


Professors have moved from lectures only to writing on chalkboards to now doing power point presentations. In a world dominated by the Internet and its endless possibilities, college professors have found that they need to move to the grounds where the student is most comfortable. Most blogs are set up where the professor creates the blogs and the students are coauthors, meaning they all can put in a post at anytime. If there is a paper due, they post it. If there is news to report or a video for an assignment, they post it, as long as it all pertains to what the purpose of the class and the assignment are. 


Blogs are a great asset to the classroom, creating a difference in its structural setup, its delivery, its type of communication. Sure a lot of students are comfortable in classrooms but having part of the class online gives students a period to relax and do things on their own time. To save time for the professors and students, and eliminate worry, blogs will soon be a major hit. The personalization is a plus, but the freedom is everything. That freedom will eventually lead to teachers not even being present in the classroom at all. Technology will soon be its own teacher, and a human being teaching others will become obsolete.


Students are most creative when the barriers are down and there is nothing but space to fill.

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