Kenneth D. Day
Communication Technology Is Transforming Our Lives
New communication technology has radically changed the world in which we live; human interaction, society and even how we conceive ourselves as human beings are being transformed. We are interconnected with people from around the world without ever leaving our homes. Information and skills that we teach quickly become out of date. Information is instantly accessible on a computer or even a mobile device and we continuously "stay in touch" and network using the same technology.
The effects of these new technologies on our lives are already profound and cause for concern. Heavy Internet use seems to be, as John Carr claims, destroying our ability to deep read and craft carefully-reasoned arguments and, as Sherry Turkle claims, the cell phone has connected us with a wealth of family and friends around the clock at the same time that it allows us to eliminate our involved communication with them by relying on carefully-crafted text messages as our preferred mode of communication. More and more of our time is frittered away playing with a new Internet or mobile phone application while technology moves us to increasing dependency. As Kevin Kelly observes, the Unabomber may have been right when he warned of the day coming when we will no longer have the choice of pulling the plug on technology, not because we can't, but because we would lose too many things we have become dependent on if we do.
In the 21st century students will not only need to be capable of thinking critically and expressing themselves well in speaking and writing but also to become active ongoing learners who can assemble the ever-changing flows of information at their fingertips and update their skills in using mediated communication as these media constantly change. To be effective communication professionals, students will need to know how to choose appropriate media, even new ones as they emerge, and how to employ them effectively. They will need to be prepared to make repeated career changes as employment opportunities change.
It seems to me that teaching philosophies need to match the material being taught so I have never adopted just one. My teaching philosophy is different in each of the three courses I teach, although some mixture of practice and theory carries through them all.
When teaching technology, I incorporate hands-on practice along with an introduction to technology literacy and basic concepts. I push students to learn additional techniques on their own to achieve excellence in their work but also to remind them that, since things are constantly changing, explicit instructions that they might be given today will not work tomorrow. Students differ as to the way that is most comfortable and effective for them to learn. Some want one-on-one guidance through using a program or creating graphics or web pages. Some prefer to watch an instructional video which they can play several times and go back to a particularly point at which they are stumped. Others prefer written instructions and materials which they can either read all the way through or follow step by step. But beyond these preferences, students need help in learning how to use resources to learn. In my experience, college and university students are usually not the sophisticated "digital natives" they are claimed to be. They are still learning ways to navigate the massive streams of information and resources that the Digitial Age offers them.
In intercultural communication, I present students with different means of understanding cultures from sociological/pyschological theory from fields like communication to social anthropological approaches focused on the differing values, concepts and rituals of cultures. Experience in meeting people from other cultures is provided through assignments that involve real-life encounters in the city of Stockton The goal is for students to become more effective intercultural communicators by being able to adapt their own behavior as a result of knowledge of cultural differences and increased respect for those who choose to live their lives differently.
In mass communication theory, students engage in scholarship by conducting an original piece of research on mass or mediated communication. Students go through the whole process of researching the topic, including finding relevant theories, writing a proposal, requesting IRB (institutional review board) approval, collecting the data, analyzing the results and writing a paper of sufficient quality for presentation at a conference or even publication. A broad range of theories are introduced and discussed in class with particular view to how media effects are likely to be different in the world we live in the 21st century.
Courses I Teach at Pacific
- Introduction to Communication Technology
- Intercultural Communication
- Mass Communication Theory
Areas of Interest/Research
Both my research interest and my applied work in real life focus on the following four areas: (1) the role of new communication technology in restoring, maintaining and changing culture, (2) best practices in the use of Internet-based social networking to support community as well as political discussion and mobilization, (3) best practices in the use of communication technologies in teaching/learning including instructional web sites, eBooks, virtual worlds and mobile applications, and (4) ways in which the new communication technology produces effects differently from traditional mass media.
In addition to my role as Professor in the Department of Communication, I served as the Interim Virtual World Manager for the University of the Pacific during the several years that the university was experimenting with a campus replica in Second Life. I continue to be active in educational applications of virtual worlds and currently workin on a recreation of an Irish village in Second Life as an immersive environment for learning the Irish language.
I have a longstanding interest in Native American languages which relates to my background in linguistics. At present I am working on the Comanche language in the role of scholar, advanced student and teacher. Recent restoration efforts by the Comanche people ignore the extensive work done by linguists on the language from the 1950s through the 1980s and focus on teaching words rather than the grammar of the language. My Learn Comanche project is an atempt to "translate" the scholarly work of the linguists in helping Comanches and others who want to speak the language to form grammatically correct utterances in this historically important language as well as to more accurately learn the sounds of the language.
My Websites and Podcasts
You can follow my thoughts on new communication technology on my blog at http://www.professortechno.com or listen to my iTunes podcast. My work on the Learn Comanche Project is coordinated at http://www.learncomanche.com.
Kenneth D. Day, Ph.D.
Department of Communication
Office: Psy/Comm Bldg, Rm. 6
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211