[Air-L] query: topics that don't get talked about (enough) in academia?

Ted Coopman ted.coopman at gmail.com
Sat Nov 13 16:22:01 PST 2010


IMO even raw teaching talent and high interpersonal skills will not
save you with a 4/4 teaching load and 200 students. In my experience,
the mechanics of good results based instructional design is required
just to get the breathing space for tapping into the co-cultures of
the institution, major, and classroom and connect with students. You
can't innovate or push boundaries If you are struggling with the
basics. If you are overwhelmed with the tasks at hand (or "in the
weeds" as we called it the restaurant trade) you won't have the time,
attention, or energy for anything else.

Student co-cultures and ability varies even across programs at the
same universities. I teach in Communication Studies and in a Radio,
Television and Film program and the students are very different in
temperament and ability. You need to teach the students who have as
opposed to the students you wish you had or some mythic student for
that matter. This groove happens as you learn the dynamics of the

Honestly, I think that teaching can be great for your own intellectual
development and research if you can make the breathing space for that
to happen. I can't tell you how many times I have been describing some
theory or answering a question and as I work through the answer
realize that up until that moment I really didn't understand some
critical or nuanced aspect of it. For example, I have been using
semiotics a lot in my research classes because, aside from it being
interesting and challenging to students, I have been working on
getting a more complex understanding of it (not my area).

I believe that academics are missing out on a lot of personal
intellectual development by not taking the practice  as seriously as


On Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 5:28 PM, Thomas Jones
<thomasallenjones at gmail.com> wrote:
> If I may contribute some offerings to this discussion:
> * Computer mediated communications - knowing how to say what through which
> medium for maximum impact.
> * Civil Discourse - In other words, disagreement does not equate to
> disrespect. The ability to accept constructive (or not) feedback -
> tolerance. The ability to exercise influence, persuasion. The book
> "Difficult Conversations" is a gold mine as it dives in to accepting
> personal accountability and avoidance of "the blame game".
> * Social Constructs - Diversity in Religions and Politics, Gender vs
> Sexuality, Ethical and Moral diversions, etc.
> But when I back up and look at this outside the box there seems to be a few
> common denominators. Most of the aforementioned are learned through well
> rounded management classes and/or a holistic and diverse college experience,
> the other learned simply through life experience. The former is teachable,
> the latter not so much.
> So that leaves me with things more personally relevant, and perhaps relevant
> to this discussion:
> * Understanding relationships - the ability to read people and their
> interactions.
> Sounds simple right? Its how I learn information - I relate new material to
> what I already know and build the bridge or "link" through the difference or
> deviation.
> This construct can be applied to people and the quantifiable observations we
> make today through social networking research. I can sit down at an
> executive meeting (even ones that require caffeine and my iPhone) and know
> by body language, tone, engagement, approach, content - the general
> "linguistics" and human interaction, what the socio-environmental
> relationship is between everyone at the meeting allowing me to navigate the
> politics (or discussion) accordingly.
> * Knowing vs Understanding (the "knowing-doing gap") - tightening this
> relationship. Being able to acknowledge when someone knows an answer or
> content, but doesn't truly understand it. And when someone might need
> further assistance or mentorship because of said gap. True
> academics/professors possess this keen ability.
> * Understanding Collaboration - the wisdom of the crowd, etc. How the
> community matters, and how it contributes to
> success/progress/achievement/etc. This encompasses corporate policy
> structure, sociology, psychology, cultural behaviors, etc. Malcom Gladwell
> addresses this in "Outliers".
> * Translating the kinetic affects of non-kinetic assets - how technology
> impacts business/worker productivity or return on investment, substantiates
> its value. Taking something technical and explaining it sociologically. I
> hope this makes sense... I don't know if I can articulate this effectively
> enough to communicate the point.
> HTH,
> --
> Thomas Jones
> http://www.TheOtherTomJones.com
> http://twitter.com/OtherTomJones
> http://www.linkedin.com/in/TheOtherTomJones
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Ted M. Coopman Ph.D.
Department of Communication Studies
Radio, Television, and Film Program
San Jose State University

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