COM601 Wrap up

During the course of the past eight weeks, COM601 has challenged me on many different fronts. Processing difficult concepts from the textbook was hard. Setting up the four social media accounts was even more difficult. But I never expected the class to be easy. I recognized the need to get out of my comfort zone, particularly surrounding my aversion to social media, and this class did exactly that.

With only one course in the masters program (almost!) complete, I already find myself reading the newspaper with a more critical eye, and recognizing the different layers present in even a casual conversation. I have also learned how to synthesize information from a variety of sources and put it together to make something new and different. The final paper was one of the most challenging assignments I have ever been given and I hated the process, but, once it was finished, I realized the value of it all.

After listening/viewing the digital presentations of my classmates, I think we all need to be proud of what we have accomplished. From Jacquelyn’s Lion King lessons, to Heather’s work on feelings of isolation in The Martian, from Colton’s Outlist study and analysis of fear of rejection when revealing a deep secret to Charner’s Dynamics of Negotiation as depicted by The Bridge of Spies, I think we all did amazingly well taking a favorite movie, and, by applying careful research and a little imagination, making it more meaningful than box office dollars or critic ratings may indicate. For me, and I am assuming a lot of others, this was a completely foreign concept, so the fact that we were able to do it all in just seven weeks is amazing in itself!

From my vantage point, I think we are all off to a great start. We’ve learned about each other in the student lounge, had insightful discussions about a variety of topics, and helped review each others’ papers to make them better. We may never have met face to face, but I do feel like I know a little about each of my classmates, and I look forward to working with everyone in future courses.


Cybernetic Tradition of Communication

Over the past seven weeks I have been fortunate enough to participate in COM601, a Communications Fluency class, through Queens University in Charlotte, NC. During the class we have examined seven traditions and accompanying theories of communication. While each tradition was interesting to me and gave me new ways to interpret what was happening around me, there was one that seemed to resonate particularly strong, probably because of my computer background.

As a former IT professional the concepts of flow charts, processes, and networks are second nature to me. While reading about the cybernetic tradition and viewing the hypothetical cybernetic network diagram (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, page 51, figure 3.1) I was on familiar territory. It reminded me of the programmer’s “Do Loop,” – a method of coding a program that goes like this: if this event occurs, do this; if the event does not occur, do that. If the process is isn’t mapped out on a flow chart beforehand, a careless coder can forget to create a path for the “does not” alternative, and the program can get stuck in the “Do Loop” forever.

This scenario is analogous to the basics of the cybernetic tradition. Like a computer program “a system takes inputs from the environment, processes them, and creates outputs that are put back into the environment.” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 50) Systems feed on one another both good and bad. If you want to change the output, you must change the input. This scenario can be used to analyze communication but also sports, office organization, teaching, dieting, directing a choir, or most any other process or system imaginable.

Before taking this course, I was unfamiliar with the theories of communication and how those theories could be applied to real life situations. Admittedly I have only just scratched the surface of what the study of communication has to offer, but I now believe that if communication theory was a required course of study in high school, similar to English or math, young adults would be equipped with the tools needed to better understand one another, and inspired with the desire and ability to create a kinder, more accepting and just society.


Littlejohn, S and Foss, K. A. (2011) Theories of Human Communication (10 ed.) Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc.

What I’ve learned about APA Style . . .

The entire APA style concept is a bit mysterious to me. I earned my bachelors degree many years ago majoring in math/computer science. I am sure APA style was relevant then but, working primarily with numbers, I was never required to write a formal paper. Even though I have been a journalist for the past twenty years, writing for a newspaper is much less exacting than writing following the APA Style standards.

I know basic punctuation, sentence structure and noun/verb agreement. I’ve written hundreds of published articles for multiple publications. But I didn’t know there were such stringent (and numerous!) rules for the formatting and writing of professional papers. Glancing through the APA Publication Manual for the first time, I felt a little sick. I didn’t think I would ever be able to absorb it. But after I realizing that I didn’t need to digest the whole book at one sitting, that I could just refer to it as needed, it wasn’t nearly as imposing.

Surprisingly, after writing my first few assignments in formal fashion, I now find myself developing a small fondness for the order APA style can bring to my papers. It’s still a bit cumbersome to look up every margin, period, and quotation question, and I will never feel competent writing citations. But it is comforting to know that, even though the content may be subjective, no one can argue with the style!

How Religious Organizations Integrate Technology Into Their Congregations

This Vlog is a summary of a literature review in the article, “Gleaning the Fields Of Change: Adoption of Information and Communication Technologies in Religious Organizations” by Wil McCully. I selected this article during the Scavenger Hunt exercise in my COM601 class.

Please access

to watch the Vlog.