One of the very first things I learned in this class is that you shouldn’t judge a course by its name. “Advanced Theories of Communication,” does not sound like the most intriguing course, and I believe this is because of the word ‘theories.’ I assumed the class would be a sequence of different philosophers, their theories, and memorizing definitions, like other theory courses I have taken in the past. However, CMN3109 was nothing like that, of course we learned new concepts and looked at theories of different linguists, but it incorporated Twitter, a platform I have not used in a classroom setting, that made the class more interesting and kept me engaged.
In all honesty, I never liked participating verbally in class and I avoid talking in class unless I absolutely have to. When Professor Levy told us on the first day of class that we were encouraged to use Twitter to ask questions and participate in class discussions, I was relieved and curious to see how using Twitter would affect my learning.
The rest of this blog is dedicated to show a glimpse of what I have learned throughout the course and what my thoughts are on some of the class material. One of them being that there is no simple definition of ‘communication,’ and in fact the term depends on the context as it can embody different forms such as language, dialogue, symbols, or communication technology #UOAC.
I am able to apply the theories and concepts I learned throughout the course in my daily life. I think that the way communication, symbols, and technology intertwine is important to be aware of as they affect our day-to-day interactions and the general future of communication.
I am happy the thread of #UOAC will be there forever, I can always go back and either jog my memory or get to relearn some components of the course by looking through the thread.
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Thanks for reading 🙂
The course material on symbolism and our ability to manipulate symbolic codes and translate it to conscious phenomena can be connected to technology, I learned from class how “… it is powered by the human linguistic ability.” Our access to technology is used as a tool to manipulate the signified (phenomena) part of symbols. Here we see a pattern because when there is media development, humans can evolve their linguistic ability by manipulating the signified through innovative forms of the signifier. Then, the “augmentation of the linguistic ability leads to technical development,” and finally the technological improvement lead to media development and so forth. This all goes back to our ability to grasp symbols by manipulating and categorizing the signifier, which allows us to invent and build complex technology.
This cycle of events got me thinking about how far we have come in our ability to take symbols in our own hands, create mechanisms and integrate them into our environment. My three-year-old sister can use an iPad as well as I can, she can locate Netflix, pick out her favorite show (My Little Pony), pause it, and click on a game app. An infant can have access and use better technology compared to even just 60 years ago.
(full story here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ipads-improve-language-skills-in-autistic-kids/)
This image taken from one of our lecture slides elaborates on the process of signification.
We learned in the beginning of the course that the core elements of semiotics are the components of the sign, which are the signifier (a word or thing) and the signified (concept or meaning). As we approached the end of the semester we started to understand the relationship between the two and what it means in broader terms. The signified embodies a general category, an abstract concept open to many interpretations; the signifier is a phenomenon and the form in which the sign takes. Humans are able to manipulate the signifier and put it into categories; and this is what separates human beings from animals, is our ability to make the process of categorization explicit.
Before taking this class, I took ‘symbols,’ for granted. Of course, I knew what a symbol was from previous studies, but I did not realize the significance of symbols, the benefit of symbols, or what the components of symbols were. The lesson on semiotics in this course came full circle, beginning with an introduction mid-September to revisiting it at the end of November.
We learned in class that the evolution of human language comes from the natural instinct of speech and symbolic systems. Although language is not the only symbolic system, it is certainly one of the most important and complex. Professor Levy had explained the difference between language and speech (langue vs parole). One of the main differences I took away was that language is something that is abstract as it depends on socially shared rules like how words are made and what they mean (which is what makes it symbolic), in comparison to speech that is more specific because it is always situated in a time and place.
I plan to apply what I learned in this class about the significance of dialogue in truth seeking and acquiring knowledge for the rest of my university career. I realize the importance of exchanging ideas and concepts to question what I think I know, or better understand information. The topics that I feel confident about in this class were the ones I tweeted more about, which got me thinking about my other courses. I tend to do better in classes that are more based on discussion, question periods, and open dialogue in comparison to traditional lectures where a professor is lecturing and going through a PowerPoint slide. Even though I don’t like to verbally participate in class , I am far more engaged when there is a dialogue going on versus a traditional lecture. Going forward, for my better education I plan on choosing courses (when possible) that fit a more discussion/dialogue-based teaching method.
Professor Levy explained in one of his lectures Vygotsky’s theory of cognitive development. This theory was discovered when Vygotsky studied the process of children beginning to speak and think, he argued that language is natural and is not in the form of a discourse, but instead of a dialogue.For more detail or elaboration on Vygotsky’s theory and legacy, check out this blog post:https://blog.udemy.com/vygotskys-theory-of-cognitive-development/