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The following is a list of required courses I completed in the James L. Knight MA in communication program. Where applicable, I have linked to the sections of the blog with supporting coursework.
2013-2014 – Fall Term
COMM 601 Communication Fluency – Dr. Leanne Pupchek – Fall 1, 2013
This introductory course exposes students to communication as a discipline and begins the process of improving each student’s communication literacy through an understanding of the paradigms of knowledge from a communication perspective as well as essential communication theory. Students will identify and articulate a communication problem, strategy or initiative to be analyzed and evaluated, aggregate and apply credible research, and compose and support arguments using a theoretical framework. In addition, students will begin to create and evaluate content on a digital platform related to a specific initiative and audience. Blog tab: COMM 601
COMM 610 The Social Creation of Organizing – Dr. Kimberly Weller– Fall 2, 2013
This course demonstrates the ways social interaction shapes and is shaped by organizing processes. Students will study how communication becomes the means by which we come to make sense of organizational life and develop strategies, structures and practices for coordinating action and meeting goals. Coursework explores how contemporary organizations transform individuals participating in society by examining essential topics such as identity construction, motives, motivation, effectiveness, socialization, leadership and career. Blog tab: COMM 601
2013-2014 – Spring Term
COMM 613 Constructing Messages and Audiences – Dr. John McArthur – Spring 1, 2014
In this course, students explore the ways by which we construct and disseminate messages to a variety of audiences for a variety of purposes. Coursework covers effective tools for creating messages that advance goals, and build and engage community. Students will explore how best to analyze audiences, craft messages, design information, choose among communication media, shape user experience and evaluate success. Special attention is given to digital technology, including how to best consume, filter, create and critically analyze messages. Students also explore the implications of evolving communication channels on society, especially with regard to opportunities for conversation, engagement, advocacy and experimentation. Blog tab: COMM 613
COMM 616 Communicating Mindfully – Dr. Leanne Pupchek – Spring 2, 2014
This course examines communication ethics in individual, organizational and societal contexts. Students will learn theoretical and practical applications of communicating mindfully in a society where interactions and messages are complex, shifting and often mediated. Coursework emphasizes an understanding of how critical self-awareness and emotional intelligence contribute to communicating consciously and productively. Dialogue, narrative, reflection and identification are explored as tools for ethical communication in a rapidly changing world. Blog tab: COMM 616
2013-2014 – Summer Term
COMM 655 The Mediated Self and Changing Relationships – Dr. Zachary White – Summer 1, 2014
This class investigates how specific digital and mediated platforms affect our understanding of essential interpersonal constructs such as relationship development and engagement, image management, the tensions of work-life balance and the challenges and opportunities of creating private and public identities in a mediated landscape. Students will study issues of identity by addressing how we compose our multiple and sometimes conflicting digital and media selves and how the presentation of our “work” self affects conceptions of our “private” self. Blog tab: COMM 655
COMM 658 Creativity and Networks – Dr. Stavroula Kalogeras – Summer 2, 2014
This course explores both traditional and cutting-edge approaches to innovation. Contemporary organizations are realizing the potential of new ways of thinking, such as right-brain approaches to organizing and open innovation using digital and mediated tools. By building an authentic, collaborative relationship among a community, organizations can tap into the creative potential of the crowd. This course investigates how shifting communication practices have shaped knowledge, networks and innovation. Students also explore how creativity and innovation can be fostered through curiosity, play, passion, connection, dialogue, experience, storytelling and failure.
2014-2015 – Fall Term
COMM 638 Strategic Communication for Global Audiences – Dr. Mohammad el-Nawawy – Fall 1, 2014
Students explore various strategic communication issues and challenges with a diverse, global audience. Globalization requires new thinking habits and strategies to best craft targeted, integrated messages to a particular audience, whether it be global, national or local. This course investigates strategies for successful audience analysis, community development and dialogue, image and branding, innovation, marketing, public relations, and risk and crisis management for global and multinational audiences.
COMM 624 Communication and Culture in a Networked Society – Dr. Dania Nathaniel – Fall 2, 2014
Coursework explores how digital connectivity in a networked society has changed and transformed culture. In particular, students investigate how networking (such as blogging, podcasting, etc.) affects traditional conceptions of knowledge and information creation, production, transmission and censorship. In addition, this course focuses on how traditional conceptions of organizational boundaries and influence, civic engagement, and organizational participation are evolving.
2014-2015 – Spring Term
COM 664 Organizational Identity and Brand – Dr. Kimberly Weller– Spring 1, 2015
This course explores the ways organizations today craft and communicate an authentic brand identity. As the marketplace has changed, organizations have had to find ways to differentiate to stay competitive. Connecting with stakeholders through a clear and consistent identity that aligns with organizational values and mission can increase profits as well as customer and employee loyalty. This course highlights the most effective ways to craft brand identity through authentic, strategic messages and visual presentation disseminated through both traditional and mediated platforms. Students will also investigate how social networks have changed efforts to craft organizational identity and brand, as well as the ways employees’ personal identities are ultimately interdependent with organizational identity. Blog tab: COMM 664
COMM 629 Leadership, Empowerment, and the Management of Meaning – Dr. Zachary White – Spring 2, 2015
This course surveys the essential relationship between leadership and communication. Examining leadership from a communication perspective, students focus on leadership as meaning management; namely how to create, frame and communicate one’s own “realities” to others. Students also study the skills of meaning making as it pertains to creating, using, interpreting and critically evaluating moments of leadership in “everyday” acts of communication.
2014-2015 – Summer Term
COM 680 Expanding Communication Boundaries – Dr. John McArthur – Summer 1, 2015
This course kicks off the process during which students reflect and integrate program learning into an articulated specialty area. In a comprehensive exam, students will demonstrate competency and confidence in composing specific arguments related to a communication topic that solves a specific problem or meets a specific need. Then, students will begin to integrate learning with personal interests and passions by creating a proposal for an original communication inquiry project that expands existing communication boundaries. The project will be completed in COM 681.
COM 681 Launching Passion into Practice – Dr. John McArthur – Summer 2, 2015
In this course, students complete the communication inquiry project proposed and approved in COM 680. First, students will create a digital portfolio that showcases course projects and articulates key learning and personal and professional goals. Students will continue to harness their curiosity, program learning, and passion to create an original capstone project related to a specific communication topic. Students will aggregate theoretical, research, and digital and media literacy with new ways of thinking to develop an innovative project that showcases their mastery of a particular area of communication.
Global awareness and understanding of international issues and practices related to communication demonstrated by at least one activity or assignment that asks students to explore a communication situation or problem from a global/international perspective.
COMM 613: Discussion:Contemplating Multiple Audiences
COMM 638: Google, Inc. as Global Internet Gatekeeper (Group paper)
COMM 638: Supplemental: Glocalization of mobile
While we had an entire course that focused on global communication (COMM 638 Strategic Communication for Global Audiences), throughout the program we engaged the idea of global audiences and global impact for many communication issues. As examples of this learning outcome, I’ve included a discussion post from COMM 613 Constructing Messages and Audiences on post-colonial feminism, two assignments from COMM 638 on transnational media companies, and a supplemental post I wrote for COMM 638.
The first three examples demonstrate assignments where I engaged a communication problem from a global perspective; however, I ‘d like to use the last example, Glocalization of mobile, the piece that I wrote as a supplemental post to the class. to demonstrate how this learning outcome is integrated across courses. At the beginning of COMM 638 I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 GSMA Connected Women conference for women in technology. GSMA is the professional organization for global mobile companies (transnational mobile providers), and the conference engaged the idea of global mobile from every angle–tech manufacturers, mobile service providers, development initiatives (public and private), non-profits, financial experts, women’s affinity groups. It was a chance to see feminist studies, post-colonial feminism, digital literacy, and global communication theory in action.
Here’s an excerpt from my piece:
The event was a chance to see theory in action. I walked around talking about Spivak, propoganda, media imperialism, glocalization, and at least some of the attendees understood what I was talking about….
No one used the term glocalization (though globalization was tossed around a lot), but this is what is happening with mobile technology globally. And TNCs are partnering with TNMCs to spread the glocalizing love. Coca-Cola is working with GSMA member mobile operators to support women entrepreneurs in their global supply chain. For example, in areas with sporadic electricity, Coca-Cola provides small retailers with solar powered coolers. Along with the coolers, they provide cell phone chargers. These chargers drive customers to come to the store (Journey Staff, 2014). In stories told about mobile markets in developing lands, there were many examples of the adopt and adapt approach of asymmetrical interdependence….
As a final observation, the speakers and topics of the conference really drove home the idea of the Generic Model of media imperialism that we’ve moved beyond the imperialism of the nation-state. There were speakers from every inhabited continent on the planet. Some were social entrepreneurs, others ran global mobile operators. There were representatives from USAID, financial reporters, tech industry consultants, and a variety of senior management leaders from the telecom industry. And yet, to a person, the emphasis was on the consumer, “the global economic imperative” (GSMA, 2014, p. 4) of the selling mobile. They may have had different reasons for it (jobs, altruism, corporate revenue, US agenda), but this diverse group was united in the goal of growing the consumer market for mobile globally.
This experience illustrates to me that, while we may study theory in separate categories, in reality, all of these concepts function together. Add to that the impact of consumer markets, human rights and political movements, climate change–the list is endless–and we begin to see the complex nature of communication in something as simple as a cell phone.
Favorite Global Media Issue: Globalization and women’s access to technology
GSMA. (2014). Accelerating the rise of the female digital economy: Event guide. Atlanta, GA: Author.
Journey Staff. (2014). Meet Preeti Gupta. Retrieved from http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/5by20/preeti-gupta
Theoretical literacy within the communication discipline demonstrated by the ability to articulate at least one theoretical framework and use it to illuminate a real-life communication problem, strategy, or initiative.
COMM 664: Top 10 Best Practices for Communicating Organizational Identity and Brand (Narrative Paradigm theory)
COMM 658: Strategic Connectivity Plan – Twitter strategy using Putnam’s theory of Social Capital
COMM 616: Care for the Caregiver
Most assignments in the program involved the application of a theoretical framework to a real-life problem, strategy, or initiative. I chose the four assignments listed above because they demonstrate the diversity of theoretical applications. In a typical assignment, we would give a rationale for why a specific theory applies to a specific communication scenario, outline the essential elements of the theory, then use the theory as a lens to examine the research situation. In the first example, Top 10 Best Practices for Communicating Organizational Identity and Brand, the theoretical application (Narrative Paradigm theory) is in the form of a “best-practices” style article common on business blogs. A reader would not need a theoretical background to understand the application of the theory. In the second example, I use the theory as a framework around which to build strategic plans, one for a brand, the other for a social media campaign. The theory provides the bones for comprehensive, actionable strategies. In the final two examples (Impression Management Theory for Communication Uh-Ohs and Care for the Caregiver), I make theory personal, using theory to address work and home-life issues in my own life.
I love engaging theory* (that’s a big reason chose this program), and I see applications of theory everywhere. In my very first assignment, I wrote about the role I saw for communication theory:
My first communication theory course felt like a revelation. I wholeheartedly embraced the idea, shared by the authors that “Developing an understanding of a variety of communication theories means we can be more discriminating in how we communicate in every area of our lives, can gain tools to use deliberately to improve our communication, and can better understand what the discipline of communication is about” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2011, p. 3). Once this idea was pointed out to me, I saw it everywhere. If countries could better communicate, we could end war. If political parties could better communicate, we could end legislative gridlock. If people could better communicate, we could end a lot of discord.
I leave this course validated in the belief that communication theory is the anchor that should root all communication practice. Platforms may change, but humans remain (relatively) the same. As a communication professional, it is easy to get swept up in the hottest new platform or business book; I see theory as the way for me to stay grounded as I move through the rapids of my industry.
*As proof of my crazy love for theory, look at this extra assignment I gave myself in the first course. I created and populated the table by hand–it took 7 screen shots to get the whole thing on the blog.
Favorite Theory: I have three: Goffman’s Dramaturgic Metaphor, Putnam’s Social Capital, and Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm.
Littlejohn, Stephen W. & Foss, Karen A. (2011). Theories of human communication. Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc.
Research literacy within the communication discipline demonstrated by the ability to create and complete at least one inquiry project that:
- Articulates a communication problem, strategy, or initiative to be analyzed and evaluated
- Adopts an epistemological standpoint
- Locates, aggregates, and analyzes credible research
- Drafts a literature review that supports and illuminates a chosen area of inquiry
- Composes and supports arguments using at least one theoretical framework
COMM 616: Firefly as Dwelling Place
COMM 624: Google, Inc. as Global Internet Gatekeeper (Group paper)
COMM 680/681: Final Inquiry Project (in progress): A (Cyber) Communicative Home: Leadership in an Unstructured Online Space
I still enjoy reading and writing on paper, as the picture of my desk (above) illustrates, but most of my research looks like this:
And my “desk” looks like this (equally as cluttered be it CMC or IRL):
The obvious example of research literacy is my final inquiry project, my thesis; however, I’ll be addressing that project in the section on Comprehensive Communication Project. All of the listed examples involve the required elements of research literacy: however, I will focus on The Social Construction of the “Chick” Entrepreneur as an example of how all of these elements go together.
1. Articulates a communication problem, strategy, or initiative to be analyzed and evaluated
I examine an issue that has arisen as a result of the rapid rise of women-owned businesses–entrepreneurial identity. Entrepreneurship has been historically gendered male, so a new wave of women entrepreneurs is entering the marketplace with few role models and/or examples of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
2. Adopts an epistemological standpoint
In COMM 601, I constructed a Philosophical Assumptions Matrix to place myself on an epistemological, ontological, and axiological spectrum. I placed myself then, and remain now. somewhere between constructivist and social constructivist. In this inquiry project, I took a very specific epsitemological standpoint, social constructionism, as reflected in the paper’s title. My other work reflects a similar standpoint.
3. Locates, aggregates, and analyzes credible research
For this project I used a variety of research sources to place the work in the context of both academic and business literature. I used the EBSCOHost Communications/Media Databases portal to search for academic research on gender and entrepreneurship. I also used course textbooks for research. In addition, I searched popular and business media for stories on the rise and impact of women entrepreneurs. This allowed me to place my research in both academic and mainstream worlds.
4. Drafts a literature review that supports and illuminates a chosen area of inquiry
This was one of my shortest literature reviews (theoretical framework was discussed separately), but I look back on this as an example of using the literature review to locate and illuminate my argument. I focused on four themes in the literature: the social construction of individual, gender, organizational, and entrepreneurial identity; organizations and entrepreneurship as “male” gendered; female entrepreneurship as a resistant act; the construction of female entrepreneurial identity by popular culture. This set the groundwork for my addition to this body of research with my designation of the “Chick Entrepreneur.”
5. Composes and supports arguments using at least one theoretical framework
This project involved multiple theoretical frameworks (method and theory document embedded in original post). I used Ashcraft’s (2004) four frames for communication, organization, and gendered identity to explore how entrepreneurship might be gendered male and what female resistance to that gender bias might look like. I then explored feminist theory, with a focus on third wave feminism, to create a lens for the textual analysis that followed.
When I entered the program, I had never heard of a literature review. I conclude the program actually having a favorite literature review (StalcupAngela_OrganizationalIdentityProject_020715). It probably doesn’t hurt that I was here when I wrote it:
I learned that with just a literature review and theoretical framework, I could express my own standpoint. (I also learned that I must NEVER try to write a paper on a business trip where I have beach access–this is as close to the beach as I got because I was stuck in my room writing my paper.)
If I love theory, then I adore research. I believe that the Internet is the best invention of my lifetime as it gives me a world wide web of sources for research. I leave this program with an even greater appreciation for all there is to study and know.
Favorite Research Trick: Boolean search – [(women or woman or female) and (business or entrepreneur)]
Ashcraft, K. (2004). Gender, discourse, and organization: Framing a shifting relationship. In D. Grant, C. Hardy, C. Oswick, & L. Putnam (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational discourse (pp. 275-291). London: Sage.
Digital and media literacy demonstrated by the ability to create and evaluate content on at least one digital or media platform related to a specific communication initiative and audience.
COMM 658: Strategic Connectivity Plan – Twitter strategy using Putnam’s theory of Social Capital
I look at digital and media literacy in two ways: evaluating media and creating media. In the program, we had the opportunity to evaluate digital platforms and media (Strategic Connectivity Plan; Google, Inc. as Gatekeeper) and to use the tools of digital media to create content (WordPress, Audacity, Soundcloud, YouTube, Prezi). This blog is an example of digital literacy, and there are many posts
The examples demonstrate one or both of these aspects of media literacy. Digital Dwelling Place: A Digital Literacy Project (Podcast) is the perfect example of the intersection of creating and evaluating content on a digital platform for a specific audience. This project involved the need for digital literacy in organizations as relates to online communities (digital platform) and was targeted to social media managers. The presentation involved the use of an online platform, WordPress, and digital media, a podcast (Audacity/Soundcloud). Thus, this project targeted online professionals using online tools. Similarly, in the Strategic Connectivity Plan, I developed a Twitter strategy by using Twitter for resources and connections and shared some of those results on Twitter. In all the examples cited above, the targeted audiences were organizational leaders and/or entrepreneurs, not simply academic audiences.
I entered the program with experience in blogging, video, and audio platforms. During the program I was introduced to new and exciting digital tools (Prezi, Soundcloud, Audacity) that I am now using in my professional life. Beyond learning new tools, I now have a better understanding of how to create digital content and how to evaluate media content based on the underpinnings of data (I see Social Capital EVERYWHERE now).
Favorite Digital Project: Break Out and Be Yourself: Entrepreneurs and Employee Identity (Podcast) (I did some pretty fancy sound editing here.)
OK, I know, it’s more like this
Writing literacy for chosen audiences, including the ability to draft and format an essay in an appropriate citation style.
Everything on this blog.
The 88 (or so) discussion posts I’ve written.
The additional inquiry projects and short papers in the program.
COMM 629: 629 Discussion Question Week 6
Obviously, you do not get through a MA of communications program without being able to write; however, this program takes writing to a new level. As this is an entirely asynchronous online program, all course discussions and most major assignments are in written form. (I’ve included a discussion response above to illustrate how this works.} When writing in discussion forums and in formal assignments, the audience (even with classmates) is an academic audience. However, we’ve had opportunities to write for non-academic audiences on academic audiences. With these audiences, we make sure to include citations and references in APA style.
While there are many examples in my digital portfolio of academic writing, my first example above, From Bytes to Flesh: Bronies as a Fringe Community, is an example of a short paper assignment written in an essay format. I include it to illustrate competency in this literacy, as well as to be able to include “Bronies” on my blog.
The next two examples highlight writing targeting non-academic audiences. The blog post Top 10 Best Practices for Communicating Organizational Identity and Brand is an example of taking an academic theory, Narrative Paradigm theory, and tailoring it to a mainstream audience (in this case, a business audience). The post Break Out and Be Yourself: Entrepreneurs and Employee Identity (Podcast) is an example of how writing literacy translates to digital platforms. For this assignment, I wrote a script that I then delivered via podcast. Again, the material targeted a business audience, yet still included references (in the text of the blog and in the closing credits of the podcast).
Entering the program, I had to reprogram my writing style to accommodate an academic audience. It took several classes to develop a “discussion” style that involves three paragraph (or more) essays and two paragraph (or more) responses with citations; however, I got there. Through assignments in the program, I’ve been able to craft content for the academy and beyond the academy. I have learned to adapt theoretical concepts to strategic plans, articles, videos, and podcasts. This is a valuable skill, and I feel, a differentiator in my professional field.
I employ a caregiver for a sick family member, and she commented one day that I seem to think through my fingers (on the keyboard). Perhaps that’s the greatest takeaway–I type like a beast, and I can get an idea down on paper (or down on Word) in no time.
Favorite APA Resource: APA Syle Blog
In my dialogic encounter with you, I will not only listen for your radical alterity but I will open and make a place for it. It means that I do not resort only to what is easy–what I already know, ow what we have in common. It means I that I listen for and make space for the difficult, the different, the radically strange. (Lipari, 2004, p. 138)
Ethical consideration within a communication situation demonstrated by the ability to identify, analyze, and evaluate at least one ethical dilemma or scenario related to communication and advocate a specific course of action.
COMM 616 blog posts
My thesis for the program is an outgrowth of research that I started in COMM 616, Firefly and Dwelling Place: Findings and Implications, where I examined the television series Firefly (2002) as an example of the organizational communication ethic of dwelling place. I examined the organizational communication ethic of dwelling place through an analysis of a fictional organization, the crew of the space freighter Serenity, as occurs in the television series Firefly (2002) and the subsequent film Serenity (2005). The series explores classic Western archetypes (the Preacher, the Doctor, the Gunslinger, the Whore with a Heart of Gold, etc.) in a science fiction landscape. A ragtag band of diverse people is brought together and must learn to navigate differences to survive. After an analysis using the Dialogic Model of Organizational Communication Ethics (Arnett, Harden-Fritz, & Bell, 2009), I came to the following conclusion:
Even though the organization represented by the crew of Serenity is fictional, the challenges faced by the organization correspond to real world issues. Firefly (2002) is about an organization facing a change in the nature of its dwelling place. A change in organizational membership and changing organizational imperative create the need for a new definition of the Good of dwelling place. Even though the organization has few structured dialogic communication practices, the unstructured communicative actions of the organizational members, through verbal and nonverbal dialogic engagement, lead to the transformation of the nature of the dwelling place.
While we discussed ethos throughout the program, COMM 616 on ethics really expanded my concept of ethics and how to apply them.
My blog post from COMM 616, Communication Ethics Literacy–Long Live the Radically Strange, is my reflection on the ethical literacy.
This is why Arnett et al. (2009) choose the metaphor of literacy when describing the practical application of communication ethics literacy in daily life. As with any form of literacy, there is a base level of knowledge that is required to qualify as literate. In reading, we recognize that a third grader has a level of literacy vastly different from that of a graduate student. Further, I can be highly literate in a certain subject area (Communication) but be functionally illiterate in another (HVAC repair). So it is with communication ethics literacy. The foundation of this literacy is the ability to “[identify] the good in the interplay of self and Other and the particular historical moment, attending to what is protected and promoted” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 210); however, the degree to which we are able to accomplish this will vary based on our level of general communications literacy and the specific subject area, or context, of the communicative act. As is demonstrated in Arnett et al., the contexts of communication ethics are many: public discourse, interpersonal, intercultural, organizational, business/professional, health care, and more. Fluency in one context does not necessarily mean fluency in all contexts. There will always be room for improving our level of communication ethics literacy.
As a result of looking at ethics in a broader sense than simply right and wrong (and as a social constructionist I would challenge that such a concept even exists), I’ve become aware of my own need to remain aware:
Listening, attentiveness, negotiation, the core of dialogic communication ethics, is a cyclical process. The Self, the Other, and the historical moment are temporal and temporary, subject to change at a moment’s notice. So in areas of family, community, friendships, work, client relationships, citizenship, I must be aware to resist the “tendency to look only to find what we want or demand to see” (Arnett et al., 2009, p. 218) and resist the urge to think that communicative practices that work today will work tomorrow.
I concluded my course reflection on ethical literacy with this line, and I do the same now:
Long live the radically strange! May we grow and prosper, in spite of, and because of, our differences.
Favorite Ethic: Dialogic
Arnett, R.C., Harden Fritz, J.M., & Bell, L.M. (2009). Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference. Los Angeles, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Lipari, L. (2004). Listening for the Other: Ethical implications of the Buber-Levinas encounter. Communcation Theory, 14, 144-141.
Whedon, J. (Writer & Director). (2002). Serenity [Television episode] in J. Whedon & T. Minear (Executive producers) Firefly. USA: 20th Century Fox Television.
Whedon, J. (Writer & Director). (2005). Serenity [Motion picture]. USA: Universal Pictures.