Core area 4: Communication & Working with others

Description and Outcomes: Communication and collaboration are essential 21st-century skills (Larson, 2011) which play a significant role in our everyday professional and personal interactions. I believe ‘teaching’, ‘research’ and ‘service’ are intertwined and incomplete without effective communication and collaboration (Douglas, 2013). In my educational practice, I take conscious efforts to ensure that effective communication and interdisciplinary collaboration forms an integral part of my research-teaching nexus, with the center focus being the student learning (Brew, 2006; Griffiths, 2004).

From the past five years, I have been using technological tools (my YouTube Channel, Google Hangout on Air, LinkedIn, Twitter) to facilitate my international (Tinnitus Research Initiative (TRI) – Public Relations Manager), (International Academic Mentor for ESIT) and national roles (HERDSA Officer) to enhance scientific communication, collaboration and professional development of students, community partners and academics.

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Below is the summary of my global reach using various social media tools:

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Demographic global reach via Twitter

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Exemplar reach of YouTube video

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Exemplar reach of a LinkedIn post
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Demographic location of my Facebook (Tinnitus Research Initiative) channel followers

My workshops facilitating communication and networking have been evaluated positively by learners.

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Below are two representative comments:

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Technology can be a powerful tool to assist communication and collaboration beyond the boundaries of physical location. During the 2018 TERNZ conference, I was leading a workshop focusing on different professional development frameworks available for academics in New Zealand such as HERDSA, HEA, SEDA, and CMALT. I could manage to invite facilitators for all these frameworks except CMATL as there are only handful of people in NZ with CMALT accreditation and the people I was interested in were traveling overseas during TERNZ 2018 conference, hence I decided to create a video panel interview in advance and used it during the conference. This was well received by participants.

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TERNZ 2018- CMALT (Communication & collaboration):

Reflection: Reflecting on my engagement in research competitions focused on communication, running workshops and social media campaign to facilitate collaboration, I have learned the following:

  1. Technology can offer us wider reach and solutions to issues outlined above, however it does come with some challenges too, during one of the workshops I was running, the zoom system which was tested in advance to group share some of the video content people developed using their I phones and android phone just did not work. Watch the video from 49 minutes 10 seconds time point, hence it’s always good to have a few backup options while planning such tasks.
  1. Academics have their own reservations when they need to push their comfort zones such as creating a video presentation for students and being recorded. It does take some courage to put ourselves in a vulnerable position, however, this itself can be a great opportunity to learn and teach communication and collaborative skills.
  2. Communication and collaborative skills should be the integral part of curriculum development from early years of university education instead of keeping them for capstone papers only or towards the end of PhD or master’s degree.
  3. My decade long experience in academia has taught me this valuable lesson that “if you want to go fast, travel alone, but if you want to go far, travel together”. Collaborative practice of mine is fundamentally based on this African proverb. One of the essential ingredients of successful collaboration is ‘trust’ on others and this can be facilitated by ‘open and honest communication’. Reflecting on my experience, if there is a communication gap about clear expectations from the potential collaborative partners, it results in delays and disappointments. Hence, I consciously try to not only establish clear expectations from the beginning but also revisiting them regularly as situations and circumstances changes.
  4. I am of the opinion that it is the need of the hour to encourage teaching academics to experiment with new technologies and pedagogical approaches in their learning designs which promotes the idea of constructionist learning and creating a safe community of practice can be a good starting point in that direction (Laurillard, 2013).
  5. I had the privilege to work in three different continents, four different counties (USA, Singapore, India, and New Zealand) with diverse cultural population across various settings such as hospitals, clinics, schools, and universities. Collaborative practice of mine has been one of the most rewarding parts of my academic career.

References:

  • Brew, A. (2006). Why should we be interested in bringing research and teaching together? In A. Brew (Ed.), Research and teaching: beyond the divide (Vol. Universities into the 21st century, pp. 3-19). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Douglas, A. (2013). Advice from the professors in a university Social Sciences department on the teaching-research nexus. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(4), 377-388. 10.1080/13562517.2012.752727
  • Griffiths, R. (2004). Knowledge production and the research-teaching nexus: The case of the built environment disciplines. Studies in Higher education, 29(6), 709-726.
  • Larson, L. C., & Miller, T. N. (2011). 21st Century Skills: Prepare Students for the Future. Kappa Delta Pi Record47(3), 121-123.
  • Laurillard, D., Charlton, P., Craft, B., Dimakopoulos, D., Ljubojevic, D., Magoulas, G., … & Whittlestone, K. (2013). A constructionist learning environment for teachers to model learning designs. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(1), 15-30.