Several years ago while employed at a higher education institution, I was included on a project team responsible for converting a face to face course to an online course. At the time, we knew nothing of the term instructional design and were recreating the course from a poor design. An overseas firm was contracted to do the site and content. Two things were wrong with the first course created: 1) the site was not what my boss wanted and 2) they did not include the content. They provided a skeleton for my boss to populate. My boss, who was obviously not pleased with the result, handed over everything to his in-house team to recreate. This time, he wanted us to include the content for each module on the site and create a design that he was comfortable with. This began our project.
“The key to successful project management is effective communication—sharing the right messages with the right people in a timely manner” (Portny, et al., 2008, p. 357). Effective communication is perhaps a subjective concept. What works well in one circumstance may not work well in another. This could also hold true from situation to situation.
The three messages this week left me with different interpretations when I progressed through them. My impressions changed further after listening to each message then replaying the previous messages and comparing them.
My impression of each message
Email – there was a muted sense of urgency. It was clear that the information was required, with haste. However, I did not feel as if the information was being demanded immediately. The wording was more formal than the face to face message and the words were chosen carefully in order to minimize misunderstanding (Portny, et al., 2008). Duthler (2006) posits that “electronic mail allows communicators more control over planning, composing, editing, and delivering messages than face-to-face communication” (p. 501). Duthler argues that this control might lead to communicators creating more polite speech. This explains why the content of the emails appears very polite. The precise and unambiguous nature of the message should further understanding (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).
Voicemail – vocalics and paralanguage communicate the urgency to provide the requested document. In my opinion, Jane sounds very mechanical on the recording. This is likely because when communicating via voicemail communicators can rehearse but cannot make changes to the message once recorded. This mechanical sound could be due to the dissonance between the plan and actual performance as well as the need to manage speech cues.
Face to face – Tone, pace and body language used in the face to face message gave me the impression that the message was not as urgent as the email and voicemail implied.
Which form of communication best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message?
I had a hard time deciding which one method best conveyed the true meaning and intent of the message. I felt both the voicemail and email adequately conveyed the intended message. However, in actuality, I would perhaps first make contact via telephone or face to face then send an email to follow-up. Dr. Stolovitch suggests important communication is best delivered live (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.). He further notes that these should be documented.
Lessons learn from this exercise
Communication is critical to the continued success of projects and other business activities. This activity highlighted how different media can be interpreted and misunderstood. The prevent misinterpretation of my communication I should utilize more than one medium. First I should always seek to communicate in person then use emails or other forms of formal written communication to document what was said and when (Laureate Education (Producer), n.d.).
Duthler, K. W. (2006). The politeness of requests made via email and voicemail: Support for the hyperpersonal model. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 11(2), 500-521.
Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The instructional design journey continues, and so we pause at construction zone EDUC 6145 to fill our ID briefcase with project management knowledge and skills. The journey has been eventful. We’ve traveled some distance. Learning our foundations through research. We’ve contemplated the organization, its innovation, and change. Using multimedia we’ve examined the theories and instructions. We continue to work hard, pushing to achieve the goal. At the end of this journey lies our ultimate reward: advanced instructional design skills.