Before enrolling in the MSIDT program at Walden University, I had already completed a masters in educational leadership and a doctorate in educational leadership. A little redundant? Yeah, I know. But the compulsion for lifelong learning is a little more than a cliché for me. It is, well, a compulsion. But a worthy compulsion. A needed compulsion for educators. So…..

The design of doctoral studies was based on a scholar–practitioner educational leader model with a heavy focus on social justice, equity, and care. A common theme in the studies emphasized critical theory and postmodernist thought. This program spoke to be as an aesthetic and authentic instructional leader, struggling to convince teachers of the vale of democratic education and culturally relevant teaching.

When I enrolled in the MSIDT program at Walden University, I was a P-12 school principal working in a district concerned about taking teaching and learning into the 21st century. My purpose was two-fold: to learn how to prepare practicing teachers to educate digital-age learners and to learn how to integrate technology into the P-12 classroom in a meaningful and relevant way. Underlying both of these purposes was a desire to make school more engaging for students.

After having enrolled in the MSIDT program at Walden University, I became an assistant professor in higher education, instructing in a principal preparation program. My focus shifted only slightly, turning to preparing aspiring principals to become socially just and democratic leaders in 21st century schooling.

Challenges and Issues

At each of these stages my initial challenge was what could be called “philosophical.” My first obstacle was disappointment. Going back to complete a post-doc masters did nothing to fulfill my hopes of continuing critical dialogue or inspiring to engage in the grassroots advocacy for children in the way my doc studies (or even in the way that my masters in educational leadership had). Part of this concern was personal ambition—never at any point throughout these courses did I want to become an instructional designer (in the business sense). I am a teacher and a teacher leader; even in my work in higher education my focus in on educator preparation. My concerns are rooted in how the ideas and ideals of John Dewey, Jürgen Habermas, Paulo Freire, and Pierre Bourdieu can help us in our efforts to make education more equitable and just, and in questions of whether or not Michel Foucault is relevant to contemporary analysis of discourses in education.

Related to this, my second obstacle was an issue of relevance and engagement. While the Walden program does admittedly self-describe as a hybrid education/business model program, I had hoped that my voice and needs as a critical theorist and an educator would have more of a place in discussions. I found that often it did not. It is not that I could not see the value in many of the readings and activities for students that worked or would work doing corporate instructional design—that was easy enough to see. However the program did not differentiate to engage me as an educator. The benefit of this was that it further provided me experience to know what so many of our children in classrooms today feel when their teacher does not understand differentiated instruction.

Application

At this juncture in my career I am focused on ways to design and deliver principal preparation courses in online settings. Initially my concern is with enhancing current principal prep modules with instructional design components. Now and most likely always, I will value the power of face-to-face interaction for individuals pursing leadership degrees of any kind. The need for future principals and superintendents to network and engage in associations of continuous learning and support is crucial in today’s ever-changing educational landscape. However, that does not mean that I do not recognize the trends in higher education generally or that I do not value enriching class time by “flippling” aspects of lecture/learning with materials shared through online environments.

Teaching from a fully online platform or using technology-based augmentations to face-to-face learning, the issues and challenges in either case are many. First and foremost the initial issue is the work involved in transitioning the standards required in accredited principal prep programs to the online environment. Ensuring that the activities that teach these standards in the face-to-face setting translate well to the modifications for online learning. Second, but equally important, the challenge is to ensure that the learning environment is a quality virtual classroom. At my institution I have been introduced to Quality Matters to gauge how well I design and develop my online course.

A third issue is one of presence. Finding ways to be “there” with my students in their learning online is challenging. What I had modeled at Walden were instructor comments on the discussion board and occasional emails. Also they used a few introductory videos. I am not sure that this is enough. For now it suffices. However I am not convinced that this will sustain as authentic instructor involvement as instructional design and technology advances.

Conclusion

Difficulties and lack of relevance aside, I am able to reflect back over the program in its entirety and synthesize for myself the value of the experience. In the beginning I was afforded an opportunity to revisit some very basic theories of leadership that I had studied in my first masters; and that was a good refresher. Furthermore, I have been provided a great deal of insight into the cultural field of instructional design, its production, its schemata, and its habitus. Ultimately, my goal would be now is to take what I have learned and apply it to the needs of my learners—whatever those needs are.

Christianity (and by extension, religion) has become extremely politicized over the last century. In doing so, I fear that a great slight of political hand has distracted Christians from the tenets of their true faith. We have been made to focus on issues of morality. I am dreadfully sorry but morality cannot be legislated–it is an issue of the heart, of the spirit, between an individual and his/her God. Would you have me to believe that the politicians we elect are righteous enough to instill morality into the hearts of our fellow Americans? Hardly! Who among us immediately think of honesty and integrity and love and peace when we think of politicians? But yet we let these “leaders” tell us what we should believe. And we expect–hopefully–that they do base their legislative decisions on our national values.

But instead we have let certain of them convince us that to “promote the general welfare”–a clause from our Constitution–is somehow not a privilege but a socialist distortion of American rights (and, yes, folks, the general welfare is public welfare, not just some vague and meaningless phrase).

But for Christianity, this phrase of promoting the general welfare is not even a national responsibility…it is a requirement of faith and religious worship. Still we let politicians, every election, take a platform and tell us that this type of service to our country, that providing for our fellow man through social programs is “big government” and even “communist.” But if we are to claim that America is a Christian nation, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that our laws would reflect our calling to “proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (words of Isaiah and Jesus there). Why is it acceptable to legislate morality in what an individual does with their body (i.e. abortion or homosexuality) but it isn’t acceptable to legislate what you or I do with our wallet or pocketbook? Sounds a little contradictory to me.

Don’t be confused, my post here is not about Republic vs. Democrat. This is about a group of fellow Americans that have allowed politics to distract them from the calling of faith, hope, and charity (aka, “Love”). We have allowed politics to give us the license to hate and “stir up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:19–which is one of the things this verse says God hates). I am not saying that any one of us has been brainwashed by political discourses but I am saying that we have allowed them to redirect our attention from the real truth about caring for our fellow man, “bearing one another’s burdens,” and engaging in authentic religious practice. And if we expect our legislators to put into law all moral issues then this should be one of the moral issues included as well.

So, if you are a Christian and an American, before you condemn social programs for using our tax money to take care of individuals on welfare or receiving benefits of any sort I ask that you read these following verses, taken straight from the Bible:

Proverbs 31:9

Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.

Psalm 82:3-4

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

Proverbs 14:31

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

Deuteronomy 15:10-11

You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

Isaiah 58:10

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

Luke 14:12-14

“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (words of Jesus)

Proverbs 22:9

Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.

1 John 3:17

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Proverbs 14:21

Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.

Matthew 5:42

Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Proverbs 29:7

A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.

Leviticus 25:35

If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.

Politics and the Principal

Posted: January 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

I.

My view of “political” is rooted in a purist (at least linguistically speaking) way of thinking. I like to think the word “political” still holds to the Greek idea of polītikós which means “civic,” a derivative form of the word, polītēs, “citizen.” We’ve almost forgotten in our society that politics in a democracy is a civic responsibility of the citizens. We’ve allowed the “partisan” aspect of our government blind us to the ideal that should be about the populus or rather public (and therefore about the people).

Where this gets complicated is that we are diverse nation on a great many levels and one of those levels happens to be interests. Here, I’ll revert to the etymology of the word “interest,” which means, concern, and it derived from a Latin verb that literally means “to be between.” A person’s or organization’s interests, or rather special interests, are concerns that come between them and others as citizens. They then engage in the power plays that you refer to in your question, Sheri. People use their privilege, their social or cultural capital, their economic gains, whatever necessary to vie for their own interests.

The problem with this is that all to often these interests are selfish or overly ambitious and can therefore interfere with democratic endeavors. The drive to win a “side,” to gain an upperhand for “interests” cause asymmetrical relationships that are inequitable and socially unjust. So while I do not believe the true idea of politics is “power play” per se, I certainly recognize and completely acknowledge that politics leads to struggles of power.

But, with that said, I believe that a democracy exists as a space, creates a place, for our human struggles. Coser (1956) believed that conflicts are inevitable by-products of human interaction. Our failure to understand and embrace our responsibility to and the role of conflict is where we fail as fellow human beings. Conflict does not have to mean war or aggression of any kind. Because someone may disagree with another does not mean they have to be enemies. Because one people embraces a particular set of beliefs or conventions does not mean that the neighboring people should hate them or fear them. What it does mean it that we should struggle to understand one another, and through efforts for social justice and democracy create spaces of collaboration and conflict where as human beings we can agree to disagree and embrace our differences. Politics could be the exercise of the ethics of equity. To me, that should be politics.

But instead the consensus is conflict means war and politics is the battle to gain power.

II.

Principals must be upfront and authentic with the teachers that they supervise and lead, as well as forthright with the superintendent and school boards that are in charge of their oversight. As I stated in my last post,”Remaining professional, having confidence in your own expertise, and keeping an open, honest, and respectful mindset in your dealings regardless of the political push or ideological ideals of your client will help to safeguard yourself against second guessing your own motives and morals, and ensuring that you deal fairly and equitably with all stakeholders.”

Unfortunately, spread out and sprinkled through our vast nation there are those in positions of power in public education (at all levels, classroom, campus, and district), who are in charge of the learning program of our children that fall among the people committed to some personal political agenda. I think we must approach these individuals with a cautious [and ethical] diplomacy.

We must be able to negotiate with them, which means we must be able to “agree to disagree” with them as well. I know for many this phrase has become cliché–to agree to disagree. If at all possible, we must be able to enter into an community of collaboration in which one another’s ideas and ideals do not interfere with our own perceived views of what is best for the interest of the organization or the goal. In a way, to work with these individuals is to form a type of mini-partisan politics, in which we each stand on our own platform of values and virtues. But we must understand that conflict is natural and should be welcomed, and there may be a time and a place for willing compromise.

And for those taking the ethical high ground, we must also be willing to understand that there may be a time and place to saddle up your horse and ride for another ranch.

References

Coser, L. (1956). The functions of social conflict. New York, NY: The Free Press.

In my last post I gave some consideration to how principals and educational leaders are project managers. In this post I examine the importance in realizing that principals are also program evaluators.

Almost on a daily basis principals are expected to examine, collect data on, analyze, even design and develop, and at the least give thought to the value of programs on their campuses and in the classrooms on those campuses. Such a program may be learning software (e.g. iStation or one put out by Scientific Learning); it may be a scope and sequence for the delivery of curriculum standards (like that formerly known as CSCOPE in Texas); it may be the instructional methods embraced by the teaching staff, for example, Balanced Literacy; or it may simply be the way in which state-adopted textbooks are being used (or not used). It may even take shape as the accepted pedagogical strategies believed to be effective by many educators, e.g. differentiated instruction, co-teaching, guided reading, or the way in which teachers are implementing Marzano’s Nine.

If we accept a broad stroke definition of the term “program” even teacher appraisal is a type of program evaluation.  After all, a teacher’s lessons, lectures, assignments, and assessments all work together to form an educational plan or program.

Regardless of the “program,” principals and other educational leaders are program evaluators. And regardless of the “program” it is important to remember the political nature of evaluation. The work of evaluation exists in the context of social settings. All social settings—schools, universities, or corporations—are political arenas. It is imperative that leaders, instructional designers, policy analysts, and program assessors understand the political implications of their evaluative work.

Schweigert (2007) states,

Evaluation, as an eminently practical profession, entails the formal demands of a scientific enterprise operating in the complex social world of everyday life where informal and ambiguous ethical issues and obligations abound. Evaluation delves into this social world in its processes of investigation and valuation, seeking understanding through various methods of research, and speaks to the social world in its evaluative judgments and directions, not merely in a general way for any who might be interested but addressing and informing specific organizations, endeavors, and decision points. (pp. 394-395)

Due to this view, Schweigert avers, “Evaluation is thus deeply engaged in the arena of justice, that dimension of human affairs concerned with the virtues of public life” (p. 395).

Mohan and Sullivan (2006) state,

Evaluation is intrinsically political (Palumbo, 1987). The very programs that evaluators examine are “creatures of political decisions” (p. 47); even initiation or sponsorship of an evaluation can be a political act (Weiss, 1987). Evaluation findings, which are reported for decision-making purposes, are considered within the political arena, and in advocating for a recommendation, the evaluator takes on an activist role in promoting social change (Iriti, Bickel, and Nelson, 2005). (p. 8)

Fitzpatrick, Sanders, and Worthen (2011) contextualize it in this manner:

Evaluators cannot afford to content themselves with polishing their tools for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data. They must consider how to deal with pressures to supply immediate data or with the misuse of results. They must consider ways to minimize fears or misunderstandings about evaluation, the means for involving different groups in the evaluation and, then, ways to balance their interests and needs. Evaluators need to think about how evaluation reports will be received by different stakeholders; whether the results of the evaluation will be suppressed, misused, or ignored; and many other interpersonal and political issues. Ignoring these issues is self-defeating, because human, ethical, and political factors pervade every aspect of an evaluation study. (p. 65)

In Mohan and Sullivan’s (2006) words,

Evaluators who work hard to preserve the scientific integrity of carefully controlled randomized studies may, of course, find that policymakers use the results of their evaluations for political purposes, including partisan uses (Palumbo, 1987). But Palumbo (1987) observed that virtually all participants in social interaction are partisans. Even if policy analysts are respectful, responsible, and broad-minded, their work is a component of the political process, and they exert an influence only through participation in that process. Furthermore, Palumbo recognized the relationship between evaluators’ values and their work and considered the values of researchers to be “part and parcel of their research” (p. 29). Thus, evaluators cannot stand apart from the political environment or from their own biases. (p. 9)

In an endeavor to find a balance between the political challenges and the objectivity requirements of a program evaluation, according to Mohan and Sullivan (2006), program evaluators and instructional designers must understand the evaluation environment and work to maximize both independence and responsiveness. These authors suggest that this can be achieved by doing the following:

  • Consider the political context;
  • Consult extensively with policymakers;
  • Identify key stakeholders;
  • Understand the relationships among stakeholders;
  • Respond to stakeholders’ needs;
  • Manage the project’s scope;
  • Appreciate and respond appropriately to policymakers’ timing constraints;
  • Exercise statutory authority to have access to data judiciously;
  • Use evaluation methods that produce accurate information based on a broad range of perspectives;
  • Prepare reports that are balanced in content and tone; [and]
  • Use professional standards to guide the evaluation work. (p. 12)

For me, this implies placing an emphasis on professionalism, expertise (or education), openness, honesty, and mutual respect as ethical standards and values. In many ways, these values are foundational to social justice, equity, and care, which for me as an educator and educational leader are critical to democratic society. Remaining professional, having confidence in your own expertise, and keeping an open, honest, and respectful mindset in your dealings regardless of the political push or ideological ideals of your client will help to safeguard yourself against second guessing your own motives and morals, and ensuring that you deal fairly and equitably with all stakeholders.

References

Fitzpatrick, J., Sanders, J., & Worthen, B. (2010). Program evaluation: Alternative approaches and practical guidelines (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Mohan, R., & Sullivan, K. (2006). Managing the politics of evaluation to achieve impact. New Directions for Evaluation, 112, 7–23. doi: 10.1002/ev.204

Schweigert, F. J. (2007). The priority of justice: A framework approach to ethics in program evaluation. Evaluation and Program Planning, 30(4), 394–399.

According to wikipedia.com, scope creep “in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.”
Examples of scope creep are:

  1. poor change control
  2. lack of proper initial identification of what is required to bring about the project objectives
  3. weak project manager or executive sponsor
  4. poor communication between parties
  5. lack of initial product versatility (“scope creep” wikipedia.com)

Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, and Sutton (2008) define scope creep as “the natural tendency of the client, as well as project team members, to try to improve the project’s output as the project progresses” (p. 346). These authors go on to state, “The most common result of scope creep is an upset client who was not (or claims not to have been) told how long the change delays the project and how much it raises the project’s cost” (p. 346).

I have been a production manager (in my past life) and most recently a school principal. I can only draw from these experiences when considering the impact of scope creep. I bring in the wikipedia definition only because it aligns the concept of scope creep more closely with the examples from experience to which I can relate.

As a production manager, customers would often change specs and deadline. Most often this resulted in material waste (an unforeseen cost) more than it did increased prices or delay production. Changes most often required a change or extension in deadline. Employees who had to rework orders were more upset that management or clients. As a company we overcame this through communication and being extremely flexible. Since these changes were unforeseeable and happened offsite at the whim of the customer the production manager and production team could only work to ensure that the final product was a quality product that would please the customer. Waste material was minimized through two methods—one, reusing the cut materials for future orders that required similar specifications and two, selling the material as scrap to be recycled.

As a principal, scope creep is an even more elusive concept to try to describe in practice. The education of children is no assembly line or project with a clear cut end product. It is a work of human endeavor, and the typical day of a principal is not always easy to plan out. In fact, the job of principal is one of the most fragmented jobs. Peterson (2001) found that

Principals deal with literally hundreds of brief tasks each day, sometimes 50 to 60 separate interactions in an hour (Peterson, 1982). Their workday starts and ends with many tasks that may last only a few minutes (Peterson, 1982;1998). These short tasks are often immediate problems or difficulties that need to be addressed. During one morning hour, for example,
there could be an uncovered classroom, a broken arm, a scuffle, a request from the central office for data, and a myriad of requests for in formation from parents, students, and teachers. Short tasks require different skills and knowledge than longer ones. The principal must analyze, assess, and develop solutions or strategies quickly with little time to consider alternatives. Rapid problem identification and solving is the norm.

Supporting Peterson’s quote, Lunenburg (2010) found that the role of the school principal is one of Variety, Fragmentation, and Brevity. Lunenburg reports,

Research on principal behavior is consistent in identifying the demands on the administrator as fragmented, rapid fire, voluminous, allowing little time for quiet reflection. The principals engaged in at least 149 different activities per day, half of which took less than five minutes each. This is in sharp contrast to many professional jobs, like engineering or law, which are characterized by long periods of concentration. Principals shift gears rapidly. There is no continuous pattern in their work. Significant crises are interspersed with trivial events in no predictable sequence. Each issue must be decided as quickly as possible.

Lunenburg (2010) goes on to say,

Principals spend 70 to 80% of their time in interpersonal communication. Personal contacts include colleagues in other schools, senior administrators, staff experts, teachers, and other personnel throughout the school. Effective principals also establish personal contacts outside the school, including principals in other school districts, legislators, state department of education personnel, parents, and people in the community. Most communication is face to face and by telephone rather than written. E-mail has added another dimension to the principal’s communication patterns.

This in and of itself approximates scope creep in that it often deters principals from being true instructional leaders on their campuses. The pressures and expectations of society is that the principal be on top of everything that occurs in education—the highly dynamic and extremely nuanced political space called school. However the fragmentation and constant flux of the moment, the need to put out fires (sometimes literally), the responsibilities to the public and to parents, test administration and security measures, teacher needs, discipline concerns—these things combined are the principal’s scope creep and makes effective instructional leadership, to say the least, a difficult task.

References

Lunenburg, F. C. (2010). The principal and the school: What do principals do? National Forum of Educational Administration and Supervision Journal, 27(4). Retrieved from http://www.nationalforum.com/Electronic%20Journal%20Volumes/Lunenburg,%20Fred%20C.%20The%20Principal%20and%20the%20School%20-%20What%20Do%20Principals%20Do%20NFEASJ%20V27,%20N4,%202010.pdf

Peterson, K. D. (2001). The roar of complexity:A principal’s day is built on fragments of tasks and decisions. Journal of Staff Development, 22(1). Retrieved from http://www.theptc.org/storage/images/The%20Roar%20of%20Complexity.pdf

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: Wiley & Sons.

Project Management Resources

Posted: December 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

This posting deviates from my usual postings in that it moves away from contemplations that deal specifically with educational leadership and principal preparation. Instead this attempts to meet the requirements for an assignment in a project management course in a program for instructional design and technology.

The assignment requirement states, To prepare for this assignment, conduct a web search (listservs, message boards, blogs) and locate at least two resources that would be useful in estimating the costs, effort, and/or activity durations associated with ID projects. Explore the sites and consider how you might use them to help plan a project’s schedule, budget, or break down a project’s tasks. To meet the requirements for this I searched the web and found two potentially useful sites.

The first resource I explored for this assignment is TechRepublic. This site provides a substantial amount of information that project managers may find useful. The project manager could explore blogs linked to this page as well as explore numerous articles relating to project management and instructional design.

http://www.techrepublic.com/

The second web resource I located is Clarizen. The website proclaims:

“Clarizen For Project Managers
Clarizen’s online project management software helps your team work more efficiently, effectively, and achieve better results. It’s the only project management solution to merge the power of the cloud with social communications. Use it to:

Eliminate work chaos by standardizing core processes
Gain real-time visibility into projects
Build high-performance teams and speed up the pace of doing business
Increase efficiency of project execution”

http://www.clarizen.com/

According to a survey by The Ken Blanchard Companies (n.d.), inappropriate use of communication or listening is the number one “biggest mistake leaders make when working with others (www.kenblanchard.com). Eight-two percent (82%) of survey respondents chose this as the biggest mistake. This “big mistake” ranked in the survey ahead of “failing to use a leadership style that is appropriate to the person, task, and situation,” “failing to set clear goals and objectives,” and “failing to train and develop their people.” Ranked number two in the survey (81%) is “failing to listen to or involve others in the process.”

In another survey, PMI’s 2013 Pulse of the Profession, results revealed, “In the context of organizational project and program management, communications is a core competency that, when properly executed, connects every member of the a project team to a common set of strategies, goals, and actions” (p. 2). The study (2013) states, “the most crucial success factor in project management is effective communication to all stakeholders” (p. 2).

In the 21st century organization—whether dealing with program coordination or project management—communication manifests in three different primary modalities: as written text, as audio, and as visual (be it face-to-face or in a synchronous or asynchronous video format). Each of these modalities may bring with it certain verbal, non-verbal, or paraverbal factors that potential affect or alter the interpretation of the message, the perception of the message, intent of the message, and/or effectiveness of the message.

For example, an email can be sent, stating information in a matter-of-fact or to-the-point manner, and the author have no intention of being curt or with no objective of conveying a particular tone. But depending on the recipient, even the most courteous and respectful email can be interpreted as condescending or even sarcastic.  Personally and professionally, I use emails a lot.  But there are a couple of factors to keep in mind.

Typically authors convey tone through word choice. However the nature of emails can often create a self-constraining space for communicating ideas and therefore limiting the explanations or adjectives to clarify the thought being transmitted. Emails are also generally expected to be somewhat brief. If the author does go to lengths to explain the text in an email s/he runs the risk of the communication not being read thoroughly or at all. It may even be perceived as even more condescending that a concise version. My suggestion is simply say what needs to be said, clarify what needs to be clarified, and be as courteous and collaborative as possible in your text.

A standard audio modality is voicemail. Voicemails need to be thought out, perhaps even written out, before being made. If done in too much of a hurry or without an authentic degree of tone or emotion the message senders run the same risk of miscommunicating their true meaning. Voicemails that are not direct can tend to ramble and therefore make the caller sound distracted or cause the message to not be taken seriously. Nevertheless if the caller attempts to sound too methodical or mechanical s/he can come across as overly bureaucratic or even authoritarian and therefore pretentious and non-collaborative.

Face-to-face is unquestionably the most effective modality to communicate an idea or message. This allows the receiver to pick up on facial cues and gestures that add depth to the non-verbal and paraverbal factors of speech. There is no better presentation of tone of voice than someone’s actual tone of voice.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a genuine smile could possibly be worth as much as a thousand pictures. With available technology face-to-face does not have to be out-of-the-way or time consuming. Applications such as FaceTime (for iPhone users), Skype, and Google Hangout all offer quick and readily available means for communicating with others face-to-face wherever the other person may be.

References

Ken Blanchard Companies. (n.d.). Critical leadership skills: Key traits that can make or break today’s leaders. Retrieved from http://www.kenblanchard.com/img/pub/pdf_critical_leadership_skills.pdf

Laureate Media. (n.d.). The art of effective communication. Retrieved fromhttp://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html

Project Management Institute. (2013, May). The high cost of low performance: The essential role of communications. PMI’s Pulse of the Profession. Retrieved from http://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Business-Solutions/The-High-Cost-Low-Performance-The-Essential-Role-of-Communications.ashx