Week 4- Information gathering: research and information literacy.

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The importance of conducting adequate and pertinent research cannot be understated. This one aspect of communication is all-important to successfully communicating concepts. It can be said that wisdom is gained through focussed and logical research. This concept, portrayed visually in Eunson (2012, p. 76) is a multifaceted process that requires careful planning. Therefor, planning research can be one of the most valuable aspects of any form of communication.

Successful research involves a thought process known as critical thinking. This is a learned skill that does not intend negative thinking as the name suggests; more precisely, it refers to looking at things from many different standpoints devoid of personal emotion. This process removes bias from research, and thus enables the research to become honed and efficient.

Isolating keywords will help to avoid misuse of time, an important consideration within a professional context. By compiling a list of keywords, a thesis statement can be formulated that helps to set the direction of the research. The thesis statement can, and often is modified due to several factors, notably a change in direction due to the realization that the research conducted to that point is not in agreement with the thesis statement. The list of keywords is also a valuable article in relation to research conducted on a search engine. This list of words can be seen as a delimiting device, and when combined with Boolean operators on a search engine, the list of results can be honed to a succinct list. By using this approach, a researcher can avoid spending many hours reviewing results lists on search engines.

To be successful at communication, integrity is important. This is achieved through the use of credible sources of information. While a search engine such as Google may be seen as a good source of information; much of the information found through conventional sources does show a clear bias in the opinions expressed. Search engines such as those used by university libraries tend to focus on peer-reviewed literature, and therefor can be seen as a reliable source of information.

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Reflection exercise 4.2

This week’s work, focusing upon research, proved to be a valuable refresher for many of the skills that were taught during the STEPS program. A great deal of time was spent on learning the important skills involved with research; namely critical thinking, information literacy, and how to use them successfully. The last “research” that was conducted by myself was for a final assessment item for a STEPS course dedicated to essay writing. This essay was primarily focused on putting research skills into practice to produce an academic essay. By using the concepts stated above, I was able to successfully hone the focus of my research through the use of keywords, delimiting words and Boolean operators to such a degree that the time taken to research and find relevant sources was highly economical time wise. This allowed me to achieve my goals as I found the sources I required with ease. My research was limited to peer reviewed articles found via the CQUniversity library search engine; this was a purposeful decision that achieved credibility and avoided bias within the research materials.

These research skills, once learned, have proven to be invaluable; I have applied them to many other aspects of life. Opinions of all kinds, whether they be a newspaper article or on a television program, that cannot be backed with credible research are now viewed as incredulous.

References

Academic Learning Services Unit, Essay writing for university study guide, Academic Services Unit CQUniversity Australia

Digital Image 1, viewed 15 September 2015, http://www.westada.org/domain/209

Digital Image 2, viewed 15 September 2015, http://libguides.infohio.org/academiclibraryvisits

Eunson, B 2012, Communicating in the 21st century, John Wiley & Sons, Milton

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Week 2 – Audience and Context – My Maltese experience, and how I learned about context.

Knowing your target audience can never be underestimated in relation to successful communication. Of possibly equal importance is context; this post will reflect primarily on intercultural context. Neglecting to acknowledge and use these points as the origin for any form of communication will invariably lead to a breakdown of communicable information. Knowing the audience can be approached from multiple directions. One way to view this would involve expertise in any particular field. If a person with musical expertise were to give an oral presentation to an audience with rudimentary knowledge in relation to musical theory: concepts such as common time, major thirds, a Neapolitan sixth or the Tierce de Picardie would all be little more than musical gibberish. Another approach could be in relation to language; a person who speaks English as a second language may have difficulty comprehending the more advanced grammatical features of the English language. Conversely, the said person could have difficulty communicating their ideas in a format that expresses those ideas successfully.

Context, specifically intercultural context, can be of vital importance to communication in today’s multicultural environment. The concept of intercultural context encompasses several types on communication that were presented during the initial week of this course; namely oral, visual, written and non-verbal. Eunson (2012) explains that the model of high versus low context cultures and their communication styles could be a possible explanation why intercultural communication can either be successful or unsuccessful. Low context cultures have a tendency to be more systematic and unambiguous in their style of communication. There will be an emphasis on punctuality, respect to personal space, and listening intently shows respect to the speaker. The largely Germanic speaking cultures such as the Anglophone sphere, the Low Countries, Germany and Scandinavia are characteristic of low context cultures. Conversely, high context cultures have a tendency to have a different view on personal space, a greater emphasis on physical contact and a more formal manner of speech. The Arabic speaking cultural sphere and the Southern European Cultures are good examples of this concept of a high context culture.

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Reflection exercise 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 & 2.4

For sake of succinctness I made the decision to combine these reflection exercises for my blog. Knowing the audience and how context can influence the message has been glaringly clear to me for many years. My former life partner was Maltese, and therefore I spent a great deal of time interacting within the Maltese community. The Maltese people are the descendants of the Arabic colonization of the Maltese archipelago over 1000 years ago. They speak a form of Arabic, and to this day there are many typically Arabic features to the culture. The Maltese people therefore, are very high context communicators. A conversation with Maltese people involves both speech and many non-verbal forms of communication; hand gestures and even physical contact feature strongly in any conversation with Maltese people. There is one word that frequently gets confused by Maltese speakers, that word being the third person singular (He/She). The reason for this is that in the Maltese language, Hi is the third person singular for She. An example of this could be the sentence “ I drove my wife to the shop, and she took a long time”. A Maltese speaker would often say this as “I drove my wife to the shop, and HE took a long time”. This example of confusion over a word forces the listener to look at the context of ‘He’. Over the years I learned that the idea of listening intently and waiting for my turn to speak does not work when conversing with Maltese people. It is expected that you will interrupt them during the conversation and vice versa. That is the dynamics of their style of communication. Due to the language barrier, it became second nature to speak with a more basic vocabulary. One peculiarity that I often encountered was that the Maltese people often look for a second meaning within almost every sentence. This is a feature of the Maltese language as words can have more than one meaning and metaphor is an oft-used device. I also found it beneficial to try to learn Maltese and meet them on common ground. Being from a completely different language family, Maltese has a fundamentally different grammar that makes it fiendishly difficult to learn. I now find myself in the position of being partially assimilated and completely comfortable with the Maltese way of communication, to the point where I now use hand gestures subconsciously whilst conversing with others. Closely allied to these concepts is social and cultural literacy, as was discussed during the initial week. When combined and understood, they can all become powerful communication tools to have in your arsenal. At this stage of this course, it is abundantly clear that the key to successful communication as with anything else, is knowledge.

References

Eunson, B 2012, Communicating in the 21st century, John Wiley & Sons Australia, Milton, QLD

Digital image, viewed 28 July 2015, https://vassallohistory.wordpress.com/maltese-crafts/the-maltese-faldetta-l-ghonnella/

Welcome to my first ever blog post.

My name is Michael Butt. I am 38 years old and I have lived in Mackay Queensland for my entire life. I am a Classical Musician; I received an Associate Diploma of Music many years ago. My life took an unfortunate turn not long after receiving my degree. I have suffered with a long-term kidney disease for many years, and have spent the last few years in recovery after major surgery. Once I had confirmation that those years of illness were in the past, I began to question my future and I came to the conclusion that I will finally be able fulfill my dream of a tertiary education and to receive a Bachelor Degree.

I have just completed the STEPS program at the CQU Ooralea campus here in Mackay. I found the STEPS program to be one of the most intellectually enriching and valuable experiences of my life. I now feel completely prepared for the university experience. I made friends with many of my peers and lecturers and I am confident that those friendships will be long and fruitful. One of the courses I studied for STEPS was Essay Writing for University; the Communication in Professional Contexts course seems to be a natural progression from the Essay Writing course. I am certain that I will enjoy this course as much as the Essay Writing course.

I have commenced my first term of a Bachelor of Information Technology on this very day. I am studying full time in the distance mode. My personal work ethic is one of aiming high and doing the utmost to achieve those goals. I am going to enjoy this journey, and I look forward to sharing this experience with everyone who is on this same journey. I wish all of you the very best with your studies.