I can’t believe this is my final blog post from my first course in my Master of Arts in Communications program. I have learned quite a bit over these fast-paced eight weeks. I will share the top three lessons I learned in this course:
I consider myself pretty technologically savvy, so imagine my surprise when I learn new communication tools my first week of class! I had not previously heard of Prezi an I am thrilled with the functionality. I create numerous PowerPoint presentations in my career as a Communications Manager, but I’ve grown bored with the functionality available in that tool. I think that Prezi offers so many more options to make the material presented interesting and dynamic.
I also created my first vlog and video presentation in this course. I’ve been blogging for years, but have never explored video or audio functionality. What have I been missing! Now that I’ve explored these tools, I see so much opportunity to integrate into my communications strategy for my personal brand. I am going to try shooting a video blog demonstrating cooking some of my healthy recipes. I also think there are times in which an audio clip would serve well as supplemental material on my blog. In particular, I think I should use this functionality when promoting my new book, Lunch, by me!
My favorite communication tradition is semiotic. Semiotics is the study of signs. Littlejohn and Foss define the semiotic tradition as “how signs come to represent objects, ideas, states, situations, feelings, and conditions outside of themselves” (2011, 45). Lair (2011) applied the semiotic communication tradition and referred to inferences as “textual winks”, meaning that which savvy audiences look beyond the surface of the show to understand the deeper meaning of the content (p. 84).
I applied the semiotic tradition when evaluating how the movie Forrest Gump provided “equipment for living” to those who want to pursue their destiny. You can review my presentation on Forrest Gump as Equipment for Living for Destiny Seekers to see how I applied that theory. I was able to evaluate the symbolism of the feather and birds in the movie for their deeper meaning.
I also conducted my presentation – Does Green Mean Healthy – during our digital assignment on this article and was able to apply the semiotic tradition to explore how food manufacturer’s use packaging and labels to purposefully mislead consumers in thinking their products are healthy.
The semiotic communication tradition really resonated with me and I was able to apply it to concepts in which I had a real passion. I was particularly excited to evaluate the food manufacturer’s use of purposeful deceitful packaging to portray a junk food as a healthy option. A study conducted by Jonathon Schuldt (2013), assistant professor communication and director of Cornell’s Social Cognition and Communication Lab, found that consumers often mistakenly believe a product is healthy if it has a green wrapper.
Food manufacturers are well aware that they are using semiotic tradition in their communication and marketing strategies with consumers. They use symbols with key words, icons and labeling to purposefully mislead consumers. It was a lot of fun to evaluate these concepts in my presentation.
Writing a Research Paper
The concept of writing a research paper in the particular format that we used was a completely new concept to me. When I obtained my bachelor’s degree, we used MLA style, so the APA style was completely new. I visited the Purdue Online Writing Lab daily. I also enjoyed visiting the Queens University Writing Center. I visited the beautiful campus and met with Holly, who was able to guide me in the right direction. It was wonderful to receive one-on-one attention for all of my writing and APA Style questions. I also learned how to use important resources, such as EbscoHOST. I actually felt like an entire world was opened up to me as I searched articles on any topic that I desired. It was a lot of fun finding the latest research on topics in which I was interested. I enjoyed this because it allowed me to focus on those articles that were valid and well-researched. If you simply conduct a Google Search, you don’t always know what you will get.
For the second component of my blog post, I will discuss my impressions and insights from my classmates digital presentations. I have been impressed with the quality of the content presented from my classmates! I particularly have enjoyed viewing the presentations on Disney movies, as Disney is near and dear to my heart.
I’ll break my feedback up into three components in effort to provide a comprehensive overview of what I’ve learned, as well as the most interesting projects.
Equipment for Living Application
When reviewing some of my classmates presentations, I felt like their application of equipment for living was seamless. For example, I felt like Angela Stalcup did an amazing job at applying equipment for living to The Shawshank Redemption. She married the movie, research and personal experience beautifully. When I viewed Angela’s mom’s video about her “pink cloud” tears came to my eyes. Her paper, presentation and video were touching. Not only was Angela’s presentation personally touching, but it was clear, concise and explicit. She had a strong thesis that she quantified with data. It felt like a natural fit.
I enjoyed viewing my classmates presentations and the different ways they used visuals, text, graphics and illustrations to convey their points. While some classmates used a minimalist style, others incorporated animation. Some classmates embraced Prezi, while others used PowerPoint. I particularly loved Kim Amaya’s use of graphics, color and presentation style for Beauty and the Beast. The presentation was stunning and I enjoyed how she incorporated her daughter’s voice and perspective into the presentation! It was a creative way to show that her research extended beyond the movie and reading.
I also was blown away with Peggy McGill’s presentation style. She is an excellent presenter and she was clear, confident and concise. Her style was engaging and I greatly enjoyed hearing about the movie Up. She brought up many key points that I had not explored previously when viewing the movie.
My favorite part of all of the presentations was hearing the personal stories and why the author chose their movie. I particularly loved hearing Tenecia’s presentation and why she selected the movie Tangled. Her application of the equipment for living theory for Tangled and her journey for pursuing her Masters degree in Communications mirrored my own experience. The way Tenecia presented the story made me root for her all along the way. I felt connected to her story and greatly enjoyed hearing her analysis.
In conclusion, I greatly enjoyed all of my classmates presentations. This has been a tremendous learning experience and I’ve greatly enjoyed the journey. I look forward to continuing this journey with my classmates.
 Littlejohn, S. W. and Foss, K. A. (2011). Theories of Human Communication. Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc.
 Lair, D. (2011). Surviving the Corporate Jungle: The Apprentice as Equipment for Living in the Contemporary Work World. Western Journal of Communication, 75(1), 75-94. Doi: 10.1080/10570314.2010.536966
 Schuldt, Jonathon P. (February, 27 2013). Does Green Mean Healthy? Nutrition Label Color Affects Perceptions of Healthfulness. Health Communication. DOI:10.1080/10410236.2012.725270