Of learning and teaching

In the late 17 and early 18th century lived Joseph Joubert, a French essayist, whose writings published posthumously, Recueil des pensées de M. Joubert, (Collected Thoughts of Mr. Joubert) contained a quote – There are some acts of justice which corrupt those who perform them. In the scenario of communications, this bring into sharp focus the need for checks and balances and more so to be applied to the area of education, which is, in a sense, a larger schema of communication. There is great interest to understand the impact of what happens in the context of providing content on-line – to teach or to communicate. 

Notwithstanding its initial euphoria of providing content online as a learning resource there is the more complex framework of varied stakeholders. The continued evolution of content delivery mechanisms ensures that stakeholders have the “where with all” to access the content, the question remains as to whether the essence of communication or learning is happening. Learning happens when the communication is targeted to address a certain need for information which raises the conundrum of “Teach Less Learn More”. This framework has become the mainstay of online communication, where the emphasis is on content being available, but not necessarily the checks and balances on the measurement of the impact/learning. This rather paradoxical scenario draws to the shift of the focus of learning or impact, from quantity to quality. 

Drawing the focus away from the mainstay of communication, the impact of any content requires a fulfilment of a four segment framework – 

  1. Every stakeholder receives what they want;
  2. Every stakeholder engages with the content thus by extension becomes an engaged learner;
  3. Every communication addresses the stakeholder
  4. Every stakeholder, a supportive partner. 

To be able to do so, a key success factor is communication leadership. While there can be many variables that have effects how a communication content is received only an effective function of communication can create the conditions under which these individual variables combine synergistically to enhance the impact. This leadership comes from a position of power and the onus of protecting the public image falls squarely on communication.

Communication leadership falls generally into two concepts – one broad and one narrow. The narrow concept defines communication leadership as actions that are directly related to the corporate function of communication. This is the conceptualisation and normally applied within the context of everyday functioning of communications. The broad view of includes all leadership activities that indirectly affect communication and its impact such as corporate culture and being approachable to the stakeholders within and without. 

Breaking this down to a more measurable scenario, the model relies on three possible dimensions 

  1. defining the content’s mission, 
  2. managing the content delivery, and 
  3. promoting a positive impact climate. 

The essence of the content’s impact lies in what is the takeaway to the stakeholder, or what does the stakeholder learn form the content. 

A check list of sorts to define these dimensions can be listed on – 

  1. Framing the content’s goals, 
  2. Designing the content,
  3. Communicating the content, 
  4. Coordinating the content delivery,
  5. Monitoring and evaluating the content impact
  6. And more importantly maintaining high visibility. 

Communication leadership does not require the function of corporate communication to be an instructional lead, but more so posses the capacity to create the organisational conditions necessary to build communication innovation, and enable the content delivery to assume responsibility for improvement.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Amit Paul
With over two decades of diverse experience, Amit has worked closely with corporates, industry houses, academies and institutions helping them bridge the learning divide and implementing management solutions, focussing on the geographies of the Middle East and the ASEAN region.
Currently he is the Principal Consultant at NAC Singapore, and works on the confluence of technology and safe living focussing on building safe and smart cities.

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