Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Pushing Past Perceived Barriers
I'm learning a lot about communication in graduate school, but I'm learning more about myself. I can do more than I thought I could. I'd like to share some of the barriers I've perceived and how I'm handling them.
The first obstacle for me was that my class is discussion based and not lecture style. I thought I could cope with a teacher's lecture by requesting that he wear a small microphone that would send the sound directly to my hearing aids. But when my professor told me the class was a discussion format, I was at a loss as to what to do. Fortunately the size of my class is rather small with eleven of us sitting in four rows. I chose a seat in the second row. This allows me to hear some of my classmates' comments and questions, while keeping my central focus on what the professor says. I definitely do not hear all that my classmates say, but I am keeping up with the general discussion and contributing more often than I expected I would.
The second barrier I encountered was a required online class discussion using Voice Thread. The assignment was to watch a video, listen to our teacher's comments, and submit comments ourselves using webcams or microphones. I was scared by this assignment because the video was not captioned and I would not have captioning for my classmates' commentary. I contacted Voice Thread support by email and asked about captioning. To the company's credit, I received a response the next day; but unfortunately, captioning is not yet available for their service. Someday....
For now, I had to forge ahead with trepidation. The video turned out to be a compilation of several speakers' viewpoints on the scope of the communication field. Some I could hear and understand, but others I could not decipher. I responded with my own comments by webcam wherever I could. Fortunately, the instructor added several slides with discussion questions in writing. These slides were my lifeline. Also, one of my classmates provided a crystal clear audio and a couple others were fairly discernible, so I responded to them. I was satisfied with making the effort to participate in the discussion even if I could not respond as often or as fully as others did.
For tonight's class, we were required to listen to a podcast. That assignment also worried me. I set aside a block of time to listen, figuring if it was too hard, I could take it in chunks. Fortunately, the two speakers had voices I could hear and understand with only a few rewind/replays and episodes of holding my laptop up to my ear. A few times in their podcast, they referred to or read quotes in the article they were reviewing which I had printed out in front of me. Even better, they mentioned page numbers a couple of times. Those moments were like little "You are here" flags popping up and helping me stay on track with the discussion.
In summary, my first weeks of grad school have been tough, but I'm thankful to report that my workload has been hardest in the reading, writing, and research involved rather than in the listening and comprehension aspects. I'm glad I didn't let my fears hold me back.
Posted by SpeakUp Librarian at 8:46 PM