Posted by: swhee1er | November 25, 2013

Do we need to be more tech savvy?

It’s no secret that the communications professional is expected to be at least conversant in any new or emerging technologies they might use at their place of work.  Proficiency in applications like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is assumed to be as much a part of one’s toolkit as are more traditional skills like listening or managing relationships.  Generally, however, this expertise is limited to use: that is, professionals know how to use the technology in question, but they have little to no knowledge of its inner workings.

In Strategic Communication, O’Hair, Friedrich and Dixon mention that learning computer programming is a great way of “future-proofing” or “making yourself effective” (2011, p. 158).  Nor are the benefits restricted to “future-orienting” yourself.  Any grounding in computer science will introduce the learner to the use of algorithms.  Though it has many formal definitions, an algorithm is basically a recipe: a step-by-step process that results in a specified output.  As such, it represents a structured approach to problem-solving that can be applied to practically any situation.  Use of algorithms helps break complex problems down into discrete, manageable chunks which can be tackled piece by piece.

There are other fringe benefits, to be sure.  Facilitating communication with computer specialists comes to mind, as does a better understanding of what programs can and cannot do.  Considering that many universities are now requiring computer scientists to take communication classes, shouldn’t communication specialists be required to meet them halfway?  Or is merely using applications enough?


  1. Really interesting. Is a basic Intro to Comp Sci enough? I am curious!

    • Provided it introduces the student to a high-level language like C++, Java, Visual Basic, etc, certainly.

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