Communications Education and the Perception Gap

April 15, 2020
By Elsabete Kebede
Communications Education and the Perception Gap

Three Bay Area professors led a lively discussion about “Communications Education in the Age of Misinformation” during our second #FridayForum on April 10. Communications leaders from USF, SJSU and the Naval Post Graduate School described the perception gaps they experience teaching in a virtual classroom and the many challenges confronting students, especially soon-to-be graduates.

The panel agreed that transitioning to virtual classes is challenging for both instructors and students. Depending on the course, the quality of education can be disrupted. They advised educators to empathize with students facing disparities. It’s important to listen to them and curate personalized lectures if possible.

Providing graduating students with perspectives from PR professionals, and facilitating one-to-one mentorship, goes a long way to help prepare them to enter the workforce. One positive outcome of an all-virtual education is that students are learning how to adapt to change and build resilience. The panel reminded future employers that the incoming workforce will be unique. Be prepared for what these students may lack, but also acknowledge what they know. Communities working together will play a significant role in helping all of us recover.

As I’m teaching campaigns and internships, students right now really value a human connection regardless if it’s synchronous or asynchronous. Something that mimics a person-to-person interaction and more personalized instruction. . . they really appreciate that.”

Fay Chen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Public Relations and Strategic Communication, University of San Francisco

“This workforce will likely be different from an entry-level perspective. They will come with an unusual amount of resilience and emotional intelligence. Both are aspects and traits that we value in the corporate space and try to cultivate.”

Shaun Fletcher, Assistant Professor, Public Relations, San Jose State University

“So much of what we teach in communications is equally true in the business-related classes I teach. We depend on the kindness, support and engagement of organizations outside of academia.”

Mitchell Friedman, Ed. D., APR, Visiting Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Defense Management, Naval Postgraduate School

To learn about Communications Education and the Perception Gap, click here to access the slides and audio recording. And be sure to join our next #FridayForum on Friday, April 17 from 11- noon PT for “Reporting from COVID-19 Frontline” with National Award-Winning Emmy Reporter Joe Vazquez as he describes what it’s like to cover COVID-19 for CBS Bay Area KPIX5.

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