Another glossy copy of the alumni magazine just arrived from the undergraduate university I attended and once again I realized that I was more familiar with the names of buildings on campus than those of fellow classmates. Even though I was highly engaged in my journalism classes, I often didn’t know who was sitting next to me in class, even if we had shared multiple classes. Similarly, when I earned an online certificate in business supervision and management from a community college 10 years ago, there was no interaction with other students or instructors.
Therefore, the most surprising element to me in the Purdue University Online Master of Science in Communication education I have been receiving from the Brian Lamb School of Communication is the stimulating and satisfying interaction with fellow classmates. We may be earning our master’s degrees in different time zones worldwide from the convenience of our own homes, or even on the road with our mobile devices, but I have interacted with my peers hundreds of times in various ways over the eight classes I have completed so far during the 10-class program.
The camaraderie begins the first few days of each class when students introduce themselves and write about their backgrounds in the student forum, often posting photos of themselves and their families. Then, in addition to an instructor question board, this forum is used throughout class when peers have questions they think other students may be able to help clarify.
Discussion Board Posts
Furthermore, the discussion posting board is an exhilarating nonstop interaction. Based on the textbook and academic study readings, instructor input, and student work experience, each student answers the weekly discussion question in a way that reflects his or her own distinct critical thinking. Then, throughout the week, students post back-and-forth, directly addressing issues that each brought up; all also involving citations and practice with graduate school APA writing style (2009).
In addition, some of the classes involve teams of three or four classmates that complete major projects over a large proportion of the eight weeks of the course. For our Core Seminar in Communication Research Methods, we prepared a report incorporating qualitative and quantitative results, which enabled teams to make informed recommendations to the Brian Lamb School of Communication regarding recruiting top undergraduate communication majors nationwide, which meshes with their reputation as one of the top communication graduate schools in the country (2016). During our teamwork, we communicated via telephone, email, text, audio and video conference calls and even custom team discussion boards on the Engage learning management system (2016) that Purdue uses. The interaction fosters real-time, real-world best practices of teamwork, such as division of work and support when needed.
Real World Applications
The kind of interaction with fellow classmates we experience through the Purdue University Online Master of Science in Communication at the Brian Lamb School of Communication is, in fact, much related to and relevant in today’s workplace. Like millions of other communication practitioners worldwide – as was inherent in the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s work we read in our Leadership and Global Strategic Communication course about today’s virtual work environments (Friedman, 2007) – after working four years in one of the organization’s main offices and receiving a promotion created for me, five years ago I transitioned into a remote and virtual arena for my full-time iHeartMedia, Inc., (2016) position as an editorial quality assurance manager for the external strategic communication Web sites of top syndicated radio hosts. Each day, I communicate with the team I work with in New York City from my location in Los Angeles via password-protected, private network virtual pathways, much the same way we do on our Purdue student teams. Similarly, as I joyously found in the Purdue University Online Master of Science in Communication program at the Brian Lamb School of Communication, these are some of the most stimulating and productive interactive relationships I have ever experienced.
American Psychological Association. (6th Ed.) 2009. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Brian Lamb School of Communication, Purdue University. 2016. Our reputation: Reasons to consider Purdue University for graduate study in communication. Retrieved from Friedman, T.L. 2007. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York,
NY: Picador. iHeartMedia, Inc. 2016. About us. Retrieved from
Rouse, M. (2016). Learning management system (LMS). TechTarget. Retrieved from http://searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/learning-management-system
Lisa Messinger is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.