Guest Lecturing for Interpersonal Communication at Ohlone College

On Wednesday, 16 November 2011, I had the pleasure of guest lecturing for an evening session of Interpersonal Communication at Ohlone College. The students prepared for our class by reading the previously published post “Digital Citizenship: Cultivating an Online Presence, Part I.” After a quick introduction, they broke into small groups to review the text and come up with discussion questions where we dived into what it means to be a digital citizen, how and why we use social media sites. For reference to digital citizenry check out the NY Times recent article “Protestors Look for Ways to Feed the Web,” which is about social media’s role with the Occupy Movement where Jennifer Preston writes:

The movement counts more than 400 Facebook pages with 2.7 million fans around the world. On, the “We Are the 99 Percent” blog continues to publish the personal stories of hundreds of people struggling with student debt, health care costs and foreclosure. There are also dozens of new wikis and Web pages, including and

Interpersonal Communication is the study of how we communicate with self and others. Relationships remain an essential component of human existence. We must ask ourselves: How well do we function in our relationships, and how might we improve our relational competencies? The class was wonderfully diverse, with students from all over the world sharing  insights about their experiences with social media. We discussed the following topics:

  • citizenship vs. consumerism
  • digital community vs. face-to-face community
  • what’s expected of citizens online
  • what’s expected of digital communities
  • how do different digital communities interact. For instance, Tumblr is for showcasing individual work and Facebook is for catching up with friends and family

The students then drafted group contracts between online users and online communities to determine what the community can do for digital citizens and what digital citizens can do for their community. Some of the policies they wished to implement included:

  • no kids ten-years or younger should be on Facebook because they don’t have much to contribute to the community
  • need to have expectations on what people can and should post
  • users need to understand that sites like Facebook are not games
  • time limits to ensure productivity at work and in school
  • cut unlawful browsing

We concluded the evening with two writing exercises to help students become more conscious of how they present themselves online and how they interact with others:

1. Self- Evaluation from the Point of View of a Friend or Family Member

(This proves highly relevant to course content as the class discussed ‘Significant Others’ and how the relationship(s) affects our perception of ourselves. ‘Perceived Self’  / ‘Presenting Self’, Ego Boosters and Ego Busters along with Perspective Taking.) 

For this freewrite you will want to assume the point of view of a friend or family member who knows you well. You will be writing from their perspective to give a critical evaluation of yourself. Imagine that they’ve been asked to give an honest and thoughtful assessment about your self. Your friend or family member must give a truthful evaluation about your character, your motivation, and your ability to follow through with action. In addition, they are required to support their opinion with concrete experiences, memories and events that illustrate their assessment.

To assist with this exercise you may want to answer some of these questions, again from the POV of a friend or family member who is evaluating you:

  1. How would you describe your personality?
  2. What motivates or inspires you?
  3. Who has influenced you and why?
  4. What past events demonstrate your strongest skills and traits?
  5. What are your weaknesses?
  6. How do you handle your weaknesses?
  7. If you could make changes to your life, your drive, your behavior, what kind of changes and why?
  8. When are you at your best? When are you at your worst?
  9. How well do you work with others?
  10. How well do you take direction?
  11. What kind of a leader are you?
  12. How do you inspire others?
  13. Other questions???

2. Personal Ad for Dating Agency

(This proves highly relevant to course content since the class addressed both mediated (digital) communication and the dynamics of ‘self-concept‘.)

 Where did you grow up?






Get To Know Me:

About My Date (Describe who you’re ideal date is):

In My Own Words (give a paragraph description to entice potential dates):


If you could draw up a contract between digital citizens and digital communities what would be the roles each play for what purposes, and what policies would regulate the relationships?

For kicks, here’s a take on the internet from two favorite digital citizens:

Traipsing through the south of England, July 15, 2011

Finally picking up the thread from 2011’s literary pilgrimage to England, Wales, and Ireland, on July 15, we had paid homage to Thomas Hardy in Dorset County, (south England) and trekked through the Isle of Purbeck from the parish of Worth Matravers to St. Aldhelm’s Head and back again. The hike along the Jurassic Coast was a dream come true since I’d imagined these places when I first read Tess of D’Ubervilles and Return of the Native back in Mr. Thurston’s Honors English class at Monte Vista High.

We stayed at the following bed & breakfast that earned strong reviews for their tasty full English breakfasts, and the meals stood up to critiques.

Ashmira Guest House
3 Westerhall Road
Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SZ
United Kingdom
Phone: 44 (1305) 786584

Our itinerary included the following and was crafted with the assistance of PDFs from the Lonely Planet’s chapter on Dorset and Project Mapping.

Below is an epistles sent to family and friends tracking our journey:

15 July 2011

We’ve left Lymington behind and pushed on southwest to Weymouth. Lymington was a sleepy little coastal town, famous for its yacht regattas. Phil and I walked around town yesterday, met Heather’s colleagues at her two jobs on the main street. I took a very peaceful nap in the graveyard, and then we met with Andrew and Heather after their work shifts ended and sloshed a few drinks.

We took the train to Weymouth and, soon as we arrive, were greeted by the

characteristic cry of the gulls, just like in the TV and films. It is the quintessential British seaside town. We’re now settled at what’s been a highly rated bed and breakfast in Weymouth. We went immediately to the Dorset County Museum, so I could pay homage to Thomas Hardy. They had quite an impressive room of curios and memorabilia, even part of his original writing study set up in the museum. I cried as I read a poem he penned in his own handwriting dedicated to Keats.

The weather was too gorgeous yesterday, unbelievably sunny and warm, and we soaked it up with a seven hour hike through Thomas Hardy country. We were right in the thick of farmland and everywhere we trekked, sheep were bleating, cows mooing, chickens clucking, birds chirping, and horses trotting. We lost our way as we tried to get to Corfe Castle and got trapped in a jungle of brambles along a muddy creek, so by the time we got to the castle ruins, the park was closed. We’re going to make our way back to the castle by bus today instead of hiking and try to take it easy since yesterday wiped me out, and we need to recharge for Mt. Snowdon.

Pics from the Thomas Hardy hike:

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For more photos, check out the Facebook album.

We didn’t have time for the below suggested walks, which means that we’ll be back in Thomas Hardy country someday soon.

From The Guardian’s Favourite British Walks 

South Hams coast, Devon

  • Distance 13 miles
  • Time 6 hours
  • Type Coastal
  • Where Linear walk along the South Hams coast from Torcross to East Portlemouth
  • Start/End East Portlemouth (SX744387)
  • The finest coastline of south Devon is to be found in the South Hams, which extends southwards from Dartmoor, stretching from the Tamar in the west to the Dart in the east. There are five estuaries that have to be crossed if you’re walking the South West Coast Path, but not all are served by ferries throughout the year. Fortunately, on one of the very best day’s walks along this coast – from Torcross to East Portlemouth – there’s a year-round ferry across the Salcombe estuary. The walk takes in the headlands of Start and Prawle Points and boasts superb scenery all the way.
  • • Download a detailed route card at the Walk Magazine website:

Abbotsbury, Dorset

  • Distance 7½ miles
  • Time 4 hours
  • Type Downland and coast
  • Where Circular walk from Abbotsbury via Abbotsbury Castle, West Bexington and Chesil beach
  • Start/End Car park in Abbotsbury, next to church (SY578853)
  • Situated amidst gently rolling downland behind the great Chesil beach, Abbotsbury is one of the most picturesque and historically interesting villages in Dorset. Its 970-year-old Swannery is the only place in the world where you are able to walk through the heart of a colony of nesting mute swans. This route should be within the capabilities of most, except the very young, with shorter options available. The outward leg leads along a ridge-top path to the north-west of the village via Abbotsbury Castle, an Iron-Age hill fort, with excellent views all the way. It then heads down to the coast and returns alongside Chesil beach. A short detour at the end to climb Chapel Hill to St Catherine’s chapel affords one of the loveliest viewpoints around.
  • • Route card:

Alfriston, East Sussex, Countryside around Alfriston

  • Distance 8 miles
  • Time 4 hours
  • Type Downland and valley
  • Where Circular walk from Alfriston via South Downs Way, High and Over, and Cuckmere Valley
  • Start/End Main car park, North Street, Alfriston (TQ523034)
  • Situated in the Cuckmere valley at the eastern end of the South Downs is the picturesque old village of Alfriston. Despite its popularity, the village has lost none of its charm, and remains thankfully unspoilt. Alfriston makes an excellent base for exploring the delightful Sussex countryside, with a variety of fine walks to be enjoyed. This route combines downland and valley walking, with some lovely views along the way.
  • • Route