I am not sure what I had expected to get out of the course Introduction to Communication Science on the Coursera platform. Perhaps I thought it would teach me how to communicate better – how to get my message across in work, blogging, and in personal relationships. Well, it turned out to be something different than that, and I didn’t mind at all.
It was basically a course on the history of communication, and the varying ways people have believed that messages are constructed and received over the ages. It goes from ancient history (the time of the Romans and Greeks), through to more modern times in the 20th century. The great wars (World War I and II) also contributed to our understanding on how powerful (and not-powerful) the mass media can be.
The course also touches on a brief discussion of how different cultures process messages differently. If you grew up under a communist regime where the mass media was controlled by the state, and you are always skeptical of what you read in any mass media, you would have a different interpretation of a news report on a politically sensitive topic than someone who grew up with a healthy free press would.
In the end, I may not have been any better at communicating my own messages. But it is interesting to hear from such a knowledgeable professor on the topic, and I found the course well-done overall. The videos were of the right length, the animations added to understanding the topic, and the quizzes were not too difficult or obscure. I could generally take and passes the quizzes immediately after watching the videos without having to search too hard for the answers.
On the downside, this was clearly an “introduction” level class, and the I came away from the entire course with only a few new insights into communication. This was not a class that made you think hard, work hard and sweat to get through all of the dense material. The material was not that dense.
But every course does not need to be difficult and dense. I enjoyed this class, and it gave me just the right level of info to understand the topic of communication science and some of the things people who study it think about when analyzing messages.