Communicating Leadership is a 4-credit hybrid course, which will meet F2F once a week for 110 minutes for 10 weeks. Having taught the course only once, as a special topics course, I have some experiences to build on in converting to a hybrid yet not too much “baggage from the old way of teaching the course” to drag me down in design. The course is part of the Community Development and Leadership Option within our Social Science degree and will attract SS students as well as students from a variety of majors interested in this topic.
Much of my redesign has focused on not losing the “service learning” aspect of the course in converting to hybrid. In some ways, I am discovering I had already taught the course in a “sort of hybrid” manner yet there are some nuances in the service learning approach that I don’t want to lose in the redesign such as their term-long partnership with a local leader. As noted in my previous blog posting I believe a course blog will be one way to bridge service learning and hybrid aspects in the course.
The course focuses on a different approach to leadership than the more traditional—trait, born, situational—to explore leadership as a COMMUNICATION process that everyone, not one designated individual, has opportunities to take part in. Using video clips in class we will work on identifying key communication concepts (supportive climate, rhythms of communication, for example) in differing leadership contexts—non-profit, for-profit, education, legal, etc.
As students often enter a leadership class thinking they are not leaders I am hopeful that the hybrid approach to this course will allow the students to gain experience communicating leadership. By integrating in-class brief lectures, discussions, activities and exercises with the “active” hybrid components I hope to provide a PLACE and SPACE for students to “try on” leadership.
I love the idea of “trying on leadership” as a result of the course. In one of the programs that I developed, I had students identify the characteristics and qualities that they identified in leadership and in professionals. After creating that definition, I had them write about the ways that they were a leader. Many were surprised that they were leaders, though they hadn’t thought of themselves in that way in the past. In most cases, the thing that they said allowed to feel like they earned a leadership role was in not only knowing what to do, but to be able to defend that decision to others by drawing on research and best practices. My guess is that your course will go a long way toward starting to create individuals with leadership skills and the ability to articulate why and how they are emerging as leaders.