Students rise to the communication challenge

November 10, 2016
Cindy MacDougall
Master of Arts in Professional Communication students present for the challenge

The Centre for Dialogue buzzes with nervous chat as a group takes the stage. Students from the Master of Arts in Professional Communication program have been preparing for this moment for three weeks. Their job is to offer solutions to an organization with a tricky communications issue.

The Organizational Communication Live Case Challenge is an annual event for the School of Communication and Culture and a required part of the master’s program. The school invites organizations to share their communication challenges with the graduate students. Each group presents its plan to the organization, which then makes decisions about what to do next.

“It’s a way to take all of the academic knowledge they are imparting, the theory, the research methods, and try to find a way to apply them in the real world,” says student Pablo Fernandez. “You’re supposed to walk away with a higher understanding of the principles behind communication, and the ability to implement them in the real world as well.”

Fernandez’s group is one of two presenting a communications plan to the Comox Valley Child Development Association. The non-profit association is grateful for the close-to-home expertise, says executive director Joanne Schroeder.

“It’s incredibly helpful, because we do have some very complex communication challenges, not very much infrastructure to think about those and deal with those, and not a ton of expertise,” says Schroeder. “So it’s been a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to benefit from all the capacity here at Royal Roads to support us in exploring those challenges.”

Schoeder and the association are ready to take the next steps.

“We’ll take all the packaged information we’ve gotten, go back to our board in its entirety and do a presentation. It is really a big priority for us.”

As for Fernandez, he says he has learned many things through the challenge that he will take back to his workplace, but most especially the importance of different points of view.

“Looking at everybody else do their thing, you realize nobody comes at a problem the same way,” he says. “Everybody has a different idea, they have different take-aways from it. And I think it’s a good eye opener.”

The School of Communications thanks this year’s challenge participant organizations for being part of this important learning process: BC Golf, the Comox Valley Child Development Association, Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services, Red Hat and Sask Power.

Students will have a chance to reconnect with the organizations in six months to discuss the effect of their recommendations.