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Basic Course Forum: Adaptation


For communication scholars, the “bread and butter” (Dance, 2002), or “front porch” (Beebe, 2013), of the discipline is the basic course. The basic course is “that communication course either required or recommended for a significant number of undergraduates; that course which the department has, or would recommend as a requirement for all or most undergraduates” (Morreale, Hanna, Berko, & Gibson, 1999, p. 3). Most departments provide either a public speaking or hybrid course as their basic course (Valenzano, Wallace, & Morreale, 2014). Part of maintaining this “porch” is understanding what adaptations are needed. The basic communication course has undergone several transformations since entering the communication curriculum. In 2016, Morreale and colleagues issued a call for additional adaptations to the basic communication course to be made. The goal of these changes is to “prepare all students for contemporary and future challenges to communication across interpersonal, group, and public contexts”(Morreale, Myers, Backlund, & Simonds, 2016, p. 353).

One way in which to respond to this call is to examine how recent innovations in technology, like social media, have been applied to the basic communication classroom. Unfortunately, studies regarding instructors’ classroom social media is mixed. In some studies, up to 90% of teachers report that they do not use social media for educational purposes (Bolkan, 2015). In comparison, other examinations (Morgan, Seaman, & Tinti-Kane, 2011) report that two-thirds of instructors have used social media as part of their lecture. One goal of this response is to encourage basic course instructors, directors, and administrators to adapt the basic course by more fully integrating social media into their programs. Reasons for this argument derive from two substantial changes: 1) a shift in how communication is practiced in the digital age and 2) the increasing diversity and specialization in the field.