CICS – Creating Leaders for the Information Age

Ball State University’s Center for Information and Communication Sciences is a master’s degree program that creates leaders at the intersection of business and technology. It provides an information and communications technology (ICT) foundation with practical business experience.


CICS enhances the lessons provided in the traditional ICT coursework with Student Social Learning Program (SSLP), giving master’s candidates the opportunity to increase their experience in the “soft skills”; these events emphasize things like business dinner etiquette and business networking. SSLP events include: alumni wine dinner, business golf outing, job interview training, and career option seminars. Even as business increasingly relies on technology for various functions, interpersonal communication skills continue to be an important trait in future hires.

By teaching students how to operate within the business environment, CICS creates the next generation workforce: they know the language of technology so that they can effectively do business in the modern world.

A testament to their ability to transform master’s candidates into successful professionals, CICS enjoys great support from their alum who regularly participate in events with current students.

Human Communication – The What, How, and Why

As part of our coursework for ICS 602  (Human Communication: Process and Theory), we were tasked with developing a comprehensive written exam on our analysis of the practice of human communication as part of our synthesis of theory of human communication. Below is my discourse on the topic, including the original abstract and headings. 

A More Perfect Union: Praxis of Human Communication In an Evolving World

Samaria Chicas,  Ball State University

ICS 602 – Human Communication: Process and Theory, Dr. Jay E. Gillette


Human Communication, in practice, creates an evolution in practitioners through medium and context. To effectively communicate, the reflection and re-engagement in communication must be a continuous process.


Communication occurs in our world at even the atomic level. Beings, cells, energy, and other organisms transmit information intentionally or accidentally. But it seems humans, given the consciousness to think outside of the current circumstance, are alone in theorizing about how they communicate.

As a student of communication and information science, I will explain in this paper my analysis of human communication as an evolving practice, changed and manipulated by context and available mediums. This will be done through explanation of my theory of human communication, its practice, and how it comes together.

Theory, systematic thinking, and practice (doing) create a feedback loop that moves forward as it unites (praxis) and gets reanalyzed (theory) and re-applied (practice). This union of theory and practice, as an ongoing process is illustrated in figure 1 (Gillette, Oct 2016).

Figure 1 - Relationship Between Theory and Practice


To begin my analysis of the practice of human communication, I will define the term and then provide explanation of the components. The definition does not seek to confine discourse but simply provide a framework for development. As suggested, “definitions…are tools that should be used flexibly” (Littlejohn, 2011, 5). Human Communication is the sending and receiving of data through a medium within a context.

The sending and receiving are neither symbiotic nor dependent; while there are two or more parties involved, reception of a message is not required for communication to occur. As an example, our evolving and culturally differing body language provides a means for non-verbal communication that is sometimes not received. Since “non-verbal communication may not be voluntary or successful”, a practitioner may work to improve its reception (Anderson, 2016). In Western cultures, business women are coached in ways to display more dominating body language so as to improve this non-verbal conveyance of power.

Data refers to the message or messages being sent. This can be in the form of “sounds, media, or actions” (Bishop, 2016).

The medium is the channel that the data is sent and received through. This can be verbal, non-verbal, visual mediums; we have found an increase in the mediums available to us as technology advances.

The context is the situation in which this happens. To me, this is where the “human” comes in; our culture, language, and position provide a frame for the sender and receiver in the communication process, illustrated in figure 2.

Figure 2 - Communication Process


Human Communication in action formed the basis for our civilization today. Through our ability to agree on what things meant, we evolved a way to create and combine data into “information [to be] understood, selected, filtered and used to make a decision” (Gillette, 2000, 7).

In practice of human communication, context becomes key. The identity of the participants, environment, language (including grammar or slang), and values frame the data and medium. For example, hand gestures mean different things in different cultures; a ‘peace’ sign in the United States has a more vulgar interpretation in the United Kingdom.

Technology has found ways to create common understandings through use of visual communications. The modern emoji or emoticon keyboard provides a set of human-like facial expressions that have an increasingly common meaning for social media users.

The mediums through which we practice human communication also expand as technology innovates to improve human interaction. Previously restricted by distance, people are now able to have face-to-face meetings from long distances. This adds a non-verbal component to what was once only auditory.

The medium and context are at a constant battle for the sender and receiver; the many “tyrannies of architecture”, such as noise, physical arrangements, and socially applied positions of power (titles, for example) create distortions of data (Gillette, Aug 2016). The practicing human communicator is tasked with interpreting the received message despite these limitations, since “elements of human communication are learned [and] obtained through direct experiences” (Littlejohn, 2011, 4).

This interaction of elements come together to make a loop of learning. We ‘do’ communication, ‘learn’ and ‘assess’ the feedback, and ‘do’ once again.


As humans practice communication, we create an evolving practice that is altered continuously by our available mediums and changing contexts.

If “knowledge is ultimately what we understand” and what we understand changes as we communicate and learn, then that same knowledge re-expressed can have a completely different meaning depending on the context and medium (Gillette, 2000, 3).

The understanding of this cycle becomes increasingly important as we work to improve technology and the way we do business in a global context. We are bringing the world together despite cultural barriers but without ignoring them. As Tom Peters repeatedly describes in his book Thriving on Chaos, listening is what makes the difference between success and failure. This practice of taking in communication “systematically – and unsystematically…for facts – and for perceptions” allows us to put the knowledge gained into motion (Peters, 1988, 176).

The value of undistorted feedback, which we are able to perceive through the practice and reflection (theory post-practice) of communication, becomes a determinant for the longevity of any organization (Peters, 1988, 185).

To effectively communicate is to allow change to be changed continuously.


Anderson, Justin. “Definition of Human Communication.” ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory. Dr. Jay Gillette. 2016. Print.

Bishop, Victoria. “Definition of Human Communication.” ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory. Dr. Jay Gillette. 2016. Print.

Gillette, Jay. “ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory.” Letterman Building 269, Ball State University, Muncie. 24 Aug. 2016. Lecture.

Gillette, Jay. “ICS602 Human Communication: Process and Theory.” Letterman Building 269, Ball State University, Muncie. 12 Oct. 2016. Lecture.

Gillette, Jay Edwin. (2000). ““Information is Knowledge in Motion”: A Practical Framework for Understanding Knowledge Management.” Print.

Littlejohn, Stephen W., and Karen A. Foss. Theories of Human Communication. 10th ed. Long Grove, IL: Waveland, 2011. Print.

Peters, Thomas J. Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Print.

Tapping In

How much can we learn from subliminal sensory training?

A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are discovering new applications for passive haptic learning (PHL) through a study using Google Glass.

They developed a game that teaches them Morse code passively through a set of vibrations passed through Glass’s bone-conduction transducer. As they learned this language, half of the participants “felt the vibration taps…for each corresponding letter” while the control group felt no taps. [1]

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

Participants who were receiving vibration signals were able to learn while “not paying attention” and could pass a test on Morse code in less than four hours.

PHL has “has taught people braille, how to play the piano and improved hand sensation for those with partial spinal cord injury” [1]. The applications of this method could eventually be translated to other mobile smart devices.

Passive communication in other forms (such as body language and facial expressions) already has the potential to teach us about different cultures; the research here could add an additional element to the human communication experience by providing subliminal, immediate learning through confirmation systems with those vibrations. This could tap into parts of our learning we have not explored in the past.



[1] Scientists teach people to learn Morse code in four hours without trying. (2016, October 27). Retrieved November 2, 2016, from