Language workers and the challenge of digitalisation: Gaining insight through the social media skill sharing of professional communication practitioners within the US military

Steven Breunig*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The increasing digitalisation of communication has not gone unnoticed by the US military. The teaching of communication takes place at the Defense Information School (DINFOS), providing professional instruction to US military members, civilian personnel and allies from around the world. With the emergence of social media and the increasing significance of user-generated content, the teaching of communication, even more so than previously, prioritises the collaboration of academic researchers, practitioners and industry leaders in digitalised media for professional development. Viewing the collaboration as an example of transdisciplinary practice (McGregor, 2014), this paper seeks to gain insight into their thoughts on social media messaging and management for developing themes (Perrin & Kramsch, 2018) for research and practice, as well as for teaching language learners to be language workers (Koller, 2018) in a digitalised mediated world. The analysis of the social media workshop from 2017 is inspired by content analysis (Krippendorff, 2004). Through the analysis, the themes of “Community”, “Content” and “Conduct” are created based on a series of 23 lectures for practitioners by senior officers, academic researchers and persons from social media companies like Twitter and Instagram. The analysis shows, among other things, that the technological dimension of social media may constrain and enable language use in unpredictable ways. For research, practice and learning, the themes may function as a “shared language” for more effective language use towards the increasing digitalisation of communication. The paper concludes by reflecting on two concerns within transdisciplinarity, specifically transdisciplinary identity (Augsburg, 2014) and the link between process and impact (Hansson & Polk, 2018).

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAILA Review
    Volume34
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)122-144
    ISSN1461-0213
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 9. Sept 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © AILA

    Keywords

    • Communication practitioners
    • Language workers
    • Social media
    • Transdisciplinary research and practice
    • US Military

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