<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Mike Reardon
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Department of Communication
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Communication with a Tech Twist
By Jon Ward

Dr. Michael Reardon is a communication professor driven by his passion for integrating communication technology with education.

Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, he completed a bachelor's degree in Communications and Business from Cleveland's John Caroll University. His passion to teach received its original spark after college while he was working as a medical sales executive. During this period, a friend's teaching apprenticeship caught Reardon's interest causing him to make the monumental move to continue his education.

Reardon went on to obtain an assistantship teaching at Cleveland State University He would teach while getting his master's degree in communication theory and methodology. Upon completing his master's, Reardon would go to Purdue University to earn his Ph. D. in Organizational Communication.

His dissertation research was on the identification in virtual teams in the work place. He wanted to know whether or not there was a difference in the connectivity or comradeship that people felt from communication virtually as opposed to face-to-face communication. His findings were overwhelmingly lopsided.

He found that his test participants had a much higher level of group identification while meeting face-to-face than via the virtual realm. Reardon realizes that his findings from almost 10 years ago are technologically outdated. When asked, if the new ability to Skype and video chat would affect his findings? He responded, "That is actually a study I should think about doing."

However, he doesn't think that his findings will be completely written off by the advances in technology. "There is something irreplaceable about the feeling that people get while meeting face-to-face," Reardon says., and he knows a thing or two about technology.

Reardon's research continues to involve communication technology. He hascollaborated with fellow communication professor Dr. Douglas Ferguson in a study on iPod users. Their research found that students use mp3 players to avoid boredom, escape loneliness and to satisfy the following motivations: stimulation, entertainment, and relaxation.

"An important finding was that the use of MP3 players is serving as a substitute for listening to traditional radio among college students, who listen to the radio an hour less per day when they own an iPod," says Ferguson.

Reardon's interest-driven knowledge in communication technology led to creation of a Communication Technology course here at the College of Charleston. In this course, Reardon strives to integrate modern communication technologies into the course as they come about. "I keep it as much up-to-date as possible," he says.

He allows students to do their own interest-driven projects with teams during the course. "It's not a nuts and bolts class, I’m not going to talk about the right way to tweet or to blog, that's not the purpose of the course," he explains.

In order to teach classes based on communication technology, the courses must constantly evolve, he says. "I look at the class as one made up of pods like, education, health care, the workplace, and politics," he says. His Communication Technology class focuses on how each of these topics has been affected by communication technology.

For example, currently his communication tech students are working on research projects ranging from how technology has affected the communication process of dating to how technology has affected health care in doctor-patient interaction.

"Dr. Reardon is an effective teacher in a difficult introductory course," Ferguson says.

From a student's perspective, I can personally vouch for his ability to effectively get a point across after having him for communication theory in Fall 2009. He does a great job in getting everyone involved by asking for your opinions and outlooks on the material. (I highly recommend taking him!)

You would think that Reardon's plate couldn't be anymore jam-packed than it already is, but his personal life is also intriguing. When his professional day is over, he returns home to four children and his wife. His children include two boys, ages 4 and 5 and twins who are almost 2. "It is as crazy as it sounds, and yes it keeps me young,' Dr. Reardon laughingly says.