Information and communication are at the basis of how we know things (epistemology), as such, they are omnipresent in every field of activity. This also makes them very slippery concepts or realities: they often mean different things to different people, hence their exploration is endless. An enormous amount of theoretical discourse has been devoted to defining these concepts but often from the point of view of a specific discipline or of a specific context.
Many of us grapple with how to convey what we think information and communication mean in our teachings or in our research. Teaching information and communication theories in a pure academic manner, by recalling the many varied definitions found in the literature can be dead boring for instructors and students alike. At the very least, this theoretical foray is often frustrating and inconclusive because it leaves both instructor and students confounded by the dozens of nuances and variations in the definitions without any way of reaching an agreement on what these concepts mean once and for all.
The idea of applying an arts-informed approach in exploring the concept of information was explored by Jenna Hartel (2014). She formed an interdisciplinary and international research team with a base at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto and employed a visual approach known as the draw-and-write technique. This resulted in the iSquare protocol for collecting drawings and textual representations of information from students.
I began experimenting with the iSquare protocol to study students' conceptions of information in one of my courses entitled “Information, a resource for the enterprise” in the first trimester of 2015.
I have successfully deployed the draw and write technique in my classroom teachings to study the conceptions of both information and communication by students. I have collected samples of drawings and their textual definitions on the concept of information (iSquares) which form part of the international iSquares collection.
The questions I tried to bring answers to are the following:
It can be useful for scholars, educators, doctoral students and professionals and in many fields including information and communication studies, mass media and journalism.
I welcome any feedback from visitors on similar experiences or on possible extensions of this project.