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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Transforming Communications

profile - chad abraham minnich - fall/winter 2007

By Joshua Jensen

In the “old days” of nursing education, innovation in the classroom and in presenting research often meant finding the best available multimedia tools to convey your message. Faculty would work with the Connell School’s media specialist to identify the best slides, videos and even rudimentary computer programs into their courses. The media specialist would assist them in using cutting-edge tools such as filmstrip projectors and even audio taped recordings.

Times have certainly changed.

When Chad Minnich—Communications and Instructional Design Manager at the Connell School—came to Boston College in 2000, he immediately saw an opportunity to use his unique skill-set to transform the way that faculty use all types of media—everything from the chalk board to the Internet—to effectively communicate ideas in their teaching and research. With a master’s degree in film and anthropology from the University of Southern California, Minnich is well versed in the theory of communication and how to use multimedia tools to best explain complex concepts.

“I guess I see every type of interaction—whether it’s instructional, marketing-related, whatever—as fundamentally rooted in communications. Ironically, I don’t think I’ve employed any particular communications philosophy in a premeditated, conscious way; it hasn’t been that overt. In working with faculty I’ve just tried to look at a project’s goals and figure out how to enrich the project though the effective use of media. Then I design something that, overall, tries to be illustrative and true to concept but that’s also creative and exploratory on a number of levels; plus it also needs to reflect well on the school externally.”

Minnich has employed his skills on a diverse set of faculty projects, impacting the quality of classroom instruction, assisting faculty in using multimedia tools as part of their research design, designing posters and presentations that allow faculty to more effectively present their research, and even collaborating with faculty in producing educational interventions.

Although many faculty associate Minnich’s work with his strong grasp of media technology, it is really the communications theory that grounds his work. “Ultimately the major concern of any project for me is: what are the communications goals and who is the audience? Often there are multiple goals and multiple audiences, but either way, my goal is essentially the same—I try to engage technology in a way that complements teaching and communications. But I also try to be subtle. Technology doesn’t replace teaching or any other interpersonal interaction; it enhances it.”

To bolster his already considerable abilities, Minnich is currently working toward a PhD in curriculum and instruction at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. He explains, “It doesn’t matter whether I’m working to enhance teaching or whether I’m engaging people for a specific research-related purpose. I think the main reason I’m invested in the PhD is because I love the development of learning tools as much as I love engaging learning in the classroom. Ultimately, for me, the PhD is a means of continuing to contribute to effective and compelling instructional communications—which is really the key to any successful interaction.”