High School Day at USC Annenberg

How do you toast a bread? A simple question such as this is an excellent metric to measure communication skills. How better to teach high school students the importance of communication? Building effective communication skills is important to students just as much as other skills.

On Friday, October 11th, more than a 100 local youth from 11 high schools came together to attend High School Day, USC Annenberg’s signature community engagement program. Annenberg High School Day (AHSD) is a bi-annual program which brings together local youth from the communities surrounding USC’s UPC and HSC campuses. The students receive a full day of hands-on immersive training in media, journalism, communication, and public relations. In addition, they learn about Annenberg’s undergraduate programs and services.

Third Space instructor, Chris Swain conducted two hands-on workshops in Third Space Thinking and the attribute: 360 Degree Thinking. Students learned about the Third Space research that shows a growing demand for soft skills in the workplace.  LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report indicates that 92% of talent professionals and hiring managers say that candidates need to have strong soft skills.  They also learned how to use Third Space Thinking, a communication centric methodology, to frame and solve  problems. Students did two complimentary hands-on activities related to breaking down problems into systems. They learned that when tackling a difficult problem, it is common for people to have different points of view and therefore see different possible solutions.

By doing the first activity of drawing a diagram explaining how to make toast, people see the problem differently. They also share a mental model that involves making a set of nodes and links. The second activity provided a more challenging problem – specifically how to reduce anxiety and depression in their high schools. Students worked in groups creating systems of nodes and links using post-it notes. Groups could move the nodes around on sticky notes until they created a shared solution.

These exercises provided the students with a hands-on technique for 360 Degree Thinking that they can use to effectively come to shared understandings of problems and solutions with other people. The workshops followed our How to Teach Third Space Thinking methodology.