Literacy practices are language events and activities that define and shape a group of people. In any community, some specific literacy practices are identified with that specific community. In the recent past, there has been a shift in technology as far as communication is concerned, especially in reading, writing, opinions, and ideas (Ortlieb & Cheek, 2013). This has resulted to the development of new literacy practices for various communities. Literary practices define the shape that a community takes. In addition, literary practices define the boundaries of a community, because members follow common values and principles (Hull & Schultz, 2001). An example of a community that has embraced literacy practices and communication means to shape itself is the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at the University of Utah. The MSA is a non-profit organization set up to advocate for and promote positive influence of the Muslim Society in America, specifically in the USA and Canada (Mosques Masjids.com, 2013). This association has a website that is dedicated to serving both Muslim and Non-Muslim brothers and sisters from all over Utah and from all around the world who join the University of Utah as students. On this website, one can find information about academic services the Muslim Student Association provides to its members. Currently, the organization is present in various forms on several campuses across the United States and Canada. As opposed to the early membership system, most members now are American-born Muslims. The main source of funding for the organization is the campus students as well as the administration of the university to which it belongs. Members of the organization engage in several activities, for example, prayers, lectures, discussions, and social events, and seek to unify Muslim students from different cultural backgrounds. At a campus level, groups lobby universities for recognition of Islamic privileges such as holidays and prayer times, the availability and size of prayer rooms and provision of religiously permitted food on campus. MSA takes part in various charitable activities as well as campaigning to dispel Islamic stereotypes and hold Islam in a positive light.
The Thesis Statement
There are a lot of cultural conflicts among different cultural groups in the world. America and other civilized and developed countries are not spared either. For many years, there have been cultural conflicts, and especially between the USA and Muslim countries; therefore, in order to continue enjoying Muslim privileges, Muslims students in American Universities ought to have organizations which advocate for and promote these privileges and rights. This report, therefore, delivers the findings on the communication methods employed by MSA leaders to ensure an effective communication with their members through the use of current technology, because, for such an organization to be effective, a proper communication process among members should be established.
Statement of Significance
The report focuses on the significance and dynamism of the literary practices. With the ever changing technology, more advances are being made transforming the literary practices to newer and more effective forms. The literary practices provide a channel for communication that forms the foundation for the unity and prosperity of any group. The interview with a member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) brings to light an urgent need for reliability and certainty in communication, which makes this statement significant. The term reliability and certainty in communication in this report means that a successful communication process needs to be reliable, and the communicating parties ought to be certain of its results, which is realized through feedbacks. The use of phone calls and Facebook emerged as the most effective means of communication among MSA members, based on certainty that information is received fast, and many people frequently refer to the channels. This lays emphasis on the important role that feedback plays in communication. Communication is not complete without feedback. An appropriate feedback is subject to timely communication. In order to identify and explain the importance of effective communication within the organization, I carried out several interviews with selected members of the MSA society (including one of their leaders) and I also consulted a few sources as summarized below.
Interview with the MSA leader:
Date and time of an interview:
Description: The interview shows some of the literacy practices that are used at MSA community. The MSA leader describes different forms of communication used, and when and why they are used at various times. In his responses, the community leader outlines some communication challenges they face.
Interview with MSA member:
Date and time of an interview:
Description: The group member gives his opinion on the effectiveness of communication at MSA. The interviewee also suggests ways that can be used to improve communication at MSA. Literacy practices at MSA are well developed.
MSA conference 2012 document:
Description: the document is used by the group leaders to communicate vital information to group members. The document is a form of literacy practice because it informs the community members of the date and venue of the conference.
The Muslim prayer document:
Description: this document is specifically meant for new members of the community. Just as a child learns the practices of a community, this document educates new members on community practices. In this way, the document helps to shape new members to conform to community ideologies.
Just the tip of the iceberg document:
Description: This power point presentation describes vital information regarding the religion of Islam. The document tries to provide current members with information to remain attached to the group and at the same time tries to attract more people to join the community.
Islam guide document:
Description: this is a guide to the core values of Islam. The target of this document is new people and non-Muslims. The document provides literacy information to new community members. When all members of a community follow similar values and principles, this defines the shape and boundaries of the community.
Donate and help document:
Description: this document urges MSA members to participate in donations, as a way of fulfilling Allah’s will. In the document, community members are educated on the need to help those in need.
Based on the interviews I carried out with various individuals from the MSA community, it is evident that the advancement in technology has enhanced reliability and certainty of the communication process. The MSA leaders embrace technology when communicating with their members as it is a very reliable and certain way of communication. The leaders use several modes of communication, for example, SMS, telephone, emails, notices, Facebook, Twitter and newsletters to reach the community members. However, due to the need for urgent feedbacks, reliability and certainty, they have largely embraced telephone calls and Facebook since these modes provide quick feedback.
The MSA leaders make use of both verbal and written communication. The choice of a mode of communication depends on whether there is a need for immediate feedback or not. Verbal communication is employed when the leaders need immediate feedback from the community members. In this case, they call a meeting or make calls and deliver the message to the members. They make use of written communication to pass the information which they feel that members need to know without having to respond immediately.
In order to ensure smooth communication among the members, the leaders ought to choose the most effective methods of communication which reach all members and provide immediate feedback. There are also appropriate methods of communication depending on the nature of the messages. Formal information is communicated through emails and newsletters because they are official in nature. On the other hand, informal information is communicated over the social media, for example, SMS, Facebook and Twitter.
It is also clear that communicators have learnt to separate the forms of communication based on urgency. Verbal communication is established as the most appropriate for communication that needs immediate feedback while for written communication the response may not be needed that fast. The need for feedback, therefore, defines the form of communication that two parties will have.
A critical aspect is the dynamism in the literary practice. Both respondents indicate that social media is the most effective platform for communication. Facebook and Twitter are accredited as being effective platforms for communicating with a large base of respondents because they visit the sites frequently. It brings out the need by the community to develop its communication systems into more effective ones. Both respondents agree that communication plays a significant role towards the success of an organization. Communication is only effective with the presence of feedback lest the two parties have not fully shared information.
In conclusion, literary practices are used extensively in MSA to create cohesion and unity in that community. This organization is very helpful to the society of Muslim students in the Universities of USA and Canada. It has proven useful in advocating for the rights and positive influence of Muslims in America. Effective communication, which is determined by the availability of feedback, has been enhanced by the use of technology. Three most reliable and certain instruments of communication, as realized during the interviews, are phone calls, Tweeter and Facebook. Effective communication plays a major role in uniting the group members and informing members of its vision and activities. Through communication, group members are also able to interact and exchange ideas.