Academic journal article Bulletin of the Association for Business Communication

Augmenting Instruction in Business Communication Courses with the Internet

Academic journal article Bulletin of the Association for Business Communication

Augmenting Instruction in Business Communication Courses with the Internet

Article excerpt

SEEKING NEW METHODS OF TEACHING

The academic world today is experiencing a deep crisis going beyond economic and social problems to questions of identity and existence. Students, parents, instructors, administrators, and staff are being forced to redefine the role of the university in a world of shrinking budgets and changing standards. In these turbulent times, instructors of business communication courses are seeking new methods of teaching to prepare students for careers in business. To augment classroom instruction without destroying the concept of the class itself, instructors can turn to an already existing program. The Internet (Internetworking Computer System), an international system of local area (LAN) and wide area (WAN) networks, links small businesses, corporations, military installations, government agencies, schools, colleges, and universities. In dozens of countries around the world, the Internet offers commercial, scientific, and humanities projects together with retrievable database information on such vital topics as international finance, medicine, and law.

This vast network of computers strung around the globe is a perfect setting for instruction dealing with business communication. More and more commercial enterprises are using the Internet for communications and marketing. When business communication students use e-mail via the Internet, they are preparing to use e-mail after graduation in entrepreneurial, corporate, banking, or accounting careers. When they do research with Archie, WAIS, or Veronica, they are preparing to join corporate and health-care researchers already on the Internet. The Internet, whether viewed from within the business community or through higher education, is increasingly bound up with the fortunes of the business world.

Begun by the U.S. government as a high-tech research exercise to survive a nuclear war, the Internet was and is anarchic--no individual or organization runs it. For students and instructors alike, this anarchic structure empowers each user to help create and shape the Internet's future. Today, many students with access to the Internet rarely use it; other students lack access altogether; and still others don't even know the Internet exists.

How many faculty members across the curriculum use the Internet to augment instruction? For research? For communication with colleagues? As instructors of business communication courses, we have a responsibility to take a leadership role in using the Internet for pedagogic purposes. We must do more to increase the number of students on-line and develop the creative potential of the Internet itself. This article outlines ways in which instructors of business communication can use the Internet more effectively while teaching. Based on observations I have made with 70 undergraduate students I trained to use the Internet, this article is an attempt to describe my approach toward developing an educational community of students and instructors mediated by computers.

Augmenting business communication instruction with the Internet, an instructor can enjoy greater personal involvement in large classes, intensify contact with students in small classes, help apprehensive students communicate more frequently and effectively (Mabrito, 1992, p. 29), and prepare students for the emerging technologies certain to dominate communication in their careers. Involvement with the Internet can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending on the experience and desire of instructors to participate. Even with little computer training, students and instructors will find using the Internet far easier today than in the past because of point-and-click programs for connecting and navigating.

The specific areas of technology appropriate for augmenting instructional activity on the Internet include computer-mediated communications, computer-assisted technologies, and hypermedia and hypertext. All these technologies are contained in the Internet. …

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