Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research for Business Instruction

Developing a Comprehensive Matrix: An Instructor's Resource for Using Free Web-Based Applications for Business Communication Courses

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research for Business Instruction

Developing a Comprehensive Matrix: An Instructor's Resource for Using Free Web-Based Applications for Business Communication Courses

Article excerpt


Business communication is one of the core competencies necessary for business degree programs. Yet, instructors have long standing struggles and challenges with teaching business communication to students (Cyphert, Wurtz & Duelos, 2013; Decarie, 2010; Maranto & Barton, 2010; Mazman & Usluel, 2010). As methods of communication change, instructors of business communication are faced with the challenge of utilizing these methods in their courses (Cyphert et al., 2013). The integration of new communication tools into course content is the duty of the course instructor (McMillan & Hyde, 2000). This requires that instructors be able to understand how new tools function and the rules of effective pragmatic discourse (Ehninger, 1968).

Many universities have enhanced student learning by using digital technology (Cheal, 2007; Gorsevski, 2010). College students are now considered to be digital natives (Wankel, 2010) as they have been introduced to technology throughout their childhood and are now accustomed to using tools such as social media. However, some experts believe that new methods of communication should only be used in an educational setting after it is considered to be credible and acceptable by students (Cardon &Okoro, 2010). Also, instructors need to be able to determine what technology should be used for meeting the learning objectives of an assignment (Worley, 2010). Oblinger (2010) conducted a study that revealed most college students use social media for personal and social reasons. Student interaction is with current friends, and students spend more time viewing posts than making them. Oblinger (2010) suggested that social media tools can be used for education, but should be kept separate from personal social media uses of students. Services such as Blackboard and customized sites that are specific to educational purposes only should be used.

This paper aims to promote a greater understanding of a number of free web applications and their specific use for a business communication course. More specifically, this paper provides 1) a brief overview of each free web application, 2) practical uses for each free web application, and 3) a matrix mapping business communication learning objectives to the best free web application. This paper adds to the ongoing literature about free educational web based application tools for business communication courses. This paper also has practical implications for faculty currently teaching or developing business communication courses. Specifically, this paper will serve as a guide/resource for business educators selecting free educational web based applications to meet the needs of their business communication course.

Review of Literature

Communication in the business environment has changed significantly in recent years. The drive for improved and faster ways to communicate within and outside of the organization is constant but not always clearly understood (Yates & Orlikowski, 1992). Goldhaber (1993) explains that communication is vital for an organization to function. However, the definition of organizational (or business) communication can be based on perception. One common perception found was that organizational communication occurs in an open and complex environment which is influenced by both internal and external attributes (corporate culture, customers, business environment, or industry). Secondly, Goldhaber explains that the flow of the message, purpose of it, method used to communicate it and direction (upward flow or downward flow) can influence the perception of this definition. Finally, Goldhaber (1993) explains that people themselves and their relationships, feelings, attitudes, and skills impact the perceptions of the definition as well. Specifically, skills needed by these graduates include following direction, giving feedback to others, conversing, and listening. Not only is business communication important for students, but it is also important for organizations. …

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