MLA Abstract: Contextualizing Conventions

This is the abstract that was accepted.

Contextualizing Conventions: Technology in Business Writing Classrooms

The 2004 National Association of Writing survey of 120 businesses showed that employees needed writing remediation, at a cost of $3.1B annually. In order to obtain and retain a position, business writing is a necessity, particularly writing using technology-based communication models.

While most traditional students grew up in a high tech world and they usually have technological expertise and feel lost without their cell phones and computers (Rabb 16), we should not presuppose that our students are already computer savvy. A 2008 Pew survey indicates that twenty-three percent of college-age people in the United States never use the internet (Lenhart, et al).

Even those who have technological expertise may be unaware of the differences between social media for fun and for business. Technology requires different conventions for the workplace.

Email etiquette instruction requires students to consider audience and offers students appropriate contextual choices.

Twitter can be used as a telegraphic medium for announcements. How businesses use it for that and data mining can be eye opening.

Moving students from the personal orientation of MySpace/Facebook towards more business-related social media such as LinkedIn shows them how they can maintain connections while building networks.

Classroom blogs, aimed at developing research in a particular arena, can facilitate the students’ burgeoning management of rhetorical strategies and offer the possibility of public attention and response.

PowerPoint presentations, a regular part of many business opportunities, should also be integrated into the class.

Nielsen argues that online readers use “information foraging” (106). This type of reading lacks contextualization and is an important issue for students’ web writing.

Various real-life scenarios can help them think about the cultural and rhetorical dynamics of internet composition. When presented as group projects, the collaborative issues of problem solving using technology can be foregrounded.

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