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TECHNOLOGY AND SMALL GROUPSThere are many communications students who are well versed in the new communications technologies (particularly Internet based technologies), and there are some students who have yet to use email. The former group, however, is growing, and the latter group is shrinking. Moreover, many students expect some aspects of their learning experiences to take place in cyberspace. Many face-to-face classes have class websites with syllabi, assignments, activities, and lecture notes. In addition, those classes may also include class listservs, discussion boards, and chat rooms.
Integrating new communication technologies into small group work not only provides alternative communication tools for students to use, it also helps students develop skills they will need in the workplace. Further, the cyber learning environment can provide a space for students to interact more substantially and thoughtfully than they can in face-to-face classroom meetings.
Below is an outline of the information presented to students on technology and small group communication.
REFERENCESAlthaus, S. (1997). Computer-mediated communication in the university classroom: An experiment with online discussion. Communication Education, 46, 158-174.
Bordia, P. (1997). Face-to-face versus computer-mediated communication. The Journal of Business Communication, 34, 99-120.
Brandon, D., & Hollingshead, A. (1999). Collaborative learning and computer-supported groups. Communication Education, 48, 109-126.
Kindred, J. (2000, April). Thinking about the online classroom: Evaluating the "ideal" versus the "real." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Central States Communication Association, Detroit. Available at: http://www.roguecom.com/roguescholar/
Mele, C. (1999). Cyberspace and disadvantaged communities: The Internet as a tool for collective action. In M. Smith & P. Kollock (Eds.), Communities in cyberspace (pp. 290-310). London: Routledge.
Olaniran, B. (1994) Group performance in computer-mediated and face-to-face communication media. Management Communication Quarterly, 7, 256-281.
Scott, C. R. (1999). Communication technology and group communication. In L. Frey, D. Gouran, & M. Poole (Eds.), The handbook of group communication & research (pp. 432-472). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
ADDITIONAL READING (students)Davis, B., & Brewer, J. (1997). Electronic discourse: Linguistic individuals in virtual space. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Gralla, P., Ishida, S., Reimer, M., & Adams, S. (1999). How the Internet works : Millennium edition. Que Corp
Rakow, L. (1999). The public at the table: From public access to public participation. New Media & Society, 1, 74-82.
Robins, K. (1999). New media and knowledge. New Media & Society, 1, 18-24.
Smith, M. & Kollock, P. (Eds.) (1999). Communities in cyberspace. London: Routledge.
ADDITIONAL READING (instructor)Adkins, M., & Brashers, D. (1995). The power of language in computer-mediated groups. Management Communication Quarterly, 8, 289-322.
Bloomfield, P., Coombs, R., & Knight, D. (2000). Information technology and organizations: Strategies, networks, and integration. Oxford University Press.
Fulk, J., Schmitz, J., & Ryu, D. (1995). Cognitive elements in the social construction of communication technology. Management Communication Quarterly, 8, 259-288.
Hart, P., Svenning, L., & Ruchinskas, J. (1995). From face-to-face meeting to video teleconferencing: Potential shifts in the meeting genre. Management Communication Quarterly, 8, 395-423.
Harvey, K. (2000). Eden online: Re-inventing humanity in a technological universe. Hampton Press.
McLeod, C. (1996). New communication technologies for group decision making: Toward an integrative framework. In R. Hirokawa & M. Poole (Eds.), Communication and group decision making, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Scott, C. (1999). The impact of physical and discursive anonymity on group members' multiple identifications during computer-supported decision making. Western Communication Journal, 4, 456-487.Hirokawa and M. Poole. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
ADDITIONAL ONLINE RESOURCES (students)A Guide to Internet Chat
Mary Houten-Kemp's Everything Email http://www.everythingemail.net/ Although the advertisements can get annoying, the site does contain useful information on how to write email, email jargon, how to find email addresses, and other email-related topics.
ADDITIONAL ONLINE RESOURCES (instructor)Blackboard.com
Whether you're ready to put your entire course online, or just some parts of it, Blackboard.com provides the service to do it. The upside is that Blackboard.com is easy to use and access. The downside is that Blackboard.com determines the site's structure. In addition, there's no such thing as a free lunch, so Blackboard.com will try to sell you the fee-based version.
Center for Academic Transformation
Includes links to articles, monographs, and websites concerned with online learning. Sponsored by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Discus - FREE Discussion Board Script
The Discus Discussion Board software is easy to install and use (although you must have cgi-bin access to install the software on your server). You can customize the board's look to a limited extent. Not graphics-intensive, so pages load quickly. A commercial version is also available for $99.
Use Nicenet's Internet Classroom Assistant (ICA) to put your courses on the Internet. "Nicenet provides the ICA free of charge with no advertising."
Task Decomposition, Dynamic Role Assignment, and Low-Bandwidth Communication for Real-Time Strategic Teamwork
Written by Peter Stone and Manuela Veloso, in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, this article fuses teamwork and artificial intelligence.
Sponsored by the University of Kansas, South Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium, the site includes information on professional development and integrating technology into the classroom, as well as specific technology tools such as a webpage wizard and online quiz.
MAJOR ASSIGNMENTIdentify small groups that regularly use new communication technologies to coordinate their activities, make decision, and solve problems (or have students identify such groups) that would be willing to allow student observers. Have students observe groups for several weeks, focusing on specific small group communication concepts (such as leadership, brainstorming, roles, norms). If students work in groups on this project, they should compare their observations, and in their final report they should discuss the differences and similarities among their observations. The final report should include both written and oral components so students can share their findings with the class.
ACTIVITIES(Note: It's useful to have students meet in a computer lab so you can present a tutorial on using the discussion board, listserv, and chat room.)
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