Presentation Abstract

Preparing Students to Write in Technologically Diverse and Complex Workspaces: Designing a New Generation of Business Writing Textbooks

Writing on the job more and more often occurs in workspaces with increasingly various and complex technology. Nearly every aspect of the writing of business -- from our processes of planning and research; to our notions of authorship and collaboration; to document design and information display; to the genres of business writing, the forms of discourse, and our notions of style -- is being affected by our rapidly changing and increasingly complex technology. Yet our business, technical, and professional writing textbooks rarely reflect the numerous and complex ways in which technology affects what we write and the way in which we write it. A few paragraphs or a short chapter about word processing or desktop publishing programs in a business or technical writing book are no longer enough to prepare our students to become reflective, responsible, and effective users of technology.

We need to begin to develop a new generation of textbooks that reflect the changes occurring in computers and workplace writing and that prepare our students to deal with these changes. Yet given the rapid pace of development in computer technology and applications, what do we say? And what sorts of information, perspectives, and strategies concerning technology should be included?

This presentation considers the place of computer technology in business writing textbooks. Based upon her experience in co-authoring a business writing text that assumes a technological diverse and complex work environment, the presenter speculates about the following:

* What assumptions can we make about whatsstudents know and feel about technology? What can we not assume? And what can we assume or not assume that teachers of business writing know?

* What uses of technology are central to business writing, and what are peripheral?

* What aspects of business writing now assume some sortsof technological component? And how should these aspects affect business writing texts?

* What effects of technology on the production, genres, and style of discourse should be addressed?

* What issues concerning technology must be raised and discussed if we wish students to become reflective about and ethical in their use of technology?

* What sorts of activities and projects can help facilitate growth in our students' use of technology?

Based upon an extensive textbook review which preceded the submission of her book, the presenter also describes the ways in which technology is generally addressed in business writing textbooks and how marketfactors seem to be affecting (both positively and negatively) how much is said about technology and what topics are covered. Finally, the presenter recommends what we can do to encourage the development of a new generation of textbooks that will truly prepare students to write in a technologically advanced workplace.

Author: Judith Kilborn


Target Audience: Not Applicable

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