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Getting Professionally Cool With Hot Media: Teaching The Videotaped Interview

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.227.1 - 1.227.4



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Dianne Atkinson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


-—--, . . . . . Session 1161 :

—... —.- Getting Professionally Cool with Hot Media:

Teaching the Videotaped Interview

Dianne Atkinson Purdue University

Abstract Oral communication skills are increasingly important for technical professionals. As new media allow for more fluid and more interactive communication in the workplace, engineers with good oral skills can benefit from video-conferences, on-line real-time “talk” and other “hot media.” While the formal engineering report continues to be important, new media offer real advantages: In global market environments and in flattened organizational structures, efficient and coordinated decisions are essential to technical productivity. Skilled use of electronic media by engineers can be fostered by supporting oral communications in the engineering curriculum. Teaching the videotaped job interview is described as one such opportunity. A critical feature of that assignment is the high motivation that students bring to the task because they understand the potential for immediate benefits.

1 Introduction In a recent assessment of existing instruction in communications, the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University tabulated current assignments in the School, noting content and format requirements as well as modality--whether assignments were written or oral. An outcome of this effort was a decision to embed more opportunities for students to develop oral communications skills. The “embedding strategy” is an effort to fold communications instruction into existing course work as a reflection of the belief that technical communications are inherently part of technical work.

While the first year engineering curriculum incorporates two semesters of communications course work, one written and one oral, these courses replicate communications assignments from secondary school curriculum, e.g., general interest essays and informal short speeches, all intended for peer audiences. Engineering students, if they are to move toward competence in an increasingly media-intensive workplace, need experience with more professional tasks, e.g., technical collaboration on design projects. Considerable instructional investments already support written communication skills; engineering schools have long emphasized formal laboratory reports. The agenda now is to find ways to build better oral communication skills.

2 Design in the Curriculum The increased emphasis on design in engineering curricula does offer an important opportunity to support oral skills. One implication of incorporating more design work into the curriculum, especially design projects carried out with small teams, is that students must do more oral work. Teams spend time in planning meetings, in informal consultations in front of computer terminals, and in verbally exchanging information with faculty advisors and industry sponsors. Design work also entails some formal presentation, an analog to the formal written report. The emerging and most pressing demand, however, is to support more informal and more

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Atkinson, D. (1996, June), Getting Professionally Cool With Hot Media: Teaching The Videotaped Interview Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6073

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