Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blog. Show all posts

Friday 8 May 2015

Using Blog to Enhance Writing Skill through Story Writig

Using Blog to Enhance Writing Skill through Story Writing

(Note: As this article is already published in print form in International Journal of Humanities in Technical Education, about citation should be used to cite this article. This blog should not be cited for reference)

How to cite this article:
Barad, D. P. (2015, Jan). Using Blog to Enhance Writing Skill. (S. Sagar, Ed.) International Journal of Humanities in Technical Education, I(i), 71 - 81.
Barad, Dilip P. "Using Blog to Enhance Writing Skill." International Journal of Humanities in Technical Education I.i (2015): 71 - 81. Print.

Given the evidence that active participation in learning plays such a positive role in education, (we) find it surprising that around the world most classrooms are still predominantly lecture based. We have learned that the act of using what we learn helps a great deal in our ability to retain information (Rhoades). If there is one thing in the learning pedagogy, which supports ‘active participation’ and ‘act of using what learner’s learn’, it is story writing.
Story is a panacea. It is cure-all for all sorts of problems. As all sorts of learners, be it auditory or kinesthetic or visual; or be it kids or grown up adults or old grannies; or be it fast or slow learners; all and sundry, finds attraction is learning through stories. Stories have power to stimulate, revitalize, rejuvenate, energize, and exhilarate the learners. What else teachers want if such learners are in the class! Half of the battle is already won! The role of the teacher is done; the learning gets a smooth take off from here. It is well observed by Myrtis Mixon and Philomena Temu – “Stories told and read at home and school both entertain and educate young learners. Using stories in the classroom is fun, but the activity should not be considered trivial or frivolous” (First Road to Learning:Language through Stories). These last words ‘should not be considered trivial or frivolous’ are very important. We should think of wider pedagogical validation for learning through stories.
Pedagogical validation for learning through stories
Several researches have supported and validated the idea of learning through stories. Cortazzi refers to the idea that storytelling is essential to education and specifically to language teaching (Narrative Analysis). Zipes(1995) and Morgan and Rinvolucri (1992) observe stories as elementary part of the whole language approach to learning, influencing the “whole person” and stimulating to the subconscious.(Creative Storytelling) (Once upon a time: Using stories in the language classroom). According to Brumfit and Johnson (1979), reading or telling stories in class are a natural way to learn a new language (The communicative approach to language teaching).
Pedagogical support for learning through blogs
Having established importance of stories and its pedagogical implications, we should, now, look at another important aspect of this article i.e. blog. Gale of change is blowing in the pedagogy of Teaching English Language and Literature (TELL). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a catalyst agent. ICT has initiated new possibilities into the classroom. The marriage between education and Internet technology has made a deep impact on perspectives about teaching and learning. Technology, today, has revolutionized the way teachers taught foreign/second language (D. P. Barad, Experimenting ICT in Teaching English Language and Literature). In fact, the relationship between teacher and taught has undergone a phenomenal change (D. P. Barad, Pedagogical Issues Related to Speaking and Listening Skills & Sound Editing). The role of the teacher, the nature and context of learning, as well as the function and relative importance of course content have all been challenged and redefined. Technophobic teachers have no place in this new world order (D. P. Barad, Experimenting ICT in Teaching English Language and Literature).
Specifically speaking about the blogs in pedagogical theory, the case study findings of Pham Vu Phi Ho and Siriluck Ushaha (2009) said that ‘students expressed positive attitudes toward blog-based peer response activities’ (Blog-Based Peer Response for EFL Writing: A Case Study in Vietnam). Will Richardson observes: “Thousands of teachers and students have already incorporated Weblogs into their classrooms and into their practice. Blogs, as they are known, are easily created, easily updateable web sites that allow an author (or authors) to publish instantly to the Internet from any Internet connection. They can also be interactive, allowing teachers and students to begin conversations or add to the information published there. Weblogs are the most widely adopted tool”(Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms). Thus, blogs are considered as very important tool for the pedagogical purpose in English language learning. Even the study by Triona Hourigan and Liam Murray has revealed the fact that  “the potential impact of the blog writing phenomenon upon teaching and learning contexts reveals an important area for consideration for all university educators, and in particular for e-learning practitioners (Using blogs to help language students to develop reflective learning strategies: Towards a pedagogical framework). Similarly, Di Zhang’s research also supports the inclusion of blogs in pedagogical theory (The Application of Blog in English Writing).
Wordle Image of the Article

The Methodology: Cooperative Learning, Activation Technique, Alternative Assessment
After brief overview of pedagogical support for learning with blog, let us have a look at the methodology of the experiment under consideration. In this experiment, an amalgamation of traditional techniques (i.e. communicative language teaching, alternative assessment, cooperative learning, activating material etc) with technology (i.e. blog) is tried out and synergized result is analyzed. Most teachers have seen the reactions students can have to tasks and activities that they do not find engaging: the glassy or rolling eyes, the unfocused behavior, and the cries of “Not again!” (Rosenerg). However, if the teacher makes use of blogs for teaching writing skills through story writing, the learners can be actively engaged in the learning process. Both, ‘story writing’ and ‘blog’ are very effective activation material. If used with ‘Activation techniques’, which, are tools to make materials and tasks more interactive and more learner-focused, encouraging students to take more responsibility for their own learning (Rosenerg), they can work wonders in learning writing skill.
Thus, with the help of cooperative learning (Rhoades) and activation technique (Rosenerg), we will see how three groups of students with 4 students in each group practiced story writing and came up with significant generation of quality language. The language generated in this group activity has given us three different styles of writing also. Well, for several reasons, researchers and practitioners conclude the ideal size for a group is four students (Richards and Bohlke) (Kagan and Kagan) and we followed the same pattern in this experiment. The teacher practiced alternative assessment as discussed by Ghazi Gaith in ‘Using Cooperative Learning to Facilitate Alternative Assessment’. (). Alternative assessment is a  useful means of gathering evidence regarding how learners approach, process, and complete real life tasks in the target language (Gaith) and in this experiment the teacher usedObserving students at work’ as alternative assessment technique. Observing students at work provides valuable information regarding a number of core objectives related to student behavior, for example, work habits, persistence in completing tasks, and development of leadership and social skills. These skills include giving encouragement, respecting others, using a quiet voice, staying in-group, and checking for understanding. (Gaith).

The Experiment: Using Blog for writing skill through story writing
The Lion and the Mouse
Three groups with four members in each were given a blog link - (D. P. Barad, Story Writing)–, which has a brief outline of the story and an image of the lion and the mouse. The story of ‘The Lion and the Mouse’ (Wikipedia, The Lion and the Mouse) is quite known story to all the students. The students were asked to brainstorm the image. Brainstorming has but one rule: there is no such thing as a mistake. Anything goes; all ideas are equal and welcome. To practice brainstorming, teachers should draw on topics that students know and care about. (Rosenerg). While the students brainstormed the story, teacher observed them forming the group, assigning role to each other, emergence of the leader, his/her taking control of the group and all students do the assigned tasks. The teacher roamed around and guided students wherever they found it suitable consulting the teacher. As the students were supposed to give the outcome of their group task in form of ‘comment’ below the blog post shared with them, they were asking for some technicalities. As the final draft was to be typed and submitted, each group should have one member who is good in typing and knows a bit of blogging. The teacher took care of this, at the beginning, and the groups were formed keeping this in mind. During brainstorming, the following questions were raised to the teacher:
·         Should the story be written in past tense or present tense? (The teacher gave them freehand in the use of tense. The only condition was to be persistent with the tense used in the story)
·         How about using adjectives and adverbs? Should it be used in abundance or wherever necessary? (Again, freehand was given to the students – with a caution to be used suitably.)
·         Should it be written in formal or informal tone? (Students were informed to write in the manner they find convenient – with a caution for the usage of slangs.)
·         Can the story be written in form of a ‘play’ with dialogues? (As the students were of the postgraduate class of major English literature, this was expected. There was no such binding regarding prose or play or poetic writing. Though, there was no question of writing the story in poetic form.)
·         Apart from these, there were some technical questions regarding blog login, commenting, recaptcha etc. These technical issues were demonstrated on central screen by the teacher. As there was one experienced student in each group, the problems were resolved without glitch and interruption.

Thereafter, the member of the group who was to write the first draft of the story prepared it and the one to read it aloud read it, in their respective group. Several corrections were suggested in the story to make it grammatically error free and have a flow of the narration rather than a dull non-fictional writing. This sort of ‘peer composition’ enables students to assist each other in generating ideas for writing and incorporating peer feedback in order to improve their written work. (Gaith).
The final draft was to be posted as comment under the blog shared by the teacher. (D. P. Barad, Story Writing). This was the most important step in this entire experiment. It is not the technicalities or any sort of difficulties in doing so. Neither was it the objective of this experiment to teach students ‘how to blog or how to comment under a blog post’. If this was learned, it was by product of this experiment. It was observed by the teacher that the students were new to blog, learned about the learning potential of blog and self-publishing. This learning went on helping them in self-learning later on during their studies. That was the learning that happened, an unintentional learning. Here, in this experiment, this step of using blog instead of pen & paper for story writing was intended for different purpose. It has been seen that many teacher avoid group activities and learning for reasons like:
  • it leads to chaos and indiscipline in the class (Rhoades) (Sulich)
  •  the outcome becomes difficult to manage
  •  the assessment of the group becomes hazardous
  •  the grading of the group activity becomes challengeable.

Gena Rhoades and Magdalena Sulich discussed interesting ways to tackle the problem of chaos and indiscipline in-group management, but they have not said a thing about assessment and grading or the outcome of the group. There should be transparency in grading assessment of group activity if it is to be graded for final mark-sheet. Therefore, to find a right answer to all the above-discussed issues, which makes teacher reluctant in using, group activities, is to bring in technology. The blog was found to be easy to handle and user-friendly, so it was the obvious choice among the gamut of Web 2.0 tools available.
Let us see how it worked. The change from pen & paper to blog brought in one vital difference in entire activity. This was a very important change, which took the outcome at a greater height. In pen & paper mode, students know that nobody outside the class is going see their activity. Whereas, in blog, the activity will be seen by one and all, including their parents, friends and relatives. This makes them conscious and motivates them to walk an extra mile in the activity. They seriously workout the drafts to see that they are free from language errors and tries to make it as better as possible. This simple trick of putting the task online solves the problem of ‘indiscipline’ (Sulich) in form of not taking work seriously and performing the task with sincerity. The adult students do not pose discipline problem as that of children. The indiscipline for adult is not to take the tasks seriously and do it for the sake of doing it. However, if the task is to be read by anyone online, his or her attempts are genuine and the result is far better than expected. Secondly, the outcome can be managed well in form of comments under teacher’s blog post. No worry about the paper being lost or damaged with the passage of time or in hurry to file the documents. It also helps in better portfolio management. (Rosenerg). It gives good opportunity for transparency in assessment. As all the students, their parents and other stakeholders can see the tasks performed, their faith in system in reinstalled. There is a feeling of faith in the grades. Besides, it provides a very good learning for one and all. The slow learners get an access to the tasks performed by the fast learners. The class learns together. The goals of cooperative learning are achieved with greater degrees of fulfillment than doing the same thing on pen & paper mode.
Enhanced writing skill - Three styles of writing in English language
Working thus, in groups, putting into practice the aspects of cooperative learning, teacher doing the job observing the students as a part of alternative assessment and the activation technique at its best in form of blog-comment, the outcome is supposed to be very interesting. The outcome is very significant and gives us ample opportunity to discuss.
Let us see the stories written by the three groups:
The story written by Group 1:
Once a lion was sleeping beneath a tree suddenly, a rat came to play there. It climbed over the body of the lion. It was unknown to the dangers and it started playing with whiskers of the lion. Soon the lion woke up and roared angrily. The rat started trembling. The lion was ready to savour the rat. The rat begged the lion to pardon and promised to help him in the hours of need. At that time, the arrogant lion smugged at the rat and left it alive. After some days, the lion was trapped by hunter in the net. The lion began to roar for help. Soon the rat came with fellow friends and saved the life of lion. And then they were friends forever. The moral of the story is - One never knows how one can be helpful to others. (Word count 144)
The story is written with simple vocabulary. The sentence structure is also very simple. The connectors are not used effectively. A few punctuation errors can be identified. Some sentences begins with conjunctions (i.e. ‘And’). It should have been avoided.
The Story written by Group 2:
Once upon a time, in a thick and dreadful forest, a lion was sleeping beneath the tree. Suddenly, a cheerful rat came to play for a while. There he saw a lion. Unknown to the dangers of lion, he climbed over the body of the lion and started playing with his whiskers. Suddenly, the lion woke up and roared in anger. The rat was trembling in fear. Watching a trembling rat, the lion pitied him. The rat was ashamed for his deed and begged to be pardoned. He also promised the lion that he would help him in his critical times. The lion, in a mood of disgust smugged at rat and left him alive. Then, one day a group of hunters trapped the lion in a net. A poor lion roared for help. As soon as the rat came to know about the trapping of lion, he came with a few friends and cut the net. In this way, he saved the lion. After that incident, they remained friends forever.
1.      A friend in need is a friend indeed.
2.      Never underestimate anyone in your life because you never know how one can be helpful to others.
3.      Friendship is like water, noshape, noplace, notaste. But it is still essential for living. (Word count 221)
This story is written with richness in vocabulary in form of adjectives like ‘thick and dreadful forest’, ‘cheerful rat’, ‘trapping’ etc. There is a mixture of a few complex and compound sentences with by and large simple sentences in this writing. 
In this writing, we found several typos. Here, the corrected version of the story is presented. The original with errors in space, capitalization and punctuation can be read on the blog. (D. P. Barad, Story Writing).
The story written by Group 3:
The arrogant Lion was sleeping beneath a barren tree and his arrogance, too, was, adding even bitter barrenness to the nature by making it dismal and gloomy. In such atmosphere, small, innocent infant Rat came in a jovial mood. Being in jovial mood infant started playing with the lion by climbing over the body of the lion without knowing the danger in it. In his pleasing mood, the rat continued to play with whiskers of the lion. On such pleasing atmosphere where tree forgot to blossom, wind forgot to blow, they got their charm and sense of being a part of nature. But before such happened the lion woke up and roared angrily. Everything became barren as it was before. The rat got trembled. In his fury, the lion was ready to savour the rat. The rat, innocent and small creature succumbed and begged to be pardoned. This small creature assured him to help in the hours of need in the best possible way he 'CAN'.
But, how can a small creature help 'A KING'? The king smugged the rat and gave him a chance to live.
The flow of time never remains the same. After few days, the king was trapped by hunters in the net. It was so called pity of him. He craved and roared for help. The rat, being a being of blood and flesh, without thinking anything came with fellow friends and anyhow managed to save the King by cutting the stings of the net. Only afterwards, the lion understood the value of friendship and became the friends forever. (Word count 263)
In this story, we find better vocabulary than the previous two versions. For instance, the adjectives and adverbs like ‘arrogant, barren, bitter barrenness, dismal and gloomy, blood and flesh, etc. The sentence structure is quite rich with connectors like ‘being in …..’.
If we compare these three stories, we find that all three of them have distinct style. The level of language and the complexity of sentence structure increases as we move from first to the third one. All three stories have a distinct mark of various styles. We can see how the image of a well-known fable can lead to the generation of language in variety of ways. None of the stories are untrue, yet all of them have different language to tell the same story. If one group has said it in 144 words, the other said it in 221 words, the third one in 261 words. If the previous stories were written with simple expressions, this has more of literariness in its writing style. The prose of first story seems lifeless (not in negative sense). It is short and simple but it lacks energy. It does not engage the reader with the story. It may be because it does not make use of action verbs or adjectives or adverbs. The phrase like ‘rat came to play’ is more vague expression. If this vague expression is questioned ‘how’, it helps energizing the prose. The third story mentions same as ‘Rat came in a jovial mood’. The third story makes use of some lovely adjectives. The adjectives like ‘arrogant’, ‘barren’, ‘dismal and gloomy’, ‘innocent’ etc helps in creating a beautiful word picture. The lack or minimal use of adjectives in first two writings makes the prose look languid and listless. The third story creates the picture of exactly what is going on. It supports the idea of ‘creation’, which is the ultimate goal of learning as per Bloom’s taxonomy, which identifies creativity as - “It builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Put parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure.” (Bloom). The third story with the use of adjectives and adverbs gives a sense, adds strength to sentences. It creates word picture. The details engage the reader. The liveliness, which leads to better engagement of reader, increases in each of the three stories. The gradual growth of the prose from short and simple (which is also quite beautifully written story) to more engaging, lively, energetic prose is worth taking note in this experiment. All the three groups created the stories, which are very significant examples.

The self-evaluation by the learners can help them to understand where they stand in the proficiency of writing skills. The teacher’s role as an evaluator is minimized. There is self-learning on the part of learners through this mode of teaching writing skills. It was observed by the teacher than the learners are not using connectors like ‘however, nevertheless, in whatever way, although, nonetheless etc. There is more use of ‘and’ and ‘but’ which also tells about the learner that they are at intermediate level in learning English as a second language. With reference to CEFR (Wikipedia, Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), we may infer from the writing skills of the above groups that they fall under following categories:
Group 1
A2 – Waystage to elementary
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Group 2
B1 Threshold to intermediate
Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
Group 3
B2 Vantage or upper intermediate
Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.
Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
[Caption: Table1: Based on The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages] (Wikipedia, Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)
It is worth noting that none of the students who worked in these groups was able to secure C1 or C2 in the CEFR exam in the following month of this experiment. The members of group 3 were able to reach B2, which was the highest.
Thus to conclude we can say that using various tools and techniques which modern technology gives us an opportunity to explore incredible possibilities and can make a big difference in the learning of writing skills. It is not to say that the traditional classroom methods should be scrapped off. It is not to prove that technology is panacea. It is not to say that technology will replace traditional pedagogy and will reinvent new one. Nevertheless, time demands to synergize the traditional approach with the modern technology. In this experiment we have successfully synergized traditional techniques like communicative language teaching, cooperative learning, alternative assessment, classroom management, activating material, story writing etc with the technology like blog. This experiment yields wonderful results when all the traditional classroom techniques were performed in language lab over the internet-connected devices. Only one web tool i.e. blog was used to converge with traditional techniques. However, the openness of the blog, the ability of the blog to go out of the classroom, the potential of blog to reach beyond the limited frontiers of the classroom, the level of transparency it offers, the capacity of cooperative learning it offers and above all its accessibility (anywhere, anytime, anybody), when synergized with traditional pedagogy, the results are incredible. The learning happens. The teacher, now, no need to be the sage on the stage; s/he can better be a guide by the side.

Works Cited
Barad, D. P. "Experimenting ICT in Teaching English Language and Literature." AsiaCall Online Journal 4.1 (2009): 47-57.
—. "Pedagogical Issues Related to Speaking and Listening Skills & Sound Editing." ELT Weekly 1.27 (2009): 39-47.
—. Story Writing. 4 Aug 2009. 4 June 2014 <>.
Barad, Dilip P. "Using Blog to Enhance Writing Skill." International Journal of Humanities in Technical Education I.i (2015): 71 - 81.
Bloom, B. S. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc., 1956.
Brumfit, C. J. and K. Johnson. The communicative approach to language teaching. Oxford: OUP, 1979.
Cortazzi, M. "Narrative Analysis." Language Teacher (1994): 157-70.
Gaith, Ghazi. "Using Cooperative Leanring to Facilitate Alternative Assessment." English Teaching Forum (2004): 26-31.
Ho, Pham Vu Phi and Siriluck Ushaha. "Blog-Based Peer Response for EFL Writing: A Case Study in Vietnam." AsiaCall Online Journal 4.1 (2009): 1-29.
Hourigan, Triona and Liam Murray. "Using blogs to help language students to develop reflective learning strategies: Towards a pedagogical framework." Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 2.26 (2010): 209-225.
Kagan, S. and M. Kagan. Kagan Cooperative Learning. CA: Kagan, 2009.
Mixon, Mytris and Philomena Temu. "First Road to Learning:Language through Stories." English Teaching Forum (2006): 14-32.
Morgan, J. and M. Rinvolucri. Once upon a time: Using stories in the language classroom. Cambridge: CUP, 1992.
Rhoades, Gena. "Minimizing Chaos through Cooeprative Classroom Management." English Teaching Forum 4 (2013): 28-34.
Richards, J. C. and D. Bohlke. Creating Effective Language Lessons. Cambridge: CUP, 2011.
Richardson, Will. Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. 3rd. USA: Sage, 2010.
Rosenerg, Rick. "Tools for Activating Materials and Tasks in the English Language Class." English Teachign Forum (2009): 1-27.
Sulich, Magdelena. "Keeping Discipline in the Classroom." English Teaching Forum (2004): 32-35.
Wikipedia. "Common European Framework of Reference for Languages." 4 Jun 2014. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Jun 2014 <>.
—. "The Lion and the Mouse." 26 Jan 2014. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 June 2014 <>.
Zhang, Di. "The Application of Blog in English Writing." Journal of Cambridge Studies 4.1 (2009): 64-72.
Zipes, J. Creative Storytelling. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Modern Business Communication Tools - Dilip Barad

(This article was published in a book titled Understanding and Developing Effective Communication Skills and Soft Skills edited by Jaydipsinh K. Dodia and Nidhi Tiwari. 
Published by Sarup Books, New Delhi. (ISBN-978-81-7625-755-8)
Wordle: Communication Business

How to cite this article:
  • MLA:

Barad, D. P. "Modern Business Communication Tools." Dodiya, J. K. and Nidhi Tiwari. Understanding and Developing Effective Communication Skills and Soft Skills. New Delhi: Sarup Books, 2011.
  • APA:

Barad, D. P. (2011). Modern Business Communication Tools. In J. K. Dodiya, & N. Tiwari, Understanding and Developing Effective Communication Skills and Soft Skills. New Delhi, Delhi, India: Sarup Books.
  • Chicago

Barad, D. P. "Modern Business Communication Tools." Chap. Ch. 12 in Understanding and Developing Effective Communication Skills and Soft Skills, by J. K. Dodiya and Nidhi Tiwari. New Delhi, Delhi: Sarup Books, 2011.

Communication has seen drastic changes in last century. The advancement in science and technology has affected the way people communicated with each other on this globe. The change has been felt more over in Business Communication. One of the reasons of effect of technology on Business Communication has been the phenomenon of Globalization. In past two decades, the world has shrunk into a global village. The immeasurable ‘flat-world of pre-Galilean era has become ‘flat- world’ again in Thomas Friedman’s ‘The World is Flat’ but this time it is no longer immeasurable. This new flat world has become small because of modern tools of communication. The laissez –faire has helped in dissolving borders and making globe borderless in its true sense. This phenomenon is felt, if not in all spheres of life, at least in International Business. The global economic policies and Information and Communication Technology have given facelift to the twenty-first century business communication tools. The effect of global economic policies has opened up floodgates for foreign companies to trade with any country on the globe. This was not possible if advancement in technology did not support its communication links. If the communication is the life blood of business, speedy and on-time communication is its breath and finer spirit. Once upon a time it was believed that the communication is to encode message with right signs/symbols, send it and the receiver decodes it to understand the meaning of the message. The nearer the receiver is to the main message, the better is the communication. But now, along with it what is more important is ‘time’ element. How fast and accurately the message is sent is also very important. Thus, the role of modern technology and internet tools becomes vital in business communication.
In the human history, we have seen that man has always communicated. In the pre-historic times, fire & smoke signals, drums sounds etc tools were used for long distance communication. Even when man learnt to draw signs/symbols or to decipher earlier alphabets, he used birds like pigeons, parrots, eagles and animals like horses and camels to communicate. The first of its own kind of technology was invented in form of printing press. Gutenberg’s printing press (c.a. 15th Century) not only brought renaissance to Europe, but it was affected renaissance in business communication of the day. Printing press enabled faster written communication for the traders of the time. The invention of telegraph (c.a. 1837) and telephone (c.a. 1876) was another big leap in the communication history. But it was the twentieth century which witnessed drastic changes in communication as a whole and business communication in particular. The invention of Radio (c.a. 1901) and Television (c.a. 1929) captured the imagination of the twentieth century till the Internet rose on the horizons in 1970s (c.a.). It is internet enabled information and communication technology which has brought revolution in modern business communication.
Today, to imagine a business house without communication links like Email, Chat-applet, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), Fax, Blog, eGroup, smart mobile phone (not only for texting and calling, but also for social networking), website etc is to imagine a life without blood and oxygen. These modern tools have become part and parcel of business setup. The open international economic system has made it essential for all business houses, big or small, to remain connected, round the clock, with the world. And without these tools no business house can afford to win customers.
Let us study these modern business communication tools in detail and see how effectively they can be used for communication. We shall also throw some light on theirs advantages as well as disadvantages.
Let us start with a website. A dedicated website for business is not only for marketing or sharing information about the business but it also is a strong communication link to connect with the customers. Most business people are still ignorant of the potential power the website brings to their business. It is still underplayed and so people have their websites but most of them are static and archaic. It is rarely updated and few of them care to respond to customers who are trying to contact them through websites. It is surprising to see that very few business houses are reaping the benefits of cost effectiveness of using it as communication tool.
Advantages of Website as business communication tool:
• A dedicated website can help companies in various ways:
o The company can maintain direct contact with the customers.
o Giving customers a choice to select and compare the products and services. This service helps customers in saving their time and just on a click they can compare products and decide to purchase.
o Opening window for ecommerce, wherein customer can buy products/services online. It helps company in saving revenue share of wholesalers, retailers etc and can give extra benefit to customers. It also saves them from duplication of products.
o Instantly solving grievances of the customers, which is very important in the competitive world – it gives winning edge to the company. For this strong feedback mechanism should be available on website. It saves time of customer and company in delayed communication for complaints and adjustments. It also helps wholesaler to solve grievances of retailers, logistics etc kind of stakeholders involved in chain of business cycle.
o Reading minds of customers – for this, space for ‘comments’ by customers should be available on website wherein customer can ‘text’ some message as feedback. This would not cost any extra bucks to company but can help them a lot in improving their products and services. The commenting can be kept under control so it won’t bother company to control unwanted and spam commenter.
o A separate space for employee login can serve several purposes at a time. Say for instances, management can read minds of employee from their login and reading their experience of working with the company. This helps in times of recession and slowdown of turnovers. It also serves the purpose and advantages of ‘grapevine’ communication channel.
Disadvantages of website as communication tool:
• The website as such does not have implicitly visible disadvantages as they are developed as part of online business marketing, yet when such interactive websites are not managed properly, it may have following disadvantages:
o It should always be under the vigilance. Interactive websites should be protected from hackers. The rival companies or porn sites keep attacking websites popular with customers. If company fails to vigil its website, it can mar the brand image of their products.
o There should be personnel always virtually present to reply to customers’ queries and grievances. As website communication is asynchronous, and not synchronous like chatting, the auto-mode of reply to customer’s complaints, queries, comments etc can help but it should be followed by personalized email from the company. Most of the time, delay in such communication forces customers to stay away from websites to communicate with company.
o One of the biggest disadvantages is ignorance of customers in using website for communication. So, companies should design websites which are user-friendly and the communication links are easily visible on the home page and easily accessible to the novice user of internet also.
However, the dedicated website has immense possibilities, capacities and capabilities to converge various communication tools at a time on single platform. Yet the ignorance, negligence and failure on part of companies and customers to understand its capacities does not allow website to flourish as one of the vital modern tools of business communications. But the days of awareness are not far away. Business houses have begun to use websites for various communication purposes. One can see and feel the experience of such websites. For instance, insurance websites are not only giving information related to their products and services, but also allow customer to pay premiums online. Even the news websites gives opportunity to readers to share their views on news through comments. The websites of electronic gadgets are full of innovations which give feeling of seeing products with real eyes, though they are crafted for virtual visual effect. Some such websites are,,,
Electronic mail (email) is a letter transmitted using internet technology. The transmission may be between two computers or smart mobile devices which support transmission of data through internet. The beauty of email is its speed of transmission. Now and then, email is compared with traditional mail where in email stands triumphantly ahead because of its speed and cost effectiveness of transmission of information. The email reaches farthest corner of the globe within millisecond. The only condition is that the said corner should be connected through internet. It does not only send text-messages, but also sends images, colourful graphics, audio and video messages (multimedia messages). Emailing is almost free of cost. Today, there are several email service providers like Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, Rediffmail, Indiatimes etc which give unlimited space for storing incoming and outgoing mails, that too, totally free to the users.
Advantages of Email as business communication tool:
• Email is fast in transmitting multimedia messages.
• It saves time and money as it is very economical.
• The communication is written and thus has more legal importance than other electronic communications. The written record of the communication is generated which is very useful in future.
• It is easy to retrieve email communication for future reference.
• It facilitates communication with multiple parties at a time.
• It is most suitable for open international economic system which is characterized by changing business environment, geographically distributed workgroups, extreme mobility and the need of rapid information dissemination.
• Email services are available on smart phones, PDAs, and other such hand-held devices. So, even without computer or laptop, accessing email is easy and user-friendly.
Disadvantages of Email:
• Emails, if not used over personalized web space, are like post-cards, any body can read it. The free email service providers do not guarantee secrecy of the messages transmitted over emails. Thus, it becomes harmful to business if such free service providers’ email platform is used for business transactions.
• It does not create better context for communication, and it does not clarify the tone of messages.
• It is sometimes seen as impersonal and prone to misunderstanding, because verbal cues and context are missing.
• Managing unwanted (spam) mails is biggest problem. Hundreds of unwanted mails waste lots of time even in deleting them. And because of it, at times, even useful ones are deleted or left unread.
• The sender does not always come to know whether the mail has reached right destination or not. Even if it has reached, sender does not know if the receiver has read it or not.
• It is asynchronous communication and so is not as effective as telephonic conversation or chatting communication on IMs (Instant Messages).
• Lack of infrastructure in remote rural areas poses biggest hurdle in its spread and reach.
With all these disadvantages, email is still the most popular modern business tool for communication. The recent survey by META Group, Inc., showed that more than 80% of the respondents said that email is more valuable than phone call for business purpose (META). As compared to disadvantages, email offers several advantages which make it more popular with business fraternity. Corporate houses believe email to be the strongest communication link within and out of the organization.
Weblogs or blogs are traditionally known as digital diaries to keep records of journey, routine work or sharing information on relevant topics or used for self expression. Just like email service providers, there are free blog service providers. Some of the popular free blog servers are,, etc. The companies have their own personalized blogosphere which is much protected and under control from unwanted users and hackers. The openness and transparent nature of the blog can be used effectively by business houses to provide online platform to their stakeholders (wholesaler, retailers, customers, clients, peer business groups, workgroups, and employee) to access relevant, useful and timely information.
Advantages of Blog as business communication tool:
• It is almost free to start a blog and maintain it. The startup cost and maintenance of website is not free and at times its cost is much higher. Relatively, blog performs almost all those functions of website and its cost is negligible (almost free).
• It helps to disseminate information quickly, efficiently and effectively to their clients and to other operating units of the business.
• It facilitates more open and direct communication channel with all stakeholders. The client feedback mechanism of blog is much stronger than email or website and thus it helps in better understanding of clients. Thus, in longer run, blog is more effective business communication tool as compared to email or website.
• It helps in reduction of cost for communication with clients and other stakeholders.
• It helps in collaboration from various workgroups situated geographically at remote places. Some of the case studies of Google, Microsoft and Adobe can be read at It proves how effective is blog for collaborative work.
• Blogs can be linked with email and SMS. It helps in instant transmission of information as and when blogs are updated with latest information.
• Blogs are better than Websites because:
o Blogs send instant email or XML feeder as and when blog is updated. The customer has to remember to come to website to see the updates, whereas blogs manage it by sending auto-emails and feeders.
o The feedbacks can be published along with blog which helps other customers to read and it helps in solving their queries. Websites needs to be specially designed for such functions and one has to keep special staff to manage it. Blogs manage it automatically.
o The static websites are like ‘dead brochures’. Blogs give the feel of some person on other side, listening and replying to customers.
• Blogs are better than Emails because:
o Blogs complement email by being more permanent and reliable. People receive hundreds of mails and at times, emails are deleted without being read thoroughly. The permanence of blogs allows customers to come at their leisure and read it carefully. The reliability of emails is decreasing day by day because of hackers and spammers. Blogs remain more trustworthy than emails, thus they are more reliable.
o It is less demanding or intrusive for readers, and able to reach a wider audience. Multimedia emails consumes lots of time in downloading and viewing. Receiver gets bored of managing bulky mails. Blogs do not give such botheration to receiver. The links of blogs can be shared and thus it can reach wider audiences.
Disadvantages of Blog as business communication tool:
• Blogs are good for service providers rather than product sellers. As service providers can blog FAQs (frequently asked questions) and other such service related information, it saves their time and money in further communication with clients. The customers also gets answers to their common queries from the blog. But for product seller, where 3D images and more interactivity is requires, Blogs fall short of high definition websites which used flash and 3D effects to display features of products.
• Though blogs are more user-friendly than websites, still it requires skilled hand to make optimum out of it. Ignorance on part of clients is disadvantageous to business houses in effectively communicating with them through blogs.
• As with all modern tools, lack of infrastructure in remote areas is one of the biggest obstacles in reaching out to rural market through blogs.
With all its limitations, blog is becoming quite popular among the business as well as common people. And marketing gurus are going to make hay while the sun shines – they are encashing its popularity by making innovative use of blogs for various business related communications.
Smart Mobile phones:
Mobile phones (smart as well as simple) have better penetration in the market than laptop or computer or internet technology. It is believed that the uses of mobile phones are ten times greater than internet users in India. The growth rate of mobile phone users is far ahead of internet users. Thus, it gives greater opportunity in using smart as well as simple mobile phones as business communication tool. All simple phones come with facility of SMS (Short Message Service). The SMS has tremendous potential to be very effective business communication tool. The smart mobile devices have several inbuilt applications and others are downloadable. Such applications run with the help of GPRS internet connection. Thus, such GPRS enabled mobile devices provide better business communication opportunities.
Advantages of Mobile Phones as business communication tool:
• As compared to all the above discussed modern tools, an SMS can reach wider audience in almost no time and there are far more chances of the message being read instantly than that of website / blog / email.
• The chances of instant feedback are also far better with SMS replies rather than email, blog or website.
• From marketing to spreading awareness or getting opinion from customers, none can beat SMS. However, busy person is, it surely gets time to peep into mobile device whenever it beeps for incoming SMS.
• The SMS ensures less spam, it is cost effective and time saving.
• It is helpful in market campaign, promotion of product, survey and voting.
• For advance version of smart phones which are GPRS enabled, there are again immense possibilities. It helps in viewing websites, blogging and mailing. Thus, such mobile stands quite ahead of other modern tools in its utility.
• The software applications installed in such smart devices helps in ecommerce, paying utility bills, fund transfers etc which cannot be handled by email or blogs.
• Some of the smart mobile devices are VoIP enabled. They can be connected through WLAN for hi-speed internet which helps them in transmission of voice and video over internet connection.
• The 3G enabled phones synergize all the facilities of video calling, websites, blogs and emails in one single device.
Disadvantages of Mobile Phones as business communication tool:
• The health hazards which are supposed to cause terrible mental and physical illness because of extensive use of mobile phones may prevent people form using it habitually. This may cause corporate house to change their customer relationship communication links which they have established through SMS and other mobile applications.
• The ban on unwanted SMS and mobile calls may be disadvantageous to business houses.
• The infrastructure for WLAN or 3G is still at primary level and it may take long time in spreading its penetration in towns and rural places.
• So far as SMS based communication is concerned, it has better opportunities but GPRS and software application based smart devices has its limitations. The cost of devices is normally higher for common man and ignorance of using such device also pose problems for such communication channels.
Mobile devices can be used in business to increase flexibility, speed up communication for faster business decisions and contribute to an efficient and organized communication network. The 3G enabled mobile device can turn the phone into mobile business centre. Thus, mobile phones are fast moving business communication tools which in days to come may beat laptops, computers, PDAs etc to win the race and become the best business communication tools.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is voice messaging technology. It is a technology that enables voice messages to be sent via the Internet, often simultaneously with data in text or other forms. It is attractive to business people because it helps in making far distance (international) calls and transmission of voice data almost free of cost.
Advantages of VoIP as business communication tool:
• The cost effective long distance calls is the best advantage of VoIP. Internet technology helps in making such calls through some specially designed software or chat applets (IMs) like skype, GTalk, Yahoo Messenger etc. People sitting over laptops or computers connected with hi-speed internet can talk, discuss and run meetings for hours with almost negligible cost.
• It also helps in conducting meeting or video conferencing (if webcam is also connected) with various work groups from various parts of the globe. The only condition is that they all should be connected with internet.
• VoIP is also available on smart mobile phones. It really integrates business needs and optimizes business communication.
Disadvantages of VoIP as business communication tool:
• Its openness does not allow business houses to have secrecy in their communication through VoIP. The VoIP communication can be intercepted, traced and recorded. The third party can hack such conversations.
• It requires both or all the concerned people to get connected to internet through laptop or smart mobile device. It may be difficult for the travelling sales person or executive to have hi-speed internet connectivity wherever he goes.
• The internet must be of good speed and should not get disconnected in between the conversation.
• The lack of infrastructure in remote places may be biggest disadvantage for VoIP.

Instant Messenger (IM) / Chat Applet:
The IM / Chat Applets are easily downloadable applications which run with the help of internet/gprs on computers or mobile phones. These applications helps in synchronous communication with the people logged in to it. Some of popular chat applets are Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, MSN messenger, Rediff Bol, skype and several others for mobile devices. As and when two people, remotely situated, get connected through similar chat applet, via internet, they can type and send message to each other. The typed messages are displayed on each computer almost at the same time. Thus such communication is known as synchronous, where as emails/sms are asynchronous communication.
Advantages of IM / Chat Applets as business communication tool:
• The communication is neither limited to only two people nor only through text messaging. Hundreds of people can join conversation at a time, from geographically remote places.
• They an also exchange images, videos, presentation files among each other.
• Not only that, they can make calls and have group discussion or meeting also.
• It converges email, VoIP and SMS into one mode of communication. The chat conversation can be saved and if the other person/s is/are not online, even offline messages can be sent. Thus is fulfills the functions of email. As we can talk, it fulfills the function of VoIP. Just like texting SMS, we can send and receive small messages in chat applets, it satisfies the needs of SMS also.
• It is very effective tool in problem solving as IMs provides instant responses.
• Its compliance with mobile phones gives more power. Just like SMS, people remain constantly connected through IMs.
Disadvantages of IM / Chat Applet as business communication tool:
• Normally, it is more informal form of communication and because people still does not take it as serious business communication tool, its conversation is not considered as serious as email or blog.
• The reliability of chat conversation is much less than email or blog.
• For using it as serious problem solving tool, companies prefer to have scheduled chatting over IMs. But that delimits its real potential and hence people prefer to email or comment on blog or contact through website, rather than waiting for pre-scheduled timing to chat their grievances and queries with company..
Thus, IMs / Chat Applets have its own share of advantages and disadvantages as modern business communication tool. Though, it is still used by teenagers for killing time, several business houses have realized its potential to woo teenage customers and are making effective use of it in establishing essential communication links with younger generation.
At the end, the discussion on modern business communication tools may seem incomplete if social networking sites are not mentioned. Social Networking Sites (SNS) is defined by in following terms:
“a web site that provides a virtual community for people interested in a particular subject or just to "hang out" together. Members create their own online "profile" with biographical data, pictures, likes, dislikes and any other information they choose to post. They communicate with each other by voice, chat, instant message, videoconference and blogs, and the service typically provides a way for members to contact friends of other members.”
Primarily, the "social networking site" is the 21st century "virtual community," a group of people who use the Internet to communicate with each other about anything and everything. One can find dating sites, friendship sites, and sites with a business purpose and hybrids that offer a combination of these. The popular SNS are Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, etc. The corporate houses have realized the power and potential of popular SNS.
Now-a-days, there are several companies having their twitter account and they create trail of ‘followers’. They tweet to market their product and services. The customers can ‘retweet’ and have discussion, ask questions and have two way communications with the company through twitter. The companies also have their pages and groups / communities on Facebook and Orkut. They make optimum use of free space provided by these SNS to have their website or blog like pages and also woo customers over such web platforms. In fact, they make use of such SNS for linking their blogs, websites and other communication channels. The advantage of having SNS is that it gives opportunity to companies to reach wider audience and it is again free of cost. It gives customers to reach the company without wasting much of their time and money.
Further Reading:
Note: The resources from following websites is used at several places in the above article.

• Dellow, James. For better, or worse: Living with e-mail in the workplace
• business-blogging/comparing-blogs.html