Multimodal Communication: A Case Study of Organizational Discourse and One-to-One Mentoring at an Online University

Multimodal Communication: A Case Study of Organizational Discourse and One-to-One Mentoring at an Online University

Melanie Shaw (Northcentral University, USA), Susan Stillman (Northcentral University, USA), Gayle Cicero (Northcentral University, USA), David Cross (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, USA) and Dennis Lessard (Northcentral University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-071-2.ch007
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This chapter includes information about communication patterns and organizational discourse at an online university, which utilizes a mentoring model to educate students. The mentoring approach involves the assignment of individual students to work one-to-one with a faculty mentor for each course of the degree or certificate program in which the student is enrolled. To address the types of communication inherent in this virtual education model, a mentor, a doctoral dissertation committee member, and a student shed light on their experiences of communication at the university. These diverse prospectives serve as a meta-communication model that can be implemented to enhance the effectivness of discourse at other institutions––particularly those seeking to implement a one-to-one mentoring approach.
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Communication is a process that involves encoding, message transmittal, decoding based on knowledge, experience, values, and prior observations to decipher meaning, and feedback (Green, 2005, p. 87). In order to effectively communicate, educators must develop an understanding of communication within organizations. Communication is often represented symbolically because of the complexity involved in adequately addressing all components of message decoding (Razik & Swanson, 2001).

Within any single organization, there are many forms of communication that occur on a daily basis from e-mail correspondence, to face to face meetings, to nonverbal nuances. For this study, the authors collected personal examples of communication in an entirely online university to build a broader understanding of the meta-communicative patterns existing within the organization. The collective experiences of contributing authors acted as a meta-communicative framework from which to understanding organizational discourse. Each contributor wrote from his or her own perspective to share experiences of communicating in the online environment. In this institution, one-to-one mentoring is the method of instruction. Instead of enrolling in a cohort, each student is assigned a faculty mentor who facilitates learning with the course. If the student is enrolled in the doctoral program, in addition to course mentors, he or she will be assigned a dissertation committee with a chair and two committee members. All communication is through the Internet or through the telephone.

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