Utilizing Technology to Communicate with Diverse Groups

Utilizing Technology to Communicate with Diverse Groups

Patricia F. Sanders (University of North Alabama, USA) and Butler Cain (West Texas A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2668-3.ch003
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Abstract

The concept of diversity has become an issue at the forefront of discussions in all sectors of society. This includes the business centers and their workplaces, higher education, and non-profit institutions. As the world becomes more and more ethnically diverse, methods of communication also become even more relevant, critical even. One way in which organizations are finding it easier to engage with those within their walls and get their ideas across to one another is through technology and the availability of social media. Digital tools such as Facebook, Twitter, email, YouTube, smart phones, virtual conferencing, Skype, and an indispensible amount of downloadable software applications, have paved the way for easier communication and the ability to reach not only diverse groups but in a varied number of ways. Over the past couple of decades, the ability to communicate has rapidly transitioned away from traditional modes of communication in the vein of land-based telephone lines, written letters, and verbal communication. This chapter focuses on how two major areas of society communicate with their diverse constituencies utilizing these sundry technologies. Specifically, it examines successful strategies higher education and businesses employ to disseminate information to diverse groups.
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Literature Review

The term “diversity,” as it is used within the context of higher education, has been defined in numerous ways. However, Owen (2009) identified two common meanings for this concept. The first simply involves valuing differences, while the second reflects the concern of “making the academy inclusive and equitable” (p. 187). Institutions of higher education have spent the past few decades increasingly focused on improving both of these interpretations and ensuring that diversity is reflected throughout campus. According to the ASHE Higher Education Report (2006), “the transformation of higher education needed to include diversity as a core value if it was to increase the capacity of colleges and universities to prosper and keep pace with changes in the environment” (p. 37).

One of these changes is America’s increasing racial diversity, and colleges and universities are uniquely positioned to provide leadership on this matter. Gurin, Day, Hurtado, and Gurin (2002) noted that many students who arrive on college campuses have lived their entire lives in segregated communities. Therefore, “colleges that diversify their student bodies and institute policies that foster genuine interaction across race and ethnicity provide the first opportunity for many students to learn from peers with different cultures, values, and experiences” (p. 336). However, interaction must be more than simple contact if individuals are to learn anything from each other. It must include learning about differences in backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives in an intimate and personal way (Gurin, Day, Hurtado, & Gurin, 2002). Though it would be expected that administrators within higher education would have had greater exposure to people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds than students, the same concept for successful interaction still applies.

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