The  Public  Relations  Campaigns  course  requires  complex  coordination  and  collaboration   among  members  of  the  student

 team,  the  professor,  and  the  campaign  client.     This  paper  addresses  collaboration  at  two  levels:  The  class  level,  which  includes   collaboration  between  the  teacher  and  the  class;  and  the  team  level,  which  refers  to   collaboration  between  the  members  of  a  student  team.  Collaboration  with  the   campaign  client  may  be  difficult  to  enforce,  because  of  the  client’s  work  habits  and   preferences.  Therefore,  students  should  adapt  to  the  client’s  work  preferences  rather   than  persuade  the  client  to  adopt  new  technologies.  However,  within  the  limits  of  the   class,  the  public  relations  campaigns  course  is  a  good  opportunity  for  teaching  students   to  work  collaboratively,  and  to  support  collaborative  work  with  Web  2.0  technologies.     The  rationale  for  including  technology-­‐supported  collaboration  in  the  public  relations   campaigns  course  is  as  twofold:  First,  it  is  useful  for  students  to  use  Web  2.0   technologies  for  productive  work  in  order  to  better  prepare  them  for  the  workplace.  In   many  cases,  students  use  social  media  for  personal  and  entertainment  purposes,  but   have  never  had  an  opportunity  to  use  these  technologies  for  collaborative  work.  They   benefit  from  learning  to  repurpose  familiar  tools  for  work,  and  to  use  new  tools.   Second,  Web  2.0  technologies  really  make  collaboration  easier.  They  do  away  with  the   need  to  keep  track  of  distributed  versions  of  the  same  file,  enable  simultaneous  editing,   the  automated  saving  of  versions,  and  easy,  centralized  information  storage  and  access.     Using  technology  for  technology’s  sake  can  be  minimally  beneficial  to  students  because   it  helps  them  become  aware  of  new  available  tools.  However,  what  I  advocate  here  is  a   purpose-­‐driven  approach  to  integrating  technology  in  the  public  relations  campaigns   course.  Upon  identifying  tasks  and  goals  that  need  to  be  accomplished,  the  teacher  can   proceed  to  identify  tools  that  enable  students  to  accomplish  those  goals.     The  remainder  of  the  paper  presents  purpose-­‐driven  solutions  for  technology-­‐supported   collaboration  at  both  the  class  and  the  team  levels:      

Technology-­‐Supported  Collaboration  for  the  Public  Relations  Campaigns  Course     Presentation  on  the  panel  Building  Bridges  through  Collaboration  In  Public  Relations   NCA  2010   San  Francisco     Mihaela  Vorvoreanu,  Ph.D.   Assistant  Professor   Computer  Graphics  Technology  -­‐-­‐  Organizational  Leadership  &  Supervision   Purdue  University  



Class  level  collaboration     The  list  below  provides  examples  of  purposes  that  I  have  found  relevant  when  teaching   public  relations  courses.  Your  list  may  look  different  –  It  is  important  to  remember,   though,  to  make  purpose  identification  the  first  step  when  planning  a  technology   solution  for  your  course.     • Socialize  into  the  public  relations  profession  –  An  important  goal  of  public   relations  courses,  especially  advanced  ones,  is  to  help  students  socialize  into  the   public  relations  profession  by  connecting  with  public  relations  professionals,   learning  from  them  about  their  work  and  life  style.  While  PRSSA  chapter  can   satisfy  this  need  to  a  certain  extent,  they  are  limited  to  occasional  events  and   public  relations  practitioners  located  in  the  neighboring  geographic  area.  Social   media  overcomes  these  limitations  and  enables  students  to  interact  with  public   relations  practitioners  from  around  the  world  on  a  daily  basis.  Specifically,   Twitter  is  the  ideal  tool  for  this  purpose,  because  the  social  norms  that  have   emerged  around  Twitter  use  encourage  lightweight  interactions  with  people  one   has  not  previously  met.  Students  need  to  be  coached  into  setting  up  a   professional  Twitter  profile,  using  Twitter  professionally,  identifying,  following,   and  interacting  with  professionals.     • Maintain  relationship  with  teacher  –  Teacher  relationship  is  an  important   predictor  of  learning,  according  to  self-­‐determination  theory  (Deci,  Koestner,  &   Ryan,  2001;  Niemiec  &  Ryan,  2009;  Ryan  &  Deci,  2000).  Opportunities  for   lightweight  interaction  may  be  limited  during  class  time,  but  Twitter,  for   example,  enables  students  and  teachers  to  interact  at  their  own  convenience,   and  even  get  to  know  a  bit  about  each  other  beyond  the  classroom.     • Create  professional  online  identities  –  According  to  a  report  commissioned  by   Microsoft,  most  human  resource  managers  search  online  for  information  about   job  candidates  and  the  information  they  find  influences  hiring  decisions  (cross-­‐ tab,  2009).  It  becomes,  therefore,  important,  for  students  to  make  conscious   efforts  to  create  information  that  represents  the  professional  facets  of  their   selves.  Writing  personal  learning  blogs  on  topics  related  to  public  relations  is  a   good  way  for  students  to  document  their  learning  process  and  show  off  their   skills.     • Independent  learning  –  As  social  media  have  evolved  very  fast  and  have  been   adopted  by  public  relations  and  marketing  practitioners,  blogs  have  been  one  of   the  few  outlets  able  to  keep  up  with  these  developments,  document  best   practices,  share  lessons,  and  make  recommendations.  Requiring  students  to  read   a  careful  selection  of  blogs  written  by  public  relations  practitioners  nudges  them   to  learn  outside  of  the  classroom,  and  to  be  aware  of  the  latest  trends  in  public   relations  practice.  Commenting  on  these  blogs  can  also  help  students  establish  
Vorvoreanu,  M.  (2010).  Technology-­‐supported  collaboration  for  the  public  relations  campaigns  course.  



3   relationships  with  public  relations  practitioners.  Most  students  need  coaching  in   creating  the  habit  to  read  blogs  regularly,  using  an  RSS  feed  reader,  and   commenting  on  blogs.     Increase  student  motivation  –  Intrinsic  motivation  is  also  a  very  important  part   of  learning,  according  to  self-­‐determination  theory  (Deci,  Koestner,  &  Ryan,   2001;  Niemiec  &  Ryan,  2009;  Ryan  &  Deci,  2000).  Public  relations  practitioners   who  make  guest  appearances  into  the  classroom  can  reinforce  the  instructor’s   messages  and  inform  students  about  specific  skills  needed  in  the  professional   public  relations  world.  Because  they  are  immersed  in  public  relations  practice,   guest  speakers  often  seem  to  have  more  credibility  than  the  teacher  when  it   comes  to  establishing  what  skills  are  important.  Skype,  or  other  Web-­‐based   video  calling  applications  (iChat,  Google  Talk,  etc.)  enable  guest  speakers  who   are  not  in  physical  proximity  to  interact  with  students.  

  An  evaluation  of  this  particular  social  media  solution,  as  used  in  a  series  of   undergraduate  public  relations  courses,  shows  that  using  these  tools  as  indicated  here   has  significant  positive  effects  on  student  motivation,  learning,  career  success,  and   relationship  with  teacher  (Vorvoreanu,  M.  &  Sears,  D.,  2010).     In  addition  to  collaboration  at  the  class  level,  students  in  the  public  relations  campaigns   course  can  use  a  combination  of  tools  that  enable  them  to  work  together  efficiently.   This  solution  is  presented  next.     Team  level  collaboration     The  solution  for  technology-­‐supported  team  collaboration  proposed  here  is  based  on  a   theoretical  model  of  computer-­‐supported  cooperative  work  (Neale,  Carroll,  &  Rosson,   2004).    The  model  explains  the  process  of  computer-­‐supported  cooperative  work  and   the  factors  that  enable  it.  It  lists  five  types  of  activities  that  need  to  be  supported  in   order  for  effective  cooperative  work  to  take  place.  The  five  types  of  activities,  and  the   corresponding  tools  that  public  relations  students  can  use  to  engage  in  each  of  them,   are  explained  next.     1. Light-­‐weight  interaction  –  informal,  light-­‐weight  interaction  is  important  in   collaborative  ground  because  it  helps  team  members  establish  common  ground.   The  better  team  members  know  each  other,  the  better  able  they  are  to   understand  each  other.  Light-­‐weight  interaction  can  also  contribute  to  creating   activity  awareness  –  the  awareness  of  what  other  team  members  are  currently   working  on.  This  knowledge  is  tacit  in  a  shared  office  environment,  but  if   students  work  from  different  locations,  technology  can  enable  the  establishment   of  common  ground  and  activity  awareness  through  light-­‐weight  interaction.   Microblogging  tools  are  very  well  fit  for  this  type  of  interaction.  In  fact,  Twitter   was  created  for  the  purpose  of  maintaining  activity  awareness  among  team  
Vorvoreanu,  M.  (2010).  Technology-­‐supported  collaboration  for  the  public  relations  campaigns  course.  



4   members  (Israel,  2009).  For  private  light-­‐weight  interaction,  team  members  can   use  Yammer.  Facebook  is  another  obvious  solution,  but  since  many  instructors   choose,  rightfully  so,  not  to  interact  with  students  on  Facebook,  it  may  be   difficult  to  monitor  and  be  a  part  of  the  student  team’s  interactions.     Information  sharing  –  Storing  information  in  one  location  that  can  be  accessed   and  edited  by  all  team  members  is  superior  to  having  several  databases  of   citations,  resources,  and  references.  Team  members  can  use  social  bookmarking   and  social  citation  management  (Zotero)  to  collaboratively  create  a  set  of  shared   resources.  A  team  blog  can  help  document  and  share  ideas,  instructions,  and   reminders  among  team  members.  A  shared  notebook  (Evernote)  can  be  used  for   clippings,  photos,  articles,  and  other  sources  of  inspiration.       Coordination  –  Coordination  refers  to  the  obvious  need  to  schedule  and   coordinate  work.  Shared  online  calendars  can  be  used  to  keep  all  team  members   on  the  same  schedule  and  to  reduce  the  probability  of  scheduling   misunderstandings.     Collaboration  –  In  this  particular  model,  collaboration  refers  to  a  mode  of  work   where  individual  team  members  work  independently  on  pieces  of  the  project,   which  are  later  assembled  into  the  finished  product.  Collaborative  document   editing  using  Google  Docs  or  another  wiki  platform  can  be  more  advantageous   than  writing  independent  documents  and  assembling  them  at  the  end.  If  all   members  have  access  to  the  same  document,  even  if  they  work  on  their   assigned  section,  they  can  see  what  other  team  members  have  written  and   adapt  their  writing  style  accordingly.  Google  Docs  also  enables  collaborative   editing  of  spreadsheets  and  presentation  slides.  It  presents  the  major  advantage   of  doing  away  with  several  versions  of  files  that  need  to  be  kept  track  of  and   emailed  back  and  forth.  It  also  enables  multiple  team  members  to  edit  the  same   file  simultaneously.     Cooperation  –  According  to  (Neale,  Carroll,  &  Rosson,  2004),  cooperation,  which   they  define  as  intensely  interactive  and  creative  collective  work,  is  not  easily   supported  by  existing  technologies.  There  are  few  substitutes  to  people   brainstorming  around  a  white  board.  Even  though  they  may  not  be  able  to   match  face-­‐to-­‐face  interaction,  multi-­‐way  video  chat  (such  as  Skype)  and  Web   conferencing  applications  (such  as  DimDim)  enable  synchronous  communication,   file  sharing  and  commenting,  and  even  a  virtual  whiteboard  for  note-­‐taking.  





  This  brief  paper  presented  a  two-­‐level  collaboration  solution  for  the  public  relations   campaigns  course.  The  class-­‐level  collaboration  solution’s  potential  for  helping  students   is  supported  by  research.  The  team-­‐level  collaboration  solution,  based  on  a  theoretical   model  of  computer-­‐supported  collaborative  work,  has  not  been  evaluated  yet  in  the   education  context.  
Vorvoreanu,  M.  (2010).  Technology-­‐supported  collaboration  for  the  public  relations  campaigns  course.  




References     cross-­‐tab.  (2009).  Online  Reputation  in  a  Connected  World.   Deci,  E.  L.,  Koestner,  R.,  &  Ryan,  R.  M.  (2001).  Extrinsic  rewards  and  intrinsic  motivation   in  education:  Reconsidered  once  again.  Review  of  Educational  Research,  71,  1-­‐27.   Israel,  S.  (2009).  Twitterville:  How  Businesses  Can  Thrive  in  the  New  Global   Neighborhoods.   Neale,  D.  C.,  Carroll,  J.  M.,  &  Rosson,  M.  B.  (2004).  Evaluating  computer-­‐supported   cooperative  work:  Models  and  frameworks.  Paper  presented  at  the  Computer   Supported  Collaborative  Work  Annual  Conference.     Niemiec,  C.  P.,  &  Ryan,  R.  M.  (2009).  Autonomy,  competence,  and  relatedness  in  the   classroom:  Applying  self-­‐determination  theory  to  educational  practice.  Theory   and  Research  in  Education,  7,  133-­‐144.   Ryan,  R.  M.,  &  Deci,  E.  L.  (2000).  Intrinsic  and  extrinsic  motivations:  Classic  definitions   and  new  directions.  Contemporary  Educational  Psychology,  25,  54-­‐67.   Vorvoreanu,  M.,  &  Sears,  D.  (2010).  Teaching  with  Web  2.0:  Case  study  and  analysis.   Paper  presented  at  the  Campus  Technology  Annual  Education  Technology   Conference.         Citation  information     If  you  would  like  to  cite  this  paper,  please  use  the  following:     Vorvoreanu,  M.  (2010).  Technology-­‐supported  collaboration  for  the  public  relations   campaigns  course.  Panel  presentation  at  the  2010  Annual  Convention  of  the   National  Communication  Association,  San  Francisco,  CA.          

Vorvoreanu,  M.  (2010).  Technology-­‐supported  collaboration  for  the  public  relations  campaigns  course.  


    Some  Social  Media  Resources  for  Research  Collaboration  (all  free  of  cost)     One-­‐on-­‐one  video  calling   • Skype   • Google  Chat     Group  video  calling   • Skype  5.0  for  Windows,   online  video  chat  rooms,  no  download  or  installation  necessary:   •     •     Web  meetings  (voice,  screen  sharing,  some  collaborative  document  editing)   •   •   •     Collaborative  citation  management   • Zotero  (plugin  for  Firefox  and  some  text  editors)   •   •   •     Collaborative  document  editing   • Google  Docs  (word  documents,  slide  decks,  spreadsheets)   •   • other  free  wikis:,,,    


Vorvoreanu,  M.  (2010).  Technology-­‐supported  collaboration  for  the  public  relations  campaigns  course.  


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