Abram Anders, UMD business communications professor, won the 2014 Pearson Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology in late October. Anders was honored with the award at the 79th Association for Business Communication Annual International Conference in Philadelphia. The award highlighted the intensive work he carries out, specifically with his Finance and Management Information Sciences course, Business Communications.Anders, who has taught Business Communications at UMD since 2009, revolutionized traditional teaching in the classroom.
“In today’s fast moving world, people need to be familiar with technology and different communication styles,” said Anders. Anders and 10 to 15 other professors in the University of Minnesota system were accepted into an 18-month program through the University of Minnesota where he proposed to renovate his course by incorporating technology.
Anders then reformed his Business Communications course into what it is today — a technology heavy and community involved experience targeted at preparing students for the workplace. Anders conducts research with technology and communication. He studies things that happen in the work environment and is interested in how technology is changing the way people communicate. He is also on the chair of the technology committee at UMD and helps professors learn to work with technology. Anders has found that many corporations are using blogs, wikis and collaboration tools. Anders used his conducted research as an inspiration in the redesigning of his Business Communications course. As a way to get recognized, Anders also has his students work with both community and private blogs.
“I try not to assign work that isn’t valuable for students beyond the course,” he said. “The Business Communication course, with the use of technology, offers a job application unit, a written correspondence unit and a professionalism unit. Students leave this class with a portfolio and connections.”
Anders dedicates class time towards students working on and improving their professionalism. Students work on resumes, conduct mock interviews, write cover letters and learn to network. He makes networking a focal point in the classroom.
“There are studies that suggest that an upwards of 60 to 70 percent of jobs are filled with some form of networking involved and that 80 percent of students’ time on the job search should be spent networking,” he said. “These days companies hire people that they know or they know about.” Anders says that this course is meant to help students be more proactive in being self-focused and motivated with their own learning.
The course has gone through several revolutions, but this current version has been running since fall of 2013. Anders’ research with his current course shows that students who take his class gain confidence in their networking skills. It is this type of success that earned Anders the Pearson Award. Anders is the first person ever to win the Pearson Award, which is offered through the Association for Business Communication. He was nominated for the award by fellow professors and former students. Anders will deliver keynote addresses in Seattle next October.
BY AISLING DOHENY Staff Reporter