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BUS 144: Business Communication

Welcome to Distance Education at the College of Marin!

Instructor: Brian Wilson
Phone: (415) 485-9322

This webpage contains many of the tools needed to successfully complete the three-unit business communication course, BUS 144, at the College of Marin in Kentfield, California.

Become familiar with all of the links on our Moodle page discussed in the next paragraph; they are designed to help you become a better writer and a skillful Internet user. Taking an online class will also help you to develop skills in self-motivation, discipline, and time management. If you have a general or specific question you would like for me to answer, send an email message, or phone me. Read the Procedures & Grading link on our class page so you will know how to submit your assignments. Good luck, and enjoy the course!

To get started

Access your class website in Moodle via MyCOM. Read the frequently asked questions (FAQs), and focus on Questions for Students. Once you have logged in to your class section, you will find a syllabus that will detail what is covered during the 16-week semester, along with a weekly schedule of lectures and assignments. Read all of the introductory course materials before starting Chapter 1.
Registrar's Reminder: Once students have officially enrolled in this section, they must email the instructor, Brian Wilson, at, by the first day of class to verify enrollment in the class and avoid being dropped. If a registered student does not contact the instructor by the first day and get instructions about getting started in the class, his or her place in the class may be given to a student on the waitlist.

Course Overview

3.0 Units. No prerequisite. Advisory: English 79. Three lecture hours weekly.

BUS 144 emphasizes the student's ability to apply effective writing techniques and strategies to business communication problems found in organizations. Students will analyze cases, and then organize and prepare various business documents such as resumes, letters, memoranda, reports, business plans, and proposals.

Transfer Credit: CSU

Course Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites, but a general knowledge of English grammar is useful. Some students take English 79, Grammar Review, listed as an advisory course. English 79 is a self-paced class offered at both the Kentfield and IVC campuses. Some students take the grammar course concurrently with BUS 144.

Attendance Requirement

There are no on-campus attendance requirements for this course except for a final exam, scheduled for Tuesday, May 20, from 6-9 p.m. in Austin Center 120. Please plan ahead.

Wait List and Adding Procedure

Add codes are not available from me until the second day of class. If anyone drops through Banner, the college registration software, that spot becomes immediately available. Check Banner frequently during this time before the first day of class. On the second day of class, I will process adds if any are available through email only on a first-come, first-serve basis. To add, please email me at Include your name, phone number, email address, and the CRN# for the course you wish to be enrolled in. Needless to say, register early.

Instructional Goals

Upon course completion, the successful student should be able to:

  1. Organize, write, and produce information for readers in the formats and styles expected in business, government, and industry today.
  2. Reinforce language skills in grammar, punctuation, capitalization, number use, and sentence structure, including developing a critical proofreading ability to locate and correct errors in assigned documents.
  3. In preparation for a writing assignment, effectively identify a reading audience, and demonstrate such writing techniques as audience benefits, the "you" view, bias-free language, a conversational but professional tone, positive expression, courtesy, and choice of simple language and precise words.
  4. Develop skillful use of words, parallelism, emphasis, unity, tone, and style while preparing a variety of business documents adapted to specific problems and situations.
  5. Identify and describe advances in communication technologies Voice Over Internet Protocol, Wireless Networks, and Wi-Fi Company Intranets, Electronic Presentations and Voice Recognition), as well as collaboration technologies (voice and Web conferencing, video phones, video conferencing, and instant messaging).
  6. Analyze, collect, organize, interpret, and present information in a formal report, using both electronic and manual sources.
  7. Evaluate the validity of information and data presented in textual material and through online sources.
  8. Analyze a business writing case problem, compare the appropriateness of either an inductive or deductive writing strategy, and then generate a written solution to the problem.
  9. Complete all chapter quizzes with at least 70 percent accuracy.


Books are needed the first week of class. Also see the document, About Books, under the News Forum on the class website for specific text information.

Required Text: Essentials of Business Communication, 9th Edition, by Mary Ellen Guffey, South-Western/Cengage Learning, ISBN # 978-1-11182-122-7. This ISBN includes a Web access code needed for the course. This code is not transferable.  If you find a lower cost book, you must also purchase the Website access code with the separate ISBN code listed below.

Here are three ways to get the book: 1.) Go to the College of Marin bookstore in Kentfield and purchase the book listed under BUS 144; the new book cost runs around $204.65. This includes a Website access code you will need. 2.) Call the College of Marin bookstore at (415) 485-9394, and speak with Joann about mailing the text. 3.) Go directly to the publisher’s Website at Cengage. Again, verify the ISBN above. They offer the book for around $160.49. Do this before the first week of class.  Ask for second day delivery so you will not be late with your assignments the first week. 

Note: The e-book with the access code is 978-1-285-32662-7.  If you have the book without the access code, you will also have to order the Web access code separately (ISBN: 978-1-111-96516-7.) Verify all ISBN codes before purchasing. Again, time your purchase so you can participate in assignments for the first week of class. 

*Textbook prices were accurate as of November, 2013.

Technical Requirements

This is a Windows based online course. You must use a Windows compatible computer.

This is a Windows based online course. You must use a Windows compatible computer.

In this online business writing course, students will need access to a computer, an Internet connection, and Microsoft Word. Students should be familiar with sending and receiving email and with using a Web browser to navigate and search websites. Students should plan on spending at least six hours per week in studying and developing their writing skills. The instructor will use Microsoft Word 2010 (Office 2010) to grade and return papers. Office 2010 software may be purchased at a student discount from If you have an earlier version of Word and do not upgrade, you can download the free compatibility package offered by Microsoft for users running earlier Word versions. Homework will be returned in a Word 2010 format, so you will need the compatibility package. You will want to have a flash drive to store your work, especially if you come to campus and want to work in one of our computer labs. You are welcome to use the labs in LC 35 and AC (Austin Center) 120. Make backup copies of all of your work. Moodle works with either Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox.

Consider bookmarking these two technical FAQ sites:

Notice the important note found at the top right of your Moodle home screen:
"Closing this browser does not end your session. In order to end a session you must click on Logout (top right side of browser window). If you do not log out, your session will remain active, and the next person to use the computer will have full access to your account."

Special Accommodations

If you are a student with a verified disability, please discuss your needs for accommodations with me upon entering the course.

If you have questions about the course, please contact me. We want you to be successful in your study of business writing and enjoy the process!

Brian Wilson, Professor
Department of Business & Information Systems
(415) 485-9322