I have the flu. And given the current state of affairs it wouldn’t be prudent for me to share my germs with my colleagues, even though I had some important meetings to attend. So this week I have had numerous opportunities to connect collaborate without leaving the warmth of my sickbed, thanks to Skype and Google Docs.
I have been able to join into the meetings by connecting through Skype and simultaneously working on a Google doc with the group. By using video Skype, I felt like I was right there with my workmates. The Google Docs made me feel like an active participant, not just an onlooker. In one meeting, we used a doc for collaborative minutes on the agenda and in another meeting we created a common session plan. Using both apps made for a great experience and has helped me stay on top of my work. I’m sure using one or the other would have been fine, but would not have been nearly as productive as using both.
It also looks like teachers are using Skype in their class for kids who are staying home sick.
The caution behind this process is that it could potentially be another way to get more out of workers/students when they should really be resting. Our society values productivity so much that we often expect people to sacrifice their time and health for their job. As cool as my experiences have been this past week, this definitely seems like a place where we should heed Thamus’ warning.
However, it will be interesting to see if a by-product of the H1N1 outbreak is an increase use of collaborative technologies.