The Pros and Cons of Using Instant Messaging on the Job

As we saw previously, using IM is a generational thing. But how does IM work in an office environment? How best is IM integrated into proper office procedures?

1. Use IM as another form of email. If you receive information on IM, respond that you received it and will respond when you can. The instantaneous aspect of IM sometimes can lull users into a sense of non-response. Always respond, even if it's to say "Can't talk. I'm in the middle of something. I'll get back to you."

2. Be a leaver of messages. Especially when someone has an away message up, leave a succinct message and don't pester.  Instead of using IM as a chatter tool, transmit the important message and then don't keep typing. Work is not the same as a chat with your friends online.

3. Use chat rooms when there's more than one person involved. Nothing irritates people more than trying to have a discussion and one user takes forever to respond. If there's more than one person involved in the discussion, invite everyone into the chat by using a chat room. Better to have everyone involved from the first word rather than having to repeat from person to person.

4. When in disagreement, try a phone call or a face-to-face talk. Nothing online is worth insults and disrespect. If you can't resolve your issues through IM (or even email), pick up the phone, or go find the person and resolve it face-to-face. I've saved myself hours of IM discussion using this tactic.

5. Respect your fellow users' time. Forwarding web sites and cartoons and news stories is fine, but don't inundate your colleagues with an endless stream of content that only distracts from work. Sure, it's fine to have a little, but a lot gets old fast.

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AccuConference | Five Ways Educators Can Use Conference Calls

Five Ways Educators Can Use Conference Calls

In sixth grade, I remember our teacher telling my class about the importance of working in a team. It was the new thing when I was in elementary school – breaking into groups and doing projects together. We had to assign managers, reporters, and the like in order to get the best grade. She always told us that it would be the most important lesson we would learn, something we would appreciate when we got out of college and into work.

  1. Invite a Professor. Even in elementary school, kids are developing their likes and tastes. When I was in fifth grade, I realized I hated math and I liked learning about history. Elementary school was when I decided that I was going to go to college – without fail. It would have been one of the coolest things in the world to get to speak to someone who taught college so we could ask questions to someone who could be one of our teachers in the future.
  2. Authors.  When I was in elementary school, it was so different to have a student that likes to write. I was that kid who took writing assignments so seriously, turning in three pages when only a paragraph was required. I wanted to be a writer from a very young age and to have had the opportunity to speak to someone that did that for a living probably would have been the highlight of my life. (Up to that point, at least)
  3. Phone Pals. Remember having a pen pal? I wrote to a girl in Paris, and she never wrote me back. The point of having a pen pal is to learn about different cultures and when pen pals don’t write back there’s only discouragement. If a kid doesn’t get a response, they won’t be interested in the assignment. Instead of writing letters or emails, set up conferences with other teachers from around the world.  You don’t have to talk to people outside of the United States in order to be exposed to different cultures, and schools are full of kids who will already have different life experiences.
  4. Other Teachers. Set up a conference call with other teachers from your school or branch out to other states and countries to share lesson plans and things that have been happening in your class. If you had a student who had a great idea, you can share it with other teachers. Just because you’re not in college anymore, doesn’t mean you’re not learning something every day.
  5. Summer Reading Clubs. Okay, obviously I was that kid in elementary school. The one who was sneaking her book out of her desk and reading it intently when the teacher wasn’t watching (and sometimes when she was). It would have been fun though, since I wasn’t the only one who was a super book geek, to have been invited to a conference call once a week with other students who were reading, and our teacher advisor. You could even get with other teachers in you district, put together the same reading list and start the discussion.

Most conferencing services have some kind of discount for educational institutions (shameless plug: Get Connected) so if you’re interested in trying to incorporate something like this into your class room, be sure to give your provider a call and see what they can do for you. Are you an educator currently using conference calls? Let me know how you are using your conferences to make for a better classroom experience.

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