Posts Tagged ‘googledocs’

Are You Collaborating Enough?

May 8, 2008

Listening to Marketing Over Coffee on the way home, there was a very small section talking about GoogleDocs and how you can activate a form to collect data for you. It also made me think further on the question about how much we’re collaborating (or not collaborating) online.

We had to create a wiki for our social media class, and of course, wikis tell you how much (or little) someone edited the final output. It was noted that a handful of people contributed the majority of the content, which made our Professor, Michael Netzley, less than thrilled. I brought up the point that though a few people may have been the actual ones to enter the text, doesn’t mean the whole team did not collaborate together. Both sides are debatable, but that’s not the point.

I’m an assistant scout leader for my alma mater’s scout troop and every year around this time we have a camp. As with previous years, the emails pile up, meeting minutes get distributed, camp schedules get sent and changed and re-sent and re-changed until eventually, no one knows what in the world is going on anymore.

To solve this, I set up a wiki for the leaders. It’s a private wiki so I’m sorry I can’t share the link. I will however say that we’re using PBwiki, which I find to be superior to Wetpaint in terms of editing as well as help. But that aside, so far it’s been helping us keep track of personnel and manpower, topics of discussion, a couple of things to be noted, schedules, equipment lists and so on.

No more losing of minutes on paper, no more “can you send me the latest schedule? I can’t find it”. Everything is up there and updated. To the minute.

So why aren’t more of us doing this? Is it the challenge of working alone as Michael brings up? Or an unwillingness to change our styles of working?

Does it make sense for us to share our items on Google Reader (my shared items are here)? Or on del.icio.us? How about collaborating on Google Docs in the classroom? In the office?

To me the biggest problem is convincing the people you’re working with that it’s worth their while. In my scout case study, I knew the people who were primarily going to enter the data would be the younger adult leaders, while the older leaders would keep and eye on it from time to time. To both of these groups, you gotta speak their language.

To my peers, it was the idea of collaboration. To see everything in one place, to have links and for easy reading. To the senior leaders, it was the idea of streamlining information. Not losing paper, not having to distinguish whether schedule(final).doc is the true schedule or schedule(final)THISISTHEREALFINAL.doc is the true schedule.

So how’s collaboration working (or not working) for you? Are you using wikis regularly? Online document processors or software based? Is it a challenge convincing your classmates/colleagues to use it as well?


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