The holiday season provides annual opportunities to catch up with friends and family. It is so easy to get swept away in a plethora of commitments throughout the year and lose track of each other. The parties, get togethers and dinners allow us to take the time for face to face interactions and laugh and enjoy each others company. Yet, the reality is that we don’t get the opportunity to connect with all of the people who matter personally and / or professionally. Fortunately there are a myriad of ways to communicate with people when face to face communication isn’t an option. Sometimes it seems like too many and sometimes it seems there has to be a better way.
In the past few week, I’ve explored several familiar and not so familiar options. I’m curious about how about how other people are connecting and if there are other options that I should explore.
Professional Development: I think Twitter is one of the best forms of online professional development. I love the links to articles, websites, blogs and YouTube clips shared by the people I follow. I’m also a big fan of the TwitterChat. @ILAToday hosted a TwitterChat yesterday that included people from all over North American and allowed me to connect with a like minded teacher in Vancouver. I like how you can participate in online conversations and also message individuals directly.
Connecting with individuals: The telephone still factors in big here. It certainly is more reliable in ensuring the message is understood and that the interaction is sincere. If there is tone, it isn’t imagined as it is sometimes via print. Perhaps I’m dating myself by saying that yes, I STILL like Facebook. It’s a great way to touch base briefly, share a laugh, pass on a birthday wish and connect briefly with people. This summer I had a chance to visit with an fb acquaintance from high school while I was in L.A. We have a lot in common as adults and surprisingly very common experiences growing up. I wish we had known that in school. Great evening. Good fun. Connection worth keeping!
I don’t know how I ever lived without messenger and texting. When my kids first got flip phones, I use to text “Y” for yes, “N” for a definite NO and a “P” for phone me and give me more information. I’ve come a long way! Texting allows for quick and easy communication when not a lot of context is required. WhatsApp is also a favorite with friends and relatives without a texting plan.
I have also used Skype for several years. I has been great to connect with family in Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the US but it is all about the connection available at any given point in time. It is frustrating when the calls are just dropped and of course it’s limited to individuals or however many people can squish in one screen. Perhaps my expectations have just gotten too high for something that is provided for free. Just recently I’ve been trying out Voxer. The walkie talkie type of set up allows for a more personal connection without the cost of long distance or the set up of Skype.
Connecting with groups: This seems to be the biggest challenge. The conference call is typically reliable but there is a down side. It is difficult to connect the voice with a name unless you know the people in the group quite well. The International Literacy Association schedules conference calls with provincial and state coordinators to pass on information. It works well for this purpose but doesn’t lend itself to any interaction.
The BC Council of the International Literacy Association used Google Hangout to meet last week. The president was in Kamloops, another member was in Halifax and the rest of the members were in a school library in Vancouver. I’m not sure if it was because we had two computers in the library but it was difficult for the people outside the room to hear well enough to follow the conversation. I’m curious to learn if anyone else has some good tips to pass on.
Any feedback about the types of online communication that others are using with success will be very much appreciated.