So I’ve been doing quite a bit more with IM technology lately … as an avid Mac user, I should be clear, I use iChat. I have an iSight camera that I carry with me everywhere and it has come in handy for quite a bit of stuff. The other day I had a guest lecture in my PGSIT class I teach … he was so good that I fired up the iSight and invited people from my staff to listen to what he was saying. They ended up coming to the classroom and participating in the discussion. That’s not really a big deal, but it has gotten me thinking about how cool the whole AV IM thing really is.
Another story … I do some work with Apple as the lead of Penn State’s Apple Digital Campus project … this means I get to visit Apple a couple times a year. Something very cool happened the last time I was there — everyone in the room (about 20) had a PowerBook and wireless Internet. Everyone also had their iChat up and running. What’s cool is that Apple has a zero config network setup in iChat that finds other iChat members within your subnet … which means I could “see” everyone in the room. What I found amazing was how there were sometimes three or four IMs flying at me from people I had barely met … asking me to pose questions, offering insight, and just talking about what Apple was talking about. For the first time I started thinking that IM is not just a toy, but a VERY powerful business tool.
Since that trip I’ve required my staff to have their IM clients open and their screen names shared so we can communicate more quickly. Gues what — it actually helps productivity.
So, naturally, I thought I’d start to let my students have their IM clients open during class and it is helping as well. I’ve stopped getting pissed about them doing that and engaging them more and more via the technology. They hand in assignments — its faster than the network — pose questions, respond to polls, and send me presentation files that we can instantly look at in front of the class. Very cool and the students really do like it. I’m teaching again this fall and I am going to use it even more … I am going to ask them what the uses are for it and see if we can’t get an agenda together to look at real functional applications for the technology in and out of the classroom. By the way, IM me at workercole.