There are many technologies that have inspired us over the last ten years...the iPhone, iPad, Web 2.0 tools, Google Apps. Now there's a technology that can make our lives even more convenient than they already are! Welcome QR codes! Creating information in a digital format is genius, pure genius! Simply raise your Smartphone or other device with a QR reader to the following symbol and viola! Contact us by phone without lifting a finger (well, maybe a few...)
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Since it's coming up on the Fall, I thought I'd list a few things to consider if you are considering a collaborative solution for your school or organization.
1. Purpose - Purpose should always drive decision making. The purpose of having a set of collaborative tools for your organization depends on what outcomes your organization is trying to achieve. If the purpose is that you want your oragnization to create and share documents, then you can bet being more efficient is the answer. Collaborative solutions are all about making the way we learn and work, better. Don't implement a solution because you want to be like the "Joneses". Those of us who've used Outlook, Notes, Google Apps or other collaborative tools know...these tools make our lives better, period. Take the time to find out what you are trying to achieve with them and evaluate from there.
2. Flexibility - How portable and flexible does your learning or working environment have to be? Does your organization allow wireless devices like Smartphones and tablets? One of the best features of a modern day collaborative solution is that information is available real time, allowing a user to be more flexible. Work is no longer a place you go to, it's a place that comes to us. Learning is no exception. If you need a solution that allows your users and students access to information anytime, anywhere, then you need a collaborative solution that is Internet-based, portable and flexible.
3. Infrastructure - What kind of infrastructure do you have in your place in your organization? Wait, didn't I just mention that you didn't need equipment in order to install it? You don't, however the type of infrastructure you have is important because once you have installed Google Apps on your domain, you need to be able to use it. Google Apps works through your browser, therefore bandwidth (the amount of time it takes for a person to download and upload information from the Internet through a browser) and connectivity are important. The tools aren't the only thing to consider when making a selection. How much support staff will you have? People can be a part of your infrastructure too. How long will you need to train them? What kind of collaborative solution resources will your organization be able to take advantage of?
4. To email or not to email? We receive many requests from organizations asking us whether they can install Google Apps as their collaborative solution but keep their email service as is. The simple answer is yes, you can have both an email service and a separate collaboration solution. However, having to manage two systems - an email system and a collaboration solution on separate platforms can be time consuming. There are other factors to consider here: size of the organization, type of other services the organization uses, how many users are what we would call "technology literate" and how many users are open to "change" - "the flexbility factor". If you are going to go this route make sure you train some power users and give them time to support others during the early implementation phase. Email is an important and essential tool for everyday communication. The stronger the adoption of the collaborative solution, the more likely it is you will want to consider the same solution as your email provider.
5. Cost - Putting the cost aside...well, okay, we can't. Google Apps for Education and Non-Profits is free. Google Apps for Business has a cost of $50/user attached to it. Other options like Office 365 and Lotus Notes have varying price structures. As a non-profit, K-12, or university institution, you and your IT folks will want to evaluate your "must have" features and weigh the cost before making a decision.
If you haven't read the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Guide to implementing software you should. It offers some great advice about how to implement solutions, and barring the language for software that has to be installed on a device, the planning guide is excellent. K-12 SIIA Software Implementation Toolkit
So it's been almost 10 years and 4 months since the United States was struck by tragedy. Today I remembered a project that we were so touched to be a part of. A very good friend of mine struck up a conversation over the summer about that day. Her students, in Kansas, wanted to do something special to remember the lives lost and we brainstormed some ways that we could engage them and others by way of a small (albeit global) conference.
It's been 4 months and a day since we held our little conference and I felt like tonight was a good night to share some of the day. Remember 9/11
We've been involved in a lot of conversations around change management. More specifically the question of late is how do you create change? This "change" is typically followed by conversation about what "needs" to change. Do we need to change leadership? Attitude? Do we change our ideas; the way that we do things? I suppose the real question is how can we instill a culture of adaptability and flexibility in our environments. After all, what is change except the ability to be flexible, adaptable and instill a culture of learning...of growth...?
We have all endured change in our lives. Some of those changes are entirely out of our control. To age is to change. Time is about change too. There are always things that we cannot control in life. That's fine. We grow, we adapt, and hopefully through experience, we learn too. Once upon a time, this woman was a child. A child changed into a teen. A teen changed into a young woman. A young woman who changed well...you see where I am going. There was also a time that I would question everything about the way the world worked, why it worked a certain way...why it didn't change into another, different way. I like to think I still do.
One such experience was as an accounting manager for a pretty large corporation. In my early twenties, as a young, fairly inexperienced manager, I asked about some reports that I found myself working on late one night. The fact that I was extracting one number from one report and placing it manually into another bothered me. It wasn't that working until midnight wasn't appealing - after all everyone had to pay their dues. However, what bothered me was that the fact that the numbers I was inputting came directly out of a report that had been computer generated. Why, if the numbers came out of a computer already, was I inputting them manually into another report? That seemed silly. After all, what I really needed to do was analyze the numbers, send them off to respective departments and get answers to questions I couldn't answer. Working until midnight even as a way to pay some dues when I knew the numbers were somewhere, hidden, in the mighty depths of the mainframe in Chicago was silly. So, despite confused looks about why I was questioning what to me seemed an easy fix, and the disagreements with IT (why couldn't the computer round I asked?) I finally received my reports. Oh but not without some difficulty!!! It couldn't be done they said. That's not the way we had done it in the past they claimed. So what was my answer? I deciphered code, taught myself some logic, and spent hours writing my own formulas to prove that it could be done. Of course my logic wasn't perfect but it got the point across. You best believe we created those reports, and got our rounding errors fixed, and did what people said couldn't be done because it hadn't been done that way before.
I should've realized that my passion for making easy things easier to do in order to make it easier for the harder things to get done would drive me the rest of my life. Now, 20 years later, I find myself still questioning the why of "Why do we have to do things the old way?". Next time you have work to do and find yourself working all hours of the night to make things happen, sit back, think about what you are doing and find a way to make the easy things happen more easily. This way, you can concentrate on the things that really matter. That's the LogicWing way. We help you make the most of your technology so you can do what you do better.