Re-Thinking Fluid Communication

Team Collaboration

Group, Circle, Community

We work in groups.
Almost everybody does.
Even those who work independent of an organization are not able to skirt collaborating with others. It is part of who we are as humans to be social and collaborative.
We couldn’t do much of anything of significance if this were not the case.

Messy Communication


One of the biggest concerns of most working groups is how to better communicate with each other. We often use lots of tools and technologies to help with this challenge. Phone calls, text messages, email, chat clients and in some cases, social media platforms.
We are human. We all know that communication is often messy no matter what the context. Teams have to negotiate norms of communication together in these unique mediums.

Google Hangouts?

File:Hangouts Icon.pngOne medium I always wanted to explore with a team is Google Hangouts. I was fortunate enough to have been able to recently with the amazing MyBlend team at Michigan Virtual University.
This team communicates at any time and anyplace with quick messages for the whole group. These messages could be anything from work related questions to something funny to comment about together. Video, Images and GIFs may have been involved.


Clipart - simple clockSo, what did this Google Hangouts use case do for the team? We think it did a lot. It brought a whole new dimension to communicating with each other on a daily basis. It was useful during a regular day in the office and it was useful when some of us were at a conference. In fact, it was even used at times when a member of the team was out on vacation or working remote. It was a new and snappy outlet for quick and casual commentary throughout the day, night and weekend too.

Yes, that is the double-edge sword right there. Fear naturally arises about the invasiveness of this kind of communication strategy. That is why guidelines are a good idea to be negotiated by the teams using them.


LearnDAT Google Hangout Chat
For the iPD group, it is clear that no-one is ever mandated to use the thread. Anyone can turn off notifications for it at anytime. Because they are in an open office environment, turning on notifications and participating would be equivalent to taking off the headphones and chatting with the group all together, except that it was just text and chat based.
Also, it helped this team to have separate conversations when needed. Conversations that were going deep into a project between a select few were encouraged to create a separate Google Hangout thread for just those members involved. This helped keep the thread clean and ready for short and swift messages geared toward the whole group. This also helped keep email clear of blasts to the whole group that were just one liners and better suited for the chat.


For those who have benefitted from constant group chat rooms, how did you get buy-in with your group?
What platform did you use?
What did you learn?
What implications are there for teaching and learning?


Want to see our conversation with this team about their use of Google Hangouts? You can check it out here:

See you at the next MindShare!