Trying to Brainstorm in a Bubble
Since working at a school I have had to deal with the lack of access to the internet and social media tools. The bans on websites and downloads are put in place mainly to ensure that students using the computers dont visit inappropriate websites and download items that can be harmful to the computer and to the entire system. However, it is making it difficult for me to work since I have spent a great deal of time integrating social media into my work.
For example, I cant use delicious to bookmark and categorize websites that give great ideas for lesson plans, outreach, and fundraising, nor can I search other people’s bookmarks and see what they have come up with. All blogs are banned which means I cant keep up-to-date on what my favorite bloggers in the nonprofit and education sectors are doing. I cant download google desktop to help me search, take notes, and set tasks. Even if a website’s address is too long, I’m unable to open it.
While these are minor inconveniences for some, they make working difficult for me. Over the past year the internet and social media have provided the following benefits:
a. I can share what I discover: Not just with other people over the internet, but also with coworkers. By sending them a link with great information or having everyone set up a google calendar, we can all be on the same page and better exchange ideas.
b. I can access information from anywhere: If I need to leave my office for some reason, I can access what I have been working on via the internet, thus making it accessible from any computer.
c. I can learn more: The internet has changed my approach to learning; I can research terms and bounce ideas off of people making learning something that can occur at any time in any place that has access to the world wide web.
Essentially the change in internet access has required me to change my work style, which has not been easy. Brainstorming in a bubble is not nearly as useful as brainstorming in an online community. And bookmarking in IE (since I cant download Firefox) while as simple as pressing two buttons is not as easy to organize and is impossible to share.
In many ways, my work has become localized. The benefit of this is that it is easier for me to create boundaries between work and personal life now that my work cant follow me around on the information super highway. On the other hand, having to use several word documents and pen and paper to organize my notes is taking more time than I anticipated. Yet while my porductivity may be suffering my creativity is being given the boost it needs. Limited internet it has forced me to:
a. Reevaluate how I will get certain projects done that I have been planning (like my “Why I love My School” Project done completely with different types of media showcased online);
b. Realize that many people simply dont use to internet as much as I do, requiring me to reach them differently;
c. Take my time completing projects since their completion and presentation requires the usage of hard copy resources that are hard to come by in a money strapped school.
In other words, I have had to reapproach my work. The job I do inherently requires creativity and resourcefulness–not just in terms of what kind of work I do, but how I do my work. So while work may take longer, the quality may also be better overall.