Your phone, or mine? –

Read the full post with comments on GovLoop. Originally posted 5/23/12 at 6:08pm

I remember having a conversation with a colleague (well, I was an intern at the time and he was quite senior) about mobile devices in about 2000 or early 2001. He had an early BlackBerry type of device and was showing me how it worked. I was horrified by the idea and declared that I saw no need to have my email with me all the time. “Just wait,” he said.

When my business travel began in 2003, I had no problem carrying around my laptop everywhere I went. Four years later, I had had enough. Between travel and grad school, I was having a hard time keeping up with not having email EVERYWHERE. I bought an iPhone.

Now, of course, I sleep with it next to me. I try to leave it alone in the evening and on the weekends (earlier discussion here) but it doesn’t always work. I also sometimes feel those “phantom vibrations” when I think the phone is vibrating in my bag but it’s really not. I’m starting to rethink my attachment to this device.

Aside from the phone, I’ve been wondering what other gadgets I don’t think I can live without anymore. I have to say my SoniCare toothbrush might be my #1. Or my DSLR camera. Or my awesome Dyson vacuum. Or my… Aside from your smart phone, what’s the one non-computer based gadget you can’t live without anymore?

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The Office Bullies –

Read the full post with comments on GovLoop. Originally posted 5/14/12 at 9:18 am

Has the way we communicate online taken office bullying to another level?

I was talking to a colleague this weekend about some odd issues in his office. Nothing he’s doing specifically, but recently a “gang” of staffers (all under 35, most under 30, all with 3-4 years at the office) has begun to reprimand younger staffers and interns without having any authority to do so, and from what I’m told, not much reason, and mid level managers are looking the other way

This reminded me of something that happened in my old office a few years ago that made me feel like I was in high school. I noticed that in less than one week, four of my coworkers (again, all under 30 and 2-3 years in the office) had unfriended me on Facebook and stopped talking to me socially during the work day. There was a bit of smack talk about me, I later heard from someone who overheard them and was annoyed. I never found out why they did it or if I had actually hurt one of them, but the group also became aggressive towards a number of staffers for seemingly no reason. Again, mid level managers didn’t want to get involved. I didn’t really care too much on the social end, and I didn’t need to work with any of them directly to do my work. I just thought it was rather odd and unprofessional.

Both groups might be classified as bullies….and some of their bullying appeared to have spilled over to social media. Both groups were made up of younger staffers, but what about the more senior employees? Organizations spend a nice chunk of HR funds to hire specialists to point out trends such as bulling and cliquish behavior. Focus should be on methods that are now being used thanks to social media, instant messaging and texting, etc.

Does social media enable cliques at the office? Does online bullying exist in the modern adult work place?

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Should Teachers and Students Be Facebook Friends? –

Read the full post with comments on GovLoop. Originally posted 5/2/12 at 5:39 pm

A few weeks ago I asked in “What About the Kids?” if schools should offer online safety classes. Here’s another justification for it.

I just came across “Should Teachers and Students be Facebook Friends?” on Education Week. Right now I’m Facebook friends with a few high school teachers, one from college and a few from grad school. I suppose that I’m looking at it from an adult perspective now as I was out of high school for over 10 years by the time I joined Facebook many moons ago, but I don’t think I would have wanted to be Facebook friends with high school teachers while I was a student, even some that I liked a lot.

We’ve heard the stories about teachers inappropriately contacting students online. If you’re going to be an educator, you take on a role model status and should act appropriately. We expect that of our politicians as well. It’s upsetting to hear about the bad apples who make us question the rest of the bunch. For those who say, “well students start things too,” sure they do. Come on. It really shouldn’t be difficult for a responsible normal adult to figure that out rather quickly.

After reading the article, I might suggest something that I recommend to elected officials who want to have an online presence and still maintain a personal page for only their friends. Make a public page. Teachers can still post information, have discussions, and interact, but it would be public and professional and can be monitored. They would not need to “friend” students, and students’ personal posts would not show up in the teacher’s feed. (Depending on how strict a district’s rules are that might still be a violation, though.) A combination of a public page and online safety classes from the school might be a good way for students to learn how to properly navigate online and at the same time, help teachers keep a “safe” distance from their students while connecting.

Is there a way for teachers and students to safely be Facebook friends?

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