“College has been focused on individual work and social interaction, but the world is becoming a place of collaborative work and social isolation.”

“College has been focused on individual work and social interaction, but the world is becoming a place of collaborative work and social isolation.” (p.228) Teaching Naked How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning; Bowen, Jose Antonio

My team is in Toronto and Hyderabad. I work in what is called an “agile” environment; this means that I don’t actually have a desk in any of our locations. I “hotel” which means I book a different space in one of our two offices a couple of times a week – the other days I work from home.

While this arrangement is great, and allows me freedom and the ability to balance my work and my personal life, and a recent study which suggested that over 60% of office workers believed being in the office was no longer required to be productive (Gibson), 20% of my work week is spent alone.

While at home alone, my time is spent collaborating virtually using a program called LYNC. My teammates and I can share programs, open up a white board and see what each other looks like using the video feed.

With the push to reduce our “carbon foot print” and corporations need to reduce both their carbon foot print and the costs associated with physical space; Deloitte Finland is reducing office space and investing in more sustainable ways of working. Expected benefits include a 36 percent savings in annual real estate costs and a 40 percent decrease in its carbon footprint. (Deloitte) I can only see physical workspace getting smaller and individuals becoming more isolated.

The world is getting smaller. The e-learning curriculum that I write are delivered across Canada and to our team in Hyderabad. I’ve just been told by my boss that we will need to start researching content in Spanish! In order to meet the needs of my learners and the mandate of the firm, our learners must be able to take this training at the time and place that is convenient for them. While I am sleeping, my team on the other side of the world is awake and working.

My personal situation is defined by this quote.

It would be very easy to spend five days out of the week working from home – it would save me time, money and the stress having to load my laptop and files into the car or onto the train.

Would five days at home be a good thing for my work relationships? I think that some care has to be taken to ensure that we don’t isolate ourselves from the human race. Online collaboration is great and I am a staunch supporter, I could not do my job without it, but humans are herd animals and we need humans around us; we need the social interaction that comes from physically spending time with your work colleagues or your boss. As stated by (Braccio-Hering, 2011) “Much of what takes place in companies is done through the informal social network,” Patterson says. “For instance, people solve important problems over lunch — and if you work out at a health club alone, you find yourself out of the loop.” So, if all of our interactions with our colleagues are spent in a virtual environment, would we then be “out of the loop?”

To ensure I stay “in the loop”, I make a point of spending at least three of my five working days going to one of our offices. While the electronic tools at my disposal allow me to do my job very effectively at a distance, human contact is, at times, necessary. I need to see and be seen by my co-workers and my leadership team who work in our local offices.

I think that as members of the learning community, we need to be sensitive to the human condition and try to build in, where we can, opportunities for humans to reach out to other humans. We need to ensure that our “on line” collaboration process is, in fact, collaborative.

As stated by (Markham, 2013) High-performance collaboration requires training and the development of key personal skills. How do we ensure that this is so? When creating any type of e-learning content, we need to build in opportunities for learners to share their experiences by making online collaboration tools like Yammer and Kanban Flow part of our program content.

Including these types of tools in your e-learning, gives your learners an arena to interact with each other, share ideas, successes and frustration and provide an opportunity for them to remain in contact with each other and in the loop.

While I may never get to be in the same physical space as my team members in Hyderabad, LYNC video feed gives me an opportunity to see my team member in real time, meet his new baby girl and get know him as a colleague and a friend. We have shared successes and frustrations and have been able to resolve issues much quicker by sharing a screen and explaining what the problem is.

Social isolation and online collaboration is becoming the norm – what we can do, as instructional designers, is to utilize the technology as best we can to ensure we meet the needs of the human condition.



Braccio-Hering, B. (2011, 05 27). Smart socializing with co-workers. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com: http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/05/25/smart.socializing.coworkers.cb/index.html

Deloitte. (n.d.). Retrieved from Deloitte.com: http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/sustainability-member-firms-initiatives.html

Gibson, R. (n.d.). Generation Y. Retrieved from http://www.generationy.com/: http://www.generationy.com/agile-working-environment/

Markham, T. (2013, April 18). How to foster collaboration and team spirit. Retrieved from Mindshift: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/04/how-to-foster-collaboration-and-team-spirit/


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