I read the blog of Navelgazing Midwife the other day and she has written about how she has discovered Skype. She is very keen to set up a conference call with other midwives to discuss midwifery. So needless to say, I quickly got in touch with her and gave her my contact details and the information about the online seminars I am organising. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this connection.
Telling the horse about the water
What interested me about Navelgazing Midwife is that she is not new to the Internet - she has been blogging since 2004. Yet it is only recently that she has become aware of Skype, although it has been around for some years. I love Skype. I find it easy to use and I love the fact that I can call anyone in the world (who has a computer) and have a free conversation. And since I have been given a web cam, I use that all the time and find it overcomes the criticisms people have of not being able to see who you are talking to.
In my last couple of posts I have been discussing the advantages of more sophisticated software like Elluminate compared Skype, which I think of as a commonly used tool. But is it as commonly used as I think it is, especially amongst the general population?
Leading the horse to water
People will not use a technology unless they see value to it - what's in it for them? I was told about Skype years ago by my brother-in-law who used it to make business calls. But I never considered it for my own use. But it wasn't until I was going through a stage where I had to look at making financial savings to the family budget that I considered Skype for free international calls to family and friends. (I might add though, that broadband was going to be the last thing to go!) The other event that increased my uptake of Skype was when my best friend moved to Australia and I wanted to keep in close contact with her. Once I saw the personal value of Skype, that is when I started to utilize it fully.
In the context of trying to 'sell' online tools to students and midwives, it is clear that it has to be done in a way that captures people's attention, and shows them that there is value in these tools.
Getting that darn horse to drink
Another frustration I have is actually getting people to engage with web 2.0. My family in the UK have all the bells and whistles. They have computers, broadband, web cams and still they do not use Skype. They have digital cameras but they will not upload their photos onto Flickr for me to see, despite the fact I have talked to them about it and showed them my photos on Flickr.
So if I cannot encourage my family to use tools like Skype with the motivation of keeping in touch, how can I encourage midwives, who are strangers with no relationship to me, to engage with web 2.0?
The horse has gone to another trough
My daughter has just bought a lap top and I have been trying to encourage her to register with Skype. But she has chosen to use MSN which has similar functions as Skype. Yet another frustration. Its great that she is using the Internet to communicate but I want her to use the tools I use! I do not want to have to register with yet another program or web site!
What is this post about? I'm still not quite sure! I think I'm trying to get my head around the challenges of introducing newbies to online communication tools. I guess the message to myself is not to make assumptions about what people know and how they use the Internet. And whilst I want to leap ahead, I must remember that even simple barriers like a lack of awareness of online tools exist.
What would be your strategies to get people interested in online communication and collaboration?