Technology Enhanced Meetings

As we move closer to the end of the academic year, many professors are also transitioning into the season of meetings. Instead of putting the tech tools that have become an essential part of university learning away, professors should consider using these resources outside of class. Just as many instructional technologies have been used to engage students, they can also be used before, during, and after faculty meetings to engage colleagues and make meetings more efficient and effective.

Before the meeting begins, collaborative tools such as Wikis, Google Docs, or Sharepoint can be used to collaboratively create the meeting agenda and distribute responsibility for determining what is to be discussed. The commenting and discussion features available with these tools can provide meeting participants with an opportunity to express their opinions before the meeting. Whenever academics gather, there is a reasonable chance that there will be an abundance of opinions. Providing participants with an opportunity to express their opinions and share their insight before the meeting can help to prevent the meeting from becoming an ongoing steam of soapbox oratories.

The growth of satellite campuses and off-campus instruction, have added to the difficulty of finding a time when all department or faculty members are on campus. Software programs that support virtual or remote teaching such as Elluminate, Adobe Connect, Microsoft Lync, and WizIQ can also be used to allow professors to participate in meetings without the need to be on campus. Ensuring that all faculty members are able to participate, regardless of their location can be critical when a decision requiring a clear consensus or quorum is on the agenda.

When contentious issues that require participants to vote is on the agenda, using a classroom response system or clickers can be a quick and effective way to conduct anonymous votes in a matter of seconds.

To ensure that meeting stay on pace, academics can learn a lesson from the technology innovator, Google. Meetings at Google use a simple technology to ensure their meetings do not devolve into a filibuster. To ensure participants are cognizant of the passage of time, a large countdown timer plays a prominent role in all meetings at Google. Long meetings are divided into segments with a predetermined amount of time for each segment (Gallo, 2006). For the timer to be effective, it is vital that the clock is not seen as a draconian overlord, but as a subtle reminder that there is a limited amount of time to address all of items on the agenda.

When faculty meetings are infrequent, it can be challenging to recall what took place at the previous meeting. Using a course management system to archive copies of meeting agendas, reports, and supplementary information will not only save trees, but also facilitate the easy retrieval of archived documents. 

Many of the tech tools mentioned above have been shown to enhance university teaching and engage students. The end of the academic year, with its abundance of meetings, may be the perfect time to determine if these resources can be as equally successful for managing meetings.

REFERENCES

Carmine Gallo. (2006). How to Run a Meeting Like Google. Businessweek. Retrieved from:http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/sep2006/sb20060927_259688.htm