Kennesaw Student Commuter

Virtual Commuting

Posted on: November 8, 2009

199824927_96d798b589_mToday I read an article on CNN about “Going to the office . . . in Second Life“.

“As travel budgets are squeezed and slashed in the recession, companies are increasingly seeking innovative ways of bringing employees together for conferences and meetings remotely.

Virtual community Second Life is seeking to tap into that market by creating a new tool that allows businesses to have virtual meetings on their own computer networks.

The company’s Enterprise tool will let employees’ avatars — animated alter egos — meet in virtual worlds from the privacy of a company’s own network, rather than the public networks used in standard Second Life. That extra security could encourage more companies to take up the technology.”

Recession or not, I think this is an interesting way of having colleagues commute. As a current “student commuter” I often fantasize about leaving my hours on the road behind in favor of virtual commuting or online classes. I think about the environmental advantages, the money savings from car repairs and gasoline purchases, and sleeping in just a little longer (in fact, if Second Life were to catch on, I might not even have to wake up early enough to get out of my pajamas).

Fantasy aside, as a communication student I can really see the value in face-to-face interpersonal communication. I think, at this point, there is nothing online that can compete with the ability to understand, persuade, and inform interpersonally.

My ideal would be some equitable middle-point. To me that means people can, on occasion, meet virtually (perhaps on Second Life) for certain meetings and other gatherings, but still meet in person more often than not.

What do you think about new, emerging uses of online media?

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6 Responses to "Virtual Commuting"

I personally am horribly against any more interference by technology… It nearly always sabotages me. My virtual self would probably show up late to work and I’d end up fired. I can just see it happening!

I can definitely see what you mean. Those computers in our Writing class are a great example. Who’s ever heard of a PC that needs two buttons pressed for it to boot? But ultimately it comes down to picking your own poison: Do you want to be late because your tire blew out or because your internet has inexplicably stopped working?

You know, I agree with you that there is a time and a place when virtual commuting would be applicable, even better, maybe. But I think that because of today’s technology-driven world, we are losing more and more of our ability to communicate with the rest of humanity. Emails are short–texting allows you to send short blips to another person whenever the mood strikes you. But how do you then deal with an actual personal conversation? Especially if it’s at all lengthy. I know things like conference calls are already commonplace, but I believe that adding something like a completely virtual reality into the workplace just has bad news written all over it.

I think new online media is very beneficial, especially in a university setting. Offering more online classes means less traffic, more room on campus for other classes, and it’s better for the environment.
However, I think universities have to go about it in the right way. I have a friend that goes to a local school and the online classes cost the same as campus classes.
I believe that is a major issue for KSU. They charge $100 per credit hour for online classes, which, if I understand correctly, use nothing more than webct to teach the classes. I believe we could have more and more people use online classes if it wouldn’t cost $300 to take a typical 3 hour course.

Using Second Life as a meeting tool is taking that particular technology a bit too far; it reminds me of that episode of the Office where the Stamford office plays Call of Duty instead of working. There are several other options to bring people together using the Internet such as Skype and WebEx. Avatars of each employee is a little too cutesy.

Having taken online courses, I can say that there is something lost without the human interaction between professor and student. I passed the class, but I don’t feel like I learned as much as I could have had I taken it on campus. The hybrid class seems to strike that happy meeting between the two extremes, and I imagine that we’ll see more and more classes offered in that format.

It could work… but like Tristan said, online or not, people will still be late or not show up, etc. But then again, I’ve done “half-breed” classes here at KSU, half online, half in the classroom. And it wasn’t that bad. The times it was held online, it was definitely more convenient (except when my computer decided to not work or something). I still prefer in person meetings and conversations over the online world of communication. I know that things are already moving in that direction anyway–for better or for worse, with email, texting, and a variety of social networking. Technology is our way of life.

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  • None
  • Lindsey: It could work... but like Tristan said, online or not, people will still be late or not show up, etc. But then again, I've done "half-breed" classes
  • Michael W. Ollinger: Using Second Life as a meeting tool is taking that particular technology a bit too far; it reminds me of that episode of the Office where the Stamford
  • Britney: I think new online media is very beneficial, especially in a university setting. Offering more online classes means less traffic, more room on campus

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