Media Skills: IM; Collaboration: Working in Teams [LO-4] Instant messaging is frequently used in customer support situations where a customer needs help selecting, using, or troubleshooting a problem. In this activity, two two-person teams will use IM to simulate problem solving by helping classmates discuss important academic or life decisions. One team will be the “clients,” who are struggling with the decisions, and the other will be the “advisors,” who coach them toward solutions.
Your task: First choose a free IM/chat system such as Google Talk, Facebook chat, or any other system on which you can communicate privately in real time. Now choose two decisionmaking scenarios from your school or personal lives, such as deciding on a major, choosing whether to work during the upcoming summer or attend class, fi guring out where to live next year, or any other decision that you’re willing to have the group discuss and then later to discuss in front of the whole class. Choose decisions that are complicated enough to support an IM conversation lasting at least fi ve minutes. Decide which team will be the advisors and which will be the clients and move the teams to separate locations (make sure you have Internet access). In each team, one person will be the communicator fi rst, and the other will be the observer, monitoring how well the IM conversation progresses and making note of any confusion, ineffi ciencies, or other issues. When you’re set up in your separate locations, begin the IM exchange with the communicator from the client team asking the advisor for help with a decision. Th e advisor should ask probing questions to fi nd out what the client really wants to gain from the decision and help him or her work through the various alternatives. Discuss the decision scenario for at least fi ve minutes. Th e observers should take notes but should not be involved in the IM exchange in any way. Aft er working through one of the decision scenarios, swap roles inside each team so that the observer becomes the communicator and vice versa. Now work through the second decision scenario. Aft erward, meet as a full team aft er the role playing and compare notes about how well each conversation went, how well the technology supported the communicators’ needs, and what you might do diff erently in a business context to ensure smooth communication and customer satisfaction. Be prepared to discuss your observations and conclusions with the rest of the class.