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Guest Thinkers

Advising, webcams, and Skype

After meeting with a doctoral student yesterday who drove two hours each way for a one-hour meeting, I decided enough was enough, at least with my own advisees. I made a page on my web site that encourages students to work with me to use technology to solve some typical time / travel / communication challenges.

I then sent a listserv message to the rest of the faculty in my department about my new web page because I thought that some other folks might be interested in doing this too. Within minutes another message appeared on the listserv, this time from our department technology coordinator, notifying us of the University’s discouragement of Skype because it hogs resources and acts as a connective node for non-university-related data.

I encourage everyone to read the University of Minnesota recommendations regarding Skype. As I noted to our technology coordinator, the suggestion that Skype be turned off most of the time is somewhat problematic. I understand the U’s concern about bearing non-university-related data traffic. That said, I wish the U would think about Skype like it does our telephones, which we obviously don’t turn off except when we’re expecting a call.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Experiences and/or policies from your own organization?


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