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Wiggio: An Extra Simple Collaboration Tool

Wiggio: An Extra Simple Collaboration Tool

    If you’ve been looking for an absolutely easy way to collaborate with a group, I’d recommend trying out Wiggio. The application just came into public beta today and it’s one of the easiest-to-use collaboration tools I’ve run across. If you’ve ever had to work with group members unfamiliar with tools beyond email, Wiggio can provide an easy solution for group collaboration. It’s not too bad for more advanced users looking for a simple interface, either.

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    Signing Up

    Signing up for Wiggio is fairly standard. You have to set up an account and confirm by clicking on a link in an email. From there, you have two options. You can join an existing group or create a new group.

    Beyond the standard request for an email address and a password, Wiggio also requests your cell phone number and your provider. While you don’t have to provide that information, with it, Wiggio will send you text messages about posts and other activities happening in your groups. According to Wiggio’s policy, such information will be kept private. There isn’t a lot of information about their security measures available on their site, however. It’s up to you whether you want to trust Wiggio with your phone number.

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    Creating a New Group

    When you create a new group, it’s very obvious that Wiggio started out as a way to organize groups at school. Beyond the choice of business, you can organize a group for your class, sorority, student government or a host of other student activities. I’m hoping that Wiggio adds a few more grown-up options but for now, I’m just sticking with whatever seems closest to my needs — usually business.

    The Interface

    Wiggio’s interface is very simple — lots of clearly-labeled buttons that less-than-internet-savvy group members can handle without much trouble. There are six main tools:

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    1. Calendar — A fairly simple shared calendar that allows you to manage group events. There’s no easy way to add this calendar to whatever time management system you use, but you can set up an automatic email whenever a change is made to the calendar (or any other part of your group). Gmail seems to be able translate those emails into Google Calendar events without an issue.
    2. Folder — You can upload most file types to your Wiggio groups. Wiggio can even handle version-tracking automatically. A group member can download the file, change it and re-upload it. He doesn’t need to change the file name or anything for Wiggio to recognize it as a new version. Old versions are still available.
    3. Meeting — Wiggio offers two types of meetings for users: a chatroom and a conference call. For conference calls, Wiggio uses Rondee, a free conference call service. Wiggio will also host chats for your group.
    4. Poll — Not all collaboration applications offer any tools to help with decision making, but with Wiggio’s Poll system, you can matters to a vote in your group. You don’t even need to track responses to get an answer.
    5. Messages — Through Wiggio, you can send messages to group members in three different ways: text message, email and voice note. You can also post notes on your group’s home page, but no guarantee that group members will log in and see them. I was a little concerned at first that the text message and voice mail options meant that the entire group would have access to my phone number, but all of that is handled internally.
    6. Links — The link tool is simply a place to paste in links so that your group has a shared set of bookmarks.

    Wiggio’s tools aren’t anything new, but the way they’re put together make them very easy to work with. For those of us who wind up spending more time explaining to a group how to use collaboration software than working on our group project, Wiggio’s interface makes it very worthwhile. And while other sites offer more robust conferencing tools, Wiggio’s ability to keep up with group comments is a great option for those organizations not so dependent on teleconferencing.

    There is definintely an assumption for Wiggio that group members aren’t going to be sitting at their desks all day, every day. If you’ve had problems keeping touch with those members of your group that seem to prioritize their social lives over group meetings, being able to send them text message reminders may prove invaluable.

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    If you’re managing multiple groups, Wiggio’s interface does make the process easier. Recent updates to all your groups are shown on your homepage as icons showing which tool has been used. You can navigate directly to specific updates, rather than going through your groups to get to particular tool pages, and you can easily navigate between multiple groups. Adding new members to your groups is just as simple as knowing their email addresses, as well — they can easily be members of multiple groups with no fuss.

    Wiggio was designed by a group of seniors at Cornell University who were tired of the variety of tools they had to use to keep their group projects running and systems that required techno-savvy to use. Rather than struggle with list-servs and long email lists, they put together one site that could do it all — and for all the different groups they participated in at school. The Wiggio team is clearly starting to branch out to other organizations, like small businesses and committees, as well. There is no cost to use Wiggio. The site uses advertisements to make money.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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