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Teaching telecommuting

I had to commute this morning. I left the commuting behind about 5 years ago and dread the drive from middle-of-nowhere Massachusetts to Boston.
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I had to commute this morning. I left the commuting behind about 5 years ago and dread the drive from middle-of-nowhere Massachusetts to Boston. We have a lot more horses than traffic jams out my way, so I've definitely lost my tolerance for traffic. The local troopers frown on BlackBerry use as you inch along besides.

Needless to say, as I fumed on my way to a conference south of Boston this morning, I got to thinking about Zack Whittaker's article on working from home. There is a cultural shift going on, no doubt, as more and more people telecommute. Rising gas prices, greater awareness of our carbon footprints, cost of living considerations, work-life balance, etc., all drive telecommuting.

It occurred to me, though, that we can actually teach kids skills and provide them with tools that allow them to work anytime, anywhere, on any computer. I touched on this idea with my article on SIMtone's Virtual PC initiative, but the tools already exist to enable kids to simulate a work environment in which they can remain connected to their data and school resources.

Citrix is the obvious example, along with VPN tunnels allowing access to shared drives, expensive applications, etc. A local school recently had to send kids home because they lost heat in the building. While this is not a big deal for a lot of students (it's like a snow day, only early!), other students enrolled in SAT prep courses, AP courses, and others that need every day possible to cram in content could certainly have benefited from the ability to work at home.

This is no different from those of us who commute (or at least formerly commuted) through the snow belts. In fact, most businesses find that this sort of 24/7, work in your pajamas access really increases productivity. Spouses and significant others don't care much for it, but the ability to work anytime means that a lot of people work, well, anytime.

It's easy to make a case for letting kids work anytime as well and instilling, if not workaholism, a healthy respect for the tools that let them get their jobs done effectively, even after the school day has ended.

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