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Student Column: Election Time and The Cultural Tradition of Online Collaboration

Posted By Myrene Magabo (UP Open University) and Lara Schreurs (KU Leuven), Friday, October 2, 2020

Drumbeat rolls! 

Election time! We are right in the middle of ICA-elections, and all SECAC members have already cast their votes for both the association-wide officers as well as the officers for the specific Division and Interest Groups they belong to, respectively. Not sure about you, but we are always very excited about the prospective candidates for the new leadership of ICA. 

For SECAC specifically, the ICA-election comes with an opportunity to get to know the new faces we will cooperate with. A new president will be elected, and regardless of whom it will be, we envision a close and fruitful collaboration with this new leader. Good leaders can inspire their people to have faith in them, but only great leaders can inspire their people to have that same faith in themselves (McCallum, 2011). We are convinced that both candidates will make great leaders who will help us grow as we perform our roles of serving all students and early career members of ICA. 

We are also very excited to meet the upcoming SECAC Co-Chair, Christine Cook, who works at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. As Christine is running uncontested for this role as the opposing candidate withdrew, she will most likely be elected as our new co-chair and begin her service at the close of the 2021 conference. Welcome, Christine! 

As everyone anticipates the would-be elected ICA President, Treasurer, and a new Board Member at Large, the excitement roars like drumbeats of hopes on the horizon. 

The Tradition for Online Collaboration Lives On

SECAC has continued to maintain its tradition of productive online collaboration, which provides all its team members the opportunities for enhancing our online collaboration skills (the need for which is increasingly apparent). Allan Jay (2014) recalls how online collaboration began to take shape in the 1960s. The vision of people working together through computer communication without them being together in one physical space had materialized and went on for decades now. Today, a massive increase in the utilization of online technology for work, collaboration, and learning was inevitable. 

Online Team Collaboration that Reaps Success

Open, honest, timely, and meaningful online communication exchanges (through email or social media collaboration tools) often deliver and result in successful projects. Dr. Sardool Singh, Chief Global Strategist of the Global Listening Center, notes that “organizational members who reply back quickly to online communication messages show a great deal of leadership. It is easier to know who deserves the recognition of collaborative efforts and leadership by how individuals pay attention to organizational actions and communications online.” Experience proves how communication immediacy, as part of open and honest communication, contribute to successful coordination and productive online collaboration. 


Tom Vander Ark and Emily Liebtag (2018) contend that collaboration is brought about by “…intentional design of culture, structure, and tools, and the cultivation of individual mindsets and skillsets" (pp. 1-2). The authors also emphasized the importance of "structure" that enables team members to understand “their roles and relationships,” including “organizational routines” (p. 2), which are all suggestive of the need for good communication and interactions among team members. Referencing a Google Study, the authors further added that team norms “were key to performance” (p. 2). Norms and team values can be created and maintained through the help of written working guidelines (which SECAC currently works on). 

SECAC Co-Chairs Leadership Partnership 

Distinguishing the difference between cooperation and collaboration, Charles Lines (2013) offers a two-step strategy successful collaborative partnership. This strategy applies well to the ICA-SECAC Co-Chairs shared leadership roles. The first step is to coordinate, identify resources, and the people who shall perform the specific roles or tasks of SECAC.  The second step is creating procedures and guidelines for efficient cooperative work, which again supports the need for written team guidelines or working principles. Cognizant of the increasing need for online collaboration skills. ICA – SECAC looks forward to strengthening its norms based on values of respect, openness, honesty, and mindfulness of what each of us can genuinely contribute to our association, the International Communication Association. With its strengthened norms and structure, the SECAC teamwork experience shall continue to be enriching and memorable. 


Allan, J. (2014). History of Collaboration Software: The Evolution & Journey Towards Web 2.0 - Financesonline.com. https://collaboration-software.financesonline.com/history-of-collaboration-software-the-evolution-journey-towards-web-2-0/

Lines, C. (2013, June 19). The 3 C's of partnership working.   http://cuttingedgepartnerships.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-3-cs-of-partnership-working-co.html

McCallum, J. (2011). Election time means taking responsibility. Column. Retrieved from https://ammsa.com/publications/saskatchewan-sage/election-time-means-taking-responsibility-column

Singh, S. (2020, August 12). Conversation with Dr. Sardool Singh, Chief Global Strategist of Global Listening Center. 

Stoner, J. L. (2016, December 29). What Is Collaboration and Where Does It Begin?:  Jesse Lyn Stoner. Retrieved from https://seapointcenter.com/what-is-collaboration/

Vander Ark, T. and Liebtag, E.  (2018, February 13).  Collaboration: Key to Successful Teams and Projects https://www.gettingsmart.com/2018/02/collaboration-key-to-successful-teams-and-projects/

Tags:  October 2020 

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