Reflecting on learning and seeing the world in exciting new ways.

Archive for May, 2011

Social media revolution

Further to my previous post about building a brand with Twitter, I had the pleasure of attending a session this afternoon hosted by Leanne Rate from our Marketing and Communications team. She gave attendees an overview of how our organisation is dipping our collective toes into the water that is social media in relation to developing our reputation and establishing online relationships with students, staff and other educational institutions.

One thing is obvious: it’s no longer a matter of should we use social media to develop our brand, but how should we use social media to develop our brand? Leanne showed us multiple examples of how our students are already interacting about their learning within the online social networks they have established independently of us. Regardless of whether organisations feel ready to join in, students are seeking and creating online relationships and engaging in conversations based around shared experiences, both positive and negative. Some of these conversations are ongoing but many are short lived, perhaps for the duration of a course or until the resolution of an issue. What does this mean for us, not only as an organisation, but as educators?

I really enjoyed the video Leanne showed about the social media revolution. It is an updated version from the original but is still a year old. I wonder how much the statistics have changed in that time? What will they look like next year? In five years’ time?

Building a brand with Twitter

Twitter logoThere is something about Twitter that polarises the masses. Actually, it goes further than that, especially in a business sense. From my observations, Twitter seems to divide people unevenly into three discrete camps: those who love it, those who hate it, and those who haven’t heard of it.

As an organisation, we have begun looking at our online presence including media such as Facebook and Twitter. There are many examples of companies using social media very well. There are probably more examples of companies who are not. The trick is, there is no rule book or definitive way to do it right; this is as frustrating for some individuals as it is liberating for others.

How to guides for Twitter

Tweet This Book coverAs part of our discussions and explorations, a group of us have come across and shared some resources exploring marketing conventions and etiquette for Twitter. Highly recommended by a colleague is the ebook Tweet This Book, which looks at building business and personal brands through social media.  It’s free to download – the author, Vaughn Davis, simply asks that you ‘pay’ him by tweeting the link or posting it on Facebook. It talks about how social media can be a window on the wall that is advertising, allowing users into what he describes as the social landscape. Davis stresses that the best way to learn how to do this is to jump on in; developing a brand through social media is not something you can thoroughly prepare for in advance, like heart surgery, for example.

Having said that, surely there have got to be some better ways to go about it than others? I found this blog post about social media principles helpful, with good explanations behind some of the techniques which can be used. On the other hand, 7 Twitter rules you must ignore busts some of the myths surrounding Twitter in light of traditional marketing. In essence, I see the success of any strategy is down to planning: what is our purpose, what do we want to achieve, who image to do we want to project, who is going to be the face for our approach (this could be more than one person), and how will we make this happen.

Business cards

I recently had some business cards printed. Rather than use up a line reciting a redundant fax number when I’m not even sure about the location of said machine in our office, I have included my Twitter handle, @ageja. As someone who works predominantly online, it makes sense for me to include details about the best ways to contact me. And, of course, I considered the idea of replacing the fax line with my Twitter handle after someone I follow on Twitter talked about doing it herself. I tweeted the idea and got feedback from several others encouraging me to go ahead. How’s that for a great example of a personal learning network in action?

Upon distributing my new cards at a recent educators’ forum, the result was instantaneously unanimous: “Oh, I hate Twitter.” OK … we got to talking about the points mentioned above, as well as me explaining how I have used Twitter as a tool for developing my own personal learning network while also providing timely access to topical news, research and information. There were many nods of agreement but the bottom line remained: “it’s not for me”. Fair enough. Maybe their perceptions will change in time?

What do you see the role of social media such as Twitter playing in terms of building an organisation’s brand? Can you think of any organisations which you feel are already doing this particularly well? What might be the secrets to their success?

Hairdressing by iPod

I really enjoy hearing about innovation in learning and teaching. 🙂

I recently attended the Ako Aotearoa Central Hub Teacher Developers’ Forum in Palmerston North. This forum brings together teaching development staff from ITPs in the central and lower North Island for a day of sharing, planning and collaboration. Two colleagues from Western Institute of Technology (WITT) in Taranaki shared a recent innovation they have implemented in response to the 2010 Horizon Report, which identified mobile computing as a key trend in the next year or less.

Two of WITT’s current courses (barista training and hairdressing) are being taught via iPod touch. Students are informed that some content within the programme is delivered using an iPod touch and it is therefore compulsory for them to purchase an iPod Touch prior to commencing the programme. An iPhone or iPad would also be suitable. When asked about the reaction from potential students, WITT found that only five students on the programme didn’t currently already own one of these devices and were quite receptive to purchasing one as part of their course materials.

iBooks iconStudents use Apple’s free iBooks app to download and update their course materials from the WITT library. This allows content, including videos, to be accessed offline as well as access to Moodle quizzes, interactive PDFs and assessments when online. Apparently engagement is up, with students also enjoying the ‘coolness’ factor of being able to watch videos at the bus stop – great for motivation. For me, the ‘bonus’ in this scenario is the ability for students to engage in aspects of mobile learning either with or without internet access.

In addition to course work, I see much potential in using a similar system for support material, study guides and library assistance, for example. The ability to create e-material suitable for android phones, or even laptops using free software such as Adobe Digital Editions, wouldn’t necessarily require too much more capacity than what is needed to develop Apple-compatible content.