Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Social Media has changed the way I think & learn (part 1)

So, some time ago I had an idea about getting social media used more at my workplace.  It's been on the back-burner for a while to avoid clashing with our busiest period, but that will be drawing to an end soon, and I now have a whole lot more tricks at my disposal thanks to Jane Hart's 30 Ways course. Here's a hint folks: she's running this course again - for free - starting on 29 August. Be there and remember sharing is learning!

Before I get started on my initiatives at work, it's worth taking a look at how my attitudes have changed over the last few months. The chief instigator would have to be Jane Bozarth, after I saw her talk at the Learning Technologies conference in January. Or perhaps I should blame Donald Taylor for organising that conference? I digress...  Here's the first of what will probably be a fair few posts about social media and learning.

Twitter

This was a strange step for me at first. As someone who usually likes to reflect at length ('No, really?' you ask) the idea of getting anything worthwhile out of 140 character posts sounded like anathema to me. But the idea got lodged into my head - proving also that lectures still have some use - and I signed up for my account. Initially I followed the speakers from the conference, occasionally looked at my feed, but didn't do very much. Eventually I decided that you can only really learn by doing, dared a few tweets, and actually got some reactions. I started looking for more people to follow, realised some actually follow you back, read the articles they tweeted about, and suddenly it was like I had my own personal newspaper on learning. Oh wait, I do have one <http://tweetedtimes.com/#!/jimmy_hob>

But what really kicked it up a notch was deciding to get involved in the backchannel at the Learning and Skills Group conference in June. At the last conference, I was utterly bewildered by the flood of tweets showing up on the screens. As I started to get into the swing of using Twitter more, I noticed people using hashtags to talk about conferences, particularly David Kelly's move of sharing what he had picked up from the backchannel. So along I went with a clear goal of getting engaged with the backchannel and picking up on ideas from the talks I couldn't attend. I found myself more engaged with the talks than ever before, frantically scibbling notes as usual, whilst thinking of short, succinct points to share on the backchannel. Plus I noticed how people were using the backchannel to raise digital eyebrows at contentious ideas, without disrupting the flow. Afterwards I collated all the resources I could find and put them on my blog, to share with the world through all the channels I could find. I went from 30 hits to over 300 in practically no time at all, and I started to see blogging in a whole new light - but that's for another post!

In short, Twitter has become a great extension of my thinking and learning, in a way that I can share with others, and be recognised for it.