Posts Tagged ‘education’

Can Social Media Work for Schools?

ClassroomWith this being the first day of the school year (where did summer go??!!), a growing number of students’ school supplies includes smartphones and tablets.

In theory, these devices are supposed to enhance the learning experience, particularly media-friendly tablets. But we all know that a lot of digital activity has nothing to do with education – at least the academic variety.

The reality is once you open the Pandora’s Box to technology, it’s impossible to close it.

Given this situation, an interesting question is what role, if any, does social media play in the education system?

This can be addressed in two ways:

1. How students communicate with each using social media services such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

2. How schools communicate with key stakeholders – students, parents, trustees, etc. via social media.

For students, social media is simply part of how they communicate. For many students, social media has always been part of their lives.

The question is how social media should be used within schools. Should students be allowed to tweet, update and video during school given it can be a huge distraction and time-killer? Does it make sense to ban students from using social media during school hours? You could probably have an enthusiastic debate given the polarities.

For school administrators, social media has lots of potential to improve communications and make what they do more transparent and accessible.

Historically, the flow of information from schools has been pieces that paper that usually end up stuffed in backpacks before they arrive home.

It’s definitely old school and far from being effective, real-time or interactive.

Social media, however, can change the communications dynamic by making information easily flow.

The use of Facebook pages, for example, for schools and classes provides a completely new way to disseminate information and, as important, facilitate feedback, discussion and comments.

While students are all over social media, schools are probably getting their heads around how to leverage school media.

It’s early days for social media within the education system but if structured and rolled out properly, it could be lead to many improvements in how we teach and how students learn.

What do you think?

Professors Turning Social Media into Teaching Tool

Social media has become a powerful and valuable tool for many businesses, organizations and individuals. We have touched upon this in previous posts, including this one about scouts in the world of sports.

Now, the academic world is enthusiastically embracing social media in a major way.

This includes professors, who are adopting social media. According to a recent report by Pearson and the Babson Research Survey Group, blogs and wikis are being enthusiastically  used in the lecture halls.

As well, nearly 40% of professors in the humanities and arts use social media for teaching.

This seems like a natural fit. The elements and tenets of social media make it predisposed for learning and teaching. It’s safe to say social media is already being used by the students in many different ways.

If you’re a student or going to be one in the near future, this should make you happy and excited.

The potential of social media for the academic world is well within reach. It has even more components for communication and sharing that is currently not being exploited.

A not so radical idea might be to have an entire course unfold within a social media forum. Why not? You could have video capability, real-time communication and the ability to share at high speed.

This might be jumping the gun, but would you be really surprised if one forward thinking professor tried it out? I wouldn’t.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if social media become fully ingrained in the majority of academic classes around the world.

It’s Still Early Days for Social Media

social mediaOver the past week, I’ve given two presentations to groups that are not using social media or at the early stages of exploring how to embrace it.

For those of us who take tweet, updates, posts and sharing for granted, it can be difficult to fathom there are still people who haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon yet. After all, everyone is using social media, or so it seems.

But the reality is there are lots of people, many companies and large business sectors that remain on the social media sidelines. For a variety of reasons, they haven’t been compelled to use social media.

These reasons range from regulatory issues, a culture that isn’t social by nature, organization resistance to change or new things, or a failure to see the benefits.

Whatever the reason, the “un-socialized” are not small in numbers. There are a lot of them who may never get into social media even as the rest of the world can’t get enough of it.

It doesn’t mean they’re not interested or aware of social media; it suggests they haven’t seen enough or know enough to make it a personal or corporate priority.

For these people, education will be important to get them comfortable with the idea of social media. It is always interesting to see heads nod and enthusiastic note taking when I do a presentation about the benefits of social media and the different services.

To those us who have already jumped into the pool with both feet, the things we take as a given are completely new and fresh for the uninitiated. It is easy to forget that simply because we’re totally into social media that everyone else is as well.

It may only be a matter of time before the un-socialized start using social media but in the meantime, there’s still a lot of hand-holding and educating to be done.

The Social Media Learning Curve in 2011

As we head into 2011, social media is firmly established as something that most companies should embrace. It’s a “when” rather than “if” proposition given social media’s potential as a new and different communications, marketing and sales platform, as well as the dynamics of the competitive landscape.

That said, one of the most important considerations for companies looking to get into social media is educating themselves. This means getting a firm handle on the opportunities, the different options and how social media can be effectively leveraged.

And it’s something that should happen before a company even considers putting together a social media strategy.

Far too often, companies scramble into social media because there’s a fear the market and competitors are rumbling ahead, and that if they don’t jump into the fray, it will be too late.

Unfortunately, this approach often leads to disappointment because without a good and educated sense of what is happening and how to capitalize on it, companies can easily get little or no return on their social media activities.

What I’m starting to see from companies that haven’t jumped into social media is a growing willingness to educate themselves before they decide to take another step forward. It often means providing executives with a presentation that covers the entire landscape, including the advantages and disadvantages of the different services.

It can also involve something less formal by sitting down for a conversation to hear what’s happening, and then asking questions about different options.

Perhaps the growing appetite for education has to do with the fact that if a company isn’t already in social media, then there is no first-mover advantage. As a result, speed to market is not important.

While a company may not want to sit on the sidelines for too long, the reality is there’s no need to rush things out the door. By taking the time to determine whether social media makes sense, they can pragmatically move forward in a way that has more to do with overall strategy and objectives than simply being active in the marketplace.

For companies weighing the benefits of education vs. action, a recent report by eMarketer looking at the mistakes made by U.S. marketers about social media is an eye-opener.

Among the leading reasons cited by marketers is not having a strategy, not defining goals and objectives, and not setting proper expectations with executives. These are all issues that can be focused on during the education process as opposed to learning them after a social media program has been launched.

Despite the Hype, Social Media is Still New

When you’re in the middle of the social media “storm”, it can be difficult to realize there are lots of other people who have not embraced social media. This could be due to the fact they need more knowledge, they are not ready for it, or they don’t need it.

Irregardless of people who have stayed away from the fray, it is important for people engrossed in blogging, tweeting, updating, engaging, etc. to recognize social media is still a relatively immature and young industry. Sure, there is plenty of excitement and plenty of buzz but it’s still a modest sized club.

This means it is important to not assume everyone gets social media and, as a result, it means there is still a lot of educating and knowledge-sharing to be done.

I’m giving a workshop and speech today in Calgary to the Canadian Home Builders Association about social media. The content is fairly straightforward as opposed to delving into the tactical weeds. It is the kind of content people immersed in social media might see as basic or rudimentary. But it is exactly the information that a lot of people and companies still wand and need.

Like any new technology, social media is working its way to the mainstream but it’s not there yet. While it won’t be that long until everyone knows how to tweet and create Facebook tabs, there is still a lot of work to be done to spread the word.