Why have a Professional Online Presence?
In the summer of 2008, I undertook a research project into social media and online communication as part of my undergraduate studies. This project marked the beginning of a personal journey across the changing online landscape – observing and chronicling developments in social media and technology and noting the impact upon online communities.
This journey lead me on to my first post working on the development of technology enhanced learning (TEL) in Higher Education with a particular focus on the effective and innovative uses of social media in learning and teaching in order to enrich the student experience.
Over the subsequent years my research has now become more personal and focussed and considerably less of the slightly detached observer that I was at that start; because both staff and students began asking me searching and relevant questions such as:
- Why should I use social media?
- Isn’t Twitter just all about celebrities taking ‘selfies’ and promoting themselves and their ‘brand’?
- What relevance does it have to my own teaching/learning?
- How will my students benefit from my increased knowledge of this subject?
- Isn’t it insecure/unsafe?
- Will my students have to know all the intimate details of my personal life if I ‘friend’ them on Facebook or Twitter?
I then realised that I would have to get fully involved myself and participate in almost every social network known to man so I could find out for myself exactly how these networks could be used ‘professionally’ by both staff and students.
The realistic aims of having a ‘professional online presence’ while studying or teaching in HE are:
- to enrich the student experience by adding to their ‘Personal Development Plan’ (PDP) whilst at university
- to contribute to the ‘Continuing Professional Development’ of teaching staff
I have been very fortunate to meet and interact online with a number of wonderful people who are working in this field and whose aims are exactly those noted above. I have learned much from this people and believe my own CPD has been developed and enriched by reading the articles and presentations freely published online for all to learn from and more recently from joining in online ‘chats’ on Twitter known as ‘Tweetchats’.
Tweetchats are online discussions conducted on Twitter at a certain time (usually weekly) and with a specific topic for discussion at each session. Participation is free and open and is denoted by using a specific hashtag # in each tweet so that others know you are joining the discussion. The hashtag # may also be followed as a search, either in real time or after the chat has finished so you can still benefit from the information discussed in the chat even if you don’t feel ready to actually contribute. I participated in the BYOD4L (Bring Your Own Device for Learning) Tweetchat Week in January 2015 from the comfort of my sofa using my iPad and I found it to be a very useful, informative and enjoyable experience.
I have been most taken by some Slideshare presentations created by a member of my PLN, Sue Beckingham (@suebecks) who works in Sheffield Hallam University and has been very active in this area for some time and I strongly recommend that you go and look at some of these for yourselves.
Sue has inspired and influenced me to try and build an interactive online learning community specifically for colleagues and friends in my own institution @UWTSD as well as encouraging us to become active in the BYOD4L community as well.
More on this topic later…..