Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How social media can educate the educators?

A recent report by the government of India education ministry on how the teachers in primary school need to go back to school to continue their education. This was true particularly in subjects such as sciences and mathematics where there have been frequent advances and the teachers have not been able to keep up.

I believe that continuing education series is important for all professionals, whether they are doctors, architects or even teachers. But how can one design a system that achieves the dual purposes of not having to disrupt the normal schedule of a teacher at the same time help him keep up with the advances in his professions?
Social networks could have the answer to that.

In my previous post I have discussed how a group of physicians from France had formed a group on Google Plus to discuss cases and promote education among the peer group by mutual learning. Every week they met using the closed group and sometime even connected face to face using the hangout application. A similar exercise was conducted by the Physicians from Spain to prepare for US MLE examinations.
Now for the educators this is what I believe would work. A bunch of educators for a closed group on Google Plus. The educator’s would forma logical cohort say high school physics teachers. They can use this network to share new teaching methodologies or sharing the latest advances.

All it requires is a mobile device which can run applications for social networks. That way the movement can spread even to semi urban and rural area teachers.

So I want to know your opinion can Social Media be used to educate the educators? If yes then what model would work best? What are the challenges and how can they be overcome. I would welcome your views on the same.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why collaborative education model needs social networks?

Recently in a stunning announcement Atos, the European consulting firm announced that they would be moving away from corporate emails. So in the next three years Atos would officially sunset its email clients across its global locations.

I do remember my days as a B-school student where most of my time was spent mailing reports and research reports across my study group. I remember that I did almost 20-30 mails a day to the same set of people.

Collaborative efforts like research do require a lot of information exchange among members of the group. As this exchange is in the form of huge documents e-mail was the chosen form of transfer. But those were the days before the advent of social networks.

Connecting - Young Users via Social Media V/s
Older users via Email
Today our Toastmasters club uses Facebook extensively to transfer documents like training materials and members list across the club. All a member has to do is to log into the Facebook page of the club to access all materials.

Again these documents are regularly updated with the latest training material and any additions there of. A similar approach is developing across research organizations who prefer to use their internal social network tools to good effect.

But I personally feel that we have not not even scratched the surface. I would like to hear from you, as to how things have changed in the research and collaboration field due to advent of social media?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Social Media Education - A thought!

Last week Wednesday we had our first Twitter chat on “Is Education ready to embrace Social Media” and I must confess I was quite amazed with the kind of response that we received. Honestly I was under the impression that this idea would face a lot of inertia and that people from the Academic world would not be willing to accept this change.

But the actual reality was at exact 180degrees. People really want to use Social Media as an easily & readily available Learning Management or a Content Management tool. But then I was stuck on what’s stopping them. Now this was a billion dollar question, and just like any billion dollar question this had a simple logical answer but a complex execution algorithm (talk of complexity of simplicity).

What I learnt during the Twitter Chat (FYI - look for hash-tag #TSP_EduForum, it’s an acronym for TheSocialPeople Education Forum) is that there seems like there is general agreement among social media users/evangelists/consultants that education is crucial. However social media education can be quite vast and can pretty much mean anything. It's like trying to teach someone to be a mechanic in a few days or even a few hours, there's a lot to learn. The challenge is keeping the learning community up-to-date on those latest tools/tactics/strategies.

As you know social media is a very dynamic in nature and what you learn today might change tomorrow. So if we keep seeing new tools/techniques/strategies emerging almost daily, how to we create and administer social media training programs? My answer, focus on the core of social media principles or global best practices. Here are the main topics I would consider (I'm going to leave a few out because I'm more interested in what you have to say):
  1. High level Social Media Strategy (This I feel is the most important and vital topic. Wrong strategy and you or your idea is doomed.
  2. Identification of the right social media tools/platforms that suites your need
  3. How to identify existing social media communities (or create new ones if needed)
  4. Social Media measurement or metrics.
  5. Understanding how to monitor social media and respond to sentiments shared by users\
  6. Benefits/value of social media and risks of social media with effect exit mechanism, just in case.
  7. Resources needed to succeed in social media
  8. Case studies/examples/results of social media campaigns

So here I have listed 8 high level topics that make up a part of what I consider the Social Media Education core. Instead of focusing social media education efforts on details (that will change quickly) I think it would be much more valuable to focus on applications that are relatively constant to rephrase this more scientifically, strategize and use media that is evolving rather than mutating. I would also strongly advice that the herculean tasks of planning and strategizing details can be left to the experts who are implementing the actual strategy or to the consultants that are advising the company.

Do you agree with me? What other topics would you add to the Social Media Education Core?

For those of you who would like be a part of our Twitter Chat, it happens every Wednesday at 10AM Indian Standard Time. Don't forget to hash-tag - #TSP_EduForum.