What I think about this course

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Finally, after a busy 8 weeks it is coming to an end… No more homework!!
Although it looks as if we have finished this chapter in our lives,  in turn it has opened up a gateway to a whole new world of  tweeting, blogging and engaging more via the Social media tools that we now feel more confident  to use.

What did I get out of it for myself?

First of all, I was a very anti-twitter person before and now I feel that not only am I able to, but I would like to tweet. I can see why people are using it. I am still more a follower than a leader but I know it will develop in future.

I confess that writing blogs was and still is sometimes painful, perhaps only because I find it hard to write in general. Even at school I hated writing essays, and now when you have to put it out for everyone’s judgment … Perhaps, if I was using my native language this would be easier as I would not be so worried about making mistakes. However, I am very grateful that I know how to use WordPress and should I feel an inspiration to write something and share this with the world, I now know how to do it. This makes me feel good.

It was very useful to know about sharing and caring as I often need to use images for my work and now feel comfortable to do it.

With regards to Hoodsuite, Storify, and Feedly, I still need more practice and exploration. Google Hangouts was new and I am eager to explore it soon and use for alumni events – looks exciting! Reverse searching using Google – also useful staff that I didn’t know about. 
Creative Common – definitely something that I need know about as I often use images, so it is very useful for me.

The last session with the Lego Serious play was surprisingly interesting and it was amazing to see how all three groups sitting  in different rooms identified the same problems and came to the same conclusions. Expressing our unconscious feelings through Lego pieces really helped to get our ideas out and it was quite remarkable. For those couple of hours I suddenly felt that I quite enjoyed the creativity process and having another way of expressing myself.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed the course and I am very grateful to Andy, Ange and Georgina for putting this course together and making it so interesting and exciting, for their patience with all of us and for their great spirit and inspiration, and to HR for supporting this and allowing us to take time off our work every week for doing it.
It was great to be amongst such strong peers, my colleagues from the Judge – I’ve learnt from them as well.
I really enjoyed this course overall. Thank you!

Week 7 – Sharing and Caring

I found the session about caring and sharing very relevant to my work in Alumni Relations.

I am always searching for images when I prepare newsletters and, although we have a very good schools digital repository, sometimes I need different images. I then have to go to iStock photos http://www.istockphoto.com/ but they can be expensive or Wikimedia Commons which are technically “free” but many of them state that they require attribution and I always wonder how to do it and whether I need to put comments under the image or just include in html.

Now finding out about Creative Commons  gives me another option and I will not hesitate to include attribution of the images.

It was interesting to find out from Peter’s blog about “orphan” images which we can use but we do have to be sure that they are indeed “orphans”.

I found a great video on YouTube on how to use Creative Commons

I completely agree that we all should be more active on the Social Media and support each other in promoting School’s image. To read blogs posted by our staff and students, “like” messages and post comments. We need to have conversations out there.

workingtogether

I do encourage alumni to post messages in their groups and I am planning to contact group administrators and find a few active members of the group who would be online ambassadors and keep information and discussions coming. At the moment many groups are mostly used for promoting events. I want to have there more news, discussions and information relevant to individuals (like achievements) so they would feel that they are part of the alumni community.

Our students or alumni often create various groups and are very enthusiastic on them at the beginning, however, after some time they stop being active and there are many “dead” groups out there “hanging on the air”. I think, we should encourage them to join existing groups rather than creating their own as it will give us and them a bigger audience and access to a wider professional network.

But I think, we need to work on this together with the School’s programmes/departments – then it will be more successful.

Image credits:

Flickr Creative Commons: Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept
thegoldguys.blogspot.com/ or www.lumaxart.com/

Week 6 – Google Tools

I have Google e-mail account and use it all the time. I really like Google drive which has a few very useful tools, such as document sharing, forms and calendar.

I often work on different computers and an IPad and, when I worked on the same document, I had to email it to myself every time I edited it – this was not very convenient. First of all I had multiple versions of the same document in my email, then I had to find it in my inbox amongst many other emails, and the last, I ended up by having different versions of that document on different computers. Nightmare!

Saving this document on the Google Drive made it much easier and more straightforward, and I could access it from anywhere, whether I was at home, at work or travelling. The most important advantage is that if I need to share this document with other people and want them to contribute to it or edit it, it is very easy to do so by sending them a link to the document.

The other excellent tool I use is the Form tool for creating questionnaires and collecting surveys. This tool is very easy to use and, once you make the link public, anyone can access it and answer the survey. Alternatively you can send it to a group of people using their emails. You can create very quickly various types of questions including text fields, multiple choices or check boxes.

The Calendar is another “virtual” (or as they call it now “cloud”) calendar that can be shared between various people and accessed from anywhere. Most importantly, it can be synchronised with Outlook and you can have a few calendars (not all necessarily yours) and choose which one you want to see. Really cool!

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Today when I switched on my Laptop it was not working and, for a moment, I was in a panic because I had a couple of very important documents there that I needed for work and on which I spent a lot of time … when with a sense of relief I realised that they were saved on Google drive – phew! Thank God, the Laptop started working too but if it didn’t it wouldn’t be a disaster.

I am excited to explore new Google tools, such as Hangouts and G+. They look very useful for engaging with our alumni. It looks as you can have 9 or 10 people talking to each other at the same time. Wow!

 

Week 5 – Jaideep’s podcast

It was interesting to listen to Jaideep’s podcast about the Research Gate platform which is a social networking site for scientists and researchers for sharing papers, asking and answering questions, and finding collaborators.

It is similar to other Social Media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, where you can put your profile and have your network but it is designed for researches. You can invite people to join this platform.

Research gate

It was designed very cleverly keeping in mind the user because you can have students and mentors so Academia can exploit it. Users get notified that their paper was viewed or downloaded x amount of times or that they were quoted.

They have created a Research Gate score which gives points for contribution to a  discussion.

Although it has more of a younger audience, with PhD and Master’s students, they can invite their supervisors to it. So academics often join it because their students invite them. It is a great resource for people from around the world who  don’t have access to copyright protected journals.

The Research Gate is interdisciplinary and you can see top downloaded papers from your organisation regardless of the subject. Jaideep gave an example  when he looked at the top downloaded papers from Cambridge University and he was surprised to find out that people from other departments published papers in the fields which was relevant to his – the fact that he wasn’t  aware of otherwise.

Jaideep said, he wasn’t sure how the copyright aspect was managed. Perhaps it would be safe to publish a short version rather than full paper.

 

Week 5 – Blog about one of the tools

In week 5 we were introduced to a few platforms that I have never used before: Storify, HootSuite, bit.ly or Feedly.

I felt slightly overwhelmed by all this information and tried to think how and why I would like to use those resources.

I am excited to be able to use Storify to make a story about the Alumni Gala Dinner. It seems it is very easy to use it. I am only disappointed that I can’t use music in the background.

The common thing between Feedly and HootSuite is that they help you to filter out and organise information streams coming to us every day. I thought that I could use Feedly mostly for personal use, although from the first attempt I didn’t find much useful stuff  there for myself but I probably need to explore it more.

Hoodsuite would be the one that I could use for managing my Twitter account. It helps to eliminate one of the problems that was mentioned when we discussed Twitter – too much “noise”. I liked that there is a tool there that helps to shorten links and that we can keep tweets organised and filter out those tweets that we want to receive.

Pros

  • Helps to manage information flow
  • We can add other SM feeds, such as Facebook, etc.
  • Produce reports (basic stats for free and more details if you pay)
  • You can find out in reports who has clicked on your tweets
  • URL shortener to enable tracking
  • Scheduled messages

Cons

  • Can’t view Facebook data analysis
  • Can’t view Facebook images
  • Can’t see Facebook profile images
  • It doesn’t work well on the mobile devices, you need to use your PC to have a full screen
  • You need to spend some time to learn how it works
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Week 4 – Tweet-a-thon – how I feel about live-tweeting

This is our week 4 blog where we have to write how we feel about life-tweeting.

That was a slightly crazy experience when we all started typing messages during Nathalie’s presentation. I didn’t even have a chance to blink before I saw the whole stream of messages flooding on to my screen. I felt slightly smitten at first and didn’t know how to start but then once I started it was easy to continue. You really have to do multitasking here and use several senses at the same time: ears, eyes, brain, hands… Not sure for how long you can maintain this as after some time you feel that you lose your concentration.

The trick here is not to tweet everything that was said but to put only a few main points/ideas that are the most important and interesting for your followers.

Including pictures makes tweets more interesting.

humour-communication

Tweeting

 

Reading other peoples’ tweets is a good idea as you may have missed something interesting from the presenter, or you may hear some interesting idea about the topic of presentation.

I found a few useful tips on live-tweeting: Live-tweeting tips

I liked one of the tips: “Describe the venue. Give followers context about what it’s like to be there. But don’t go overboard talking about the blintzes or the beer breaks.”

I wondered before why to live-tweet when we can simply take notes and then send them to our colleagues afterwards?

At the same time, when I was recently at the LinkedIn seminar in London, I took notes on my IPad and I was going to send them to a few people who couldn’t attend it and would be interested to know what was said there. I still haven’t had a chance to send them because I wanted to format and edit them before sending to my colleagues as they look a bit like “short-handed” notes, and it seems that I’ve lost the momentum.  Had I tweeted them, the momentum would be there and it wouldn’t be expected to have them perfect.

Useful links:

Tweet-a-thon slides

 

How do I feel about tweeting

I should admit that before joining the SMDL course I didn’t understand and didn’t like Twitter. When in response to my complaint that I simply don’t get it, my colleague (also is also taking this course) told me that she also thought it was stupid, I was delighted that I wasn’t the only one (!).

How can you fit something meaningful in 145 symbols? What’s the point? Why not use Facebook instead where you can a) create a group b) know who is your audience c) post messages for specific subgroups d) enjoy more friendly interface and e) edit your post if you accidentally made a silly spelling mistake or you simply changed your mind f) feel cozy out there.

However, I kept wondering why so many people whose opinion I respected and valued used Twitter? What did they find in it?

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And now, after signing to this course, I have no choice but to do it! I agree with what was Mark said in his podcast that one has to be careful when posting tweets as everyone can see them. It was interesting to hear how people who are actively using tweets were also daunted at the beginning and how they started by following other people and then gradually went into doing their own tweets.

A tweet is like a text message that everyone can see, if you have an audience.

Here are some conclusions that I made for myself:

1. It is not difficult, once you get to understand how it works. I found Tweeter’s Help Center very useful.

2. To make it work you need to build an audience who share the same “interests” or professional area.

3. For building your audience you can start by following other people and commenting on their tweets and re-tweeting them, to make yourself noticed, and the followers will come.

4. You also need to promote yourself and your fellow tweeteres by including a tweeter name and hashtags in your tweets and other communication so they know you/they exist.

5. Once you have your followers you need to keep them interested by feeding them with relevant and useful information, if you stop you may lose them.

6. Don’t always be too serious, use some humour or informal way of talking, develop engaging style.

7. Be patient, don’t give up easily and you will be rewarded!

I actually started liking it! Because the text has to be short and informal I find it easier to write (contrary to blogs). And it is like skimming through headlines of the newspaper very quickly and stopping to read the article which is interesting for you.

I wonder if my colleague has changed her mind too?

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@sayarauzb