Do I “do” Social Media?

This is my second article for our not-quite bi-weekly newsletter for Graduate Student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. In my first post, I talked about Social Media and PhD Studies. The prompt for the second article is a follow up question, “Are you connected”? Here is what I had to say:

Just the other day, one of my classmates said to me “You really do this social media stuff, don’t you?” It made me think about what I do from a social media perspective.

I use Facebook (who doesn’t?) – not too much, I don’t use it to play games or fill in surveys or anything, but I use it enough to see what my friends are doing. I like to say that Facebook tells me when I need to pick up the phone and call – or in the case of friends who just had a baby, their Facebook status told me not to call!

I use LinkedIn. I’ve been using LinkedIn since a member of my MA class invited me. I did my MA online so it was interesting that an online colleague was the source of my first connection. Since then, LinkedIn has allowed me to stay in touch with old colleagues who have moved on to two or three different jobs since I had last seen them. It also got me my last full time job (I posted that I was looking for work and someone connected me to a hiring manager that week), and it has gotten me two or three contracts. So, I’m all in favour of using LinkedIn as a job search tool. It has worked for me!

I use Twitter. I didn’t see the value in it at first. Why would you want to hear about what your friend had for breakfast? To be honest, I get more of that type of update on Facebook. With Twitter I can choose who I listen too, so if someone babbles too much about stuff I don’t care about, I stop following them. But for me, what has made Twitter useful is that I’ve connected to a couple of communities (#phdchat and #lrnchat). The community that I converse with the most is #phdchat – (tip: the community is identified by the hash tag that is used to search for messages associated with the community/conversation). #phdchat is a bunch of PhD Students from around the world in various stages of their research. When I get stuck on something (like finding a free tool to do word frequency counts) someone on PhD chat usually answers my query, and usually pretty quickly too! The other thing that Twitter has done for me is helped me increase the number of people reading my blog.

Which brings me to blogging.  Not everyone would call blogging social media, but I consider it part of my social media sphere. I blog because it helps me focus my thoughts, and I know people are reading. When I write a blog post, I send a quick update to my Facebook friends and the #phdchat group on Twitter. These folks usually leave comments or retweet my posts with a few comments that encourage me to keep blogging. In this way, I don’t feel like I’m alone in my journey.

Now, it wouldn’t be fair to talk about social media without also talking about MOOCs (or Massively Open Online Courses). Last summer I participated in a MOOC on mobile learning (MobiMOOC). MobiMOOC was a 6-week “course” on mobile learning – I say “course” but a MOOC is really more about having conversations than taking a course – and in the case of MobiMOOC, I got to learn more about Mobile Learning from some of the leaders in the field all for free. This participation led to me joining up with a few other participants to write a few research papers. So far, our team of seven has written three papers, two of which have been published, one of which won a Best Paper Award.

So, yes, I guess I would have to agree with my colleague’s statement. I do do social media.

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