I recently read an article by Laurel Delaney about small businesses marketing within the social software environment. It tells the story of ‘Sidney’ a web designer who reinvigorated her business by using existing social networks and web 2.0 technologies. My immediate thought was how this can be applied to educational projects and individuals (ignoring the teaching aspects – I suspect that will be a much longer post and better done by other people). Taking the approach that I normally abhor I looked first at the tool or technology and sought out an application for it. During the course of doing this I discovered that in each of them there was already someone using it in that way, unsurprisingly! So here’s a short list of five, some of them are platform specific (apologies) some are generic, and if you know of any others please post them in the comments, I’ll post a further list at a later date.
- Facebook, love it or loathe it, for now it’s here. The premise of Facebook is simple a social network of people interacting for ‘fun’. However, one colleague has used this as a tool for eliciting feedback on a tool he’s been developing. Another example is Edge Hill University who have a closed (private) network on Facebook for their staff with 2,087 members.
- Instant Messaging (IM). This is one that immediately springs to mind for my practice and this article is a good example. During the writing of it I used my IM client to elicit comments from colleagues; one of them came back and immediately gave me the example of this article! One of things that I understand is effective is the group IM chat where a record of the conversation can be used to create quick action points. One project told me that they often use IM during meetings as a way of clarifying things that were said without interrupting the flow of the meeting.
- Slideshare. More than just a presentation tool, this allows for interaction and discussion. The colleague who alerted me to it regularly presents material at a variety of universities and uses Slideshare as a way of providing a ‘copy of the slides’ without wasting paper. It also allows him to use the discussion function to allow questions there was not time for in the session and eliciting comments from peers prior to presentation. It also allows you to provide a simple online resource for anyone to access: do a search for federated access management and you’ll find an excellent presentation (http://www.slideshare.net/rsc_southeast/federated-access-management-jisc-presentation) given to a small audience at a Regional Support Centre Event but which as been now viewed 459 times (at time of writing).
- Googledocs, “to be honest it could be any interactive writing tool but I like the format” was the comment that stood out. This colleague needed an easy shareable and ‘familiar’ tool that she can share potential research proposals on and refine them with colleagues whilst maintaining a log of what’s been changed. Simple and effective, as an aside I asked if she had got any successful proposals yet – “no comment!”
- Flickr. A personal repository for storing, sharing and discussing your photos and images. One of my favourite uses is for presentations: instead of using text heavy powerpoints do a search for the keywords or concepts you’re looking for in the advanced search (you can select to search only those images that have an creative commons licence). Try doing a search for web 2.0, community or Emerge in the tags only section.
- Personalised Homepage (www.google.co.uk/ig or www.netvibes.com). These tools are great if you need to assimilate information. All of the projects within the U&I programme use RSS feeds and report regularly using their blogs etc, I just aggregate them all on to one page using www.google.co.uk/ig and I get a great snapshot of what the projects are up to. I also get my email, calendar and news from other blogs that I’m interested in (I also get news about rare birds and my football team).
- Meetomatic. For me this is one of the key tools in my job, it’s a way of organising a meeting date – select the dates you need, email the link, identify any ‘must attends’ or ‘VIPs’ and wait for the responses. Simple to use, does one thing and does it well, and it’s free.
Got a favourite tool? – tell us about it!