Well it has been three weeks now since I created this blog, signed up for a twitter account & created a YouTube channel. On the YouTube side of things it will be three weeks tomorrow since I uploaded my first video. So the question is has it been worth it?
Early on this past week I visited two Secondary Schools to run some workshops on Building a PC and Computer Networking. I mentioned that I had recently entered the world of social media, and judging from a significant rise in YouTube channel views directly after I would guess that many of the students went and took a look. I had at that stage uploaded some videos showing the progress of the New Build at Garthdee (have also been able to share these updates with staff in the School of Computing), so they could get a sense of where they would be studying if they were to pursue the subject area of computing at Robert Gordon University. I also had some photographs of a computer museum + YouTube video of the NeXT cube (the type of machine used for the worlds first web server), so I would imagine that being able to see some images of such a machine is far more engaging that just reading about it from a textbook.
On that note I received a retweet from the Museum (Musée Informatique, in Paris) which I was really surprised about. This in turn lead to a retweet by Festival International de l’Audiovisuel & du Multimédia sur le Patrimoine. A Multimedia Festival being held in Montreal, Quebec 9th – 12th Oct 2012.
Another interesting thing that happened was that I received an email from a student in Marketing hoping to conduct a survey during one of my classes on how computing students go about purchasing their own personal computers. Having replied back I enquired as to why he had chosen to ask me this question. The answer that came back was mainly due to having an active social media presence – thereby giving the impression of being more approachable. Could it be that given the majority of our students are of the “Millennium Generation” i.e. have grown up fully immersed in the digital age that they inherently prefer to engage with Academics who readily make use of these social media channels.
Yesterday I hosted our first Research Seminar of 2012 having invited Dr. Judy Robertson and Mr Andrew MacVean from Heriot-Watt University to talk about the work they are doing on Exergames. After the talk I searched on twitter and found that they both had accounts & thanked them for coming along and giving the talk. Quite a few speakers I had invited in the past year were also quite avid users of twitter and WordPress as well as several of the invited speakers due to give some talks in the coming months. The Principal of Robert Gordon University has been using WordPress and twitter for quite a few years now. From what I have seen over the past weeks there is certainly a growing trend of Academics readily embracing the world of social media. Not only should one have a presence in the lecture room or lab but also in the wider global community. Why should the sharing of knowledge be confined to just the lecture room or lab – people learn is so many different ways. With just a quick search on your favourite search engine you will find that many Academics are broadcasting tutorials and lectures on YouTube and other similar streams. Certainly the world is becoming a much smaller place, thanks to global communications and social media networks. Are there only positives to be had by embracing social media? Are these forms of communication a useful source for CPD Continuing Personal Development – with the ever-increasing rate of change in the present modern world one must continually learn and embrace new things just to keep someway up-to-date with all the technological advances happening in the world around us, else get lost in a deluge of ever diversifying new gadgets. The digital age is well and truly here the only way forward is to fully embrace it (especially when one is working in the field of computing).
In this day and age particularly in the field of research the term “impact” crops up time after time. How is the proposed research going to impact the research community and the wider society. How can the results of the work be disseminated. Certainly there is something that can be said for how new results and knowledge can be shared to a wide audience through the means of social media in a near instantaneous fashion. My Influence (Klout Score) has increased from 20 to 29 in the past week since signing up less than a week ago. The publishing of conference papers and journal articles often means that work is 6 or even 18 months old before it is really shared, by this stage it may be considered old news! One has often hears the term “six degrees of separation” does this still hold true in the digital world of social media or has it brought us even closer together?
All in all I think it has been interesting to explore what is for me a new realm of the “Internet”. With the second semester of classes beginning on Monday it will be interesting to see how I may make use of these Social Media tools to more readily engage with the two hundred or so students I will be lecturing to over the coming twelve weeks. If I do make use of these tools in my teaching it is not just my students who will directly benefit, but also all those secondary school students who started following me on twitter, they can begin to get a sense that University is very much unlike Secondary School and of course anybody else following me or just happen across my channels. In summary, semester two should make for interesting times.