Social Learning

Back in June I spotted a tweet from Nick Jackson mentioning some Social Learning workshops that he was giving in the UK with Abhay Adhikari.  At the workshops attendees would examine essential digital communications and look at developing an online digital toolkit.  I really liked the look of the workshops and somewhere in the conversation that followed between Nick and I, the idea was mooted of bringing the workshops to Ireland.  There was a slight complication in the shape of Nick’s impending relocation to Australia but why let something like that get in the way!!  When we looked at possible dates the only viable date was Saturday 22nd September.  I knew from the start that having the workshops in September was not ideal.  The start of the new school year is a very busy time for teachers but I didn’t want to let the opportunity slip past.

To backtrack a little I first came in contact with Nick around this time last year though Liam Dunphy.  We were all involved at the early stages of the connected classrooms (#ccGlobal) project.  Through the project we had a  few Google+ hangouts to discuss how best to proceed.  This was followed up by Nick Skyping in to our CESI Meet before the ICT in Education conference in May.  Through these various interactions with Nick I knew that the workshops would be worthwhile.  Fast forward to 8 o’clock last Saturday morning and I found myself in Thurles getting ready to welcome Nick, Abhay and the attendees to the workshops.   Meeting Nick for the first time in person was like meeting an old friend.  This is one of the things that I love about social media – the ability to make real friendships with people in the virtual space.

Abhay facilitated the first workshop.  He started by giving us an introduction to social media. This broad banner covers social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, social media sites such as YouTube and Flickr, social bookmarking sites such as Pinterest and geosocial networking sites such as Foursquare and so much more as you can see from the infographic above.   The main thrust of the  workshop was around how to start a conversation.   In groups we looked at ideas we wanted to share or activities we wanted to promote.   To give the workshop a definite focus we zoned in on four ideas from the attendees

The surprising thing about this part of the workshop was that there was very little mention of social media.  The focus was on defining the outcome and identifying who could help you to achieve it.  Finding people who share your values is really the key to starting the conversation.  This is when the penny started to drop that this was where social media came in.

The next question is where to start the conversation and this very much depends on what you want to do: network, share resources etc., how much time you have to devote to social media (it is after all a time consuming process – believe me I know :-)) and the type of content you are creating.

The final part of the workshop zoned in on your profile on social media and what you want it to say about you.  This was something I was very concious of when I started my Twitter account and this blog.  The intention was to have them both for professional purposes only but I’ve found over the last year that the line between professional and personal has blurred.  Pam the lecturer is not a different person from Pam the wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

We also looked at peoples profile pictures and what they say about you.  This is something I’ve grappled with as my profile picture is the poppies above.  I didn’t feel comfortable putting up a photo when I set up my Twitter account so I picked poppies – there’s nothing significant about the poppies, they are just a flower I happen to like.  I’ve had a few conversations about whether to come out from behind the poppies, most recently this week when Sharon Flynn wrote a blog post about coming out of hiding

I’ve come to the realisation that I like my poppies and I’m happy to hide behind them.  Truth be told, I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert, although that is changing through my use of social media, and I’m OK with not having a photo of me as my profile picture.  That may change in the future but for now poppies it is!

The session after lunch was facilitated by Nick and was a hands on workshop focussed around creating an online digital tool kit.  We looked at Google+, the practicalities of getting started with it and how it could be used for education.   We also looked at Facebook Groups for Schools and how useful this might be to connect with students when it is made available.   One of the most interesting areas for discussion in this session were the barriers to social media use in education.  In my haste to tweet I incorrectly referred to the barriers to using tech rather that the barriers to using social media.  It was that kind of a day 🙂

This led us into a conversation about digital literacy …

As you can see from the length of this post, the workshops have given me plenty of food for thought.  Thank you to Nick and Abhay for leading us through such a thought provoking day.

I’ve selected some of the tweets from the day above but you can check out the full archive at


2 responses to “Social Learning

  1. Pingback: Social Learning through Conversations in Social Media « A Bloggin' Education

  2. Pingback: Social Media in Education | Pam O'Brien's blog

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