Everyone has a story…although mine is probably too long to put in a short post. Tonight was very emotional for me. It is unlike me to actually sit and write about it.  The night started off as normal as excepted. I stopped by the store, picked up a few things, went home and we decided to go to local pizza place to have some pizza. We are sitting there having a normal conversation, we made our order, the pizza come and we are eating. A lady comes in with two small children. They looked happy and made their order. A few minutes after they sat down, I heard the lady on the phone, she was calling what sounded like a friend or family member for help. She described a series of things that had happened in the past two to three weeks to her.  I gathered up cash from others at my table, although they did not understand why I wanted their cash. Then two other ladies came in. The ladies were there to take her children away.  Before I knew it, I was crying. The others at the table knew why I gathered up the money. The ladies left with the children. The mother was sitting there crying.  We got up to leave by then, I handed her the money I collected and said “hope this helps a little.”

I don’t know all circumstances to what had happened. I know there were times when people helped me when I needed it.

Hours later I still don’t know if I feel that I really helped and still upset over a mother loosing her children. But I hope what was collected, helped in some small way.  Everyone has a story.

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One of the many things I do love about my job is the flexibility to work remotely. There are occasions when I work from a coffee shop.  Why? Is the ambiance? Is it all the interesting people you see and hear? Can I really serve people via my laptop from a coffee shop? Certainly. I’m sure I am not the only one out there that does.

I do find that when I sit in the office from 9-4:30 my creative juices do not always flow. I get most of my inspiration when I am in an environment less stifling.

In the past few years, many government offices have struggled with office space lease issues and the rising cost of letting employees have offices. Having cubicles in some situations provides a cost savings. However, in a cubicle, you sometimes have less productivity, as you hear everything around you and it can be distracting (that is where the earbuds come in handy). There are also the phone calls, whether personal or business, then you end up with cubie conversations through the walls. I’m not saying that all cubicle offices present the same observations, many government agencies that do have cubicles also have a very controlled environment for quietness. Additionally, in situations, where you do have cubicles or shared offices, you end up with a very small working space. I have now started seeing three people in one office, with just about a coffee shop size desk. Really all you need is a laptop (with security of course), phone, and your office in your briefcase or backpack these days.

Moreover, trust plays a key factor in being able to telecommute as some employees can work very independently and some cannot. There are many articles on the web that you can search for effective telecommuting and your specific government guidelines or policies.

Relating this back to social media and how part of social media/networking is having a “conversations” with others. When you go to a coffee shop, part of the ambiance is to have “conversations” with other people. Respect their thoughts and opinions and hearing their stories is all part of being at a coffee shop. So you might be asking, how can someone be productive with all the talking around you, well..in my opinion it is no different than someone standing in your office space talking to you.

Last food for thought – Have you thought about what your office/agency would do in the event of a disaster and how you would carry on services to citizens?

So why not, buy a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the ambiance of the coffee shop, support your local businesses and let the creative juices flow.

I have been a social media/networking advocate for the past year. I have really enjoyed seeing all the ways government has opened up and embraced using social M/N tools to enhance their communications with their constituents. However, many governments are still in the beginning stages of figuring out how to use the tools, create a strategy and how to deal with providing two-way conversation. As I have been out and about doing lectures, webinars, conference speaking and meetings with different managers regarding social M/N, I hear common concerns throughout the conversations. What about public records and how do we manage either requests, and providing the information and achieving?

Well, it is really no different than we have been doing for years. Some of you may have been with government when it first started using E-Mail. People were scared to use it at first. It took a while for all employees to embrace and use as a business tool. Then came the how do we archive and provide public records? Needless to say, we (government) found ways to take care of that. It may not have been right when e-mail was implemented, but eventually we got there.

Now that technology has progressed we are at that cross road again. How do we archive and provide public records for social M/N? Slowly, but surely, it is coming.

One question I am asked a lot is, “so if there are ways to archive, where do we find this information?” So I have provided a list of a few tools that might be helpful. I have tested each one of these and all work very well. I have provided different options, because we all know that the government blocks websites and many agencies do not allow employees to download and install software. If you choose to use any of these, it might be helpful to include the process in your procedures.

Twitter:

TWInbox – Outlook plug-in that works directly within Outlook. By creating folders you can keep a copy of tweets sent and received. This plug-in is free. (You will need install rights to install the plug-in). See demonstration.

TweeTake– offers options for archiving. This is free. (Comment: I have heard many people say they like this option. No software download and can bring the zip file into a spreadsheet program.) See demonstration.

Please note that these are 3rd party tools that require you to put in the Twitter username and password. You may want to change your Twitter password frequently using a strong password.

Facebook:

SocialSafe – Facebook backup – This plug-in is cost $2.99. It will archive the main profile and things associated, not fan pages. (You will need install rights to install on your computer).

Firefox Plugin– Free. Creates a “zip” file. It will archive the main profile and things associated, not fan pages. (You will need install rights to install the plug-in).

Updated – 6/01/2010 – PageFreezer – creates a digital snapshots on a schedule that you set. This service charges a monthly fee.

Wayback Machine – Much like PageFreezer, this also creates digital snapshots.

Please note that these are 3rd party tools. You may want to change your password frequently using a strong password. Keep in mind with 3rd party tools and services, that you have no control as to when those sites are functioning or not.

There are many PDF tools available, where you can open your page and create a PDF by doing a Print to PDF option. A free PDF maker I use is PDFCreator. Here are a couple more that are also free PDF995 | PrimoPDF (You will need install rights to install the plug-in). (Comment: I do not usually use this method, because it seems like with Facebook pages never really PDF right.)

There are probably many more tools out there. This is just to get you started.

I am also including this link, as an example of Washington Secretary of State’s advice and resources for electronic records.

Resource for Government’s in Florida – Social Media iToolKit

*Disclaimer: I have worked for government for nearly 20 years; however I am not a public records expert. Please contact your records management or legal office for specific information about your retention schedules and laws.

Hope this is helpful to get you started. Feel free to add what tools or procedures you use to archive your Twitter, Facebook or other Social M/N sites.

Today I participated in my first International online class for using Moodle. What a neat experience. The teacher and facilitators of the class used a live software tool to make the course interactive.  Not only where the students from all over the world, the teachers were too.   The main teacher was broadcasting live from Israel and another from Mexico. Many participants were K-12 teachers, professors, graduate students, administrators and IT specialists. I have been monitoring the Flat Classroom project, where high schools kids connect with kids in China, via live sessions like this; however, I have not really experienced many international sessions like this myself in a synchronous environment. Most of the classes in the past that I have taken have mainly been asynchronous.

Even at this day and age, the main focus for online learning is in the area of pedagogy, not andragogy. The mix between the two are very important to me, as I have been teaching Senior Citizens and other adults. Teaching adults has always been at the heart of what I wanted to do in life. Over the last year I have become heavily involved in social media/networking strategies and projects with my current employer and how these tools can be used in various aspects of e-learning. I’m not by far the most acclaimed expert in e-learning; however, I do know that using different methods is essential in teaching in a synchronous/asynchronous environment.  Additionally, how adult learners can use social networking in their learning processes. How can using the social networking (or Web 2.0/3.0) be integrated into the motivation and learning strategies for adults?  How can we use these social networking tools to break down the digital divide that still exists? How can we use the social networking tools to further the informal learning processes for adults? As the use of social media/networking tools continues to be adapted world-wide, there will be many choices now and in the future for providing many ways for e-learning to occur.

I think back to when I was young and how I would visit my grandparents on Saturday’s. Not only did we watch the Lawrence Welk show, we listened to the Beach Boys on an 8-Track. Not long after that came cassette tapes, then CD with CD Players, now music players the size of your thumb or less. The adaptation for listening to music to what it is now, has happened over a 40-60 year span. The last 5-10 years e-learning has become much more popular, thus, still has a long way to go.

“Since we live in an age of innovation, a practical education must prepare a man for work that does not yet exist and cannot yet be clearly defined.” ~Peter F. Drucker

A personal note: I have learned so much from using social networking tools from so many experts. If these software tools had never come to be, I would still be in my own little silo.


You are welcome to comment; however, all opinions and comments written in the post are solely my opinions.

 

This is somewhat of a social media success story. On August 13, 2009 I posted up a document on Scribd. Scribd is a free social media document sharing site. The document in my mind was considered draft since I was still working on it. I really only uploaded so I could access it via mobile.  The document: Computer Basics for Seniors. I was using this for teaching materials for classes I have been teaching. Yes, I created on my own personal time and computer. Two days after I posted the document it was picked up by Scribd and on the feature list, which is the list you see of recommendations after you login.  Four days, after the initial posting, the document was on the Hit list. The hit list is a direct document under the category. All of this was totally unexpected. As of September 16, this document has had 2, 619 reads, 1,378 downloads. My account currently has over 2,800 people wanting to subscribe to my area for future documents. Needless to say, I don’t really have time to approve all 2,800+ subscribers. Screens and screens of clicks. During all of this the document was also Tweeted and Re-tweeted several times, by others (not me, since I only considered it draft). The document has become viral as those 1300+ people have shared it and then others have shared and so on.  In the past I have posted documents to my personal website and never received this much exposure.

My point is that unexpectedly your agency can become a social media success practically overnight. Social Media sites can help with getting the exposure your information needs. The information becomes viral. Additionally, be sure something is “final” unless you intend to post a “draft” as everything online is public and permanent, so don’t post drafts you’re not willing to have others see.  🙂

I was recently e-conversing with a colleague on using social networking (SN) tools during a pandemic. How would you get information out? How would citizens know that it is valid information? There is deep concern about security, spoofing and false information on SN sites. I thought about this for a long time and really came up with the conclusion that I don’t think there is a clear answer, nor am I an expert. I can certainly give you my opinion.

If a pandemic were to occur, there more than likely should be many avenues that the information is pushed out.

As I have been teaching computer basics classes to Senior Citizens, the awareness that not everyone has a computer and could not depend on that for information dissemination, is a vast reality. Many Seniors depend on computers at the library or community centers, as other do too.  We cannot expect them to go buy a computer just to receive information. I have some students that have never used a mouse or keyboard. Mousing and keyboard are the hardest for them to learn, especially when your arthritis is acting up.

So this goes back to how to get information out, as elderly are more prone to catch the flu, they would not be interested in going out to a community center in risk of catching the flu.  So it’s back to the TV, radio and phone. Have information on the TV right after the Price Is Right! Or maybe twitter via WebTV.

The digital divide still exists even though the window is slowing closing. Senior Citizens are just a part of the population.

One of the issues employers might have to address is that some positions that normally wouldn’t be able to work at home, would have to be allowed to. Does that put a burden on the employer to have to supply computers and internet access for all employees that have to stay home. What about positions that share equipment? Some jobs still have restrictions on telecommuting, so would they have to open up their policies to allow more employees to telecommute or work 100% from home. Many employers and government agencies are sticklers for their policies and procedures. However, telecommuting in a pandemic will ultimately fail unless very precise expectations are set early on and the infrastructure is funded.

So the quick answer – go back to the non-electronic way and have multiple ways of dispersing information.

Information on staying safe on social networking sites.

Next month I will be volunteering to teach computer classes to Senior Citizens. Slow, slow and slower will be the theme. I think it will be somewhat fun to do the classes. It is so rewarding to see people faces when they learn something new or when the light bulb finally goes off. In addition, it gives me a rewarding experience to share my knowledge.

I have found some really good resources on the internet for teaching: CAAAELII, City of Seattle, Ken McGrady, Computers for Seniors, and Palm Beach Library
Additionally, here is another series of books that are excellent: In Easy Steps, and Visual Steps