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

Last month I attended a digital summit. As soon as you walked in you saw on the tables a clicker.  During the PowerPoint presentation of the keynote speaker, the audience was encouraged to use a clicker to vote or answer his questions.  I have also been watching on TwitterFall several conferences that people are tweeting all day during the conferences, and it gives you the feeling like you are there, virtually.  Also, with the latest release of FireFox 3.5, it seemed like within an hour of being released over 1 million downloads had occurred.  Between clickers, tweets, and open-source software, we give end users (or audience) the ability to have a choice.  Is that supposed to be the greatest thing about America? We are free to have a choice and have your voice heard, whether virtually or not.

Times have changed so drastically over the past 5 to 10 years, as I did not grow up with a computer, nor a television.  Web 2.0/3.0 technologies have opened up a world of more choice, engaging the end-user and more on the go applications. Although I’m not sure if that is good or bad, however, we don’t want to give up the freedom to go outside and enjoy the nature around us.

While you are deciding to get involved in social media, be sure do some research before hand. Research is important to know the audience, the demographics and to match the right tool with your purpose. There have already been some research studies and statistics generated for certain social media tools reaching different age groups. For starters check out: Pew Internet & American Life Project, Collection Gov’t links on Delicious for social media, Quantcast, and the list goes on and on. You get the point.

Keep informed about legal issues. Always check with your legal office, as I cannot give you legal advice. For starters check out:  Media case lawsuits – Bloggers, Legal guide for bloggers, for government – check your state attorney general’s office for any legal opinions.  Point is to stay informed.

And last..but not least….don’t forget about accessibility. Accessibility is not only making sure anyone can access, it is also making sure that people with disabilities can access your social media content. Some tools are accessible and some are not. WebAim has a lot of good content and training resources to help you make sure your content is accessible.

GoinWalkin

Do you ever feel like you are in a tug of war with life? Today was a very frustrating day, as I realized the distinct feeling that I was caught in the middle of two office directors. Turf wars of media vs. technology. With social media expanding the capabilities of how companies or government agencies provide their message out there, there is a piece that bridges both the social media and technology. Technology provides the infrastructure and social media provides the content.  We used to call it New Communications Technology. When content sits on top of the technology and they are both served up in a webpage or others, such as Twitter, YouTube and blogging, you then get an intermingled mix of them being intertwined as one entity. For the customer, it does not matter the backend infrastructure, they just want their content up and running at fast lightening speed. Most importantly, media and technology need to collaborate together to provide the best possible experience to the customer. So my learning bullet for today, was to step back and take a moment to reflect and remember that sometimes turf wars are not about me. I still have a lot to learn as a social media advocate to provide leadership with a influence, innovation and motivation.

Twitter is totally AWESOME! Yesterday I was able to watch conversations as I was following two conferences that I could not physically attend.  #govwebcon and #TE2 via Twitterfall.com.  Today I demoed it to a co-worker while I was helping her with her Facebook page.  So if you get a chance visit her new facebook group for Chinsegut Nature Center.

Now that I have been an innovator advocate for social media in government, it is truly encouraging to see the WhiteHouse on twitter now. I think it will give a true leadership example to other government agencies.  I’m also glad to see that they are following other government agencies. I feel that we should support each others efforts by following other government agency — State and Local too.

So a while back I had an invite to Facebook, so of course I clicked on the link and was “sucked” in immediately. Then a few months ago I signed up for a Twitter account. At first I was like…I feel like a “twit”. What do I have to say? Why would people want to follow me? (I’m still asking myself that question). I am now getting more diversed in using social media tools, and really see how they can benefit you professionally.  For me, I pretty much use Facebook for my “personal” stuff and “friends”. Twitter has become more of a work tool as I follow several software companies and enthusiasts. I have learned many things, that I don’t think I would otherwise have seeked out. So I do see the benefits. If you are not participating in social media/networking…you should at least professionally.