Social Media: What’s all the Fuss?

Today I am starting a monthly series of two-hour sessions on social media organized through Rochester Community and Technical College. I hope the participants will find the series encouraging and empowering as they explore ways they can use social media tools personally and professionally.

Below are the slides from my first presentation, which will introduce many of the important social platforms and also sets the stage for sessions to be held over the next three months. Because I move quickly through the slides, I want to have them available for review here. Many of the slides include links to relevant sites or examples.

If you have questions or comments on any of the material, let’s discuss in the comments below.

Teachers Tweeting for Support and Inspiration

Today’s Washington Post has a nice story about how teachers are using Twitter to connect with each other and get just-in-time training. Here’s an excerpt:

After her first year teaching history in a public high school in the District, Jamie Josephson was exhausted and plagued by self-doubt. Teaching had been more grueling than she ever expected. Law school began to sound appealing.

Then she stumbled onto Twitter. In the vast social network on the Web, she discovered a community of mentors offering inspiration, commiseration and classroom-tested lesson plans.

“Twitter essentially prepared me to go into my second year and not give up,” said Josephson, now in her third year at Woodrow Wilson High in Northwest Washington. “I never would have imagined that it would have been the place to find support.”

Josephson (known to fellow tweeters by her handle, @dontworryteach) is one of a small but growing number of teachers who are delving into the world of hashtags and retweets, using Twitter to improve their craft by reaching beyond the boundaries of their schools to connect with colleagues across the country and around the world.

The story goes on to tell about a now twice-weekly Twitter chat for teachers, #edchat, and the proliferation of chats around various subjects or specialties, including:

Tell teachers you know about these opportunities to get practical help and support through Twitter. And if they need encouragement or training, we’ve got a whole Twitter curriculum here on SMUG, including Twitter 115: 5 Benefits of Twitter Chats.



Examples of Social Media in CME?

I met with a group today interested in seeing how we could use social media tools for Continuing Medical Education (CME), which is now called Continuous Professional Development. Someone asked what is being done at other centers, so as a demo of the power of social media, I said I would use social tools to ask the crowd for some answers and examples.

Please post your examples in the comments below.

Back-to-School Thoughts on Creativity

As I was weeding my RSS feeds this morning (aiming to get down from 250 or so to a more manageable target of 100 that I can regularly peruse), I came across a post in which this excellent video from TED 2006, a quick talk from Sir Ken Robinson, was embedded:

It’s a great talk with lots of thought-provoking elements, and one particular portion reflects exactly what SMUG is all about. He says (in the conclusion of a story that begins at about the 4:15 mark):

Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go…They’re not frightened of being wrong. Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative, but what we do know is if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original…and by the time they get to be adults most kids have lost that capacity.

This is another way of saying what I often say in my presentations, in anticipation of the “I’m too old to understand all this social media stuff! The kids are the ones that get this, because they’re grown up with it!” objection:

You’re kids aren’t smarter than you are. They’re just not afraid to look dumb!

So don’t just take my word for it. Take it from an internationally recognized expert on creativity who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and who has his own entry in Wikipedia (as opposed to a guy who gave himself the “Chancellor” title.)

If you haven’t yet become a SMUGgle, I hope you’ll enroll now. It’s 100 percent free, and it’s your chance to get hands-on experience in social media in a non-threatening environment.

And maybe it will help rekindle some of the creativity that the educational system (and the industrialized workplace) has been driving out of you for decades.

A Year of Being SMUG


For some events it’s really easy to pinpoint a date. The births of all of our six children were quite memorable, for instance. But with the last one, John, his arrival was so rapid — and almost exactly at midnight — that we got to choose his birthday. We didn’t know for sure when he  made his debut, so we picked 12:01 a.m. on November 23, which enabled his mom to get three full days of recuperation in the hospital.

The birth of SMUG was less momentous and more gradual, so it’s a little more complicated to choose an official anniversary date. Though I’ve been blogging since July 30, 2006, it wasn’t until January 24 of last year that I first used the term Social Media University, Global and explained the rationale. The next day I had posts on Tuition and Financial Aid (we don’t have either), and on the 28th bestowed upon myself the title of Chancellor. After setting policies for auditing classes and applying for admission as well as attendance and grading on the 29th, I officially changed the name from Lines from Lee to SMUG on January 30.

And having previously said that I wanted to limit my blog to only things I could do without spending a single penny (just to make a point), I agonized over whether to spend the $19 for domain mapping, so that my URL would be instead or I finally made the switch on February 20, 2008.

People who know me may say my SMUGness goes back long before last year, so picking any of these dates as the official birth of SMUG is somewhat arbitrary. January 25 would be a good choice, as it was the day I started the SMUG group in Facebook, which now has 252 members. But I guess I’m going with January 30, which is the day I went from having SMUG just be a page on my blog to being its complete identity, although the vanity URL came three weeks later.

So on Friday of this week we’ll be celebrating a year of being SMUG. It’s been great fun, and I hope you’ve learned as much as I have. If you have highlights or key observations to share with your fellow SMUGgles, I hope you’ll leave them in the comments below.