Social Media Map

My take on a social media strategy for academics!  Or, at least, this is how I’ve used Twitter as my main channel of communication, to aggregate stuff from elsewhere into Twitter automatically, and to send it all out again to other networks.

Over the past few years I’ve found Twitter to be the most versatile and useful social media tool for professional use.  I can make quick and easy comments on “what’s happening”, put in hyperlinks or images, reply and re-tweet, categorise use hashtags etc, etc.  It’s main benefit is probably the 14o characters – this helps me to be concise as short means quick (usually) and there are fewer unfinished drafts hanging about in the ether.

As an academic, I use all of these tools in a professional sense, so I’m content to allow each one to interface with another and share content around.  However, the map illustrated above comes partly serendipitous and partly planned that way.

The people whom I follow, and by and large those who follow me, on Twitter are professional, work-related or interested in some way, shape or form in law, legal education, technology and the like.  I keep in mind what I think these followers would be interested in when I compose a tweet, but as my account is not locked down, the entire stream is open and publicly viewable.  In fact, by using tags and re-tweeting, there is a wider unknown audience who may pick up on some tweets in this way.

Twitterfeed is a great tool for taking RSS content and automatically generating a tweet whenever new content is made available.  I’ve used the service sparingly, and only for trusted sources (either my own self-controlled source or a seriously trustworthy third party) to save me from writing tweets, and to auto-tweet when I’m not really around to do so!

The Slideshare and SSRN sources are my own powerpoint presentations and published papers, so they don’t cause a major content overload.  My favourites from YouTube and Google Reader depend wholly on how often I use the ‘star’ function for each one, so there does need to be some care to avoid a Twitter overload.

The final automated twitterfeed item consists of news items from an organisation I work for, so I know by and large what to expect with their news items and have faith that their news will a) be reliable, and b) be of interest to my followers on twitter.  Experience has confirmed this belief, thankfully!

Content that does not come through twitterfeed includes this blog and a blog I run for another organisation and I will add occasional location-based comments using Foursquare that post directly to twitter, as most social networking tools can.

As I’m happy using twitter as my primary method of communicating, I tend not to use other networks on a regular basis – other than to update the profile once in a while.  Although, I do wish to maintain a presence on these other sites, and will occasionally make more or less use of them, depending on my needs and preferences.

Linking Twitter to these accounts in the opposite direction, to send tweets outwards into these other networks allows me to have some presence without having to create content.

LinkedIn started as, and so remains, a network of professional associations.  I find their weekly digests (emailed to me) to be extremely useful as an overview of what’s been happening with my connections.  Yes, there will be overlap with those who are on twitter, but not everyone is, and also I’ve found twitter to be largely dependent on ‘here and now’, whereas LinkedIn gives me a brief and informative summing up of the recent past.

And finally, Facebook.  Again, a largely professional network but with a wider net capturing a few friends, colleagues, ex-students  (never current students, it’s enough to see what they do post-graduation) and the like.  Also, Facebook is a better environment for posting or sharing work-related content (images of slides, presenters, delegates at conferences or events perhaps) that are of less value to a wider audience (eg Twitter) and are maybe more appropriately restricted to friends and friends-of-friends, or groups and associations etc.

As I said at the start, this is my take on social media, and it works well for me.  Mapping it out helped slightly to ensure that there were no endless loops where content could be re-tweeted in a never ending cycle, and to see that I was using what I think are appropriate tools in an appropriate way.

So, If you’re reading this, give some consideration as to whether you’ve come here by way of my:

1 – Blog
2 – Twitter
3 – LinkedIn
4 – Facebook

QR Codes in Education

I’ve been playing with QR codes for a while, certainly since owning an iPhone, and thinking about how they can be used in education.  This week, a tweet from @hopkinsdavid and an accompanied blog post reminded me to re-visit these odd two-dimensional barcodes in time for teaching in September.

I had previously been using the keremerkan.net code generator, and Qrafter to scan QR Codes on the old iPhone.  Worked well for me.  However, the poster from Hopkins and Bobeva brought a new service to my attention – snap.vu – little difference, other than the addition of a short url below the image, and to go with that, the ability to track usage.

Bingo, now I can check to see if the effort involved in decorating module handbooks (minimal effort to be honest, and gives a bit of artistic ‘edginess’ to the printed pages) is worth doing, in terms of student use.  The one given above will take you… well I’m not telling, go find out!  For those who are curious and lacking in smart phone capacity there is the short-url, handy for making sure students aren’t disadvantaged in any way.  The trouble is, how do I know whether you’ve zapped it, or typed the url…?!

Next challenge – what’s worth translating into QR?

To be honest, with so much material being made available online, is there little benefit to this little mozaic that can’t be gotten from the good old-fashioned hyperlink?

A working paper from Ramsden, A., 2008. The use of QR codes in Education: A getting started guide for academics published as part of scoping study funded by JISC gives me some direction.  Firstly, the type of QR code, which I already knew (Hyperlink, Contact details, Telephone Number, Send SMS).  Secondly, a few ideas as to how to use them in practice.  I’ll elaborate on these ideas, and give some examples.

Contact details

I’m skeptical about giving students too many contact details for their mobile devices – least they contact me immediately once an issue arises that could satisfctorily be resolved with a little reading or research.

My name, email address and office phone are all given within the handbook, and all too-often students belate me that I wasn’t in my office when the passed the other day… so this one will go in the handbook and adorn the office door!

Events / Reminders

This came about as I was thinking ‘what should I put in the handbook that wouldn’t normally be available on the VLE?’, which has now changed to ‘what would anyone want on their mobile, rather than desktop?’ which stems from the idea of placing contact details on the office door.  I’ve created several, but had to revert to my original generator, keremerkan.net,as my new friend snap.vu doesn’t deal with vCalendar events.  This isn’t so much of a problem, as my only desire to use snap.vu is based upon the short url which I could generate myself but would be rather pointless for an electronic calendar event wouldn’t it?!

Reading lists

My other potential use for mobile phones relates to books – either copies in the library, or ones to buy from Amazon.  Either way, I think that there is benefit to be gained fromcutting out the middle step – ie the library catelogue search engine or searching for the book by title/author etc.  The list can also be maintained and updated without the need for any changes to the code or to the printed material that is supplied.  Just to jazz things up a little, I’ve been pasting the QR code onto various logos etc as a transparent layer – seems to work okay, so long as there is a good level of contrast between the black code and whatever’s shown below.

Locations / Events

Finally, by using Google Maps or geographic co-ordinates, there is the option to give directions should an event be taking place somewhere out of the ordinary.  Useful for field trips and other off-campus events.

New Consultation on Twitter in Courtrooms

BILETA has been coordinating responses to consultations of law, technology and IT with the assistance of the SCRIPT centre at the University of Edinburgh (big-up to our newest exec member, Abbe Brown, for rejuvenating this!).

Recently, the Judicial Office for England and Wales has issued a consultation paper on the use of live, text-based communications from court for the purposes of fair and accurate reporting.

The consultation follows the publication of the Lord Chief Justice’s Interim Practice Guidance on live, text-based communications from court on 20 December 2010.

The consultation opens on 7 February 2011 and closes on 4 May 2011.

I’ll be assisting with collating opinions and putting together a response on behalf of BILETA,  so please get in touch if you have any comments!  There are six consultation questions, taken from this document, which are:

  1. Is there a legitimate demand for live, text‐based communications to be used from the courtroom?
  2. Under what circumstances should live, text‐based communications be permitted from the courtroom?
  3. Are there any other risks which derive from the use of live, text‐based
    communications from court?
  4. How should the courts approach with the different risks to proceedings posed by different platforms for live, text‐based communications from court?
  5. How should permitting the use of live, text‐based communications from court be reconciled with the prohibition against the use of mobile telephones in court?
  6. Should the use of live, text‐based communications from court be principally for the use of the media? How should the media be defined? Should persons other than the accredited media be permitted to engage in live, text‐based communications from court?