The Importance of the Social Web
It is probably true to say that the increasing importance of the Social Web in supporting institutional activities was not expected within many educational institutions. But we now know that social networking environments, such as blogs, micro-blogging services such as Twitter and social networking services such as Facebook do have a role to play in supporting institutional activities such as student recruitment, marketing, supporting teaching and learning (including informal learning activities), supporting research and, of particular relevance to IWMW 2010 participants, supporting communities of practice.
Suraj Kika, CEO of Jadu (one of the IWMW 2010 sponsors) will give a talk on Social Networking – The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media and the Implications for HEI Web Masters. The talk will be based on a report of a survey of the UK HE institutional Web Management community which was carried out by Jadu, with the support of UKOLN.
The report, which has been summarised on the UK Web Focus blog, is based on sixty responses which were received from 44 HEIs across the UK (36 in England, 3 in Wales and 6 in Scotland). The responses wcame from people working in Web management, marketing, media and communications, learning and development, business, libraries and IT management and services. From these responses we learnt that the two most frequently used external social networking tools are Twitter (68.3%), YouTube (60.7%) followed by social networking tools such as Facebook and MySpace (57.49%). 47.3% of respondents intend to adopt Twitter over the next two years; 41.8% intend to YouTube and 41.1% social networking tools such as Facebook and MySpace.
The report identified the following major issues which the community is seeking to address:
- The challenge of developing a business case for social media.
- How should a strategy for social media be developed – top down, bottom up (user driven) or collaboration?
- Control – can unrestricted use of social media continue given privacy, data protection, intellectual property and brand protection issues?
A number of 90 minute long workshop sessions will be seeking to address some of the challenges identified in the Jadu report. These include:
- ‘Follow us on Twitter’…’Join our Facebook group’ which recognises that while use of social media tools is now recognised as an important medium to communicate with our audience, many institutions are still in the dark as to how best to use these tools to support recruitment, build brand and reputation, and facilitate better internal communications. The session will explore how institutions should approach the use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, and participants will have the opportunity to develop guidelines on using social media for their areas of work. There will also be opportunity to discuss how best to respond to negative comments and how to deal with awkward postings.
- “Sheffield Made Us – using social media to engage students in the university brand” which is based on a case study which describes how between April and October 2009, the University of Sheffield ran a competition encouraging students to upload videos to Youtube with the incentive of a £3000 prize with the aim of getting the students to express in their own words what they thought of the University, and how Sheffield had made them. The films that will be displayed sound intriguing as they “range from those that are moving to those that are funny, and some that are downright bizarre“!
- A session on “WordPress beyond Blogging” provides a more technical focus, with an introduction to managing a large multi-site WordPress installation and providing real-world examples that demonstrate the versatility of WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS). In the session participants will be asked to think ‘beyond blogging’ and consider WordPress as a popular, low-cost, cutting-edge technology platform serving the needs of research, teaching and learning and institutional Web managers.
- The session on “Engagement, Impact, Value: Measuring and Maximising Impact Using the Social Web” acknowledges that the Social Web is now widely accepted as having an important role to play in supporting institutional activities with many (if not all) universities now having a presence on Social Web services such as Facebook and Twitter and services such as iTunes and YouTube becoming used to provide delivery channels for institutional content. It is therefore timely to identify emerging best practices in use of such services. This session will review institutional approaches to use of the Social Web services. Participants will explore the reasons for using such services and also discuss possible concerns and dangers in such usage. The session will also explore ways in which usage of such services can be measured in order to provide evidence of their effectiveness.
The first two of these sessions will take place on Monday 12 July with the other two sessions taking place the following day, therefore allowing participants with a particular interest in the Social Web to be able to attend two workshop sessions in this area.