First thing is first, I want to thank @IdeaBlendEDU for answering my tweet with a topic for me to talk about:
I'll be honest, I flipped the question in my head, and then inspiration kicked-in. I have thoughts that specifically answer this question and will post those ideas in the near future.
In the world of professional development, we have grown custom to a few methods of having information shared with us. As IdeasBlendEDU points out, there are webinars. To me, a webinar is essentially watching someone give a presentation online. Add the difficulties of being able to ask questions and trying to learn from these seems more and more daunting of a task. Going even more traditional, there are conferences. Conferences are fun (I am helping plan one), but for many it becomes an excuse to go to a cool destination and see "the best" that is offered in the world of (fill in the blank profession). Where does the learning come from these methods?
Is there a way for a group of people to learn a new ability that they can take back to their office? Is there a way "out of the ordinary" to build a new skill within your office that isn't as boring as a webinar or as costly as attending a conference?
My short answer is simple and we have done it since we were kids:
Let us Play
To set the parameters of this post, I am strictly talking technologies, mainly mainly software. Further, I am going to talk about the FREE programs that may already be around in the office or can easily accessible via online. I say this because there are plenty of things that we may already know (Microsoft Office, Prezi, Emailing, etc.), but do we really know them?
And I know, why should I let you play on our time and dollar? Even if nothing comes from the adventure, you at least have created an environment where it is okay to take a risk. You create an environment where innovation and creativity, two huge qualities often lost in the workplace, to exist that may transcend into other work. Worst thing that can happen when you let us play is we find out what not to do, with is a success in and of itself.
Fine, you still are not with me on this whole "playing" idea. You want something with a little bit more structure. Well you could look within your office to teach something that still feels like a webinar in person. You may want to bring someone like me in for "professional development," but I can tell you that if you pick me, we are still going to play.
I have recently had the privilege of teaching Prezi to a few classes. The presentation was simple: Show the basic tools and let the class play. I worked with the instructor to get the class to have Prezi accounts if they had not already. I had a very brief (5 min) Prezi made to talk about presenting, then we spent no more than 10 minutes looking at the different tools. The remainder of the time spent with the class was them playing to build their first Prezi on whatever topic they wanted. Some got started on their class assignment, and others built a Prezi about their favorite things.
Now I could have dove deep and did all of this in front of them, but instead I chose to let them play. The end result, a much deeper understanding and a high level of engagement.
Imagine if your office spent an hour at your weekly staff meeting diving into PowerPoint or Excel to find all the tricks. Play with a software that only one person in the office knows or set up a challenge to see who can take your brochure and make an engaging PowerPoint. Give everyone the same advantage and give everyone the ability to Google for a tutorial or an answer.
It is no longer simply playing, it is learning.
How else may you learn something new? Comment, share your thoughts, and Thanks for reading!
Let me start off by saying that these are just my opinions. Regardless of your age, I think we have all gotten a little relaxed in how we communicate with people. Now, I may seem a little bit "old school," to some of the younger generation (Okay, I am not that old), but it is essential to be able to communicate to another individual properly. This can be applied to emailing an advisor, an employer, a professor, or even a complete stranger.
Here are a few things that come to mind:
1.) Starting and Ending and Email
"Hey" "Sup" and nothing are all not the best ways to start an email off. It may be to a friend or your family, but if you mean business, this intro does not scream business. "Dear (Mr. or Ms., Dr. if you know they have it.)" is not old-fashioned. It is very much an appropriate way to start your messages. When finishing, a simple "Thanks" "Best" "Sincerely" works great too. Most importantly "sign" the bottom of your email. Let the person know who you are. Yes your email may be firstname.lastname@example.org, but it is no excuse to be impolite.
2.) Reply vs. Reply-All
In short...never (almost ever) Reply-All. Send the message to the person who sent it to you. And you wonder why a lot of us struggle with "Inbox Zero." I do get having conversations with group members or committee members, so that would be my one exception.
3.) Use the BCC:
What to send a message to an outsider but keep your supervisor in the loop? Sending a message to a group of student leaders about an upcoming meeting? The BCC: is your best friend. It inherently does not mean that you are trying to share secret messages. It just may mean you are protecting yourself or the protecting information of others from someone.
4.) Urgent? Really?
I enjoy the feature just as much as the next person, but using the "urgent" or "high priority" just so the person on the other end will notice it is not cool. Students (and I call out students because I am guilty of this too): just because you waited until the last minute to do your work does not mean you have to bombard another person's inbox with these "Urgent" messages. It is only urgent to you. If you send everything with an urgent tag, how can we tell when it is truly urgent?
5.) Mobile Device Signatures
Now this isn't really a bad thing, but more of a conversation starter. How many of us know that the iPad and iPhone have an defaulted email signature that says, "Sent from my ______"? Follow-up question, how many seriously use it? Me personally, I have changed it to match my email account because I really do not want to let you know that I answered via my mobile device. I do not want you to assume that I am free if I am on my iPhone or iPad. That being said, do some of you use this to your advantage positively? Comment below!
Now, I think we can all agree that these are probably the biggest "issues" with emailing. I know, we are so used to the technology and are comfortable behind a screen, but you do not want to be that candidate that did not get an interview, or that student that gives faculty and staff a hard time. Heck, sometimes people respond quicker to those that took the simple measures of looking nice and showing they mean business in their email.
It is a simple list. What would you add? Thanks for reading!
A week ago, Ed Cabellon wrote a post on creating a budget for the technologies you would use as a Student Affairs Professional. One of the last items he mentions is software. This got me to thinking! What does everyone else like to use. Being a graduate student and a graduate assistant, I don't have a budget to even consider. I need to utilize things that are free and readily accessible. I also have an Ipad, so the apps I have need to be just as important and compatible with the computer (PC desktop) so that I may be the most productive.
Then, as a joke because I am the tech person in the office, I received a tweet to a website listing the top 50 apps to have, with the comment, "I wonder how many you have." I happened to have 19 and downloaded another 3 or 4, but that is besides the point.
So I introduce, as a conversation starter, my favorite apps that I use as a student and as a professional. No I am not going to list 50 apps, but I can give you 5. All of these are both web based and application based. I also am a part of Team Apple, so I imagine these to be for Droid, but I don't check these things.
1.) Google - Chrome and Drive
I know, Josh you have an iPad, why Google product, because it is outstanding. I can easily access my drive, which I can create docs to take notes, and collect them easily on my desktop at home. With the most recent update to Chrome, I have the ability to "print" websites to PDF and drop them into my Google Drive. No more need to try and bookmark my research, just print and fetch it later. These two are a huge time saver and great for productivity as a student.
Okay, Google Drive is my place for work, but many of my courses have course reserves with lots of PDF resources, and I can't have two open documents in the Google Drive App. However, I can save all those PDFs to my Dropbox and do a four finger swipe to alternate between Google Drive and Dropbox. I also house final copies of my assignments for the semester in my Dropbox. Google Drive does a lot of things, but I still find the need to polish it with Word.
My favorite "To-Do" style list. This is actually on my phone (IPhone), but none the less, a fantastic app. Have the phone/tablet upright, have a To-Do list with a quick audio add, or type in what you need. Tilt on its side, have a scheduler to put information out there in advance. Forget to get something done, it automatically rolls over to the next day. Like the sense of accomplishment of crossing something off, it has a counter of things you have accomplished. Back it up with a Chrome extension, and I can easily add and drop things from my "To-Do" list from wherever I am.
For someone on the go and not a whole lot of time at home at the desktop, Skype for Ipad is awesome. I have worked on projects with group members, participated in staff meetings, and so much more, all remotely.
5.) Nimble Quest
Yup, a game. A FREE game. It is all about work-life balance. This is a great break. Imagine the game "snake." Now instead of a snake, you have a hero out of the Final Fantasy Series. Now you go around the map like snake, but fight to earn gems and additional heroes. Best part, it looks like a 16-bit game. The gems allow you to purchase power-ups and other accessories.
What are your go to apps? Comment below! Thanks for reading!
This is the most recent in the series of "Welcome to the Social Media Revolution" videos. Each year, a new update of stats and figures, but there is something constant through all of them. Social Media is not going anywhere.
In fact, it keeps growing.
If it not going away, "Is it too late to join?" That has been a constant question that is asked of me by many of my peers. The more common question is, "Why do I need to care about this?"
I work in a field that engages college students in a wide variety of arenas, all for the common purpose of assisting in their identity development and successes through college and onto life. The main reason I do what I do is because nothing gives me more happiness than to see another individual be ignited with a fire to do something with their life. I too have had the fire ignited, and even reignited. A few years ago, I was introduced to not only Twitter, but an exceptional reason for using Twitter. Ever since then, I have continually been inspired by the work of @EricStoller, @EdCabellon, @JoeSabado @Kristendom, @LauraPasquini, and so many others of my twitter network that are doing continual work to bring in and master the use of technology (which is more than just social media) into the area of Higher Education.
So here I am, what is it that I do?
I continue to work with students to assist in creating a fire inside them. Part of it includes creating those avenues to reach out to me. Another part is I also work to share this understanding with other professionals that technology is not meant to create more barriers, but to open up and remove barriers. It is meant to unlock new resources and ways of connecting to others. To create a identity that would have otherwise been shared with only those you had the privilege to meet in person. To gain access to resources that you would have otherwise found by locating the local library. To meet people that you otherwise would not have known existed in the world. Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication are at an all time high with the development of these technologies. Why hold that back from a generation that is quite possibly the most expressive and creative?
What is stopping you from using these tools? Why is technology being misunderstood? How do we create more of this necessary change?
Do you want to join the conversation? Do you want at least an avenue for resources to help you become engaged with technology? Follow anyone above, and also follow the hashtag: #satech
Finally, feel free to contact me! Thank you for reading!!
Photo Credit: Hubspot
This funny flowchart from HubSpot shares a rather stereotypical description of the users of Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. With all kidding aside, it does raise the question:
How do you use social media?
With each site, it is important to identify why you are using it. It gives you purpose, and it also gives you a reason or goal. This is exceptionally true as you are developing your online identity. It also helps you develop some boundaries with students or coworkers that may want to connect with you.
What do you do with the different sites?
Personally, even I struggle with this sometimes. I don't necessarily struggle with the boundaries, mostly because I developed those fairly quickly. My Facebook is my friends and family. If a student wants to connect with me, I will direct them to a different avenue to connect with me. It isn't that I am trying to hide something, but rather, I want to have a boundary to the access to me. Twitter is an open network, and as such, anyone can follow me. LinkedIn is also open for connections, but I have a simple ground rule. Because part of the idea of LinkedIn is to connect others, I only request that you complete your profile so that I have something to talk about when I introduce people to you.
The part I struggle with still to this day is the regularity of sharing content on these different sites. LinkedIn and Google + seem to get the less of my attention, and I am working to improve that. I don't have a need for a YouTube channel, and I only use Pinterest as a recipe box.
What tip do you have for someone using these sites?
My tip comes from a slideshow or site that I stumbled upon a couple years ago, and quite frankly I wouldn't know where to begin to try and give credit, so I am going to thank the internet for connecting us. The tip is very simple:
When on these social media sites, live personally professional!
The basic idea behind this mentality is don't stop being you. What is even worst is don't try and hide you. Though you think you have the privatest of settings, it is still the internet, a public domain. I mention this in my post about Social Media being like a cafeteria. The idea is to be you and assume that EVERYONE is able to see it. What do you want them to say.
Overall, I highly encourage someone you follow and connect with HubSpot! They have a great amount of information. I also encourage you to comment below with your questions or connect with me! Thank you for reading!!