If we can separate the “not a serious activity” associations, we may have with the word social networking, perhaps there may be less aversion to this form of learning and information exchange. Yes, LEARNING. The kind which thrives on the diversity of new ideas and perspectives. Authentic learning is not an individual experience and social media networks are becoming a preferred method of communication for “knowledge cannot exist in the mind of one person (and) requires a different approach to creating an overview of the situation” (Siemens, 2005).
“Businesses are already coming to terms with the need to integrate their social media efforts with their content strategy, and are seeing the impact of social media in terms of lead generation, referral traffic, and revenue” (DeMers, 2013).
Linkedin specifically focuses on business and professional development networks and is now a decade old! It is an ideal venue for staying current within your field of expertise. The daily articles, quotations and job postings can be tailored specifically to your professional interests, geographical area. It then directs contacts and career opportunities to your account that match your professional profile. By classifying your first and second tier professional contacts for you, it enables you to visualize first-hand how the layers of connection actually function to expand your network base. The latest stats estimate Linkedin users at 259 million (DMR, 2013).
Photo1: Linkedin (2013). Screenshot.
Some of the features include important news in your field of academia, word-of-mouth contacts that can create important leads or new relations and improved knowledge sharing and construction relative to the interest and groups with which you decide to engage. I am a member of Sietar Europa—Society for Intercultural Education Training and Research— which revolves around current discussions in the field that are stimulating critical exchanges between professionals and field experts. For me, it has become a valuable professional resource. http://www.linkedin.com
At first glance, literally, Pinterest may seem like just a big scrapbook of individuals’ dreams and longings. Personally, I find it a way to divert my attention which provides a distractive outlet—a form of escapism, if you will. However at a deeper level, Pinterest and other image-centric networks are a window into a world that says something about what interests, motivates and inspires people.
Photo 2: Pinterest (2013). Screenshot.
On further exploration, there are practical commentary components which allow people to link off to the origins and supporting website from which the photos or images were originally sourced which offer validity and now being endorsed on Pinterest. It develops learners’ “ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill” (Siemens, 2005). This type of endorsement captures the attention of visual learners and further credits the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words and there are many of us” and there are many of us–70 million users and 500 000 business accounts to be precise (DMR, 2013). Visuals can also stir an emotional element within us that may motivate people to explore further, to learn and to respond in a way that contributes to something better.
“We encourage brands to have an authentic presence on Pinterest that shows what makes their brand unique, and give people inspiration to take action offline with those pins,” Pinterest spokeswoman (2013).
DeMers, J., (2013). The top 7 social media marketing trends that will dominate 2014. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2013/09/24/the-top-7-social-media-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2014/
DeMers, J., (2012). What is Social Media Marketing and How Can it help My Business?
DMR (2013). Digital Marketing Ramblings: The latest digital marketing stats, tips, trends and technology. http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/pinterest-stats/
DMR (2013). Digital Marketing Ramblings: The latest digital marketing stats, tips, trends and technology. http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/
Linkedin (2013). www.linkedin.com [photo 1].
Pinterest (2013), www.pinterest.com [photo 2].
Roose, K. (2013). It’s Time to Start Taking Pinterest Seriously. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/10/time-to-start-taking-pinterest-seriously.html
Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, (2)1. Retrieved from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm