Let’s get started blogging

The purpose of your individual blogs is to give you the experience of blogging. We won’t be spending much time customizing or editing the layout or theme of your blog. Here you will be spending most of your time writing and reading the blogs of your classmates.

WordPress.com is the “free” access to wordpress. But as you are probably learning already, free means you can’t do a whole lot yourself, but are constricted by the interface you are using. Your themes aren’t editable until you purchase the “upgrade” that gives you the capacity to edit things like colors and layout.

WordPress.org is the WordPress where you run the whole thing. That means you install WordPress and make all the decisions about themes, interface, layout and styles. You can add plugins that do a lot of the work for you, so you don’t have to be a genius in WordPress to make that work. I will be carrying a lot of the water on the install and set up, but we will be using WordPress.org for our campaign blogs. That will give all of you the chance to see how you can manage a blog in an environment with more flexibility.

At class tonight we will be talking about blog readers and feeds, so you can all get updates from each other.

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Teaching Urgency

I have been struggling with how to teach a sense of urgency. You know – all of us in social media work are very clear that unless you can get a sense of urgency you will not be successful in social media management for nonprofits. That’s the difference between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0. You can read my website whenever you feel like it and I don’t have to worry about when that is. If you have a question you will ask it sometime. With Web 2.0 – you have posted a reply to my blog post, answered my Facebook status or tweeted to my tweet. YOU WANT AN ANSWER NOW!!! I am using email to communicate with my students and I hate it – it’s not immediate enough. How can I teach this sense of urgency if no one feels any urgency?

Wait a minute Dr P. This is a class in the midst of all the other demands that masters students feel. And let’s face it, there isn’t very much urgency involved in what they are doing. As we have always said in trying to keep a perspective, this isn’t brain surgery or curing cancer. It’s a class in social media, for God’s sake.

And then I have watched them post on their blogs and read them all and commented on all of them (I hope I got them all, anyway). I had to shake my head and yet again be reminded of the one thing I should know as a social worker. It’s always iterative…. always a process…. never linear.

You all are doing great and I know that the conversations themselves will help to build the sense of urgency (a little) that will push you all to want to answer right away. Well, maybe…sometimes.

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Teaching Social Media

It took a long time for this class to become a reality.  At least it seemed like a long time to me.  In academic time, it wasn’t bad.  The fact that we are teaching MSWs (with a couple of Masters in Nonprofit Management guys in the mix) about using social media in nonprofit organizations is HUGE.  It is huge for a couple of important reasons, and NOT because I am teaching the class (while that might feel good to me).

Nonprofits have become major players in the social media arena

The use of social media in nonprofit organizations has gone as viral as social media itself. If you need any proof of this, just Google social media and nonprofits and see the number of sites that are out there to help all those nonprofits get their social media house in order. Let’s hear it for free enterprise. Social media is in every organization and is an essential tool for the work of nonprofits as well. Here are some excellent examples:

Most social workers (or other nonprofit folks) don’t make the link between technology and their profession

You are a social worker. You will do social work. You plan to help people. You want to make change in the world. You have passion about a particular issue. What in the world does technology in general and social media in particular have to do with that goal? While you might have a good sense of social media in your personal environment – or regarding a particular cause you feel strongly about – tools and skills in social media are not part of the professional arsenal. This is new ground. I went to the technology workshops at the Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education. There was little about using technology in practice – only about using technology to teach practice. Interesting….. Here are some that seem to “get it.”

The Need to Look at Social Media Policy

Universities, Schools of Social Work and Nonprofit Organizations all need to incorporate social media into their thinking – and into their policies. This process is way behind and it is important to focus on it. We will be talking about social media policies during our class and hope to have an article done at Columbia School of Social Work to help us examine some of the issues.

Social Media is the new “where the client is.”

We social workers have been taught over the years to “start where the client is.” I am sure my phrasing is out-dated with today’s theoretical texts, but I think you get the idea. Well, social media is where the client is. Yes, I know about the economic divide in access to technology and the importance of bridging that divide. But now that social media has gone mobile, the need for the big deal, expensive computer is gone. And you don’t need an iPhone to have mobile communication. It’s part of our daily life and the space in which we live.

It Takes Special Skills

All of my students use social media to some extent. But whether you are a regular or occasional user, the professional use of social media is vastly different than what we all experience in our day to day lives. The other thing we talk about alot in social work training is boundaries. Here finding the right boundary, and yet still communicating in a real and meaningful way, is a major skill that needs to be understood and developed. It’s the marketing of this generation.

So, we are embarking on something new, as new as social media itself. I look forward to the journey and to learning as much as I hope I teach.

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