Beep! Beep! Can I see your licence please?

smdlcarMajor breakthroughs here at my place of work in respect of social media. I get the feeling we’re at a tipping point or at the very least at a point at which my non-library co-workers are starting to recognise that there actually is a tipping point.

I’ve banged on about the value of social media here at Cambridge Judge Business School for nearly 5 years now, not always a lone voice, but often the most vocal, and I have long seen the need for education as to what it is social media can actually do for anyone researching or learning. Of course us librarians have been ahead of the curve on this for, well, years. It was way back in 2010 that Emma Coonan and I initiated the successful ‘Cam 23′ a 23 Things programme for library staff across the University (following on from the great work of Laura Wilkinson and Emma Cragg et al. in Oxford), but our success as a library service here in convincing those outside the library community to engage has been mixed to say the least.

There have been some wins along the way such as our well attended ‘getting started on Twitter'; ‘the value of blogging'; and ‘making the most of LinkedIn’ sessions; but that has all been library-led and hasn’t really resulted in a true bedding down of social media and/or a realisation that there is true merit in these channels. Just like that media stereotype of librarians, that media stereotype of twitter as ‘celebrities sharing what they had for breakfast’ has neatly clicked back in to place as the default setting. But… wait, what light through yonder window breaks?

Some little breakthroughs, some little cracks in the veneer, some signs of spring after a long Narnia winter: a faculty member, the marvellous Chris Hope, moves to blogging and twitter and reaches a new audience and becomes an advocate (I am awake aren’t I?); an MPhil Director, hello pioneering David Reiner, asks if we can give support to one of his courses which is going to have an assessed twitter component (I pinch myself to check I am awake); the library team start to be recognised as social media allies rather than scary social media enemies – people to turn to for support and advice (I’m definitely not naked – another sure sign that this is not a dream); it is agreed that there is a need for a Social Media working party,  to make our activities and energies in this area more focused and joined up, which will be part of the formal reporting structure of the business school, chaired by yours truly (this is a really weird dream, any minute now I’m going to do that falling through space thing and wake up with a bump); a faculty member asks me – waves to the talented, forward-thinking Shima Barakat – to assist her with informal mini-blogging workshops with faculty (OK this is real folks); and perhaps best of all, well maybe not best, but potentially most far-reaching and long-lasting, we embark on the idea of a Social Media Driving Licence for all staff, open to everyone at the institution, whether faculty, researchers, or support staff.

The exact look-and-feel of this Licence (I did have to check whether that should be license, but then you all knew already that there’s only an ‘s’ in the UK if it’s being used as a verb rather than a noun – right?) has yet to be determined and the agreed form then needs to be approved by more senior staff than I – I know my place (I really don’t), and a meeting this very lunchtime will take some important steps forward in this regard. In essence, the idea behind the SMDL as I’m already calling it, is that social media is now a component of our every day lives and that there is huge potential for its use in an academic context, especially in respect of the research process, classroom learning, marketing, and engagement, and that the Licence course, for a course it shall be, will address this and advocate this message. The team behind the SMDL have also identified that there are those staff here who come into less contact with social media channels in their working lives, but still need to understand their benefit and uses as part of their professional development. Above all else I guess the Licence will be about making members of the business school better informed, establishing best practice, helping people to see the opportunities social media offers, and, yes, the pitfalls and problems too.

Format-wise we will be borrowing some 23 Things elements – online, self-directed, task-led in part – but also borrowing from the MOOCs model although it will not be Massive or Open to all, more of an OC really! So I guess what I mean MOOC-wise is that there will be instructional videos. Just as we discovered from Cam23 there will be contact time too – drop-in sessions as well as some ‘sage on the stage’ stuff. We’re currently thinking the course will last for 3 months or thereabouts. All in all it is set to be be a ‘heady mix of gorgeousness’ – quoting myself again there.

I will of course share more information from Planet Libreaction as this initiative unfolds. I will be taking this adventure with Georgina Cronin (our rather good new UX Librarian) so follow her too for the full story. Beep! Beep!

Andy

[Photo courtesy of wreck]

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