Posts Tagged 'Social Media'

MOOCing About

mooc 2This year I’ve decided to undertake my first MOOC. If you don’t know what one of these is then I’ll let Wikipedia explain it to you as it’ll do a better job than I, but fundamentally it stands for Massive Open Online Course. It’s online study, mostly free of charge (sometimes there’s a paid option if you want actual credits or a particularly flashy certificate), and as far as I can see, on most any subject you can think of.

So why am I interested in undertaking a MOOC? I finished my undergraduate programme this time last year and was due to start my masters last October, however things changed and that plan has unfortunately had to be temporarily shelved. I enjoy learning though and, having worked with at least one foot in higher education for the last four years, I’m really intrigued by the MOOC offering, particularly at a higher education level. Is it possible that a free online course can really be as good as that provided by a university? Well, yes, it can in terms of content because many well known universities all over the world have their own MOOCs. But when you go to university you’re not just in it for the content, your also in it for the life experience, the learning experience, the support, the great qualification, the networking… University is about more than just the content of your lectures.

So far a MOOC won’t get you a degree or even university credits (except in some rare instances in the US). The whole system is based on honour, trusting that you want to learn and that you complete the course and exercises off your own back and that you take any tests unaided and in the conditions requested. In its current form this works well – all you get at the end is your learning (but provided in a structured, engaging way way) and, I’m told, some sort of e-certificate of completion which doesn’t count towards anything but presumably makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside and as though you’ve accomplished something. But, while you don’t receive any official recognition, the knowledge is what you’re presumably there for and who knows, maybe there’s a challenge or entry exam you can take to demonstrate equivalency of knowledge at your institution of choice.

So my journey starts here. I’ve signed up for a couple of courses, both different formats, subjects and providers. Here’s a bit more info about them and the differences between them:

Principles of Microeconomics

  • Provider: Saylor.org
  • Level: Undergraduate
  • Start when you like
  • Structure: 7 units, done at your own pace
  • Anticipated completion time: 124 hours
  • End of unit exams for practice purposes but pass determined by a final exam after the course has been completed
  • Part of a bigger programme for those who wish to continue their Economics studies (you can effectively “major” in economics if you complete 11 courses)
  • Anti-social (no tutor contact and minimal contact with peers. Though there is a discussion forum it appears to be mostly unused)

I don’t know much about economics so I’ll be starting from scratch on this one.

Principles of Project Management

  • Provider: Open 2 Study
  • Level: Unknown
  • Fixed start date
  • Structure: 4 modules over 4 weeks, complete with deadlines
  • Anticipated completion time: 16 hours
  • Individual end of unit exams only
  • Standalone course
  • A little social (I don’t think there’s any tutor contact but, again, there is a forum and presumably this will be used more considering everyone will be completing the course at the same time)

I already know a good bit about project management and have an Agile PM qualification so it will be easier for me to gauge the content for this one.

I have already started the microeconomics course and I’m really enjoying my first unit. While economics is certainly not an easy subject, the materials are well written and use lots of everyday examples to describe more complex ideas and models. I am finding it very accessible. There is a real mix of materials: some videos, some recorded lectures, some articles, some “textbook” reading, all broken down into bitesized chunks. Each unit and sub-unit suggests the amount of time you will need to allow and these can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as an hour. I’ve accessed various resources on PC, mobile and tablet but the only downside to studying on the go is that you really do need to take notes (on this subject anyway!) so you need a dedicated notebook and to have that with you at all times if you don’t want to have to repeat your activity.

So how do I think I’ll fare? I’d like to think I won’t become one of the drop out statistics (allegedly up to 90%) and, having completed my undergraduate programme on a part-time distance learning basis, think I’ll work better with the more flexible, deadline-free format as this is familiar territory for me and I’m used to managing my own study time (or, you know, not…). I think I’ll probably be a bit half-hearted with topics I find less interesting because ultimately it doesn’t really matter if I pass or fail the final exam as I’m not getting any official recognition for my work. I think I’ll find that lack of recognition frustrating when I finish, particularly if I have studied hard. But mostly I think I’ll be pleased with what I’ve achieved, and with the fact I will have have discovered, for free, whether I’d like to pursue my studies more formally in either field.

So we shall see! I’ll be keeping you informed over the coming weeks and months about how I’m finding my programmes. I will share my experiences and feedback, good and bad, and hopefully pique your interest to try a MOOC of your own 🙂

Social Media Holiday?

So my sister flew off to China the other week. We’re not really sure if/when she’ll be back as she hopes to stay a couple years and lots can happen in that time! (I’m thinking rich Chinese husbands here…)

China’s a beautiful country: I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a couple of times and it’s a truly amazing place so I can totally see the attraction. But China is also a bit of a black hole in terms of the internet and social media: No Facebook; no YouTube; no Wikipedia; sometimes access to blogs and Twitter, depending on the mood of the powers that be… To me, that makes it heaven on earth and hell on earth all at the same time! On one hand a beautiful, developing country steeped with a rich and fascinating history; and on the other hand lots of stuff I love banned

So my sister’s relocation had already got me thinking, but then I caught up with a friend last week too, and he got me thinking about it even more! He has just returned back from a self-imposed three month social media break. I was surprised – he seems to have survived unscathed (though it’s plausible he’s covering some deeper wounds…!) and all the better for it! So with my sister, my friend, China, and lots of recent talk on Twitter about social media stalking, I can’t help but wonder whether we shouldn’t all take a break from time to time. Take a chance to re-connect with the people and world around us! And  maybe it shouldn’t just be a social media holiday either – maybe it should be a break from technology in general. Smart phones, netbooks and laptops make everyone overly accessible these days. When do we really and truly turn off? I imagine some people do… People with more self-discipline than me… Maybe people with more money to burn or more commitments to keep… 

But I have no wish to stop my social media activity altogether. A lot of people don’t understand it (Mr J included) but it adds another dimension to my professional/personal development, my work life and my social life. When I started out it was more about networking, but as I’ve come to meet more and more people, and learn more and more new things, it’s benefitted me a lot on a work level too. We’ve had job opportunities, the chance to market ourselves more (for free, I might add!) plus I’ve learned so much about business, marketing, recruitment, and so on, and (I think) I’m able to bring a lot more to the table professionally as a result.

Though I personally think there’s a big future in social media, I know it’s not for everyone – the lines between my work life and personal life have never been so blurred as they are now. It’s a grey area made up of many different shades. And not just because of the relationships I’ve forged but also through the 24/7 access that it engenders: Be it helping a client with something on Twitter at 7am; emailing a student on the weekend; or responding to an amusing comment from a contact during work hours. Social media is such a blend of work and personal that I don’t really switch off from anything at all any more, but I’m kinda OK with that.

But social media is an integral part of my life and turning off from it would be difficult. Mr J and I naturally plan to holiday in China at some point during my sister’s stay, but it won’t just be a tourist holiday for me; it’ll be a social media holiday too! But maybe it’ll do me good. Maybe I need one. In fact, maybe we all do from time to time…

Facebook 180

So you may or may not have read the Facebook post I wrote last year. It basically says bugger off and don’t ask to be my Facebook friend unless you’ve known me since we were, like, five (or something to that effect). Well, as some of you will know, I don’t really stick to that any more. 

The irony of the post is that, after I wrote it, several people I only know off twitter (who I’d not met) decided to add me as a friend. I made one exception. Then two. Then three. Then I needed a whole new Twitter privacy setting. Then I gave up any hope of keeping Facebook as a purely personal place and figured I might as well whore myself about anywhere and everywhere and befriend anyone. 

I’ll be honest though – I begrudge it a little (though it’s my own fault) and I reserve the right to rearrange my account at any time. In many ways I’m torn about my feelings towards Facebook. I like having my own private place where I can hang out with my friends and say dumb stuff. I already publicly say (slightly less) dumb stuff on Twitter, so it’s not like there isn’t already a medium to connect with me on that level. But on the other hand, it was nice to be able to tag people in pics after TRU London last week and it’s fun to connect more informally with those who remain fairly formal on Twitter.

So, for now, I’m available – not in all my glory, but in a carefully limited view of my glory – to add as a friend on Facebook. Do with me what you will…

More Un- Stuff!

Photo courtesy of Tristan Greaves

So you’re all up to speed on my TRU Source experience now, I trust! And so to days two and three! In case you missed them I have a selection of decent photos here, and some rubbishy mobile ones here. Or they’re on Facebook too.

My first taste of an unconference was TRU London I in November of last year. It was totally different to TRU London II in many respects. For a start, I think the venue has a big impact on the feel of an event: TRU I was in a massive atrium-style room in the Barclays Building at Canary Wharf, and had little pods where the tracks were held. The pods were too small really and the acoustics for anything non-pod were pretty abominable so I think Bill and Geoff were right to change venues. TwitJobSearch provided the Soho venue this time, but having the rooms so far apart did make it feel a little less joined up though, IMO. I didn’t always know what was going on where and, if you got a bit bored or fancied a change, then it wasn’t quite so easy to sneak off elsewhere, as office security was fairly tight! I did, however, feel the big room was very conducive to networking. There were plenty of seats, a Twitter Fountain of #trulondon tweets, refreshments and so on.

Track-wise, I also felt that things were a lot more interactive this time. At TRU I it felt to me as though it was mostly the track leaders doing the talking, but at TRU II there was a lot more interaction and opinion sharing, which was really nice.

I attended a variety of (official) tracks including:

  • The Candidate Experience
  • The Future of Recruitment
  • Recruiting Communities
  • Employee Vs Employer Branding
  • Sourcing
  • Social Media Circus

As well as some more unofficial ones including:

  • The Unattending Track (a personal favourite!)
  • The Pub Track

And I also attended an HR Happy Hour radio show with Steve Boese and met a ridiculous number of wonderful people from the UK and overseas – some of whom were new to me and some of whom were familiar in name and avatar if nothing else! To me, while the learning and sharing of ideas is obviously key, a big part of this kind of events is about the networking and that is one area in which TRU London II delivered 100%!

The organisation wasn’t perfect on day one, but by day two it felt as though things had been ironed out. I actually much preferred day two for a variety of reasons – for a start it felt more relaxed, there were less people so it was a bit less chaotic, and it just felt more… well… unconferency! I also won a Flip Video Camera from Jobsite which increased my seratonin levels somewhat! 🙂

So it was a busy few days, all in all, and there’s too much content to talk about for one blog post, so once I’ve assimilated everything and tried some new ideas out I’ll report back on my learning from my three days of TRU events. In the meantime though, there’s a few little thank you messages I’d like to pass on:

Thank you…

  • To Bill Boorman and Geoff Web for organising the event;
  • To Jobsite for my Flip Cam;
  • To Peter Gold for sharing (IMO) the most excellent ideas, all of which I intend to use;
  • To Matt Alder and Sara Headworth for the never ending and highly amusing soundbites at the Unattending Track;
  • To my twitter buddy Mervyn Dinnen for keeping me in a constant supply of lattes, smoothies and diet cokes, despite receiving not one drink in return! (Next time it’s on me – promise!)
  • To everyone who RT’d my copious tweets;
  • To all my non-recruitment Twitter followers who didn’t unfollow me!

See you next time! 🙂

Unlearn

Photo courtesy of Craig Fisher

So last week was, for me at least, three days of TRU events; all arranged by Bill Boorman and Geoff Webb. First of all there was TRU Source, and then there was two days of TRU London. And what a fab three days it was!

But let’s start with TRU Source, and I’ll do a separate post for TRU London…

Wednesday saw me hauling my suitcase up some narrow stairs in an office in Covent Garden (actually, that’s somewhat of a lie – Brendan Murphy carried both mine and his bags most of the way up… What a gent! :)) to be met with a room overflowing with people. The group was split into two and (on the grounds that there was no way I was lugging my bag back down the stairs, plus it seemed unkind to ask Brendan to do it for me again having only just got it to the third floor) I stayed put!

We started the morning with Marie Journey and Jim Stroud. What a pair! Now I hate to get all gushy, but I have to say, TRU Source was an excellent event IMHO and I loved everyone there. Both Marie and Jim just had this unsurpressable energy and passion for sourcing, combined with an infinite knowledge of resources. I’d cleverly left my notebook and my netbook in the bottom of my suitcase so resorted to taking notes on the back of my old shopping lists until my kindly neighbour lent me half his notepad (and believe me I needed it!)

We broke for lunch early (Marie was hungry!) and had a chance for networking and chit chat. I got my first hug from Jim Stroud (the first of many, I might add – he’s such a hugslut!) and then Geoff Web did a bit of ad libbing and a Q&A session with us while we waited for the second session to start.

The afternoon brought with it a change of faces and we had another fantastic session with Katharine Robinson and Irina Shamaeva. Irina is, like, the goddess of all things boolean and was a fountain of search knowledge! Katharine was the UK sourcing representative and had oodles of useful rousources for us to look at. She also started the session with an excellent example of why you should be searching for people and not for CV’s – only two people in the room had current CV’s online! And there must have been over 20 of us!

I’m not even going to begin to tell you everything I learned because a) it will take too long b) you should have gone yourself, and c)… well there isn’t a c), sorry. I have to say though that I thoroughly enjoyed the day and came away feeling at least 5 IQ points more intelligent than I went in!

TRU Source was, IMHO, rather overshadowed by TRU London and I think that was a real shame. While TRU London was a fantastic event, TRU Source was an unsurpassed learning experience and I think it deserved it’s own moment of glory. Despite spending some six hours with five of the best sourcers out there, I also felt we’d hardly scratched the surface, and this was emphasised on Friday when I attended the TRU London Sourcing track and found I was still learning a raft of new skills!

I hope that Bill and Geoff run more UK sourcing events because I think there’s a lot we recruiters can learn. Next time, though, maybe we need a two day event for TRU Source by itself!

That Facebook Thing

Now I love Facebook; there’s not many days I don’t log on. Facebook is my life in pictures; it’s silly, inane comments that only my friends and family get; it’s me at my rawest: No facade, no show, just me. If you’re my Facebook friend and I’m having a bad day, then you’ll probably hear about it in rather passionate prose… But you know what; I don’t have very many Facebook friends! I won’t befriend anyone I haven’t met, anyone I don’t like, or anyone I think there’s even a remote chance I might work with. And anyone I do befriend gets immediately labelled with one of three privacy levels. It’s not that there’s anything remotely dodgy on there – maybe the odd drunken SingStar photo, or a choice expletive, but nothing condemning. My Mum and Dad are both on there after all! But I don’t want every man and his dog seeing pictures of my life, friends and family! That’s private stuff!

I appreciate that some people use Facebook for recruitment and business. Some with success too… but for me, Facebook is the personal social media tool of choice. LinkedIn is for business; Twitter is for a mix of business, personal branding and pleasure; and Facebook is purely personal. I don’t mind being advertised to on there but pretty please, with cherries and cream, don’t ask me to be your friend if you’re not actually my friend!

I’m totally intrigued about how other people use Facebook though. So many people I know have hundreds of ‘friends’! To what end? And if you use it for business and pleasure then how do you keep the two separate? Do you have separate accounts, a raft of different privacy settings, or do you just keep it clean and not overly personal?

Please share your experiences; I would love to hear them!

Social Media: From Online to Offline

I have been busy, busy, busy this week! Now I’m back working 5 days a week it’s a real change of pace. It’s actually a bit alarming how quickly you get used to enjoying a 4 day weekend… [Note to self: Challenge for the new year is to get Mr J into a top notch job so that I can laze around more and he can keep me in the manner to which I’ve always wanted to become accustomed!] So anyway, my social media play time has fallen by the wayside somewhat and I’ve really missed it. But actually not quite so much as I thought I would, because so many of the people I talk to on social media are now people I talk to in ‘real life’ too!

In the last seven days I’ve spoken to @LisaScales, @AndyHeadworth and @AlanWhitford on the phone and to @RadicalRecruit on Skype. I’ve had dinner with @MervynDinnen and @LaraNewman, and tomorrow I’m meeting @ClareWildman for after work drinkies. Who needs social media, eh?! Not one of these relationships would be in effect without social media. Well, without Twitter, to be precise!

Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but social media is really only the beginning. So far I’ve met at least 24 people from my personal Twittersphere, and frankly I need to work harder to increase that number because it’s a bit lame all things considered! Seriously though, there’s only so much you can convey in 140 characters or with the written word and if you truly want your relationships to flourish then you need to take it offline, into the real world and onto the next level. Yes, social media is a fantastic start and, sadly, I may never get to meet a lot of my favourite Tweeps in person due to geographic barriers, so in that respect is still an amazing tool, but even so… There are plenty of people we can and should meet. There are people in all our networks who we’ve never met but who live within a stones throw.

Now obviously you have to be a bit cautious about meeting anyone from off the internet. Though the prospect of being ‘groomed’ at 20-, 30-, 40-something is actually marginally flattering, personal safety comes first! But we’re all adults and we can all use our common sense. There are local tweetups and events happening all the time and this can be a perfect setting for a first meeting, not to mention providing the opportunity to meet a whole host of other people you might not have connected with otherwise!

@LaraNewman was the first person I’d met on Twitter who I met offline. We went ice skating together and had a lovely afternoon! Mr J thought she was probably an axe murderer or, failing that, some sort of swinger who was touting for new recruits. Of course, she was neither of those things (I suspect he was slightly disappointed about the latter!) but we met in a public place and Mr J demanded I leave a report with him listing everything I knew about her, just in case I never returned home. To be honest, I’ve never (yet!) had any doubts about my meetings with people on Twitter. Most people reveal a whole host of information about themselves on both Twitter and LinkedIn and are known by at least one other person in my network, so short of it being a very large and organised axe murdering ring, the odds are good that they’re not a psychopath. I’d be far more reticent to meet anyone who wasn’t pre-vetted though and you do have to use your common sense.

Meeting someone in person can really only benefit a relationship. These are people you regularly talk to anyway and who you already know you have something in common with. So have a flick through some of your favourite social media contacts and see who you can meet for a coffee in person! So long as you’re sensible, the absolute worst that can happen is that you have a miserable hour and have nothing much to say to one another, so you’ve really nothing to lose!


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About Me

Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

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