A bit more about Teaching Social Media

I’ll try not to go on about it too much but as a follow-up to my previous post (about Teaching Social Media) I thought I’d share a video that one of my distance learning students put together as part of his engagement with the MA Social Media. I share it because it’s a good example of what a distance learning student on the course might be asked to do and I don’t want you to think (based on the last post) that it’s all, y’know, a bit too ‘theory’.

So, here’s Jeff Sage, a full-time distance learner who lives in Canada where he runs a communications consultancy. He’s responding to a task about how/why he might set up a Social Media Surgery in his hometown. It comes on the back of a talk the students had from the fab Nick Booth.

Specifically the task was:

“This week I would like the distance learning students to reflect on the talk by Nick Booth and consider how you might go about setting up a social media surgery in your own town. What would your strategy be? Have a read of Nick Booth’s ‘recipe’ list as a starting point.

Your response should be a short (5-10 mins) video that tells us the following:

  • What’s your town like? – rich? poor? digitally deprived??
  • Is there a way to connect to voluntary groups and community organisations (an umbrella organisation of some sort)?
  • How would you go about connecting to other digitally minded folk to persuade them to help set up a surgery?
  • What’s stopping you doing this?”

Enjoy Jeff’s response about London, Ontario:

(BTW, the other D/L students gave terrific responses as well, about Cologne and Geneva, but it’s Jeff’s manner that particularly makes me smile a lot)

Teaching Social Media

As you may know I lead a Masters Degree in Social Media. Often, some wag will say ‘is that just about learning how to use twitter then?’. I get less of it now than I used to but it’s a tad tiresome nonetheless. So, I thought I’d post up some content to give a glimpse of the kind of thing we do cover.

We have a distance learning version of the course running for the first time this year, the content for which comes through the university’s virtual learning environment (we use Moodle) but also via a podcast channel. So the video below is also an example of the kind of content that distance learners will get. Sometimes it’ll be bite-sized and recorded from Dave’s lounge; other times it’ll be a longer recording of a lecture given in class.

The video I’m sharing is about a couple of tricky readings I had given the students. One was from Joss Hands, the other, Chris Atton. To support the students I created this short video of me going through a mindmap of the readings. In class we’d had talks from Nick Booth and Noha Atef so at times it tries to relate the concepts in the readings to their talks.

But the main reason to share this is to make it clear that we don’t talk about how to use twitter, we talk about marxism, about cultural studies, about becoming ‘scholarly practitioners‘:

As an aside I got a nice tweet back from one the authors, Joss Hands, when I shared the video with him.

Dear Mr Whitby – Raw Data Now

It’s been a bad day for Birmingham’s creative economy. The BBC is shunting a whole load of jobs (“over 100”) in networked factual programming from here to Bristol and Cardiff. So what now?

Since the early 2000s the regional strategy for the West Midlands creative economy (as developed by Advantage West Midlands and later Screen West Midlands) has largely emphasised ‘digital’ at the expense of a broader definition of media content creation. Earlier today I thought perhaps we’d backed the wrong horse for all those years, allowing Salford to come along with cheap land and shiny buildings and lure the BBC to their MediaCityUK.

But I’m not here to dwell on that. I actually think some conditions were created that allowed new web entrepreneurs to set up and flourish as well as ensuring more established firms stayed in their city and diversified their offer. I think we did back the right horse but we may have all been thinking of different horses as we tried to collectively articulate Birmingham and the West Midlands’ offer. That is, we never really knew what ‘digital’ meant.

But, as I say, I’m not here to dwell on that. What really got me irritated today is Councillor Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham City Council, bleating on about Birmingham getting marginalised when he could actually do something to help Birmingham become a thriving centre of digital creativity.

It’s simple, and if he hadn’t side-lined the City’s digital agenda to the completely uninterested Deputy Leader Councillor Tilsley, I think we’d be a lot further down the road than we are. Here’s a message from Tim Berners-Lee to make it clear what I’m asking for:

Bright People do terrific things with Raw Open Data. Yesterday the council launched an Open Data project called Civic Dashboard. Mudlark, a company with bright people, made something useful by cajoling the council to give up their data to make it happen. Some good people within the council helped get that data out. I’m guessing it was a tortuous process to bring it to life; so tortuous that I bet none of them are in a hurry to do it again. But beyond this project there’s nothing. The City’s Open Data page is kind of embarrassing.

So that’s where we need Mr Whitby. While he’s still in office he needs to take the digital agenda under his wing and order his senior people to get with the digital stuff. He needs to re-work the deals he’s done with his private partners such as Capita (who handle Brum’s IT) and get them to stop hugging data.

Now that the aforementioned strategy writers (AWM and SWM) have shut up shop we’re in a bit of a vacuum. But rather than sideline the digital agenda and lament the loss of those BBC production jobs we need to embrace it more than ever.

So let’s write a new strategy. Wearing my ‘Chair of Birmingham Science City’s Digital Theme Group’ hat (I know, it doesn’t actually sound like it means anything but is a group of business-owners, public secotr types and researchers who meet once a quarter to try to get projects off the ground) I’m starting Birmingham’s brand new Digital Manifesto for Growth. Here’s the first line:

  1. Stop pissing about and get that data freed up Mr Whitby. Exciting things will happen. Honest.

You lot can write the rest.