IBM Connect 2013 Notes: Social Business Goes to School

This is another in a series of my notes on IBM Connect 2013. Here are my notes from 2011 and 2012. These notes cover the session: Social Business Goes to School: Leaders in Academia Share Insights with Michael Brito, SVP Social Business Planning, Edelman & Adjunct Professor SJSU; UC Berkeley; Peter Cardon, Associate Professor, Marshall School of Business University of Southern California; and Simon Vaughan, Deputy IT Director, IS, Cardiff University, UK.  Here are their Twitter handles: @SimplyS1mon, @petercardon, and @Britopian.

Michael Brito opened the session. He works for Edelman and teaches at several universities. Peter is a management communication professor at USC. They traditionally cover things like live presentations, writing, etc. Now they also cover social media. Simon is the IT Director at his institution.

Michael asked Peter why social media is not covered in many business schools. Peter said that in the past they taught one-to-many and one-to-one communication. Now they need to cover the many-to-many communication that social media brings. Many business schools only think of Web tools like Facebook and do not see the broader range of social media.

Simon added that schools assume that if they are using Twitter and Facebook they know social media. This is far from the case as there are so many uses of social media. You need to define social media and social business and be aware of all the possibilities.

Michael asked about using social media for learning, not just as a course subject. Peter said he has known for some time that collaborative learning is more effective. He tends to use public social media to support his classes. Peter just published a book, Business Communication: Developing Leaders for a Networked World.

Michael said he decided to get into teaching as he found that many people did not understand social business. He asked Simon to talk about barriers to adoption. Simon said there are both more formal uses connected to teaching and also informal communication across courses. You need to make sure the tools are being used for their proper purposes and enhance the learning experience. You need to get the faculty to consistently use social media in their classes so the students receive the same support across courses.

Simon said that gamification can help reward participation. They are using it at his university and it has helped. Michael said that he also incorporates gamification tools in his classes.  Some tools require coaching such as blogs and wikis, even for digital natives.  Students do not like to have to use multiple platforms. Michael also has a recent book, Smart Business, Social Business: A Playbook for Social Media in Your Organization. Peter said that last summer he tried a home-grown collaboration tool and it was challenging.

Simon said there is a real need to set up communities of practice around such topics as a green project or some other popular topic.  Their new COO is very much into social media. He is setting a good example. People also go into the tools to see what he is saying. Peter and Michael see differences in the way different types of students use the tools. Older students see the benefit of the tools more easily. The younger ones are more likely to use IM and form Facebook groups. Simon talked about the use of massive online courses that are becoming popular as a teaching channel.

Michael said the social business is seen in several places: business, IT, communication and asked what departments it should be in schools. Simon said it should be in all three of them and more. These tools are so important that they will be needed in many ways. Peter agreed and said you should compare it to where you teach writing. It should be everywhere. The slant will differ in each. Simon talked about social mentoring. Alumni can share experiences. Businesses can connect with students.

It was asked by an audience member how can they leverage their established online communication and learning track and introduce social elements?

Simon said if you can inject alerts from established apps into an activity tool you can get conversations started that will allow people to see the benefits of social tools. He added that students in the same course could collaborate better. They could ask students who already took the course, what it was like before they decide to take it or how best to benefit from it.  Simon said another benefit is accessing the social tools from mobile devices that all students carry all the time. It will be very beneficial if you can bring in mobile. I have seen this in a number of schools.

It was asked if professors are collaborating on research through social media.

Peter said that the internal social tools are useful in certain areas by staff. However, among professors they see little use. In most US institutions there is a lot of hierarchy and this slows down use. Simon said that you can lose control of content once it gets into public spaces. People are looking for more secure platforms for collaboration from trusted partners.

It was asked if the use of social tools raises performance.

Peter said yes. Students get to know each other and they more together more easily. He added that the level of higher order thinking has risen. It was ironic that once his school banned Facebook, students started to be late to class because they were doing Facebook before class, instead of while waiting for the professor to begin.

It was asked how students collaborate in online classes vs. in-person classes.

Simon said that the physical meeting is a necessary foundation to establish connection that can be carried over to virtual collaboration.  I would certainly agree.



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