This semester I am teaching a class that is a little out of my normal realm of work. I’m teaching a leadership class in the Kinesiology Department here at the University of Kentucky. Most of the students want to be college coaches, rec coordinators, athletic administrators, or front office employees in the sports world. Although this class is a bit different from much of my other current work, I was very excited to teach the course. I’ve been very involved with athletics and sports organizations in many different roles throughout my life. I also recognized that the meat and potatoes of this course were certainly leadership skills and sports were just the gravy that adds flavor to the conversation.
While “tweaking” the syllabus of the former instructor, I carefully considered ways to enhance the course. With that in mind, I decided to add a component that focused on developing personal learning networks through the use of social media. In our first class, students actually created a “Low-Tech Social Network” by creating avatars and tags on note cards. They then had to make connections with one another. Unfortunately, my board was too small for the group that I had!
(Check out Gamestorming for this activity and many others that are great for work with groups.)
Last week our class dove more deeply into social media, and I was encouraged to blog about my findings :)
Prior to class students read a series of articles around the use of social media in sports organizations. They also participated in a class discussion board led by two moderators. I was surprised by how much the discussion threads focused on the student-athletes use of social media. Much of the conversation focused on ways to educate, filter, monitor, or block students use of social media. Although I found that conversation fascinating, I was more interested in two other ways social media can be used in athletics. I wanted them to become aware of ways that organizations were using social media. More importantly, I wanted to help them recognize how they can use social media to stay connected and informed about their profession. I think this is so important that one of their assignments for the semester is to grow their social presence. My criteria are fairly lenient. Some may choose to grow their network by connecting and interacting with others in their field. Other students may just dip their toes in and use social media as a listening station where they can gain insight from insiders and others in their field.
Although there are sure to be individuals in this new information rich interconnected society who succeed without such tools, they won’t be the norm. Organizations and individuals who embrace social media will be able to connect in ways that are not possible without the use of technology!