5 ways I use social media for professional development

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UPDATE 27th October 2010

I’ve now updated the links below on this article that I wrote back in April.

I was asked to write this article for our internal staff bulletin and thought I would share this here as well.

Whenever I have my appraisal I often get stuck on the personal development plan part of the process. So often we think of CPD as being ‘going on a course’ but really, we all know that a lot of the learning that takes place for us is ‘on the job’ and through just doing our jobs. How do we undertake lifelong learning whilst trying to do our day job?

Well for me, I use a variety of free tools available on the internet and I have learnt loads of things in the last year or so. Here are my top 5 ways you can use social media for professional development:

1. Be part of an online community

You could join Twitter (see my guide to Twitter here: https://sociallearningonline.wordpress.com/my-simple-guide-to-twitter/) or a group on LinkedIn (such as this one: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2266966&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr).

There are a huge number of different networks and communities of practice that you can join online. Why bother? Because you can directly contact experts with questions, get new ideas, build new contacts and try things out.

2. Attend a conference or an event remotely

Many conferences have ‘live streaming’ nowadays where you can watch proceedings from the comfort of your desk live or at a later date (an example is here: http://www.switchnewmedia.com/NDI10/index.htm). And now quite a few people use Twitter to follow conferences. Here are my 10 reasons why twitter is good for conferences: https://sociallearningonline.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/10-reasons-why-twitter-is-great-for-conferences/ and here is a short video which shows you how to follow discussions on Twitter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCih6yzxLjs

3. Listen to podcasts or talks

A variety of organisations in our sector create podcasts. These are like radio programmes which you can listen to at any time (mostly for free). You can listen to these online or download them to an mp3 player or your phone to listen to on your commute to and from work! Here are a few examples:

http://www.policyreview.tv/educationandskills, http://recap.ltd.uk/podcasting/professional/index.php

Something else I discovered recently is the excellent TED talks website. Hear inspirational talks for free from experts from all around the world. One of my favourites is here:

http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html

4. Take part in a tutorial or watch a video

I taught myself how to play the ukulele and complete a Rubik’s cube (not at the same time!) by watching videos on YouTube. There are a huge variety of instructional videos on Youtube. You can even watch lectures from some of the best universities in the world. Some organisations offer free ‘webinars’ – online seminars as well. You can often find out about these if you are part of an online network like those I mentioned above. Some good sites for videos are: http://www.youtube.com/edu and http://moletv.org.uk/

5 . Start writing a blog

One of the big parts of lifelong learning is what is often known as ‘reflective practice’. It’s really useful to reflect on your work from time to time. What’s worked well? What would I do differently next time? You could just keep a note of this in a diary or in a file on your computer, but blogging about your learning publicly means that you can draw on other people’s expertise as well. I wrote about this on my blog here: https://sociallearningonline.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/i-blog-therefore/ I find writing my blog very useful and it doesn’t take as much time as you might think. I recommend using www.wordpress.com or http://posterous.com for your blog – both are very easy to use.

What do you use? Where are you learning regularly without even realising it?

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