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Design narrative - Developing networking skills and using social media

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Leigh Fowkes
25 March 2018

What was your role in the story?

I'm a Careers Consultant with the Open University and one of the ways we seek to support OU students to develop their career is with a programme of 1-2-many (group) activities such as forums and webinars (using Adobe Connect). 


Describe the physical, social and intentional factors that define the design space, e.g. where and when did this occur? In what kind of space? Who were the key actors, and what were the relations between them? What were the beliefs and desires that shaped their interaction?

I designed and delivered a live and recorded webinar for OU students called Networking and Social Media on 2nd Nov 2017.  The use of technology is essential in our delivery as we do not see students face to face.  A major design consideration is whether to offer a live but not recorded webinar or recorded only or live and recorded.  LIve and recorded brings more risk in trying to design a workshop that is both participitive (discussion, practice, inquiey) for attendees but also useful as a learning artefact (product/acquisition).  I was mindful   synchronous webinars for the few can be vicarious learning for the many as a recording playable 24/7.  For this reason I choose to offer a live webinar which was recorded to fit with the busy lives of OU students.

What were you trying to achieve? What was your measure of success?

The ability to network has proven benefits for career development especially for accessing the hidden job market and for developing insight.  Development of a network also aids connectivist approaches to learning.   The aim of the webinar was to offer OU students a simple framework to develop their networking skills including tapping into the power of social networks.

A key measure of success was student feedback.  A standard way we do this is providing a link to a anonymous survey that we ask students to complete after they have attended. Questions would ask them to rate the workshop.  Other measures of success were students participating in the network of the forum to generate answers and reflect on the concepts with their own feedback.

List the actions you took in chronological order. Note their effects – both expected and unexpected. Highlight any obstacles you encountered, and explain how you tried to overcome them.

1) Complete a standard pro-forma for1-2-many activties which details the planned session, promotional copy and channels the webinar will be marketed for.

2) Design the slides and content for delivery included learning outcomes and activities.

3) First practice with session with another OU staff member as a critical eye.

4) Evaluate practice session and revise activities and content where needed.  

5) 2nd practice with OU member of staff this time taking the role of a participant.  Here we are checking activities and content against the learning outcomes thinking.  Key in the design is accessiblity. A challenge is having students with differing levels of knowledge and experience in the same session.  A tactic is to make activity centered around sharing and discussing knowledge and experience rather than on acquisition. 

6) Live webinar.

7) Check recording.  Make available on the Careers workspace.  

8) Review session with feedback.

List the expected and unexpected outcomes of your actions. To what degree did you meet your objectives? What additional outcomes did you engender? Provide evidence to back your claims.

There was a good level of discussion in the chatbox and in the activities.  The numbers attending the webinar were not that high (17 I believe) which validated also choosing to recoded the session.  Interestingly one piece of feedback suggested we focus on using social media more than basic networking techniques but as social media is a homogenous term for a multitude of platforms an outcome of this was we decided to plan and run some addtional workshops on using LinkedIn. A key element of this workshop was sugggesting two activities that students both attending the live session or listening to the recording could complete after the workshop. 1. networking mindmap 2. Enrolment on  relevant FutureLearn free courses to cover related topcis in more depth.


Reflect on your experience. What transferable insights did you gain?

Being prepared for those who would rather listen quietly than participate. it's very difficult with webinar technology to bring people in "from the cold".  Equally, I remain respectful of a student's choice if they wish to just listen in rather than jump in.  It's also really hard to make a workshop try and work as both an artefact and a live environment.  For example in terms of parity of learning outcomes and checking understanding.  What role do I have when I'm just a recording! 

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Mr Mark T Allenby
9:02am 2 April 2018

With the participation issue, I wonder if it might be useful to use the 'foot-in-the-door' technique, by starting with a simple yes/no question and get a response from everyone, then a scaling from 1 to 5, then a one or two-word answer, then a full sentence. Each step seems small, but by the end, even the quietest might have added a lot to the conversation.

It's just a thought. 

Leigh Fowkes
7:16pm 3 April 2018

Good points Mark and worth a try when I run the next one.

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