Try the DABEL Model When Offering PD on Social Media

Social Media can be a fun topic to teach educators and colleagues about.  It  is often an overwhelming concept for new users of social media tools to grasp. I think I described this on #edchat the other day as “Social Media is like breathing water to new people.” I’d like to revise that comment to that it probably feels more like a being a fish trying to swim without fins!

I recently gave a lecture/workshop to 32 Ph.D candidates at Lesley University. They were taking a special topics course in new media in scholarship, and I was asked to help them think about using tools like Twitter,  Mendeley,  and social bookmarking sites to assist with their scholarly networking. While at least 3/4 of the class were active Facebookers, people were a bit miffed, and some a tad petrified, about using Twitter.  To get us going, I used my DABEL model which stands for: Deepen Apply Brainstorm Engage and Learn.  In the context of social media and research, I presented the following goals for the afternoon:

  • Deepen our knowledge and understanding of social media
  • Apply social media ideas and concepts to the practice of research and inquiry
  • Brainstorm opportunities for using social media and other digital media tools to strengthen research goals and projects
  • Engage in inquisitive “play” with featured tools (Twitter, Wallwisher, MindMeister, Wordle)
  • Learn new pathways for collaboration and analysis

I find a lot of adult learners are so worried about “screwing up” the computer or looking dumb they are unable to hear about the purpose and potential of technology. Intrinsically, many adults assume they must master a tool before they can use it, as this is how many of us were taught in school (back in ye old dark ages). Setting the tone with DABEL is a great way to  give permission for inquiry, exploration, and play. This also provides a balance on applying known theory and practice, to new media and tools.

After giving the class a couple of videos that presented some thought-provoking stats and commentary, the conversation immediately started rocking. One of the faculty in the room said it felt like driving down the autobahn in a convertible. (I believe this was a compliment.)

I scaffolded our exploration with “easy” tools that I had set up for them in their Blackboard course site. One was a link to wallwiser, where they could post their research questions and topics. This was easy, fun and slightly addictive to a few students. By the time we arrived at Twitter the skepticism was there, but there was openness to consider and try it since they had successfully dabbled in a few previous tools and we engaged in dialogue and brainstorming on how to use them professionally and for school.

Below is the full presentation. I haven’t seen DABEL used before, so  I am claiming it as my own little acronym. Contact me if you’ve seen it. And if you want to use it, great; let me know how it worked and it’s extra nice if you cite this post as your source!

Link to Google Presentation with embedded videos.

Social Scholarship Slide Photo
Image of slide show

Author: rpetersmauri

Eternal student. Previous research director at Engineering online experiential learning environments at Northeastern U, teaching learning analytics at Brandeis U.

6 thoughts on “Try the DABEL Model When Offering PD on Social Media”

  1. Yeah, DABEL looks original. The steps work for me for the most part and get to the heart. I like how you started with “Deepen our knowledge and understanding of social media” because without the framework of the Social Media – Web 2.0 paradigm, it’s just more tools…and add-ons…another activity, don’t you think? Thanks for sharing. I’ll check out the presentation later when I can. Looking forward to it!

  2. Hi Glenn,

    I think its a really useful tool for teaching social media to newcomers. On the subject of Twitter, I have given a few exploratory talks on it and what I find is that a lot of people think of Twitter in two ways:

    1) vacuous updates about what Sally had for breakfast
    2) a towering wave of indecipherable information to wade through.

    What I like to tell people is that with Twitter, you only hear what you want. Weed out the updates about eggs Benedict and toast, and selectively choose what reaches your “Twitter ears”. The user of Twitter controls what they hear, so they pick and choose their sources, and can in fact find great information from reliable sources like newspapers, research institutes or respected academic or social activism figures.

    Keep up the good work!

    You can follow us on Twitter @CSCInterns

    1. Robin, thanks for your kind response. I think the educational community is kind of in this wrestling mode with Web 2.0 & social networking. I know I am. I’ve tried to immerse myself into the “stream” the past many months, being careful to not lose the focus of “why” I’m doing what I’m doing. I did my first Web 2.0 training in June for some admin./teachers/office staff for 3 days & at the beginning no one knew what Web 2.0 was…even the new teachers. I warned them that Day One would be like drinking from a firehose…LOL 🙂 And that was so true! But we grew into the paradigm together and began creating an appreciation for the students we serve and our new PLN. And I learned 3 days was a lot. With Web 2.0, shorter bursts are probably better, but it was a good learning experience for all of us. I appreciate those like you, who are kind enough to respond so thoughtfully to someone like me who lives in rural N. CA. & has to rely on the Web for ALL of my prof. development.

      I appreciate you addressing Twitter. I suppose that can be true that we fish for what we want to hear, probably more than most of us would admit. That’s an important remember to keep my mind open and keep questioning. I’m glad I started Twitter AFTER having read a variety of blogs (RSS). The blogs help me maintain a diverse perspective. I spent a few hours each of the last couple of days just experimenting with Twitter and have found some real positives. It’s been fun and a live topical chat was very intriguing.

      I’ll look forward to your “Tweets” and continuing to learn and grow. This year I’m teaching 3rd grade two days/week, so that’ll make things extra practical and I get to collaborate with another teacher in that. It’s good 😉 Thanks, again!

  3. Robin and CSC-

    Glad you enjoyed my posting on DABEL. People begin to “get it” when we take time to find and explore topics and people that are tweeting things they care about and are interested in. When things become more relevant, I find folks get more excited.

    Thanks for reading the blog-


  4. Thanks, I like the DABEL idea, I’m thinking of introducing it to my fellow educators here at Karen Preparatory. has anyone tried ? I saw an article on them and it sang its praises but I wanted to know if anyone has tried them.

    Thanks Rebecca for the informative content. I’m informed lol 😀

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