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!