Increasing Social Awareness in Higher Education

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

About two months ago I wrote about increasing social awareness in higher education, specifically the MSIDT program that I graduated from. Developing the social awareness of the program has gone well, although nothing like I had planned. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because plans can’t take into account all the variable but just doing it can definitely adjust for variables.

I began going in a few different directions; writing articles for various websites/magazines, writing blog posts for the MSIDT website, and reviving or creating social media accounts to share and converse with the community. There were other plans such as creating a cMOOC of some sort for one of the courses, but this would have consumed a great deal of time and may be done  by one of the instructors.

Social Media

Because I know getting social media accounts up and running and getting somebody unfamiliar with the intricacies of social media up to speed takes a long time, I started with that. Some social media accounts were already created so it was a matter of rounding those two up and then creating them for two other networks.

The two big challenges I see with building social media accounts is putting together other people’s quality content to share and finding the time in an already busy schedule to share all that content.

Finding the time to share the content is made a little easier with Buffer. Buffer is a great tool that makes it easy to share content to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ at the same time. It’s a major time saver and relieves the stress of sharing content.

The other challenge is finding quality content. Luckily I was developing this awareness program for an Instructional Design program that has a lot of people involved. I could rely on instructors and students! I was able to set up a quick Google forms that allowed the instructors to enter an interesting article they read into a spreadsheet. The data in that spreadsheet could then be used to share easily from within Buffer. A details field in the spreadsheet allowed for comments also which could be used to add a bit of commentary to shared articles if fitting.

Finding good content was also a bit easier because for many classes in the program students need to know about the current state of Instructional Design. There is regular sharing of quality articles in various classes so that information can easily be added to the spreadsheet. Pooling effort in that way makes it easier to find a stead stream of quality content to share.

Original Content For Others

Getting the social media accounts up and running does take a lot of time, but it also takes a long time to put together proposals and outlines to write content for other organizations. The purpose of writing for other recognized magazine and websites is to build the authority and relevance of the program.

I was able to organize publications in several well-known publications, specifically TD magazine, Learning Solutions Magazine, and CLO magazine. Logistics for these publications are still being ironed out, but many of them are scheduled tentatively to publish within the next two months and one in the second half of next year.

The benefits these publications will give are many. It’s going to build an authoritative voice for the program because they’ll be sharing first hand knowledge that’s relevant to the industry. It’ll also give quality content to share from popular publications on the MSIDT social media accounts and blog.

There’s also a need for relevant and timely content on the MSIDT blog so I also had a plan to get regular blog posts being published.

Original Local Content

The last piece of the puzzle I did was to organize a way for a steady stream of original content written about Instructional Design to be published on the MSIDT website news section. The news section behaves like a blog so it would become the official MSIDT blog.

After talking with all the instructors and filling them into what I was doing, one of the things I asked for was for them to sign up to write a blog post if they had the time. As predicted most didn’t have time to write a blog post during the summer, but I was able to get the information out there and the instructors aware of how they could sign up to write a post.

To sign up instructors only had to sign up for one of the provided ideas or sign up with their own idea including an estimated completion date. There was also some talk in the program of having students write a few posts which would have the added benefit of forcing them to become active in the community and increasing the chances they’ll continue writing after graduation.

Being able to develop Instructional Design skills is very reliant on writing and staying current on the changing world of technology and the science of learning. Blogging is the perfect platform for that so students should find tremendous benefit.

Along with some sign-ups to write blog posts by instructors, I wrote a few posts for the blog too which should be a good start to also giving alumni a direct voice through the blog.

Authentic

All of these activities are helping a program that already has a tremendous reputation, and it’s doing it in an authentic way. Growing an Instructional Design program at a major university is not an easy task. Doing that organically, and in an authentic way is even more challenging.

Among all these methods I’ve written about, they’ve all been successful in my eyes and they’re being done in an authentic way. There’s been no over-marketing with the content that’s been produced and no pushing of the program. All content that’s been developed has been original, and more importantly helpful to the community. This not only builds authority but it does it in a way that is organic and authentic. A way that promotes the program in a way that still upholds how it’s now seen as one of the premier Instructional Design programs.

It takes a mixture of skills to build awareness, in my case I mixed my knowledge of marketing, social media, learning, and of the program. Increasing social awareness in higher education takes a lot of skill, and introduces a lot of challenges. Higher education teachers are busy, as with all educators. It’s a field where time is stretched, unsurprisingly similar to other fields of education.

Along this journey I’ve had for the past three months I’ve learned a lot and have accomplished a lot. Not everything went as planned and there were many detours and challenges. It still ended up being a positive experience and the outcome was a success in my eyes and the MSIDT programs eyes.