Thursday, December 24, 2009

Five Reasons Why Allied Health Faculty Should Use Social Media

For the longest time I put off doing anything with Twitter. In fact, I opened an account only after a co-worker, the wonderful and prescient Kirk Pedrick, kept bugging me about it. And I hated it. Thought it was stupid. Boy, was I wrong. Not only is Twitter enormously useful—if it's used properly—so are many other social media, particularly Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs of people in your field. (I haven't done anything with wikis yet, so I left them off my list.)

Turned out that I was using Twitter improperly. I didn't understand it and didn't give it a good enough try. Same thing with Facebook, which I initially found was fine, not bad, okay for maintaining contact with old friends, but that's about it. I saw little value for my business interests.

Wrong again. I think Facebook and Twitter both have enormous potential, not just for me, as an acquisitions editor, but the more I use them, for allied health faculty and students as well. Here are my top five reasons why.

  1. Collates news you're interested in. It doesn't take much time on Twitter to realize that news pertinent to you gets to you fast, without you having to rummage through tons of newspapers, magazines, and the like. Here's an example from today. I noticed a post on Twitter about a study in England that caught my eye, a study about kids who blog, text, or use social networking websites being more confident about their writing skills. The article came from the BBC, which I never watch. But the study is interesting and directly applicable to schools everywhere, and not just for children. I believe that our college students can improve their writing skills using social media as well.

  2. Now, I doubt I would have seen that article if it hadn't been for Twitter. I doubt you would have seen it either if it wasn't for this blog entry. But I saw immediately its potential impact on how we teach allied health students in our community and career colleges, and I'll bet you can see it too. Twitter. didn't keep this news to myself, of course. I "retweeted," so people who follow my tweets (those poor buggers) would see it too. And I posted the link on my business Facebook page so my friends—allied health faculty, practitioners, authors, and colleagues—could learn about it too.

  3. Opens new avenues of thought. I've begun to think a bit differently now that I'm using social media. It's hard to define but I think mostly I've become more creative in my job. I've always been creative, a trait my superiors have consistent lauded, but after so many years in the publishing business I think perhaps I had begun to get stale. I kept track of trends but mostly after the trend had gained solid ground. Now I'm following trends as they happen. I'm also finding and learning things I never would have found and learned before purely as a result of being exposed to the thoughts and news posts of so many people I never would have encountered in any other setting. I think the same thing would have to ring true for other professions, particularly teaching in allied health care.

  4. I'm writing again. That may not seem like much to you but it's huge for me. As an acquisitions editor I write constantly. Constantly. But I'm writing e-mails, mostly, or contract notes, a formal document we prepare for our decision-making group when we have a new book we want to publish. Contract notes are rather formulaic and require little creativity. But this blog, which I'm hoping will grow into something my authors and potential authors will find useful, helps feed my desire to write. Facebook and Twitter help feed that desire as well, while also serving what I hope will be an ever-growing circle of followers, some of whom might choose to write for me and F.A. Davis over a competitor because they've come to know me a bit and trust what I have to say.

  5. It makes good business sense. I use Facebook and Twitter and write this blog to attract potential authors, find new authors and reviewers, and keep in touch with the markets I serve. Pretty straightforward, don't you think? Wouldn't it stand to reason that, say, medical assisting program directors who tweet and maintain a Facebook site or blog might attract potential new students and faculty members simply or even largely because of their presence in social media? I think it does, and I think with these media only growing in popularity, now is the time to get on the bandwagon. Give yourself time to work out the kinks, to get used to using social media, to build a content base, and to build up your cadre of friends and followers. It just makes sense.

  6. It makes good pedagogical sense. According to the National School Boards' Association, social media should be adapted for use in the classroom because:

  • 96% of students with access to the Internet build social networks.

  • 50% of teens say they talk to their peers about schoolwork online (IM, blog or social networking sites) or via text messages.

  • 60% indicate that they discuss education-related topics, such as college and career planning.

    • Your students use social media constantly. Why? Because they find it engaging, interesting, informative, and just plain fun. So why not implement the same media for pedagogical purposes? It makes absolutely NO SENSE not to.

      Next blog: The Drawbacks of Social Media in Schools and How to Deal with Them