Following IRISS’s participation in an international workshop on evidence-informed practice in Ireland last April, I was invited to spend a couple of weeks working with PART (Practice and Research Together – http://www.partontario.org/) in Toronto. PART’s mission and mandate is to link research to child welfare practice which they do by promoting practice, organizational and systemic change.
PART sees social media as an important part of achieving its goal and my task is to share our experience. On the flight over I re-read Jane Hart’s excellent Social Learning Handbook. Hart starts with the premise that a fundamental shift is taking place in the way that both learning and working takes place in organisations. Everyone, potentially, has access to the social web and a wide range of services and applications to support personal and team learning and enhance performance and productivity.
Hart identifies four categories in which social media is being used:
- Internal organisational
- External organisational
The fourth category has been enthusiastically embraced by communications, marketing and PR departments, some with notable success. Yet these same organisations will often ban or discourage the first three types of use. I think it’s the first and fourth categories that give rise to consternation. The first generates panic that people will check Facebook all day or twitter endlessly while the fourth raises fears that individuals will post unauthorised Tweets on behalf of the company. When we start to understand that what we call social media simply offers more and varied ways of doing the things we’ve always done (finding, listing, organising, sharing, communicating), perhaps some of the fears might be allayed.
So the focus for this visit has been to explore these different categories of use and suggest that child care professionals could surely add Twitter to the tasks they entrusted with.
Another post coming soon to report on on how child protection agencies in Ontario view social media as part of daily operations.