From education to employment

High fliers of social media in UK further education and skills

Tom Mitchell is Jisc group social media manager

Social media in further education (FE) was put to plenty of good use last year – but what did you think were some of the best examples delivered in 2015?

Did you admire how a colleague used hashtags to start conversations with peers on Twitter? Were you swept up with the rapid ascent of Periscope and how it quickly caught on by sector pioneers for its power to engage and recruit learners through video capture? What about those using Medium for blogging? Or perhaps you’re a skills provider who used Facebook groups to keep in touch with learners on placement?

With so much good going on, it’s only natural to want to celebrate it. And that’s exactly what we at Jisc intend to do.

Some of you may remember that last summer we ran a competition to find 50 of the most influential higher education (HE) professionals on social media. Our thinking behind the initiative was it would allow us to highlight exceptional individuals and the work they were doing, so that others across the sector could take inspiration and try out new ideas.

We were delighted with the amount of responses we received, and also by just how many creative and inventive ways people were using social – we knew it existed, but it was excellent to see it highlighted in such a clear way.

What’s more, it reminded us that good practice can spread across job titles and departments, and can meet all sorts of different needs cases – with our final 50 featuring a mix of academics, vice-chancellors, librarians and IT staff, each demonstrating varied and outstanding applications of social media in HE.

From using Facebook groups for peer assisted learning to Periscope for streaming live events, the selected individuals showed how they maximised the use of all sorts of social channels for teaching and learning.

During this competition there were lots of enquiries from people working in FE and skills about whether we’d be doing something similar in their sector. That was absolutely always our intention – and I’m pleased to announce that the call for FE and skills practitioners is now open!

The nominations for this competition will work in exactly the same way as before. If you, or someone you know, has used social media innovatively to positive effect – whether that’s to inspire and support learners or other members of staff, or prompt a change within your organisation – you can go to the website to enter (although please do check first if you’re entering on someone’s behalf).

We’ll be looking for the following when deciding who makes the top 50, so think about how social media has been used to:

• Address a specific need or challenge

• Have a positive impact at your institution or on the wider community

• Overcome any barriers in learning, teaching or research

• Create efficiencies such as costs, time savings or improved outputs

• Implement best practice

Nominations close on Wednesday 3 February and will then go to a panel of social media experts from Jisc and the wider community to whittle the entrants down.

A list of the top 50 will be announced on our website and Jisc social media channels for Digifest, which takes place on 2-3 March 2016. We’ll also be highlighting some of the good practice during the festival, so make sure you check it out.

Read the full guidelines and criteriasubmit your entry, and join in the conversation using the hashtag #Jisc50social.

Tom Mitchell is Jisc group social media manager

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