The First in a Series of Five Guest Posts
A few weeks ago I hit upon an excellent idea; well, at least I think it’s an excellent idea! I know that a good number of the better known edubloggers guest blog on each other’s sites. However, I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach. Using Facebook, I have made contact with ten past students, each of whom have gone on to become what I would consider a genuine success story. Of course, each of these talented young men and women have chosen a different career path and I’ve attempted to select a good cross section.
The first two contributions have come in and so I thought it was timely to post the first. Timely, because just yesterday (December 1, 2012) Jewel Topsfield published an excellent article, This T is For Teaching, in The Age about the use of Twitter in schools. (…and yes, I am quoted in it!)
I asked each of the past students to provide their views on social media, the platforms they use, the benefits to their career and whether schools should be teaching “responsible use.” The first post is from Ian Camilleri; but I’ll shortly allow him to introduce himself. Of course, both Ian and I would welcome your questions and comments. At the bottom of the post you will find contact details for Ian and a link to his website.
My name is Ian Camilleri and since graduating from secondary school in 2001, I have been pursuing a career in the entertainment / advertising / media industry. In 2005, I attained a Bachelor Of Popular Music from the Queensland Conservatorium and in 2007, I relocated from the Gold Coast to Sydney to seek employment opportunities in this field. Five years later, I have secured a full time position as an Audio Engineer at the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS Australia) and have also started my own recording studio business; where I am a recognised Music Producer, Sound Designer, Composer and Audio Engineer.
Social media sites have been, and continue to be, a large contributor to the career progressions I have made over the past five years. They have proven time and time again to be the most effective way in which I learn more about my industry, stay in contact with colleagues and clients, seek new contacts and potential opportunities and let the industry know what I’ve been up to. They also allow me to maintain awareness; much like a brand does through marketing campaigns – putting me “front of mind” should an opportunity arise. I currently use three primary social media sites on a daily basis; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and use others like Instagram or Soundcloud sparingly for more specific applications.
As the most popular social media site in the world, Facebook serves me two purposes. My personal profile is used to find and stay in contact with anyone I’ve ever known; from family to close friends, acquaintances, former work colleagues and schoolmates. I very rarely add people whom I have never met nor been in contact with, as my profile reveals personal information about myself and, my posts are mostly personal thoughts, opinions, experiences and interactions. As I have accumulated a high volume of contacts or ‘friends’ on this platform (some of which are industry contacts), I also post about work related topics and promote what I have been up to; however, I mostly leave that for my Facebook business page. Here, I promote my services, show pictures of my studio and post about my latest projects and work related experiences. As part of a Facebook business page, I also receive detailed information on how my page is tracking, and how many people I am reaching with my activity. This is very useful to understand how to market effectively to my targeted audience and attract more interest in my product. I often ‘pay to promote’ important posts in order to reach more people and in the near future, I may even invest in the more structured paid advertising options.
As Twitter is a much simpler concept that other social media sites (and more useful for well-known public figures), I have chosen to link it to my Facebook business page so that anything I post on Facebook is also simultaneously tweeted on Twitter. My Twitter feed is also featured on my website therefore, I treat my Twitter profile as another work related platform.
The most useful of all social media sites for networking with my industry, seeking potential career opportunities and furthering my business is LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows me to display professional information about me; current position, work history, skills, experience and references. Much like an online CV, it allows potential employers / recruiters and business clients to find out more about me professionally. So far, this has proven to be the most useful tool for building a great contact database, staying ‘plugged in’ to what’s happening within the industry, finding and expressing interest in employment opportunities and attracting work for my business. I often use the ‘People You May Know’ tool which allows me to look for and connect with other people in the industry who may be connected somehow with my existing list of contacts. I currently have 430 ‘connections’ or contacts that could include potential employers with future career prospects or clients with work for my business.
While I believe having an online presence through social media sites is important, their effectiveness is very much dependent on the frequency and amount of activity put into them. With the internet on my smartphone as well as at home and at work, I access social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn on a regular basis; often hourly on any given day. Most of the time, I am simply observing and reading other’s activity, but I will often contribute in some way; either ‘liking’ or commenting on posts, and sometimes sharing something I like. I try to create my own posts at least 3 -5 times a week in order to appear regularly in the ‘newsfeed’ but not so much that my contacts are annoyed by constant and uninteresting posts. When I do post, I usually put some thought into how I will phrase it, so as to encourage people to ‘like’, comment, or even to start a discussion on the topic. The more people that are engaged in a post, the more successful I feel it is and, the more likely people are willing to contribute to my posts in the future.
As with any online presence, there are risks involved in what I display or post but ultimately, the choice lies with me. Having a good understanding of these risks and how to avoid them helps me to make informed decisions about what I show and what I don’t. For example, I choose not to show my address information on any of my profiles so as to avoid any risks to my safety and the security of my belongings. I am also very cautious when posting, that I don’t say something to offend anyone who may see the post; leading to disputes, legal consequences, employment termination or a loss of future work. As long as these risks are understood and correct social media practices taught, the advantages to having an active and dynamic online presence far outweighs the dangers.
Many of the current social media sites began in small institutions like schools or colleges and it’s in these environments that I believe it is most useful. Also, with the way the rest of the world has already been integrating social media into everyday practices, (particularly in the workplace), it is only logical that classrooms should provide the right education; if only to prepare students for the real world. In the school environment, it would not only connect teachers, students and parents in a highly efficient network, but it would also allow for endless possibilities as to how the current curriculum is taught.
As students are being exposed to the dynamic world of social media more and more in their personal lives, the often flat and very structured curriculum currently taught in schools will lose its appeal and consequently, the interest of students. The use of social media interaction in the classroom would inspire teachers and education boards to come up with new and creative ways to teach; engaging and exciting students to get the most out of their education. It would also provide valuable tools for educators to be able to monitor, assess, review and improve systems as often as they wish.
The truth is, whether we choose to embrace it or not, social media has definitely reshaped the way we interact with others in our everyday lives. I believe that in order to have the best chance at a successful and rewarding career in this new era, as with everything, it needs to start in the classroom.