Monday, January 9, 2012

How I Sold My Husband on the Power of Social Media

Last fall, my husband Chris volunteered to do a presentation on the engineering design process for our local FIRST team, The Bionic Tigers (Team 1592).  A brilliant systems engineer, he put together a terrific presentation showing how the engineering design process used in industry relates directly to the FIRST robotics competition. He put a lot of time and effort into the presentation, which was was very well received by the 60 students and mentors in attendance. At my recommendation, he uploaded his powerpoint slides to Slideshare and that was that.

A few months later, he received a video copy of his presentation.  He decided to upload it to his website with the idea of adding the links to his Linked In profile as a way to demonstrate his presentation skills. Knowing that the FIRST competition kickoff event was coming up in early January, I created bit.ly links for the presentation and video and tweeted it out a few times using hashtags on December 30. (You can view the presentation slides at http://bit.ly/vP7t1n and the presentation video at http://bit.ly/rHB4pT)

A few days later, I checked my Klout score and was surprised to discover it had spiked an entire point on December 30.  The reason?  The popularity of the presentation and video links. I realized that Chris' presentation was a very valuable resource for people involved with the FIRST competition, especially at this time of year.  I scheduled several follow up tweets in hootsuite and Chris shared his presentation in his Linked in groups. The response was overwhelming.  

Suddenly, Chris was getting emails from FIRST mentors from around the country asking if they could distribute copies of his presentation to their students.  "Thank you so much for sharing this," said one engineer. "This brings home the point that teams need to spend more time in analysis instead of jumping into design.  These are valuable lessons that apply to all engineering programs, including Robotics.  Our students need to learn these skills."

My husband, who sometimes complains (justifiably) about the amount of time I spend hunched over my iPad reviewing my twitter feed, was overwhelmed by the response.  As I write this, Chris' slideshare presentation has been viewed over 500 times. Instead of just helping 50 students understand the importance of analysis in the engineering design process, his presentation will now touch hundreds, maybe thousands, of kids.  It was as rewarding for me to see the work he put into his presentation leveraged a hundred fold as it was to see him come to appreciate the power of social media.

Social media can be an incredibly valuable tool. When people talk about social media and kids, so often they focus on the negative.  Usually that is because they have not experienced the positive side of social media. Students need to discover the power of social media for good - for learning, for sharing resources, for building professional networks and relationships, for helping others. So do most adults.

Well, this week I converted one!