Reflections from CJS’s “What We Learned Teaching Social Media” webcast

I recently chanced upon a webcast hosted by the Columbia Journalism School (@columbiajourn) on “What We Learned Teaching Social Media.” The syllabus for the graduate-level class is available for reference. The speakers were some of the best in the business:

Having organized workshops for journalism students at the University of Washington on social media, I was interested to find out how other people are engaging student journalists and helping them discover the potential for social media in journalism.

During the conversation I asked via Twitter (hashtag: #cjsoc), “What’s the best way to teach social media to student journalists?” Jennifer Preston said she likes to have students work on a specific project or Tweet a specific event. Examples she used were election coverage and the aftermath of Haiti. I was reminded of the students in Prof. Roger Simpson’s class who live-Tweeted President Obama’s visit to boost Sen. Patty Murray’s re-election campaign.

Preston said the class debriefs after the event by having volunteers share their feeds and discussing what worked and what didn’t.

Each class also develops a list of social-media guidelines.

The shared syllabus is a wealth of resources and I encourage everyone to take a look at it. It includes tools, links to articles about journalism and social media, and links to case studies. It also includes links to articles about etiquette and metrics.

A few notable examples in the syllabus:

1. Examples of journalists using Twitter (

2. @mashable’s Twitter guide:

3. See a collection of 80+ social-media policies, compiled by

4. 8 ways to use social media in the newsroom (by J.D. Lasica and Barbara Iverson)

5. The emergence of location.

6. Journalists in the social media ecosystem: Journalist as curator, as community manager

7. What is a personal brand and why it is important (Poynter – Lavrusik)

8. 10 Commandments of Twitter Etiquette

9. How much of your life is too much to share online? (Verne Kopytoff,
S.F Chronicle, April 27, 2009)


Twitter 101 for educators

I’ve been so excited lately about the potential I see for Twitter as a learning tool. But Twitter does have a bit of a learning curve when it comes to understanding potential uses. It’s easy to set up a Twitter account and start sending status updates. But what is more important than this, I think, is what you do after that: Follow other people.


When you go to your Twitter home page it will show you a chronological stream of content from all the people you follow. The quality of that content depends on the quality of the people you follow. I am interested in news, social media, and technology in education so I follow news organizations such as @cnnbrk (CNN Breaking News), @msnbc_us, and @nytimes (New York Times), and social media and education types such as @chrispirillo, @kegill, and @smcseattle (Social Media Club Seattle).

What, you might ask, is the @ symbol in front of all those Twitter names (also known as Twitter handles)? The @ can be used to reply to a post or it can be used to give credit to a source when retweeting.

What’s retweeting? A retweet looks something like this: RT @jdlasica: In case you were wondering, yes, @lancearmstronG is tweeting quite a bit during the Tour de France #uwtwtrbook.

The RT stands for retweet. It’s used when you like something someone has has tweeted and you want to repeat it – or retweet it. You will also notice in this example that the @ symbol has been used for Lance Armstrong so readers can easily find his Twitter feed by clicking on the link that is automatically created whenever you use the @ symbol.


Also in this example above, we see something called a hashtag. You can create a hashtag simply by placing the # symbol in front of a word or abbreviation.

The hashtag is extremely useful for categorizing information. For example, an instructor might have everyone in a class tweet their reflections on a class and give it a specific hashtag, for example, #com346. Then the instructor, and the students, can do a search from the main Twitter page for #com346 and all the tweets with this hashtag will show up in chronological order. This can help instructors monitor class progress and questions and can help students review class notes and read other students’ reflections.

If you have the technology in the classroom it can be helpful to have the Tweets show up in real time on a projected screen using an application like Tweetdeck, which you can set up to show different hashtags and groups of people you are following.

Hashtags are also commonly used for special events like lectures and conferences (it’s helpful if someone announces the hashtag at the beginning of the event so everyone can use and follow the same one). For example, a conference on environmental journalism might have the hashtag #greenj. Try to come up with something logical, short and memorable.

A group might also want to start using a specific hashtag (though no one can own a specific hashtag – check to make sure no one else is using the hashtag you want to use). For example, students in the University of Washington Master of Communication in Digital Media program regularly use the hashtag #uwmcdm to post content relevant to other MCDM students.

Finding people to follow

As I said before, the quality of your Twitter experience relies on the quality of who you follow. But how do you find people to follow? One way is just to search by keyword. There are also many sites that are devoted to helping you find people with similar interests. WeFollow is one such site. Twibes is another. LocalTweeps is a site that sends you Tweets if you are in a geographic location of a registered event.

You will notice as you start following people you will suddenly get a lot of followers. The decision of whether to follow them or not is up to you. I usually check out the timeline of someone who has followed me. If the information is relevant to me then I follow them. If it looks like spam I don’t.

There’s a lot more about Twitter that I could go into. But this should be enough to get you started. And don’t feel like you have to read everything the people you are following tweet. Scan through when you think of it. If you have time to click on a few links, great. If not, don’t worry about it. The nice thing about Twitter is that the people you are following will filter information for you. If it’s really important it will probably come up again from another friend. Think of it as fishing for information. There are always more fish in the pond, but you only need to catch a few to be happy.

If you would like to take a look at some of the applications that have been developed for use with Twitter, there is a fan wiki with a lot of information.

You can follow my tweets at @UWComm.

Using Social Media to Find a Job

You can use the social media applications you’re already using to stay in touch with friends and classmates to look for a job.

Paul Gillin, author of The New Influencers, and Chris Brogan presented a webinar on finding a job using social media (Twitter hashtag #work2) on March 24. For more information check out Chris Brogan’s free e-book. Some of their tips:

  1. Twitter: Use to find job leads. Tell your network what you are looking for. Also check out
  2. Google and RSS feeds: Set up feeds using key words to look for jobs. Exp. the company you want to work for.
  3. LinkedIn: Use applications such as SlideShare to show off your presentations. Use the WordPress application to show off your blog and your expertise and interests. Watch status changes. If someone leaves their job, you can be first in line to apply for it.
  4. Online portfolio: Quality matters, but so does quantity. Show off your expertise! Include links. One possibility:
  5. Facebook profile: Use your network to get job leads. Facebook is more personal than LinkedIn so check your privacy settings and look to see what photos you are tagged in.
  6. Resumes: Still need them, but also include a “social media press release” with background links where you worked previously and links to where people are talking about you. Your resume should be a jumping-off point to your capabilities. Spell check! It should look professional.
  7. If you don’t get the job: It’s OK to ask why or where you can improve, but don’t be offended if a company is not able to give you the information.
  8. Include your geography so you appear in geographical searches.
  9. Make yourself memorable to the hiring agent: Use tools to be creative. Create media specifically for the company you are applying to. Don’t go with a cookie-cutter approach. You are not a cookie-cutter candidate.
  10. You are responsible for your own professional development. You might need to pay to go to a conference. Go to the library! Constantly be in education mode and networking mode. You will likely need to reinvent yourself several times during your working life.
  11. Recommendations: Get them before you need them. The best time to get a recommendation is when your interaction is fresh in their mind.
  12. Before you go looking for a job Google yourself, so you know what’s out there with your name on it.
  13. Show your expertise by publishing your own book. These websites make it possible to self-publish:,,

GradShare Graduate Student Community now open to everyone

The GradShare online community for graduate students, which was previously available to UW grad students in beta, has announced that registration is now open to any U.S. graduate student.  

GradShare is an online graduate student community that was created by ProQuest in coordination with the UW Graduate School and Libraries. GradShare helps graduate students share challenges and get solutions on wide-ranging topics that reflect the realities of graduate study. It’s also a place to learn about high-quality resources available to you at UW to help you succeed.

GradShare says it’s made a number of updates, including:

  • Commenting on answers and Expert Advice
  • Conversation tracking to help you stay informed
  • Email updates
  • Simplified interdisciplinary browsing
  • Updated user profile tools