Yesterday I had the pleasure of helping facilitate an all-day training on social media for educators and nonprofits at the Global Kids offices, as part of our regular professional development services. It's always fun to talk with an eager and open group of folks about social media, particularly if they have no particular background in technology. It's a good reminder to me of how most of the world looks at tools like serious games, virtual worlds and Twitter.
This came up most directly when our director Barry Joseph was talking about the kinds of things you can do in the virtual environment of Small Worlds:
Barry: In my Small Worlds room I can show all my friends my YouTube videos in my channel. Or I can display all my photos that I've uploaded to Flickr.
Participant: I'm having a hard time putting myself in the position of someone who would even care to do that.
This is a perfect example of where many older educators and nonprofit staffers are coming from. Not only do they not use the media tools we are talking about, they don't know why anyone would want to use those tools. Why would I want to have a virtual room to display my personal pictures to avatars who happen to wander by? Why would I want to tweet?
So our challenge in running these professional development trainings is not only to give our students an overview of what these social media tools are, but also how to think about these tools and connect them to what they are trying to achieve in their respective institutions. Judging by the rapt attention we had from our 20+ participants yesterday, I think that we succeeded.