Wednesday, April 10, 2013

#digitaledu, #Tea…#What?!

Just as the first ever Toronto Tea Festival was coming down the home stretch, I started my Foundations in Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media course at the University of Toronto.  I think I first read about this new Certificate in Digital Strategy & Communications Management in the local Metro Daily one morning.  First of its kind!  Social media sounds simple enough, should be fun, right?  I went on the U of T continuing education website to examine it closer.  Looked very interesting, major component was blogging which I had wanted to improve, and learn more about social media, maybe finally open a Twitter account in the process too.

The program was developed and taught by a group of experienced social media and PR experts: Martin WaxmanMarcus DanielsDiane BeginCyrus Mavalwala and Eden Spodek.

Once again I went “back to school”, but this was way more fun, in fact tweeting was encouraged in class.  I opened my Twitter account and started learning the ropes, forcing myself to send my messages out within the required 140 characters and so on. 

Every Wednesday night, classmates and instructors were live tweeting during lectures with #digitaledu. Social media is “social” so interaction in class, online and offline was also encouraged.  There’s a LinkedIn group for the class, a group project to create a wiki, learning new technology, book reports, and class presentations.  Learning about social media advertising and RTB (Real Time Bidding, mind boggling!) 

There were fun and informative nights with guest speakers like Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks via Skype.  Pro- blogger panel with Alison Garwood-Jones, Andrew Dobson, Zach Bussey, and Kathy Buckworth some of the classmates were very social media savvy and I learned quite a bit from them as well.  We even had a Genie Award-winning documentary film maker, Maureen Judge who spoke in class!

I went in thinking this would be fairly easy, light and fun.  Doable, you know…but when you toss in the minor detail that January to April is THE busiest time for my full time job in the Financial Services, RRSP and tax season, anyone?  But hey, how much work can a class on social media entail?

As it turns out, lots! This course was really intensive, especially if you are new to a lot of the content.  My synapses sizzled during and after Marcus’ class on social media advertising.  I had a mini panic attack while learning how to use the PBWork platform to create our group wiki project.  It was only the next week during class when Martin and Eden took a look, did we all realize it had changed so much that they, yes the teachers, even encouraged us to move to Google platform.  Way easier! Thank you! 

With this much work, we’re talking a whole new level of busy! 

Oh yes, and I agreed to help be a moderator  for a new online forum called Teatalk and help with a local tea organization with their Facebook page! 

And to top it off, as the class is winding down, I am preparing for a trip to China!  We’re off to visit the land of TEA in a couple of days!  Whoa, couple of days!  I still need to pack, finish my group wiki, finish up my required blog postings for class, and, oh yeah, work… whew!  Tired just thinking of this, hmm, need some good strong tea to keep me going through the home stretch, actually maybe something stronger like yerba mate or… perhaps…coffee?!  Nah, tea’s better, don’t need more jitters…  

Photo: Jennifer Hamill

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