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Community Building Via Social Media

I am revisiting this post from the three years ago and want to comment on how positive my experience has been with engaging more in the local community and higher ed community in general. In the Fall 2009, I decided to make a concerted effort to get more involved in my communities. I have already blogged some about this, but this blog will speak more so to the consequences. What have I learned? Who have I met? And, has it been worth it?

Maybe I should first say that I enjoy networking and I’ve been pretty good and successful with networking within Women’s Studies and Political Science. I have lots of friends and contacts in the US and Canada and I really do feel like I am part of the academic community. Given the teaching focus of my job that I’ve had for almost two years, I have had a chance to meet others with similar interests in the Scholarship of Teaching  and teaching and technology. But, I wanted more–I wanted to meet more people in different units across campus and in the city in general.

Somehow I came to this realization that I wanted to expand my networks in academe and in my local community in Victoria, so I joined FourSquare (I broke up with FourSquare eventually), Twitter, and stepped up my involvement in local community related events in Victoria. I also made a point of contacting others in Vancouver or other parts of British Columbia. I don’t want to be one of those academics that is so niche focused that I miss out on other opportunities and connections. This led to leading workshops and giving various talks in the community.

I’ll start with FourSquare. I like the game aspect of it–it’s fun. And, I’ve actually met people from the FourSquare hits. In a previous post, I noted that I’ve attended some of the High Noon Hump Day Meet Ups and these are usually focused on iPhone apps, FourSquare, iPad apps and the like. Frankly, these have been fun–lunches and chats about technology. I am such a nerd at heart and admit to it. Big smile. Well, this lasted for a few years and eventually I broke up with FourSquare, as I got a bit obsessed with it and there was no real benefit.

My Twitter use has been a two-fold win. I’ve used it in the classroom and personally. I have made more friendships than I can count and here I am referring mostly to the people that I have met in real life (IRL). However, to be honest, I have also “met” some wonderful people in higher ed, other Latinas, YA Lit readers, political junkies, and academics on Twitter, who I might never meet IRL. We have shared journal article suggestions, URLS, statistics, book suggestions, recipes, and gripes about everything. I connect with prospective, current, and former students on Twitter. I have also made professional connections with others.

I guess this post is my evangelism about social networking and social media. Yeah, I’m sold. Yeah, I’m an enthusiast. Professionally and politically stepping this up has led to blogging for Equality 101, the University of Venus, the Globe and Mail, as well as speaking opportunities. I have also found that my profile on my campus and network of friends and contacts is wider and it is rewarding.

Can you build community via social media? Yes. How are you building community? I am using the usual subjects–attending events and meeting people, but social media and social networks are definitely part of my arsenal.

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