Facebook or LinkedIn

I have noticed that LinkedIn has been becoming more popular in occupational therapy circles recently, as people seemed to be inviting me to connect with them, and I could see that they were new to LinkedIn but getting involved quickly.  My contacts rose sharply in the past few months from about 20 to over 80 contacts, with little or no effort on my part.

So, what is the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn?

For me Facebook is a place to be social with friends, family and colleagues.  In Facebook I connect and share information relevant to occupational therapy but I also share information about my home and leisure life. I have my own profile and am a member of many groups that represent the many facets of my life.  I am able to “like” people, places and products, and share photos of life as it happens…

LinkedIn is different from Facebook in many ways.  Firstly, LinkedIn was set up as a business networking tool, not a social networking tool, so it is designed for users to input information about their professional self. Secondly, LinkedIn has strict rules about connecting to others.  The program asks you how you know a person before it lets you connect with them, ie: it is not designed for you to “friend a stranger”, it is designed for you to connect with people you already know, or to be introduced to people with whom you have mutual connections.  Thirdly, LinkedIn is not interested in “what you are doing right now”, its purpose is to be an online space to develop a profile, where you can upload resources you have developed, include testimonials and join professional discussion groups on topics of your choice.

LinkedIn has 100 million users and Facebook has 500 million users, so right now you have a larger body of people in Facebook who to participate in conversations with. LinkedIn is starting to develop more as an asynchronous discussion space, but not yet at the level that Facebook has achieved.

So, what do OTs use LinkedIn for?  In a poll using Facebook I asked OT contacts what they use LinkedIn for.  The picture here is a “screen shot” of the answers, with a summary on the left.

The results of my Facebook poll which had responses from 52 people (number responding to each category of question in brackets)

  1. To build my business/professional network (20)
  2. I don’t really/Don’t use LinkedIn (15)
  3. To share professional profile tools (blog, portfolio) (3)
  4. To recommend others (2)
  5. Keep up to date in my network’s role/job (1 vote)
  6. To get recommended by others (1)
  7. Still working out its usefulness/still finding out about it (1)

What do these results mean?   It appears that among my Facebook contact group LinkedIn is still a novel online tool which some are using effectively, but most are just becoming aware of.  The Technology Acceptance Model (Davis et al., 1989) suggests that technology must be both useful and easy to use in order for people to be willing to adopt it.  Perhaps LinkedIn is perceived as not as easy to use as Facebook and therefore not as useful for making quick connections in our rapidly developing online OT world. 

The questions I pose are:

  1. In what ways is LinkedIn potentially more useful than Facebook to occupational therapists?
  2. What are the benefits if we build profiles in each of these online spaces?  
  3. Can LinkedIn be used as a tool to demonstrate ongoing professional development?

Festival of Teaching UofA 2011

Since the festival of teaching began in 2008 here at the University of Alberta I have not missed out on presenting, as a way to share with my colleagues the joy of teaching motivated MScOT students. This year I wasn’t going to submit an abstract as I just had so much on, but then I thought… “I can’t miss out, that will break the link”. So I quickly submitted a proposal at the last minute and was delighted to have it accepted.

This year the format is different from the past three. The posters are BANNERS and will be taken around the University and placed in different Faculties throughout the Festival week. On March 10th there will be an opportunity for people to share their stories, in a traditional conference style sharing session at the Telus Centre here at the University, with all the banners up in one location. I imagine it will be quite a beautiful sight.

One of the new things on at this year’s festival is the the opportunity to go and visit a class, to sit in and see how others teach! What a great idea that is! I have volunteered also to have people come to my class, and I offered our online class for INTD 410, in Elluminate. It will be interesting to see if we get any interest. I will make sure that I attend at least ONE other class during the Festival week, seeing how others teach can be so motivating to do better.

Doing, being, becoming a blogger and belonging to a virtual community!

Professor Ann Wilcock first coined the phrase “Doing, Being and Becoming” in her Sylvia Docker address at the OTAustralia National conference in Canberra in 1999. The address is available through this link to the Australian Occupational Therapy Journal

Since that address Professor Wilcock has added “Belonging” to her model as she states that without BELONGING we cannot truly BECOME our potential. This information was documented in the second edition of her text “An Occupational Perspective of Health”

I believe that by learning how to blog and becoming a blogger, enables us to belong to a new online community and move a step closer to one’s potential.

Our role as OT’s is to enable this transition!

Here’s my example: I was teaching as a volunteer at Edmonton Brain Injury Re-learning Society (EBIRS) recently and when we finished our “basic computer course” I asked the participants where they would like to head next… they said they really wanted to access email and the internet. I asked what they would like to achieve on the internet and the answer was what I expected… to find things out!

I asked if anyone had blogged or heard of blogs. One person said “isn’t that a place to meet people?” and I explained that it’s more like an online journal or diary, you can have any type of content, it can be public or private and if it’s public, people can leave comments on it. As we know, it can be a place to express feelings, a place to tell a story or as is the case with this blog, a place to delve deeper into topics around technology and OT.

One participant said, “I’d love to tell my story, about my stroke and my awful experiences in rehab”. She started to cry, her sister sat beside her nodding, “yes she sure has a story to tell” her nods seemed to be saying. I said, “I think we need to get blogging!”

I mentioned this to the great people at EBIRS and their eyes lit up… “can you help us do this?” they asked. Well, of course I’d love to!

As I need to focus on teaching at the University during term time I wondered if I could share the load a bit with some students who had taken my “Emerging Technology in OT practice” module. I called for volunteers and two wonderful students Janet and Lana replied that they wanted to participate! (Update: Lily has also joined this group!)

I could see that we might have a story to share from this, so now we are in the throws of preparing an ethics project with full support from EBIRS. We hope that this story will be ready to share next year at the CAOT conference in Ottawa (abstract also being prepared).

So, Lana and Janet will find their feet as volunteer teachers by firstly teaching the group how to make their own home page in iGoogle. Assisting them to create a home page with all their favourite links will hopefully overcome one of the tricky parts of learning computers post-ABI… remembering how to apply new knowledge and skills.

Once that course is finished the participants will start to learn how to blog. One really important factor will be online safety.

PLEASE SHARE your experiences, tips and ideas to help us get this right. If you have taught people with an acquired Brain Injury to access the internet and even how to blog, we’d love to learn from you 🙂 We want to create a blog for “Learner Bloggers”

I’ve found some excellent emerging literature on the topic and will pull that together to share.