18 May 2010

Using Social Networks for Innovative Cooperation and Collaboration

Dr. Pete Vergot, University of Florida, IFAS Extension, gave a workshop on “Using Social Networks for Innovative Cooperation and Collaboration” at the AIAEE conference in Saskatoon, Canada.

He suggested that social networks have always been around: camp fires, town meetings, office cork boards, and the 1970s electronic bulletin boards. Now, 85% of U.S. students in colleges and universities are using a variety of social networking applications. He suggested that social networking is a way to recruit new members in the Association and also mentioned that USDA uses Twitter to make announcements. He described the University of Florida’s decision to purchase Microsoft Communicator - a wireless network for online conferencing that integrates with other MS products. The University of Florida provides a campus server that allows all faculty members to communicate through this licensed program (pricing based on numbers of users). It includes a chat function, video, and allows for conferencing with any number of faculty and staff. The system checks Outlook calendars automatically to see who is available. Sessions can be recorded and archived and put in Outlook Inbox.

Dr. Vergot also provided overviews of Facebook, Twitter, Google Wave, and YouTube. Also mentioned was Google Wave - a new online communication and collaboration tool whose purpose is to seamlessly manage real-time interactions with multiple participants more seamless, although Dr. Vergot noted some are finding it difficult to use. During the discussion, an audience member from IICA said that of the 400 people they have in their system, only 3-4% were using their blog. However, when they changed to Facebook, usage went up 98% and involved 36 countries.

Story by Barbara Hutchinson

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