Social Media for a Sport Scientist/Academic

Posted on February 22, 2010

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Social media has been a bit of a mystery to me, and I started experimenting more than a year ago with various forms. When Leigh Blackall came onboard UCNISS my learning accelerated, and know I seem to use it a reasonable amount. No doubt I could probably use it more, more effectively and more efficiently. A drawback of social media is that you can get quite carried away with it and no doubt waste a lot of time playing around with it. I think it’s always important to remember that is serves as a tool to meet another need and that those needs may vary. Other colleagues struggle with effective social media use and this is in part due to the difficulties in initially coming to terms with the technology and its opportunities. Leigh Blackall rightly pointed out the risk of the hype cycle (pictured) in technology use, but due to other demands often the hump is not overcome in the first place.  Bearing that in mind, this is a run-down on what I am doing now, and what I think about it.

A blog

Obviously there is this blog. I guess there are a number of ways to use a blog, I have consciously chosen to only post somewhat thought out developed ideas. Some blogs are now automated or very brief which I don’t really see the point for. For me, I think tools such as twitter and FB are useful for sharing this level of information. I believe my blog should represent me more fully, what I’m interested about and my considered thoughts on the area. As a colleague has shared with me, teachers can have an important role in modelling behaviour and (since I’m a lecturer) so I try to incorporate more critical analysis in my posts.

I do hope that over time an interested readership develops and we can share thoughts and ideas. This requires networking however, and the issue with any particularly area of interest (in my case exercise physiology) there is quite a limited number of individuals using these forms of communication that you can connect with. Not to mention whether or not they are interested in the area. So networking is a little hard, and I have made an effort to post comments on other peoples blogs that I believe we share a common interest. UCNISS also uses social media to aggregate information and my use of the tag “UCNISS” allows the amalgamation of that blog on to the UCNISS website.

Twitter

I have had a twitter account for about a year and it certainly has some positives, but there are obvious limitations too. Once you get past the idea that some people tweet about the quality of the flat white they are drinking at the time, you can find many people tweeting useful information. I think it is more a networking tool than anything else though. Keith Lyons shared this find (The stupidest thing you’ve ever heard of but may find useful – All about twitter) a couple of weeks ago and I agree with much of the sentiment.

I follow a number of twitter accounts and regularly keep on top of the latest research as a result. Interacting (re-tweeting, replying) with these twitter accounts is another good way to build a network. So essentially I use twitter to build a network and follow some of these twitter accounts closely (I use TweetDeck) to keep on top of the latest research. Within UCNISS, we also tag interesting articles so that they appear on a twitter scroll on our website. We are slowly encouraging our students and other staff to do the same, as a means of sharing interesting information for those intersted. A major limitation with twitter is that it doesn’t seem to remember tweets for longer than 10days, unless its a very popular tweet, from a popular twitter account or has used a popular tag.

Facebook

I tend to keep this personal, but some stories that I post on twitter or on this blog I will also link through on FB, depending on the content and how relevant I think it may be to at least some FB friends.

LinkedIn

I have a LinkedIn account but am quite new to it and so far don’t really see the point. Perhaps it will come in handy down the line. I do pick up selective twitter feeds (tagged #In) in LinkedIn and also have this blog feed into it. Time will tell how this develops.

RSS Feeds

I use google reader and this has probably changed the way I learn more than anything else. I subscribe to a number of website RSS feeds directly, this includes a network of colleagues, scientific journals and other interesting sites. I also bring a number of google searche into google reader. I search for key terms (e.g. one of them is just orienteering <it’s not a term used that much>) and bring them in, I also do this with a couple of Youtube searches so that when new Youtube videos appear with certain keywords, google reader alerts me to them. One of the potential problems with this kind of RSS feed is that you take the risk of finding too many new feeds everyday and spend your whole time searching through your RSS reader. I have not perfected this but am careful with the keywords I search and at the extreme have also used Yahoo pipes to act as a filter for some of my feeds so that I am more likely to end up with links that I am intersted in, and not a bundle of links that I am not, but happen to meet other criteria of my original search.

Youtube

I have a Youtube account. Below is an an example of a video I uploaded to my YouTube account. I tend to use YouTube to keep track of video clips that I may use or share in the future, or just for my own entertainment. I have uploaded a few videos of my own, but work and life generally prevent me from creating more which would be fun. Utimately it would be good to use Youtube to store short lecture series that students can access whenever and wherever as my colleague Robin McConnell is now doing for Sport Sponsorship.

SlideShare

I have a slideshare account, but have only uploaded one presentation to SlideShare, it was a presentation on orienteering and recovery that I developed several years ago now and had never presented. I posted it on this blog a week or so ago. As I am not really teaching at present I don’t have much use for it. I think with time I will post more to it. I will occasionally look to see if I can find anything of interest through searches and keywords. I am not at the stage of following any other people or favouriting other peoples presentations but this may come with time.

Flickr

I have a flickr account, but don’t tend to use it much. I do look on flickr for interesting images every now and again but will only use creative commons licensed work, or ask a friend for permission.

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