About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Being embarrased on LinkedIn: learning a new tool

As I mentioned in my previous posting, my students had an online conference last week which was totally student developed and student run. I gave them benchmarks and guidelines, then left the marketing strategy up to them. One of my students asked if I could post their message about the conference to groups I belonged to.

I have not used linkedin very much as I am still trying to get a feeling for how to use it. I do belong to some groups and follow their discussions, occasionally responding to requests. As many of you know, I like the interaction, but have found it difficult to engage in any real meaningful discussion so far on linkedin.

As I was posting the announcement to various groups I am part of, I questioned whether I should post the announcement to "discussion" or "news" as I did not want to just make the announcement, but also allow for any questions. I posted my student's announcement exactly as he had written it and wanted to be able to engage in any discussion about the project itself should anyone have a comment or question. So I posted it in the discussion area.

Well, for one group, obviously I posted it in the wrong section as I received the following message:

Virginia, please do not post announcements on the Discussion tab (you know what a discussion is, don't you?). Use the News tab for these.

I was mortified and extremely embarrassed. I felt like I was back in grade school when I spoke out of turn or made a mistake and was made to feel like a complete idiot. What was worse was this comment was written by someone who is an instructional designer. I can only hope that he does not interact directly with students. I asked which group he was part of so that I could withdraw from the group.

The fact is, even though I did not know this person, the lack of leeway he gave to someone that obviously is not active in the group makes me uncomfortable being part of the group. This is an important lesson for me that online groups who have rigid rules of conduct, should have detailed instructions/guidelines. Without the guidelines, facilitators should be open to any interaction, being careful in how they give feedback to help a "newbie" feel welcome, rather than embarrassing them because they did not understand the social norms of the community.


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Virginia!

Unfortunately, everyone does not think like a teacher or instructor. This evidence, all be it anecdotal, fits with my general experience with instructional designers, as it happens. Not everyone understands that everyone is on a learning curve.

There is, of course, the possibility that unwritten, unannounced rules or regulations cannot and should not be acted upon in the manner you describe. To do so is subscribing to the philosophy that "ignorance of the law is no excuse", with no real understanding as to why you posted the 'announcement' there in the first place.

When similar things have happened to me, I (attempt to) reply to the respondent as politely as I can in the hope that a better understanding can be established. It doesn't always work though.

Catchya later

V Yonkers said...

I did try to reply and received a very rude response suggesting that I not waste people's time on linkedin (my comment: after all their time is much more valuable than mine because THEY have an important job).

V Yonkers said...

FYI: This was the response I got:

The whole point of Linkedin is two-way communication between professionals. These groups are not the want-ads, they are communities of practice. You can certainly use the groups to market or share useful information, just do it in the right place (e.g., the News tab).

Advertisement and announcements on the Discussion tab discourage real discussions and encourage copycats. It isn't about offending people, it is about supporting the community. And chasing after inappropriate posts consumes valuable time.

You can un-join groups, but it might be more practical to just play by the rules.

I find it interesting because this was a group that I found to be very encroaching and the least helpful. Not once did I find any of the discussions helpful, but rather a fishing expedition for contacts and job information. I'm not sure why he thought an invitation to a group run FREE online conference would be considered a want ad. Oh well. I've left the group and good ridence. It will definitely make me cognizant of how my students might understand (or misunderstand) the protocols of an online class's community interaction.