Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Field Testing Webinar Tomorrow (Thursday, 9/4)

Hello! We're looking forward to "meeting" you tomorrow on the Field Testing Orientation webinar from 2:30 - 3:30 ET. During this hour we'll give an overview of the lessons and information on the responsibilities of field testers.

To register, contact Joe Ippolito, EDC Sr. Project Director, at

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

RSVP for the Field Testing Orientation Webinar

Community College instructors: Are you interested in field testing our Social Technology Enabled Professional lessons? Not only will you learn about a tool that can help your students succeed in using social media to grow their businesses, you'll be equipped with a tool that can help them think strategically. And you'll get a $100 stipend.

Read Friday's post below for more info, AND RSVP for our online orientation webinar to learn how to get started by emailing Joe Ippolito, field testing coordinator, at Education Development Center:

The webinar is this Thursday, 9/4/14, from 2:30 - 3:30 ET.

You can also sign up now to field test at

Friday, August 29, 2014

You're invited to Field Test the STEP social media lessons

You are invited to field test one or more exciting new lessons that teach important social media skills within the context of real life, workplace problems. Education Development Center (EDC), with the support of a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technology Education initiative (NSF-ATE), has worked with nationally recognized social media experts and small business owners to craft problem-based learning lessons that focus on building skills that are essential to any Social Technology Enabled Professional (STEP).

At this time we have three comprehensive online lessons that can become part of a classroom curriculum, homework, after school, or unit/culminating project:

  • STEP Lesson 1: Using Social Media to Establish and Grow an Online Presence For Your Business
  • STEP Lesson 2: Establish a Social Media Network within your Field
  • STEP Lesson 3: Knowledge Sharing within your Organization.

Each of these lessons is designed for technical faculty who want to help students learn to use social media to develop a business brand and network. The lessons include step-by-step instructions, informational resources, templates and assessment guidelines in the form of rubrics. The lesson design allows them to be used in the classroom led by an instructor or to be used by students as a self-directed learning exercise with the instructor as a mentor/guide.

A stipend of $100 is available for providing feedback on each lesson (i.e. 1, 2 or 3 lessons), with the requirements that you:

Participate in an orientation webinar for field testers on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 2:30 PM EDT.
Schedule the field test(s) during the Fall, 2014 semester and that the field test(s) is completed no later than December 1, 2014;
Complete a brief on-line survey assessing the field test experience no later than December 7, 2014;
Participate in a brief phone interview about the field test experience after delivering the lesson.

If you would like to field test one of these lessons, please complete the Field Testing and Webinar Registration Form at

For more information, contact Joe Ippolito at

We look forward to working with you!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

STEP social media lessons present students with workplace activities that build social media skills

Instructors using the new STEP social media lessons present to students real-life workplace activities like this one to build social media skills:

Publish Content by Creating Five Posts on Social Media

To get your business social media sites started, create five posts on your social media platforms. This is how you will communicate with your audience about your business activities, so it is important that you think carefully about the content you will post beforehand. Post content that reflects the selected voice and addresses the target market (e.g., long form, short updates, how-to videos, podcasts, distills, curates, aggregates, case studies, invites community through questions, live chats, first person or third person voice).

If you will be working with a local company/organization, you will need to work out an arrangement regarding social media posting. In some cases, it may be necessary to have your content approved before it is posted online, and in other cases setting your social media accounts to private so that only a select group of people (your classmates and employees at the company/organization you will be working with) can access it will be necessary (in this case, you would be working in a closed online community). Details should be arranged with the company/organization that you are working with.

If you have your own business, you are welcome to do the same (i.e., set your social media accounts to private) until you have received feedback about your online activities. However, you are free to set your social media accounts and online postings to public right away if you wish to do so.

Consider the following tips:
  • Posting style will differ across the various social media platforms. For example, Twitter’s 140-character limit will require you to shorten sentences – this is fine and you are encouraged to use abbreviations. On LinkedIn, on the other hand, posts should include full, properly formatted sentences and should be highly professional. 
  • When creating your five posts, consider some of the posting guidelines for each social media platform you use (see links below). Especially keep in mind that posting several times per day on Twitter (5+ tweets/day) is customary and expected, while this is not the case on LinkedIn. Facebook and Google+ fall somewhere in the middle – 2-3 posts per day should be enough. While on Twitter you are not always expected to post original content (retweeting other users’ posts that might be relevant to your audience is encouraged), you should be mostly posting original content on Facebook. 
  • See this infographic on posting guidelines for several social media platforms ( and consider these pointers for social media engagement (

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Social Technology Enabled Professional (STEP) lessons allow students to learn essential social media skills

Our Social Technology Enabled Professional (STEP) lessons allow students to learn essential social media skills by immersing them in real life workplace problems.  Here’s an example: 

STEP Lesson Two-Establish a Social Media Network within Your Field
Your team has been working at your company for five years. Rumor has it that team layoffs are imminent. To prepare for a change, you and your colleagues want to extend your professional networks and strengthen your reputations in the field. You consult with other colleagues who have made successful transitions to new workplaces. You learn that there is great value in participating in communities of professionals who have similar interests; and that these communities can help extend your professional network and that engaging well in these networks can raise the visibility of a company you work for, or your own company. You and your colleagues have also learned that networking with other experts in your discipline or field is an excellent way to stay abreast of new techniques, float your ideas and questions, develop partnerships, generate business leads, and explore employment opportunities. It sounds like a great strategy. Your team has decided that each of you will create your own online community to build your professional reputation by establishing a social media network in your field. But how do you get started? First, you and your team need to answer the following questions: What do we already know about doing this? What do we need to know? How will we get the information to develop our own network and move it forward? 

You go back to talk with your colleagues who have done this effectively and they share the steps they have taken to learn about using social media to develop a business brand, a network, and some of the tools and resources they used to implement their plan. You and the members of your team each agree to research online communities used to develop a business network and also agree to create an online community that will become a platform for sharing your expertise. You also agree to share your online community with the other members of your team and to share with them the process you use to design and implement it (e.g. how you evaluated similar communities in order to plan your own, which platform you decided to use and why, how you built participation in your communities and managed its size, how you planned the content and scheduled the publishing of that content online, etc.). You will meet with your colleagues in six weeks to compare your network building experiences. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What skills and knowledge are needed by the Social Technology Enabled Professional?

The NSF STEP project worked with an expert social media panel to identify the skills and knowledge needed by the Social Technology Enabled Professional. These are the skills/knowledge needed to perform the 59 specific work tasks identified in the STEP Profile.

Skills in:
  • Analytical thinking
  • Basic customer service
  • Basic HTML/CSS (cascading style sheets)
  • Building links
  • Computer usage
  • Conflict resolution (online/off-line)
  • Creating a budget/ budgeting
  • Interpersonal communication (offline/ online)
  • Language Arts (reading, writing)
  • Organizational development
  • Research (online/ off-line)
  • Sales
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Simple graphic design
  • Strategic thinking
  • Time management
  • Troubleshooting
Knowledge of:
  • Computer operating and file systems
  • Copyright law (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)
  • Corporate culture, goals, brand, etc.
  • Customer needs and wants
  • Data security
  • Desktop publishing (Word, Rich Text Editor, WYSIWYG)
  • Dynamics of changing technologies
  • Importance and value of social media/ networking
  • Keyboarding
  • Industry
  • Internet search strategies
  • Marketing
  • Online etiquette and best practices
  • Organization and design of content
  • Platforms (e.g. mobile)
  • Privacy guidelines/ disciplines
  • Proper use of audio
  • Proper use of video
  • Social analytics and their application
  • Social tools and trends

Monday, August 25, 2014

Profile of the Social Technology Enabled Professional (STEP)

The profile of the Social Technology Enabled Professional (STEP), was created by a national panel of social media experts in a project funded by the National Science Foundation.  The profile describes what a Social Technology Enabled Professional needs to know and be able to do in order to be successful. See it here:

Friday, August 22, 2014

What do people need to know and be able to do to use social media to build their business brand and network?

The NSF STEP project worked with social media experts to define the work of the Social Technology Enabled Professional . The resulting profile defines the Social Technology Enabled Professional as one who “builds, maintains, manages and leverages online social networks to engage with customers, business partners, employees and key influencers with the goal of building organizational success”. Clearly everyone using social media to build a business may not do all of these things. Especially as a business grows and expands – new workers may be hired to take on some of the social media work tasks.

The STEP expert panel also identified six major areas of work (Conduct Research, Create a Social Networking Strategy, Establish an Online Presence, Create content to Engage the Community, Manage Online Presence and Engage in Professional Development/On-going Learning.; and 59 specific work tasks that define that comprise the universe of activities in which a Social Technology Enabled Professional might engage.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An example of how successful businesses are using social media to meet customer needs

An example of how successful businesses are using social media to meet customer needs can be seen in ComcastCares:

If a customer tweets about problems with Comcast, someone responds—and responds quickly. “The Comcast customer service team uses the latest social media CRM (customer relationship management) software, behind the scenes. This tool allows customer service agents to respond quickly to customer needs and to stick with the customer until their issues are resolved. It’s not just because you’re special though, or even just because they are. The Comcast team built an incredible amount of goodwill and industry admiration through their customer service work on Twitter.” ( )

Friday, August 15, 2014

The NSF STEP project is building awareness among CC faculty on social media

There is concern that technical students are not keeping pace with social media trends in the workplace. Since 2010 social media has been growing as an important marketing tool for business success. The NSF STEP project is building awareness among CC faculty on this issue and resources available to fill the gap. Contact Joe Ippolito at to learn about STEP webinars and other training opportunities.

For the past four years we have seen businesses moving forward rapidly in the use of social media to gain new customers, generate revenue, keep employees connected, respond to customers, and solve problems. Companies want to be sure they are getting the most out of open social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, along with closed sites like Yammer and password-protected Wikis and other sites.

Social media has been growing as an important marketing tool of many successful businesses. For example, in 2010 the “FedEx Office Signs of the Times Small Business Survey” polled 500 small-business owners across the country. In responses to the question about how they plan to grow their businesses in 2010, social media were one of the few methods that increased when compared to the same survey questions in 2009. The study reported that 36 percent of small-business respondents listed social media in their plans for business growth in 2010, compared to 24 percent in 2009 (, 2010).

About the same time, this finding was further supported by a study by the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business that looked at the relationship between social media and small businesses. The study found that Facebook and LinkedIn had become the predominant platforms for small-business owners while it is expected more small businesses would be using Twitter as a customer service channel in the year ahead. (, 2010).

With this growth in open social media use comes concern about the educational preparation of technicians leaving school. Technicians are commonly the customer face of a business, dealing directly with a client. They must be able to problem solve, troubleshoot, and, also, exhibit a high level of social skills, especially when dealing with an upset customer. Many are using social media tools daily to perform a broad range of business tasks including maintaining and tracking data, organizing content, and communicating and solving problems in real time with peers from around the world.

The NSF STEP project will host a series of webinars in 2014-15 to build awareness of this issue, provide an overview of STEP lessons and resources, and training on implementing social media lessons in your program.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

To succeed in today’s networked, competitive environment technicians starting their own businesses use social media to develop their business brand and network.

Students attend technician education programs to gain the skills and knowledge needed for productive, rewarding work. NSF’s STEP project (Social Technology Enabled Professional) found that often those jobs are within established companies. However, with roughly 6.7 million jobs lost since the current recession began, many technicians are seeking additional work to supplement their income and to start their own businesses. Most small businesses are started by technicians, people who are skilled at something. But the “fatal assumption” is that if you can do the technical work, your business will succeed. To be successful, technician business owners, and those working for established companies, must learn to build relationships with customers.

Today’s new media skills are powerful, low-cost, accessible, and necessary resources to help technicians build those relationships. This important use of online social networks is promoted by websites such as Small Biz Bee, which provides small businesses with a top 40 list of the best social networking sites. In a difficult economy, these new media skills can be the lifeline of many technicians seeking to develop a professional reputation that attracts and retains customers. Although all technicians do not need to become entrepreneurs, it is commonly understood among successful organizations that to conduct business in today’s business world connected by technology (e.g., interact with customers and grow a strong business base), all technicians must think and act like entrepreneurs. Technician education programs that include these skills in their curricula will be more attractive to today’s students who understand the power of the Internet in building social and business networks.