Today I want to introduce another important member of our local Australian Headshift team, Shelley Gibb (aka Mollybob).

shelleygibb.jpgShelley is an Online Community Management Specialist with qualifications in HRM and e-Learning. She is currently studying Masters degrees in Adult Education and e-Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Previously Shelley was the Learning and Development Officer at Coates, a role which is centred around increasing the access to learning opportunities for the Coates workforce. She has responded to this challenge by introducing a socially focussed e-Learning strategy based on the needs of geographically dispersed learners with a limited level of digital literacy. A case study based on her work at Coates was published in The Australian newspaper this year.

Shelley is also an active member of several online communities based around e-Learning and other interests, and has been a moderator for the Australian Business Women’s Network MentorNet program.

To help you get to know Shelley a little better, I asked her a few questions about her background and interest in social media and social computing:

Who are you and what is your role at Headshift?

I am quite a few things. Perpetual student, life long learner, novice photographer.  I tend to bring my experiences and perspectives from these other parts of my life to my role as a community manager at Headshift.

How did you get interested in social media and social computing?

I didn’t have any understanding about anything social online until I participated in an e-Learning course using social media a few years ago.  At first, the experience was a little confusing – teachers asking for my informal thoughts? asking me to share these thoughts with others? Such ideas were totally alien to my other experiences as a student, but through my experience in those classes something just clicked and I’ve never looked back.

In your view, what are they key impacts social media and social  computing are having on organisations?

To me, social media and social computing are changing the way we see knowledge in organisations, that is, power is increasingly being viewed with the perspective of how knowledge is shared, rather than what knowledge single individuals keep to themselves.

What special skills from your professional background do you bring to how organisations make use of social media and social computing?

I have a learning and development background which I am very passionate about and coupled with with my interest in social computing. I think I bring a focus on the “human” element of social computing, and an understanding of some of the factors that can motivate or inhibit the participation that is essential to the success of any social media initiative.  I think my studies also contribute to my work as I like to apply theory to practice in my work.

What most excites you about the potential of social media and social computing?

It has the potential to change the way we do things. Dramatically. I think it has the potential to personalise what can be mass produced face to face experiences, and in doing so creates shared knowledge and structure.

Can you tell us about some notable experiences of using social media or social computing?

From a personal perspective, my world felt like it opened up when I started getting online more.  I found a whole group of people with similar interests to share ideas with, and I don’t think I’d be working as I am at the moment had it not been for those positive personal experiences. I find sharing ideas with others online really motivates me to contribute and think about issues from alternate perspectives sometimes.

What are the blog posts, books or articles that have most helped to shape how you think about social media and social computing?

For me, the most influential ideas are those that have prompted me to think, or triggered bigger ideas, they are also those that I often find myself referring to when explaining social media to others.

If I were to make a quick list of work I have referred to most commonly over the past year, I would have to include the following:

  • Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model – I often find myself referring to the need for a moderator when building online communities, and explaining how that role changes over time, at which point I often refer to Gilly Salmon’s book e-Moderating, in particular, the five stage model.
  • Leigh Blackall’s work on digital literacy – Something else I refer to probably just as often is Leigh Blackall’s digital literacy, in combination with the NCVER digital literacy model because I think it is important to respect community members and recognise their backgrounds both in design and moderation.  Some of the more memorable learners for me have been those with low levels of digital digital literacy and high levels of enthusiasm.
  • Stephen Downes on e-Learning 2.0 – My beliefs around social media can be underpinned with the popular Stephen Downes quote that “Web 2.0 is an attitude”. The technology will only get us so far, after that, people need to share for things to work.
  • Etienne Wenger on Learning Communities – I really like Etienne Wenger’s 1998 book, Communities of Practice and find many of the ideas just as relevant in the current technological landscape as they were then, in particular, I think Wenger’s quote “Learning cannot be designed: it can only be designed for” is especially true and extends out beyond learning toward interaction.

BTW These questions were very much inspired by Martin Koser’s expert profiles on the Enterprise2Open blog.

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