Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world
Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world

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Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world

3.2 Using social media

Communication is one of the most important digital skills. In everyday life it can include:

  • keeping in touch using email, instant messaging, video calls and social media
  • posting on forums to connect with communities
  • communicating with organisations about their products and services.

‘Creating’ is about using something digital that you have made, to express yourself or communicate with others. It could be words (for example, a text document) or media (for example, images and videos).

Image of words that define social networking
Figure 2 Visual definition of social networking

Social media is an important tool for communicating and creating (and sharing what you have created), and will be the focus of the next activity. If you are new to the world of social networking, you might wonder why you should get involved with it. The following activity gives you a chance to explore some of the benefits.

Activity 4 Social networking: what’s in it for me?

Timing: 15 minutes

Listen to Michael and Katie describe the social networks they use, and how these help them in different areas of their lives.

As you listen, note down whether any of the sites used by Michael and Katie would be useful to you, and what you might use them for.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: sdw_boc_audio_week_1.mp3
Skip transcript


Can you tell me which social network you use at the moment?
I use Facebook quite a lot. I use Twitter a bit. And I guess you would count SoundCloud as a social network as well, which is the music sharing site.
OK, and can you tell me what you use each one of those for?
Facebook, I use half for the standard Facebook thing of keeping up to date with friends and family and checking what people are doing, and half for promoting local arts and music events to the wider public. Twitter I use to promote arts and music events as well, and SoundCloud, just for sharing music we’ve created with the world.
Can you tell me which social networking sites you use?
I use several social networks and I use them for different purposes. So I use Facebook for staying in touch with friends, in a social way. And I use Twitter for professional networking with other people in my field. I also use LinkedIn for career-related networking. And I use to list articles and presentations that I’ve done.
What do you think the benefits are of these social networking sites?
Well, I suppose SoundCloud is the best example of that. You can get your music online really easily and share it with anyone who wants to hear it. Before, you would have to upload things and format everything. With SoundCloud you literally just upload the file and you can link to it and direct people to the link. So instead of, you know, having to mess around with record labels and stuff, you can do stuff yourself.
The main benefits are the way that they provide an easy way of keeping in touch with different groups of people. I do use them for different purposes. I find Facebook provides an easy way of keeping up to date with people I don’t see that often. And I’ve also been able to re-establish contact with some old friends I had lost contact with. And I use the messaging facility quite a lot. I’ve also used it to set up and advertise social events.
I use Twitter, as I’ve mentioned, for work-related networking, and keeping up to date with what’s happening in my field. And I sometimes find out things there first. So it’s a good way of keeping my finger on the pulse.
LinkedIn is where I keep my career profile. And again, I’ve managed to establish contacts with other people in my field. I haven’t yet used it to get a job, but I do know people who have.
End transcript
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Michael and Katie use a range of different networking sites for different purposes. Some of the main benefits of social networking identified by Michael and Katie include:

  • keeping in touch with friends and family
  • getting back in touch with people you have lost contact with
  • promoting events
  • sharing information, such as music or professional publications
  • establishing and maintaining contacts with other people in your line of work
  • keeping up to date at work or with hobbies and interests.

You might have thought of additional benefits relevant to your own life.

You may have identified a number of ways in which social networks could be useful to you. The audio mentioned using Facebook. The Open University has many Facebook pages, some set up by official departments of the University, and some informally, by students. These are both a source of interesting news and a way of giving and receiving support. For students, Facebook communities can be a valuable way of connecting with fellow learners.

An example of a well-used official page is the Open University Library Facebook page [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Later this week you will have the opportunity to use it. For now, you may like to visit it and have a quick look at what’s on it.


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