A New Way For Activists To Learn About Social Media

Today, social media is seen as being an essential tool by activists, and is often recognised as being a big factor in recent social movements that are challenging current policy or governments. But I find it frustrating that this knowledge and experience is not easily available to other activists… the internet has different videos, blogs and reports scattered about on the topic but nothing substantial that acts as a knowledge repository.

The best one I have found so far is the FairSay website, and there are some great videos of talks from their 2011 eCampaigning Forum. Also, the FairSay team also do training which is fantastic for large NGOs – but the prices are out of reach for small voluntary organisations, groups with no money, and individual activists. What would be great for these groups would be a free resource of training materials online to give people an introduction to making the best use of social media.

The strange thing is that there is no one that seems to be pulling everything together that exists at the moment. Some great free video guides are available as general tutorials, like social media tutorials from Common Craft. A range of free general social media training exists in a limited format, or at least used to exist. This blog post on 25 free online social media courses now has lots of broken links or the courses have closed. I don’t know why these courses closed but I believe this model of providing free materials could be an area of real potential, in the same way that Open Educational Resources are being looked at seriously.

Additionally there is a lot of academic research in this field, covering many areas of social media and social change. This too would be useful for activists, but again it is not in a place that activists could easily discover.

What could enable activists to improve campaigns would be a place where all people involved in researching or campaigning for social change could share knowledge and experience. A space where users are encouraged to contribute could potentially be a very valuable tool, which users keep up to date with research, current campaigns and new emerging technologies.

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