Today’s social media session at SWU focussed on writing blogs, and techniques for making it easier to outline ideas in a logical, coherent, yet simple way. Universities in Thailand often teach on Saturdays, and the campus was quieter after the graduation ceremonies the previous day.
I’ve set the students an assignment to blog about their personal use of social media, and how they interact with their friends, family and network, such as their tutors at university. When starting out writing like this, its often difficult to write off the top of one’s head. It’s always easier to make a plan, and to use visualisation techniques to develop a framework of ideas, which can then be turned into a coherent and interesting blog.
We started by listing the five W’s – actually we used six: What, When, Where, Who With, How and Why? As a simple starting point just being able to list a set of actions and points, and note them, gives a simple framework for expanding their ideas more later.
The next stage was to take the main ideas and ask ‘so what?’ The trick is to force this through seven times. Make a short statement and then ask why does it matter? What’s important about it? You might not get to the end of the list, but at some point you have to start digging deeper for reasons why you are making a point.
From this perspective it is now easier to frame a piece of written work around some core ideas. Though it’s not finished yet. The next stage, which we will be practising a lot more next week, will be to turn it into a story. We can recount events, or things that happen, but on their own they don’t tell us why that story matters, and how it fits within the framework we have of associated cultural stories.
Overcoming the urge to simply list things, means that we also have to expand our expressive capacity and our vocabulary, Which is important when learning to improve your level of spoken English. I explained how the word ‘dinner’ has different connotations and uses in different parts of the UK. If, like me, you are from the north of England, then dinner is eaten at midday. However, if you are from the midlands and the south, then dinner is eaten in the early evening. This might be the different between a successful or a missed appointment if you are not careful.
Next week we are going to concentrate on putting together social media stories using community reporting and social media capture techniques. This means planning a story, and thinking about what makes a story work and make sense when we read it or hear it. It also means thinking about how we can capture it a sense of the story and visualise it without having to use expensive equipment and mock-ups.
At the end of the session I found out from one of the students that the very noisy fan in the room can be turned off. I thought it was on all of the time, making a loud hum as it pushes air out through a grill. Now that I know we can turn it off, I’ll be able to listen and record material much more easily.
Listen here to a very quick presentation that each student gave about their use of social media, which they are now going to expand on in their blog, which they will publish on the Music on da Moon website.