6 Making the Point: Sharing Your Environmental Ideas through the Social Media

Mart Laanpere

Social Media apps
 Photo by Jason Howie (2013)

 

 In this chapter, you will learn how to:
  • utilise various social media tools in a responsible manner while searching for and sharing information online
  • document the things you see and experience by exploring the environment of the city
  • mark the significant spots, items or events with tags and geotags
  • share through social media your thoughts, stories and discoveries about the urban nature
  • reflect in the blog about what you have learned today about the nature and people in your city
Quite likely, you have learned to notice some disturbing things in the urban nature around you: garbage, pollution, carelessness. The golden rule is that if you want to change the world, you should start from yourself. Yet, your actions will have more impact if you manage to engage others to your initiative or team up with some people who already are ahead you while trying to put the things right. Today the internet and social media are the most powerful tools that can help you to carry your message to the world or to find other people who think and act like you.
The media technologies have changed a lot within the last century, allowing each and every digitally literate person to become the author, the editor, the publisher and owner of his or her own media channel.  100 years ago only a few professional editors and publishers decided what can or cannot be printed in the traditional mass media (newspapers, journals, books), the situation did not change much after appearance of audiovisual media (music records, radio, television, movies). The first years of the Internet people continued to treat this new media technology in the same manner as traditional media, because only a few professionals had skills and tools to publish something online. Social media revolution started less than 10 years ago, because social media tools became so easy to use and accessible. Online tools such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other allow everyone to set up his or her own Web site, blog, online radio show or video podcast in a few minutes using only a mobile phone. Of course, with great power should also come great responsibility. Before publishing something online, everyone should think twice: maybe I am piling up digital garbage that makes online world ugly, unfriendly and disgusting place?
Let us learn together some basic skills and software tools that help you to become a better advocate for cleaner and safer urban environment. NB! Most of the social media tools have age restrictions, you have to be at least 13 years old to use these tools:

Most of these tools can be accessed from your computer’s Web browser, but there are also mobile apps available so you can use the tools also outdoors from your smart phone while exploring the urban nature. Next, you are going to familiarise yourself

The first step: learn to listen what others say

  • Searching the Web. Use Google or Bing to search some online resources relevant to environmental education. Try searching with the following keywords “biodiversity”, “biodiversity school project”, “biodiversity senegal”. Try also to ask questions from Google or Bing: “What is biodiversity?” and to find a definition of a concept: “define: biodiversity”. Now replace “biodiversity” in the previous search with key terms from your own environmental project and collect the following information resources: definition of this concept, example of a similar project, recent news item related to this concept, and an environmental activist (a person) dealing with that topic. Discuss and compare your Web search strategies with ones used by your classmates.
  • Filtering the Twitter posts with hashtags. Search Twitter.com with the hashtags #SaveWater #CleanWater to find how people around the world try to reduce wasting the clean water. Use Google to find out, what is a “hashtag” and identify the most popular hashtags related with environmental issues. Explain, what does it mean if a hashtag is trending according to the Web site hashtags.org?

The second step: learn to collect, organise and re-use the online resources relevant to your project

When you have come up with an idea for a new environmental action or project, something similar has been most likely carried out by someone else before and it might have been published in a blog. A blog (or Web log) is an online diary where a person or a group posts messages that are longer than in Twitter. Blog posts have timestamps and the most recent blog post is always displayed on top, while the older ones are following below. Some blogs contain mainly subjective and emotional, personal accounts, while others provide reliable information about environmental activities that can be used as examples for your own environmental projects.

  • Use Google or Bing to find some blogs that publish information on similar environmental projects, using the keywords “school project blog biodiversity”. Replace “biodiversity” in the previous search with the keywords related to your own project idea.
  • Once you have found a blog that is interesting to you, you can subscribe to the news feed (sometimes called RSS feed) of this blog and every time the blog’s author will add a new post, it will be automatically delivered to your feedreader.  Create an account in FeedReader (online.feedreader.com) and add a new feed from the blog you have found earlier. Try to find  a few more blogs and subscribe to their RSS feeds as well.
  • Some social media tools can help you to identify and organise Web content without searching for it with Google. Scoop.it is one of such Web content curation tools that allows you to create a constantly updated Web newsletter where all articles are written by someone else, but selected (curated) by you. Now, create an account in the Scoop.it and initiate a new Scoop with a title and keywords that are relevant to your environmental project. Browse through the recommended content offered to you by Scoop.it tool and select the ones you like to be added to your own Scoop. Add one post to your Scoop also from your own previous search – for instance, the most interesting blog post you have identified in the earlier assignment. When your Scoop includes at least three posts, invite your classmates to follow your Scoop and follow yourself some of their Scoops.

The third step: share your ideas and make your environmental actions visible

Now that you have familiarised yourself with a number of social media tools that are used by other persons for publishing information online, it is time to set up your own environmental project blog.
  • Create a user account to WordPress.com or Blogger.com, select a design theme that you like and write your first blog post to introduce your project.
  • Share your blog post through Twitter and Facebook (or Google+).

And finally, when working with social media tools it is extremely important to remember the rules of good online behaviour. Familiarise yourself with the recommendations and good practices from “The Web We Want”: www.webwewant.eu .

 

EDC

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