School projects and Wikis

One of the courses we are taking this semester is Event Management and our major project, as you may expect, is to work in a team to put on an event.

During our very first meeting, I suggested that we set up a wiki.

All of my group members had heard of wikis before but maybe only one or two of us had ever used them. So I quickly set up a private wiki on pbwiki and invited them to use it.

I had only briefly gone over why we should be using a wiki and so I think I will go into a bit more detail here.

What are the advantages of using a wiki?

  • For the most part, using a wiki doesn’t really require any special technical skills. Even if you need the brief how-to session, it’s pretty simple to use.
  • It allows you to collaborate with a group of people (regardless of how many people) without having to e-mail documents and files back and forth, and without having to worry about losing an important e-mail in your crowded inbox
  • It’s a great way to keep all information related to a project in one central place
  • Everyone can add and edit information and it’s easy to track changes
  • You can always revert to previous versions of a page
  • You can record and access current information from anywhere, whether or not you have the files and regardless of what system you are using
  • You can receive notification when a page or information has changed
  • You can lock the wiki so that only a select few can view and/or edit the pages

What are the disadvantages?

  • For some people, there is still a learning curve (even if it is much smaller for wikis than other options)
  • If you are using a public wiki service, it may not be as secure as you would like it to be
  • If you are meeting your group in person and you won’t have access to a computer, you will still need to print off the important pages

Right now, it seems as if most of my group members are doing ok with the wiki.  I understand that there is a little bit of frustration because a wiki doesn’t function the exact same way as a word processing program, but I think that will pass over time.

I’m sure that once we split up our duties, the wiki will be really useful for recording our findings and activities for each other to see.

Are there any other advantages or disadvantages for using a wiki? How do you use wikis?

Photo Credit: teemow – Creative Commons License (BY-NC-SA)

Employee Engagement & Social Media (a brief intro)

I have been quiet for a while now on this blog but there is a reason.

I’ve been spending lot of time reading and listening to the PR and social media community. I have been doing this for months now but this time it’s different because not only am I’m learning from the online community (through blogs, podcasts and even tweets), but I’m also learning from school (with classes, readings and guest speakers).

All of this listening has made me so much more sure and excited about where I am going.  So I think it’s time that I start writing and talking as I continue to read.

And so here I am with this post.

It is very early in my course and there are many other aspects of PR that I will experience and learn about, but I find myself currently intrigued by employee engagement.  And with that, I am intrigued with how social media can be used in this process.

I feel that coming from a company like IBM, I’ve already been spoiled by social media in the workplace.

IBM uses social media both internally and externally to engage its employees.  Internally, employees create podcasts, share bookmarks (through Dogear), connect on an internal social network (Beehive), collaborate using wikis, and converse through blogs.

Using social media, IBM is empowering employees to build and use these online communities to be creative, to collaborate and to innovate.  In other words, by allowing the employees to connect, communicate and participate in new ways, IBM is giving each employee a voice and an opportunity to share their value.

I will not pretend to be an expert on this topic just yet, especially since I know some of IBM’s great social media evangelists who can speak at length on the importance of social media.

Over time though, I plan to discuss how IBM and other companies use social media to engage their employees and how social media can be used internally by communicators with their work.

For the time being, I will point you towards the following social media study on Scribd:  The Corporate Newsletter Goes Social: IBM and Employee-Centered Social Media.

Photo Credit: Kris Hoet – Creative Commons License (BY)