How to use technology to promote, brainstorm and share professional ideas: Part 2

This is a brief look at how to utilize LinkedIn and RSS feeds to support and collaborate with other professionals on youth programming.

Michigan State University Extension is commited to developing programs specific for the development of a youth audience. In order to stay relevant to this group of program participants, it is important to stay connected to advances in technology, new and emerging ideas, and applicapble research. Below are examples of ways to utilize technology as a tool to stay up to date, as a continuation of Part 1.

  • LinkedIn: In addition to keeping connected to other professionals, LinkedIn provides some services that can help you keep up-to-date on what’s going on in your career niche or programming expertise. By joining groups that are relevant to your youth development work, you’ll have access to messages boards where other professionals with similar interests share their research, pose questions, seek out opportunities to collaborate and promote their success stories. As a professional and a group member, you too could participate in any or all of those activities. These groups can be great sounding boards for ideas, and (if active) can be the source of the “tough questions” to tackle before diving headfirst into a project or program. Examples of groups youth development stakeholders could belong to include 4-H Youth Development Professionals, Alliance for Positive Youth Development, and Civic Engagement and Dialogue Practitioners. The other great tool LinkedIn provides, is the Pulse. Utilizing LinkedIn Pulse allows you to select thematic news areas (e.g. Education, Big Ideas and Innovation, Professional Women, etc.) and Influencers (LinkedIn users who contribute to Pulse) that are of interest to you. It then populates your Pulse page with posts and news that are relevant to what you follow and thus, could be of interest to you.
  • RSS feeds: At the most basic level, RSS feed readers function like a digital news paper of all the things in which you’re most interested. While perusing websites and blogs, you might have seen an orange icon with a white symbol that resembles that of a strong wifi signal. If you hovered over this icon, you would have discovered that this was the link to the RSS feed for that site. Don’t be intimidated. RSS feeds are actually a really useful way to keep all your go-to resources and sites up to date and in one place. By using a reader, such as Feedly, you can stay organized and connected to those sites that are so easily lost amongst a laundry list of bookmarks or favorites. One way to organized a RSS feed reader with youth leadership and civic engagement programming in mind would be to establish specific thematic categories. Academic, Community, Creativity, Learning and Youth Leadership, are examples of potential category headings. By clicking on a category, users can briefly skim up to date post briefs (titles, opening statements or abstracts and photos) from all the sources they have synced to that category. For example, a “Learning” category could consists of RSS feeds from the Creative Learning System’s blog, Edutopia and the New York Time’s Learning Network. Rather than taking time to keep track of each of those sites (and remembering to check them daily), users can go to their RSS feed reader account once daily, see what headlines seem most interesting, and follow up by reading the articles in their entirety.

Part Three of this series will focus utilizing Pinterest and Instagram to find, delevop and promote youth development programs. Additionally, Part Three will offer tips if you’re just starting to utilize the series’ highlighted tools. You can also add the MSU Extension articles on Youth Leadership and Civic Engagement to your RSS feed reader to stay informed and up to date!

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