Christine Gondos, Public Relations & Social Media Specialist at Igloo, recently sat down with Ali Abbas Mehboob Hirji, ORION’s O3 Community Development Manager to discuss ORION, community management and how Igloo’s social collaboration tools have helped facilitate social learning across one of the world's fastest research and education networks.
Just as social business is rising in importance, so too is the role of community manager. It's quickly moving from what has been perceived as a tactical role to one of strategic importance for a business. The Community Roundtable's third annual State of Community Management report is evidence of that.
In the first two iterations of the State of Community Management report (SOCM 2011, SOCM 2010), the focus was on identifying the critical competencies in this emerging discipline. Fast forward to 2012 and it's all about identifying a path from early experimentation with social to a more structured and methodical approach.
In order to understand how our customers are approaching the emerging discipline of community management, Christine Gondos, Public Relations & Social Media Specialist at Igloo, decided to sit down with Ali Abbas Mehboob Hirji, ORION's O3 Community Development Manager. In this session, they discuss what the role of community manager means and how Ali uses Igloo's social collaboration tools to facilitate social learning.
Christine Gondos: Hey Ali, thanks for taking the time to speak with Igloo. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about ORION?
Ali Abbas Mehboob Hirji: ORION is the Ontario Research & Innovation Optical Network, an advanced, ultra-fast fibre optic network that supports and facilitates research, education and collaboration across Ontario. As the world's fastest research and education network, ORION enables its member institutions to get connected to a world of possibilities and collaborations.
ORION partners with Igloo to provide a world-class collaboration platform on its Nebula cloud of services - from E-Learning courses at York University's Department of Communications to Knowledge Mobilization works at University of Toronto, the O3 collaboration platform enables its members to conduct research anywhere and educate everywhere. ORION reaches more than 1.8 million researchers, faculty and students.
CG: Wow, that is quite impressive. Could you describe your role with ORION and how you use Igloo on a daily basis?
AAMH: I am ORION's O3 Community Development Manager. Central to ORION's push towards collaborative works within Ontario's Research and Innovation community, O3 provides our members with an online community for research, education and student learning. Each group on O3 has an appointed manager and I channel a lot of my time into supporting these managers in a private space called the The Mobilizers' Guild. Apart from sharing training videos - it's our repository for support, tips and tricks and, most importantly, a forum for community participation in the developments of O3.
I also engage in social media outreach to potential users and meet, frequently, with potential users to discuss the possibilities of bringing their work onto O3. Given that Igloo and ORION are partners, I am, on a daily basis, involved with promoting Igloo services and displaying how these align with Ontario's research and education community.
CG: And we appreciate all of your efforts! Given that ORION powers a network with over 1.8 million users, could you explain the various ways in which your users leverage the power of Igloo through the O3 network?
AAMH: Well, for starters, research and education organizations must first become a part of ORION's network. Upon connecting to ORION, members (and this can even be students ) simply need to connect with O3 by tweeting us at O3atORION or by filling out an online form on our site. Then, upon determining a fit, we train that user with all the necessary tools they need to run a space within the community and, eventually, give this user complete control over their space. The malleability of the spaces and easy configurations ensure that users are not restricted with their use of the space - they are only limited by their imagination.
Members are using Igloo for some really unique implementations. For example, Professor Anne Maclennan's courses at York University's Department of Communications use Igloo to assess student participation, digitize group activities and assist students in overcoming classroom shyness through social learning. Academic outreach is central to Knowledge Ontario's works on O3 at ORION - through live chat, polls and surveys, a community of librarians converge around best practices and offerings libraries can deliver to the post-secondary sector. O3 at ORION is about changing our lived realities - the Envisioning Global LGBTQ Rights project uses public setups to engage with a global audience on key equity issues facing marginalized groups.
CG: Very cool. With the hype of social learning, could you personally define social learning and explain why it has emerged as a new use case within O3?
AAMH: Social learning is a pedagogical approach that has been energized through cloud capacities. In my view, social learning is not just about learning from each other - it is about learning from each other with each other. We are seeing research and education projects taking place across different time zones and this, to me, is indicative of how social learning eliminates physical barriers and removes walls from the classroom!
CG: That is very true. Ali, thank you for your time today. Would you like to leave readers any advice or best practices on community management?
AAMH: My pleasure Christine. Well, with the growth in Web 2.0 tools, I'd argue that a digital community manager can easily fall victim to stale practices - after all, anyone can blog or participate in a forum, why is my position any different? Managers must realize that their role is not about going with the flow - managers become the flow. The call of the hour is for Igloo managers to identify unique ways within which to integrate Igloo - could you imagine Igloo as a means to support crowd funding or video blogging for class participation.
Did you agree with Ali? Tweet @Igloosoftware and share your best practices on community management.