6 November 2012
"It's undeniable that digital and social technologies are changing the way the world communicates.
The opportunities they present in terms of how we connect with others are incredibly diverse. I'm really excited that here at the University we are exploring how this approach can be used internally with the launch of Connections.
Connections is an online tool available to all staff that allows you to communicate and work collaboratively with people across the institution. Doesn't email do that already, I hear you ask? I'm not sure that it does: e-mail isn't particularly social, it doesn't give you the opportunity to learn from people you may not know even exist and it doesn't allow for open and transparent discussion. And it's easy for e-mail to take charge of your day, rather than you choose when to engage: it is an over-mighty servant.
There are many different elements to Connections. You can brainstorm and gather feedback on ideas through the forums, keep in touch and share knowledge with like-minded people in online communities and keep others up-to-date on what you're working on through a blog.
Updating your personal profile will allow others to connect with you and is a great way of finding people with specific expertise and experience across the University. Another great feature is that you can share files with others, allowing you to work on the same document and cutting out the sometimes painful experience of large e-mail attachments.
I've been using Connections since I arrived in Cardiff, writing a regular blog and also using it to connect with others. For me writing the blog is a great way to communicate what I'm working on, discuss sector wide issues and at times quell a few rumours! It's important to me that I'm able to engage with people across the University in this way: there aren't enough hours in the day for me to meet and talk to all 6000 of my colleagues. Another great thing about Connections is that it allows others to comment on what I'm writing about, on what's going on at the moment and to ask questions. I can find out what's really on people's minds in this way, which is very important.
So what does Connections mean for you and the way you work? Well, Connections isn't about introducing yet another piece of technology into our working lives, or trying to force changes in the way in which we do things. It's about offering the opportunity to communicate and work openly, collaboratively and more efficiently. It's about facilitating conversations and the sharing of ideas across the organisation. Whether that is on a research project, new teaching initiative or just bringing together like-minded people, Connections cuts through organisational silos.
You also don't need to be a social media guru to get value. I've never facebooked in my life (I'm not even convinced that 'to facebook' is a proper verb); I'm not amongst the Twitterati. But I find it a way to communicate with (I hope) authenticity within the University.
Connections is already being used by people and groups across the University in many different ways. Staff in the School of Healthcare Studies are using it to enhance internal communication. They're using it as a central place to convey key information to all staff as well as using discussion forums to share best practice and facilitate transparent discussions relating to School issues.
Major University-wide projects such as the Web Transformation Project are using Connections to share and discuss project progress, issues and ideas and the Lean team are using it as a place to ask questions, find information and offer advice.
Plans for the future include using Connections to communicate information and seek feedback on staff benefits as well as looking at ways in which it can facilitate cross-disciplinary work within the Schools and Colleges.
Connections really does open up a great deal of opportunities and I hope as many of you as possible will take a minute to log-in and explore how it can add value to your work and also the way you communicate with colleagues. Let me know what you think via my blog!"
Log-in to Connections at: