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Web 2.0 tools: some practical examples

I usually meet friends or colleagues who tell me that they do not like to have accounts on social media networks or use web 2.0 tools as they find it a waste of time (Which is what they think I do by the way..). But is it really so? For me, the answer is definitely NO since I am using these tools everyday, and these are helping achieve my personal and professional goals. Looking at the benefits I am getting from them and how they are making my life easier, I really believe that people who are not using these tools are losing a lot, which is the reason why I encourage people around me to use them. It is also true that there are some negative aspects of social media and web 2.0 tools, like people may hack your profile and use the information you have put in a wrong way. But it is all about adjusting your privacy settings and allow only people you know and trust to view information on you and your activities. 


My interest in Social media and web 2.0 tools
I started to be interested in social media because it was a new way for networking, making friends and also it was cool to have a profile on hi5 or Facebook (which were the 2 popular social media network when I was in high school in 2006-2007). For a year or two, I was using social media only for networking, but then one day, one of my lecturers at university told us about the benefits of web 2.0 and how we can use it for educational purposes. I created a group on Facebook for our class and it was a platform for us to interact, share ideas, organise events, participate in discussions etc. It was certainly more effective than communicating through emails as it was more casual and effective as everyone was really contributing. Gradually, I started blogging, creating accounts on other social networks and I understood that web 2.0 is much more than networking and information sharing. It can be used for business, project management, team management, organising meetings, marketing and sales, human resource management, educational purposes etc. 

The video below is an introduction about what web 2.0 is about:


Some practical examples of how I have been using these tools
Facebook
The primary use of facebook for me was for networking and keep in touch with people I have known as friends and colleagues. Then I started to use it as a platform for me to share my ideas and information on agriculture and other works in which I am involved or interested about. By joining pages that are of interest to me (For example FAO, CTA, YPARD, e-agriculture, AIESEC etc.), I am updated about the work they are doing and get information which I use in my professional life. By creating a page for the department I was leading in AIESEC (ICX UoM), we were promoting the projects on which we were working (providing internships) and sharing our experiences. This page was also a means for me to make announcements and also motivate my members by sharing inspirational and motivational videos from youtube. The facebook page that I have used and was successful was for the first project for which I was the team leader. The name of the project was Red Ribbon Initiative (it was on HIV/AIDS), and we were promoting the project and its activities on the page. After each event, we were uploading pictures and videos to show our work and it was clear to all our stakeholders about what we were doing. We can also use facebook to do so much more: Creating polls (to know opinions of people on a specific subject), writing notes (to share your thoughts on something), Tagging people in photos, comments and status, Organise events and invite people, share pictures, videos, news and other links. 
Page on Facebook to promote project and events
Twitter
Following people, networks and organisations which have the same interests as me enables me to be updated about what is happening around me and I can contact them to share my opinions or ideas through tweets. One simple example is that I have written a blog post about environment and want to share it with organisations/people working on this subject, I will share the link along with their twitter name and they will know about what I have written and may share it with their network. What I like most about twitter is that you get all updated information about what you are interested about and keep learning new things everyday.



Blogger
A clear example of how I use blogger is this blog itself. I created my first blog in 2008, but started writing in 2010. At that time my blog just a private one and I was sharing my thoughts on it. Then after my training on web 2.0 tools in March 2011, I decided to make my blog public and be more specific about what I was writing about, since I wanted to share my experience in agriculture and youth leadership with others. Moreover, my blog was a way for me to track my activities, reflect on my experiences and see how I can improve in the future. Blogging has now become a part of my life and I feel like “suffocated” when I don’t write for more than a week! Today I am glad that my blog is getting visits from at least 10 different countries in a day and I’m also getting emails from readers who appreciated what I have written about and some were asking for more information. The point is that there is no limit on where your post may reach or how it may be useful to someone living in another part of the world. It is free to use Blogger and some companies use it for promoting their products and marketing them. This can be applied to agriculture as well; Suppose someone is producing pickles, jams and wants to find a market to sell them. The company may put information about their products on their blog, along with information about the company etc. and they may receive orders online and establish a new relationship with their customers.

RSS feeds
There exist so many websites and blogs which we like to read and consult, but it takes a lot of time to go to each one of them and it is not really practical. Instead of going to search for information, today it is possible for information to reach you! This is done through RSS feeds. To get information to your website or your home, you simply have to import the RSS link and you will get the information updates on your websites. One example of RSS is the right side-bar of this blog where there are links to news from various websites (e-agriculture, CTA, FAO, WFP etc). 

The video below, gives a better idea about RSS feeds:

Drop Box
Very often, we need to send a heavy file and it is not possible to send them by emails (Pictures or a video for example). To solve this problem, I use Drop-box to share my files. This can be done by creating a folder (into the drop-box folder), put my file in the folder and share with the person I want. Drop-box can also be used for back-up of files. Whenever I’m travelling or going somewhere, my file is secured in my drop-box and there is no risk of virus affecting them as it may be the case when using flash disks.

My Drop-box folder
Skype 
When leading a team or working on a project, it is not easy to meet team members physically very often as some may live very far and it’s time consuming. Skype enables me to be in touch with my colleagues and friends over the world. We may consult each other at any point in time and group conversations are also possible. In AIESEC, skype is a very important tool since interview of interns is done online and many team meetings are done in the evening on skype since most of the members are students and busy with lectures during the day. Skype is also a means for me to promote events, internships and other messages that I want to share on my status. From my personal experience, this method has proven to be very effective where promotion of event or internships are concerned. Skype also allows its users to share their screen (sharing a Power-Point presentation for instance) and send files to each other, which makes it easy to collaborate remotely.
Doodle
When I want to organise a team meeting or training, the best way to choose a date and time is by using Doodle scheduling. It is finalised when most members are free together and depending on the attendance, two sessions on different days are organised so that all members are able to attend.

Google Docs

Google Docs is the tool that I use most frequently (I would say everyday). It makes my work more productive and I am able to meet deadlines because when sharing google documents/ spreadsheets/ power-point presentations with people in my team, the work is transparent, everyone may contribute at the same time and the data may be updated at any point in time. Google docs also enables me to plan and organise my work, track my team, and using forms, I may take feedback from my teams, which help me get better each time I am working on something.
My Google Documents
Pbwiki
When working on a project in which many stakeholders are involved, the best way for me to manage it is to create a wiki, which allows each stakeholder to contribute, know who is doing what, and discuss on any point related to the project. The wiki may contain many pages and each page my be related to the description of the project, role of each member, to do list with deadlines, Details of meetings etc. The last wiki that I created is for the PAEPARD project, which can be viewed by clicking HERE.
The most recent wiki I created

Picasa

Photography is one of my passion and I like to share them. Picasa enables me to share my albums, make videos with them, edit them, or get the embed for slideshow which I usually add to my blogs (instead of uploading individual pictures).
Youtube
There is not a single day when I do not log on to youtube. Youtube videos are very informative and may be shared on other social media networks. I recall that I was revising biotechnology (when I was at University) by watching videos on each chapter, which helped me to understand the biological processes better and score good marks! 😛
My YouTube Channel
Delicious
Delicious is very effective when it comes to bookmarking. While browsing on the web, we come across many interesting links/websites which we bookmark and by the end of the day, the list becomes so long that it becomes difficult to manage. Delicious makes this task easy since the links can be bookmarked in different categories and it is easy to manage and find them.
Slideshare
We all make Power-Point presentations that contain interesting information. One way of sharing Power-Point presentations is on slideshare. The presentation can be embedded through slideshare and shared on our personal blog or page.
LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the world’s Largest professional Network where one can build and engage with his/her professional network. It allows us to get in touch with people in the same field as us or have the same area of interest. It is a fact that many top companies in Mauritius consult the LinkedIn profile of the candidate while recruiting staffs. 
Linking web 2.0 tools together
One very interesting fact about web 2.0 tools are that they may be linked together and save time. The most common and effective example is that when I write a blog post, it goes on my twitter and from my twitter account, it goes directly to my facebook account and I don’t have to post the link on each profile that I have. Another way of posting on all social media profiles that we have is to use http://ping.fm/.
Ping.fm Dashboard
The above are few tools that I use frequently, but there are many more that can be explored. Personally, web 2.0 tools are part of my life through which I have learnt (and still learning) a lot.  I have also got some of the very best opportunities and had great experiences by being active on social media networks. One example is that I found about AIESEC on Facebook as a friend was part of it and convinced me to apply and join this great organisation. After passing the rather tough selection processes, I became a member and got the opportunity to lead teams and work with international people and put into practice the knowledge I had on web 2.0 to achieve the objectives I had set for myself and my department. Today the world is changing so fast and we need to innovate and work in a more effective way. The use of web 2.0 is the solution to many problems we are facing and can certainly be applied in any context, including Agri-business (marketing of produce, share and obtain information, keep in touch with stakeholders in the business, engage in discussion forums related to your business, manage  work and respect deadlines etc.). Social media and web 2.0 tools are free to use and here to stay. It all depends on how we decide to use it; only for networking or apply it in our daily activities?

The video below gives an over-view on the social media revolution:

Thanks for reading this post till the end. Are you also using these tools? Or, do you have better ones that you are using? Share your experience! 🙂

About Nawsheen Hosenally

Nawsheen Hosenally, a national of the Republic of Mauritius, has over 6 years of experience in the agricultural sector, specifically focusing on the engagement of youth in agriculture through the use of ICTs. Currently, Nawsheen is the co-Founder of Agribusiness TV, a web TV that features success stories of young agricultural entrepreneurs in Africa. Nawsheen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Extension from the University of Mauritius, and a Master’s degree in Management and Information Systems from the University of Manchester.

6 comments on “Web 2.0 tools: some practical examples

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