Tuesday, March 29, 2016

CIES to Partner With AAISA in The Digital Narrative Initiative

March has been Social Media Month here at CIES and to mark the occasion CIES is very pleased to announce a collaborative partnership with the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA) to develop workshops on the effective use of social media, as well as the production of content with which to fuel it. The joint venture known as the AAISA / CIES Digital Narrative Initiative will provide professional development to AAISA’s membership and beyond.

Over the last 20 years the world wide web has fundamentally shifted towards user-driven technologies such as blogs, social networks and video-sharing platforms. Collectively these technologies have enabled a revolution in user generated content and the publishing of consumer opinion, now universally tagged as social media. This movement is dominating the way we use the internet and the leading social platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are now no less than mainstream. Sites like these are redefining how the internet works, with every site now incorporating features that allow users to publish opinions, connect, build community, or produce and share content.

That being said, there is a debate on what Social Media has done to the populace at large, with some claiming we are more literate, more engaged and more connected than at any other point in human history.  As a result, some will say we are more open to generating new relationships, and more aware of the world around us than we ever have been before, while being more empowered to make the changes in the world we want to see. Sceptics will say social networking is dwindling our attention spans to almost zero, as well as drastically eroding our very identities. Some attribute the social networking template to fleeting relationships and a dehumanized sense of community, as our ability to empathize and communicate with our fellow human beings in the non-virtual world quickly becomes an endangered ability. Regardless of one’s stance on social networking however, its ubiquitous existence in not pejorative in nature, and the debate over whether we are being changed for the better or worse is a moot point. It is here. It is shaping our lives. Whether willing or not, we are all participants in quantum shift in human existence the likes of which happens every few hundred years. Understanding its effects, positive or negative, and both harnessing and utilizing its power to the best of our abilities thus becomes our target. The question is not whether we use social media any more, the question is how we are going to most effectively engage it.

In the short film below we talk to Kali Readwin, AAISA Project Officer, and Colyn DeGraaff, CIES Manager of E-learning and Special Projects about their take on the 21st century Digital Narrative and where we go from here.

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