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Jesse Bardo (@jessebardo) – Director of edSocialMedia (@edsocialmedia) – featured Irish Studies’s use of Twitter as on of five schools enjoying social media success.

In his presentation (below) he focus on how Irish Studies uses Twitter to keep “updating the now” prior to traveling and when in Ireland.

The MKA Irish Studies program is happy to be working with the Irish Fireside Blog and Podcast to help promote Irish history, culture and travel.

Irish Studies will have student bloggers posting content to the Fireside prior to, during and shortly after the trip.

We look forward to working with them and helping to add to the knowledge base on all things Irish!

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then I want to thank the Winsor School. They are using the Irish Studies model of their student’s trip to India this March and have emailed to let us know that they were their example of how to do it!

I want to wish them the best of luck and much success on their trip and with the blog once it goes public (check back and I will post a link to the site here).

Note: A special debt of thank to Antonio Viva, Worcester Academy, WAMash and edSocialMedia for inspiring Irish Studies.

A short write-up entitled “Students use social media to promote stories of Irish travels” appears in the January 2010 issue of Tech&Learning magazine both in print and online (http://www.techlearning.com/article/26576).

Tech_Learning_Irish

The article talks about how the use of social media transformed the program from having just a local, school audience to that of a global one.  It gives the program some very nice attention and given the short amount of time we have been using this new format, shows how you can take something which has been running smoothly for over a decade and bring new life to it with some new tools.

Since returning from the 2009 trip the conversations around the Irish Studies program have continued. Moving to the new format and including more social medai tools in the site has sparked a great deal of interest in what we are doing, how it has grown our audience and brought more attention to the program.

This past summer the Irish Studies program was featured at two conferences, one sponsored by edSocialMedia at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia and the other at the Whipple Hill Users Conference in Boston. At these conference we shared how we had changed the program to include the use of WordPress, Flickr, YouTube and Twitter, moving away from traditional static content and to a format that allows for greater interaction between the students and a much broader audience.

The attendees had many questions about process, privacy and the level of effort that went into the new format. They heard what was involved and the level of effort that was required prior to traveling and once we were in country and were extremely interested and impressed with the level and quality of the students work.

Most recently MKA’s Irish Studies program was featured in a video interview with Peter Baron on the edSocialMedia web site titled “MKA Irish Studies Goes Social” where we discussed the program, it’s history and our plans for the future.

It is nice to see that after 10 years of work and devotion to the program that the excitement and interest in what we are doing is still there and shared by others.

This year students will be using social media tools to tell the story of the Irish journey.  As they prepare for the trip, students are reviewing the web sites from previous years. This year, they will be applying lessons learned and using some exciting new tools to share their stories online in our revamped website… (read more from our 2009 Trip web site)

A constant challenge when traveling abroad with students is communicating with family, friends and those following the trip.  Whether it is questions about what they are doing, where there are, or how it is going, timely communication is something that any trip leader or chaperone needs to address. While there is access to the Internet, it is generally limited to Internet Cafe’s in larger towns and cities and while many US cellphone carriers provide international plans the calls can be costly and depending on the number of students traveling downright cost prohibitive.

All of these issues and each of theses questions can now be answered even before they are asked while traveling through the use of Twitter.

In previous years we [The Irish Studies Program] were able to update the travel site with pictures, video and text from the areas of study inwhich we are working, but there has been very little in terms of the day to day updates or any type of alerts when new content was posted.

Using Twitter and an iPhone we will be able to communicate with our followers much more frequently.  Since a Twitter post is very much like a text message and requires very little bandwidth to send we will be able to use it to give short, frequent updates as we are traveling.

With more frequent updates followers will be able to experience the trip like never before. When traveling with students abroad there is always a concern with safety and a clear understanding of what is happening, particularly when you are away for an extended period of time. Subscribers to our “Tweets” will gain a greater insight to what is happening on the trip.

Followers can either log into the annual site to see our latests tweets in the right hand column, by visiting our Twitter web site at htttp://www.twitter.com/irishstudies or by following us using there own Twitter application (TweetDeck, Twhirl, Twitterific, etc).

If you have question about exactly what Twitter is and how it works, check out the blog post here for more information: http://www.edsocialmedia.com/2008/12/what-is-a-twitter-anyway/

After 10 years of taking students to Ireland and telling our stories through standard, static web sites, The Irish Studies Program is changing things up by embracing the tools of social media. We will be changing the way we publish our stories and share our text, images and video.

After attending the edSocialMedia bootcamp in February of 2009 and hearing what is possible to do with blogs, microblogs, Flickr and YouTube — and seeing what people are doing at places like Worcester Academy, we have changed our publishing format to include these new tools.

We will be using a WordPress blog, running on our own Apple Xserve, to publish our stories of the trip and chronicle the Irish Famine and Irish history. Using Twitter,  we will be posting more daily updates to the site in an effort to keep people even more informed of our progress. We will take advantage of YouTube and Flickr and it’s integration into the Apple iLife ’09 suite to publish our videos and images. In the past we have been limited in our updates by the availability of internet access (normally internet cafes), but this year we will be using an iPhone and the apps from Twitter and WordPress to post content wherever and whenever want to along our journey through Ireland.

With each of these tools we will be able to reach a larger audience, which until this point has been primarly an MKA audience. Our goal is to take all that we do while traveling –  the stories, the videos and the pictures — and open it all up to the world, to invite people to comment and participate in our journey, and share in and contribute to our learning.

We will be posting content about the trip in each years site and posting content about how program and the use of this type of technology and these social media tools in this area.

You can see all of the previous years sites in the links provided and we invite everyone to follow along and participate.