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Sharing What Works at the Best Practices Forum

Northwestern faculty and staff explore examples of positive change across campus

Five rules for social media success:

  • Be current with your profile photo and information.
  • Be consistent enough to be recognizable across platforms.
  • Be compelling by writing clear, concise and (even better) clever.
  • Be critical and vet people before you accept them into your network.
  • Be cognizant of your tone, which is how you may “flex your identity” across platforms.

With these five simple steps, professionals can maintain an active and useful social media presence, according to Rachel Davis Mersey. She delivered the keynote address recently at the ninth annual Best Practices Forum, a showcase for innovative and valuable practices that have been implemented successfully across Northwestern.

Mersey, an associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and fellow at the Institute for Policy Research, explained to the audience of established professionals how younger people are enjoying success in social media because they’re willing to mix their personal and professional narratives.

“The benefits of social media are obvious: expediency, efficiency, low price point and access to a wide variety of people,” said forum attendee Bridget Calendo-Spaeth, assistant chair of neurobiology in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Northwestern alumna. “This means being able to inform, persuade, market and raise our visibility as a school and university in front of a large audience in a shorter period of time and at a very low cost.”

Co-sponsored by Provost Daniel Linzer and Executive Vice President Nim Chinniah, the event was organized by the Office of Change Management.

“One of the underlying reasons for the Best Practices Forum is that 30,000 faculty, staff and students are trying to maximize the local good of their school, unit or program,” said Linzer. “And one of our greatest challenges is, with all that focus on the local good, there may not be enough attention on what brings us all together as a university.”

The essence of the Best Practices Forum is being in a mode of continuous learning, according to Chinniah.

“The ambitious strategic priorities of the University are dependent on innovation and collaboration,” he said. “This process is a wonderful opportunity for people to share important content and learn from each other. While the tendency can to be focus on constraints, this forum allows us all to see the art of the possible.”

The one-day event also included a series of focused breakout sessions in which faculty and staff offered presentations about what they’ve learned about best practices in cloud-based tools, wellness initiatives and job shadowing, among others.

One particular area of emphasis was distance learning. Following are the top five best practices for online course development and instruction shared during breakout sessions, according to attendees Christine Scherer and Kristina Wilson of the School of Professional Studies. 

  • It takes a team.
  • Professional development is for faculty, too.
  • Connect with your students on LinkedIn (the right way).
  • Find new ways to use Key Performance Indicators.
  • Plan ahead for collaboration.

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