Web Presence, Social Media and Digital Identity - Guest post by Deborah Arnold

May 18, 2015 by Antonio Moreira Teixeira   Comments (0)

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In one of my previous posts, entitled «Building a Roadmap», I announced that one of EDEN's exciting new initiatives in the pipeline was the redesign of our web presence. This is indeed an important part of our strategy. For EDEN the web is not just an extension of its activities. On the contrary, a major part of what the association is and does today happens on and because of the web. Our goal is therefore to develop a more integrated, interactive, dynamic, ubiquitous and open digital environment.

Online communication has become a critical and central driver for EDEN's strategic planning and decision-making in recent years. As such, it obviously requires special, expert and dedicated attention by the governance structure. The complex developments taking place in our field, with its multiple challenges and opportunities, calls in fact for an increased strategic decision-making capability from the part of organisations as EDEN. Hence the decision of our Executive Committee to elect my colleague and dear friend Deborah Arnold as a new Vice-president specifically dedicated to the web presence and communication portfolio. You can find more about Deborah's background, interests and work here.

The great expertise, energy and commitment of Deborah combined with the talent, skill and dedication of our Communication Task Force secretariat, in particular Livia Turzo and Eva Suba, promises to consolidate EDEN's web presence in an innovative and ambitious way, acting as a reference for other organisations.

In order to explain in more detail our vision and plans, I've invited Deborah to write today's guest post. In her contribution, she shares with us her expectations on the new position, tells us about her first impressions and also updates us on the ongoing projects.



As part of EDEN's development strategy, the Executive Committee recently voted the creation of a third vice-presidency with a portfolio for web presence and communication.

I am delighted and honoured to be taking on this role and to be working closely with the EDEN president, António Teixeira, and colleagues at the EDEN Secretariat to develop and implement EDEN's communication strategy.


It is indeed an exciting and challenging time for organisations such as EDEN. As António Teixeira already pointed out in December 2014, EDEN as Europe’s largest association and professional network in the field of open and digital education has “the responsibility to help the professional community of educators who are challenged by new demands” and announced our plans to “continue to widen our outreach, increasing the number and diversity of our events, reaching new target groups, enlarging our portfolio of services and introducing innovative features.” We thus already have the backbone of an ambitious new strategy, to provide the roadmap for EDEN’s evolution over the next four to five years. Which includes of course the evolution of our communication strategy in terms of web presence, social media and EDEN’s (digital) identity…

An example of recent success in this area is the regular #EDENchat series, fortnightly conversations on Twitter on a chosen theme, expertly led by the NAP steering committee chair Steve Wheeler. I for one particularly enjoy participating in these, as they always bring new insights and raise thought-provoking issues. Furthermore, an open environment such as Twitter is the ideal space for reaching out and meeting new inspiring people.

On the operational side, one of the most significant developments has been the setting up of a specific Communication Task Force at the EDEN secretariat, led by Livia Turzo. On my recent visit to Budapest, we had a series of meetings to take stock of existing practice and to plan ahead. We also learnt during those very days that EDEN had been successful in securing an Operating Grant from the European Commission, a further sign of recognition which will greatly facilitate the implementation of the innovations we plan to bring in.

As I’ve already said, one of the things I’m hoping to achieve in this new role, as requested by the EDEN President, is to develop a true communication strategy in support of the organisation’s overall strategy. And to do this, I believe it’s important to take into account what we can learn from research in the fields of information and communication studies and social psychology.

The University of Burgundy, my own institution, recently organised a study day on stimulating commitment and engagement in social networks, which brought together researchers and community managers from a number of French universities to take a closer look at how students engage in institutional social networks compared to public social networks such as Facebook or LinkedIn. And there are obvious implications for our own EDEN social media activity. One of the theories we looked at was ‘commitment theory’ Keisler (1971), revisited by Joule and Beauvois (1987; 2012).

Summarised in a humorous but still scientifically sound presentation of his study of student interaction on dating sites (yes, you read me correctly!), Pascal Lardellier from the University of Burgundy suggests that we engage in social media for the following reasons:

1.    because it’s fun,
2.    because I can get something out of it,
3.    because I think it’s important to contribute to the community.

Facebook and YouTube obviously support the first level – just look at the success of cat videos! And LinkedIn addresses the second level (job search, business networking,…) and to a certain extent the third level, through the group discussions.

I sincerely believe that the spirit of the EDEN community is perfectly in line with this third level of engagement and look forward to the exciting times ahead!

Deborah Arnold is the Vice-President of EDEN and Director of the AIDE-numérique department at the Centre for Information Systems and Digital Practice, University of Burgundy, France. She has a background in teaching and training, media production and instructional design as well as considerable experience in coordinating European projects.