On the 17th and 18th of September, 2015, Kolkata Bloggers conducted a workshop on the basics of blogging and social media, for school and college students at the American Center, Kolkata. Day 1 (17th September, Thursday) of the workshop was exclusively for school students while Day 2 (18th September, Friday) was for college students. The workshop entailed inculcating knowledge about basic blogging, digital media, effective use of social media, basic SEO and using blogging as a soft-powering tool for personal branding.
The schools represented at the American Center included the likes of Modern High School, Don Bosco Park Circus, The Calcutta Boys’ School, St. James’ School, Calcutta International School, Birla High School and Scottish Church Collegiate School. The Public Affairs Officer for the US Consulate, Andrew Posner, started proceedings by welcoming all and elucidating the importance of a digital presence. The US Consul General Craig Hall spoke about the concept of sharing information to the masses as an age-old tactic to further knowledge. We then began the workshop proper, showcasing how to create a blog, gauging readability, headline analysis, keywords and related keywords, using graphics and videos and other related topics. We had a very interactive bunch of students who were willing to question and cross-question to get their concepts clear, which was very gratifying to experience.
We also had with us Ms. Amrita Mukherjee, a journalist and celebrated author of “Exit Interview” who is a regular blogger herself. She also took examples from her own blog, “Amrita Speaks” to show how people keep coming back to posts that have been published quite some time ago, if the quality of the posts leaves a lasting impression.
She then revealed the topic for the blogging contest that would be held later that day – “Why Can’t Women Win?” – an endeavor to find out the school goers perspective on women empowerment. Quite a few key points were brought out and debated on this topic before we broke for lunch. Post lunch, all the students created their blogs and posted their very first blog post, incorporating all they had learnt in theory over the previous three hours into practical application. After their debut post, we spoke briefly on blog monetization before concluding the workshop for the day. It was an amazing experience to interact with the young minds of forward thinkers in this digital age.
Day 2 saw college students coming to the American Center for the Blogging Workshop once again. We had very healthy representation from colleges like iLead, IISWBM, Gargi Memorial Institute of Technology, Shri Shikshayatan, ADAMAS Institute and others. Colleges like Jadavpur University and Bhawanipore Education Society also had representatives at the workshop. We began on a very similar note, showing how a free website is created, talking about what makes a generally effective blogpost, and things along those lines. We had two esteemed guests for this day – Jaideep Mazumdar, Senior Assistant Editor at the Times of India and Aji Issac Matthew, CEO of Techshu. They both spent time interacting with the students, talking to them about their own experiences on the digital front, and showcasing their blogs as examples of how they go about things. The topics of blog monetization, sponsored posts, placing adverts were also touched upon.
With minutes to go for lunch, the topics for the day’s blogging contest were announced. For college students, we had given the choice of any one out of three topics, ranging from three very different genres. The topics presented to the new bloggers for their very first blog post were:
1. “Is Free Fair?” – Net Neutrality as the cornerstone of Digital India.
2. “Strangers No More” – The Influence of Social Media in Bridging Territorial Boundaries.
3. Tech Entrepreneurs Today. Champions Tomorrow.
After this, the students present were divided into two batches, with one batch participating in the blogging contest, and the other batch engaging in a very informal interactive session with Kolkata Bloggers, and alternating after time was up for the first batch. Students presented their questions from the workshop, asked for clarifications and even realized the stumbling blocks once they set their hands on creating their own blogs. Yet another day of meaningful interaction left us all ecstatic.
We would like to thank the American Center for their support and wholehearted cooperation, especially Mr. Rupam Sen (Digital Media Manager) and Ms. Ipshita Nandi Banerjee (Media and Public Communications Manager) for their help with this workshop. We would also like to thank Public Affairs Officer Andrew Posner and the Consul General Craig Hall for gracing the occasion with their presence and their insights.