Monday, 26 November 2007

Exploiting the potential for blogs etc part 2

Case Study 3: Put Yourself Out There
Alison Wildish, Edge Hill University

Edge Hill became a University in 2006. Need to do a lot of awareness raising. People talking about you is best form of advertising/PR.

People are going to talk about you....in pub or on a social networking site. Boundaries becoming blurred - common to mix business/study with pleasure. Students don't switch off from Facebook when they come in to uni. But also same for staff. No-one comes in and leaves their personal lives at home. Regardless of any institutional policy - students and staff will use social networking sites.

Approach from Edge Hill - great! Embrace use of social networking tools. Make it easier. Range of communication channels which they will plug into Facebook, and plug student networking sites into university portal.
Policy/strategy - not to have one, not even for teaching and learning. Use it while we can. Use it as complementary to marketing and to existing communication channels.
Blogs managed on site (wordpress), but can use externally hosted ones as well. Not prescriptive.

Actively building applications to link into Facebook. Student portal information fed into Facebook accounts - students opt into it. Not only way of getting info. Different tools for different preferences.
Are problems. eg, they had a false allegation about member of staff on Facebook including photographs. Not under uni control. Solution - use proper channels. Report group. Acceptable use policy covers use of network and facilities - therefore can talk to students. Remind students about libel and defamation laws.
Keele University - asked students not to express dissatisfaction about institution on social networking sites. Goes against culture of openness being encouraged. Instead should educate individuals about their responsibilities. and how to manage on-line presence. Ironically, Keele have won competition on Facebook for favourite university!
Policy on social networking - very open, accept it, allow it,and actively encourage it.
Screenshot of student portal - very Web2.0. Links to YouTube, IM, Flikr, Blogs, news (don't use email).
Some good ideas.
Interesting talk from a University obviously not frightened by social networking and actively embracing it.

Case Study 4: The Student Perspective
Tom Milburn, University of Bath

Tom is a sabbatical officer at Bath, responsible for Education. Has surveyed students to prepare this talk.
Social networks adopted by students at a phenomenal rate - UK are leading social networking users in Europe. Huge potential because of frequency of visits and high retention rates.

Student perspective on social networking:
Peer to peer support
Provides support of their cohert in a strucutred enviroment - eg first years set up group about how to use a lab. Not bound by office hours. Older students coaching younger students. Can ease pressure on staff. Final year student can often explian better than staff. Discussion board can focus on certain aspects of course.

Student feedback
Can provide liaison for staff student committees - have been set up in Bath. Provide open forum - students check regularly (more than email!). Easy to voice opinion, have open channel of communication with staff. Staff can run things past students and gauge opinion.

Mulitmedia
L and t can be enhanced by being offered in various formats. Social networks offer flexible use of images and videos. Questionnaires can be linked to Facebook which can aid research for students projects.

Problems:
Can be perceived as closed commincation channels. ie outside of University
Consequence of actions can become distant as socail networks can be turned off
Need for a username and password can give a false sense of security.
Lack of clarity from University on what the consequence of actions on social ntworks can be.

Advice statements
Uni and SU jointly now providing advice statements
Often details what students should be wary of - be careful about you leave as your digital footprint. If you wouldn't put it on noticeboard, don't put it on the internet.
Privacy - contact details etc. bullying and harrassment
At Bath these were delivered as Flyers on Facebook. Missed the boat, because so many flyers are now advertising, so get lost. Wouldn't do again.

Blogs
Can be excellent ay of keeping students up to date with developments
Not as well known as social networking
But, not easy to find, not updated regulalry, not used by student themselves

Summary
Great potential for social networks to engage students and enhance experience of uni life - email just isn't read
Depends on how much effort staff put in and depends on culture of students on various courses
can be of great value to the instution.

Discussion - more acceptance now of staff using facebook, especially as students see staff having profiles and posting interests etc. Institutions should use the new facility to set up institution pages.


3 comments:

Mike Nolan said...

If you wanted a copy of the screenshot, it's on our blog:

http://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/webservices/2007/09/19/going-live/go-portal/

If you wanted a copy of the portal, the source code isn't available... yet! It's developed in house and we're currently discussing what to release to the public.

Chris Sexton said...

Mike
Thanks. Lots of good stuff there.

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