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Knowledge IS Power

When our resources are slashed during times of financial crunch, it is vital to find ways to share our resources with our colleagues, both on-campus and at other institutions.  Resource sharing is a great way maximize the output of any resource.  I will admit, it is kind of hard to share a stapler, a copy machine or a homegrown computer system – but how hard is it to share information?  In a time of diminishing budgets and shrinking staffs we often feel as if we are resource deprived.  That is because we tend to see resources from the lens of tangible objects that we have in our possession.   The fact of the matter is that we often forget about our most valuable resource – knowledge.  Anyone remember Schoolhouse Rock from Saturday morning cartoons?  I remember waking up every Saturday with the gentle reminder that “knowledge is power”.  I think this simple reminder can not be more true.  Of all the resources we have the most empowering is knowledge.  There are ample ways to share this resource, but sometimes we need a friendly reminder of all the opportunities out there for us to share: Read more

Social Grief: Death and Facebook

In a touching and thoughtful essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Elizabeth Stone recounts what happened when a student of hers, Casey Feldman, died unexpectedly during summer break. Feldman’s roommate thoughtfully called Stone and others close to her in an effort to prevent them from hearing the news on Facebook first. Then Stone watched as Feldman’s friends grieved on Facebook, posting messages on her wall and consoling each other. As time went on, some friends would check in on Feldman’s page, telling her their news or recalling good times they shared.

The grieving process lasts long after the funeral, and Facebook was a way for Feldman’s friends to recognize that, and share their sadness together.

Facebook being used as a place to mourn and remember a life is hardly unheard of, but it’s still relatively new. What are your campus’ experiences with Facebook and grief?

The New Social Disease

…that is, the wrong person viewing your Facebook profile (or your profile on another social network).

Faculty, administrators and staff usually try to keep their private and professional lives separate, though that’s very hard when you are, say, a live-in area coordinator.

A faculty member at East Stroudsberg University recently got into hot water for her Facebook postings about her students and class frustrations. The commentary on Inside HigherEd largely derides her comments and the fact that she has a Facebook profile at all. A few pointed out that Facebook sometimes suddenly and quietly changes users’ privacy settings, so users must re-set their limits on who can see their profiles and status. Several commenters on Inside HigherEd display disgust towards social media; one declares Facebook is only for the friendless and exhibitionist. However, for younger faculty and staff, giving up social media entirely might seem somewhere between burdensome and completely unrealistic.

How do you strike a balance? Abandon Facebook? Self-edit your postings? Double-check your privacy settings weekly?

Is URoomSurf “Cutting In” on Colleges?

URoomSurf is a web-based application that allows incoming college students to search for roommates. Instead of marketing their services to institutions, however, URoomSurf went straight to the students. They advertise their service on Facebook by creating groups for specific graduation years at an institution. Students join them, and URoomSurf will use this connection to draw the student to their roommate-matching website. The service is free; URoomSurf says they’ll make money with ads and, perhaps future premium services.

Some college and university administrators are annoyed by what they see as an end-run around the institutions that actually offer the rooms that roommates will share. URoomSurf’s pedigree isn’t helping the situation much. URoomSurf’s promoter, Justin Gaither, was involved in College Prowler, a similar service that also used Facebook as a marketing tool. In that case, College Prowler didn’t advise visitors to its Facebook page that they were not affiliated with any college or university, created “official” institution groups, and used official university logos, leading many students to believe that they were representing or working with their school. Brad Ward, now CEO of the higher education marketing company BlueFuego, pointed out this deception in late 2008. At the time, Ward was with Butler University’s admissions office.

Ward pointed out what he calls FacebookGate2010 on his blog, and the debate commenced. URoomSurf  isn’t trampling copyright laws the way they did last time; their pages now note their non-affiliation with any institution, though obliquely. However, some administrators are also annoyed that URoomSurf posted notices on their college’s official Facebook page, even after the institution asked them to cease. Of course, institutions fear that students, having found a “match” through URoomSurf will be dismayed when that match doesn’t happen in real life, either because of logistical issues, or because their institution has its own matching system. They think the service will establish false expectations, and that URoomSurf’s founders were unprofessional not to approach institutions with their idea and seek their partnerships. Several administrators quoted in the Inside HigherEd article make a point of saying URoomSurf’s product is a good idea, but the marketing of it and their adversarial stance toward institutions is off-putting. URoomSurf and its critics defend their points of view in this lengthy (and, um, circular) comment thread on Ward’s blog.

Have you dealt with URoomSurf or College Prowler? Do you have war stories or advice for your colleagues?

Facebook As Marketing Tool

In an open letter to the Facebook community, founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that the social networking site reached more than 350 million users.  Five years after its debut, it’s clear that Facebook is more than the passing fad some predicted it would be.

Discussions at ACUHO-I conferences still gravitate on how to capture the power of Facebook and use it to boost our marketing programs.  As an example of Facebook’s power, this fall, Forsman & Bodenfors launched a viral campaign for IKEA using the most popular tool on Facebook: photo tagging.  This campaign is doing what we dream of.

So how did it work? The company created a Facebook profile then posted photos of the showrooms.  The first person to tag their name to a product in the photo won it.  When someone tagged a photo, Facebook automatically added a line to their News Feed and IKEA was advertised to thousands.  Check out this video to see how it’s done (and click fast, these videos are disappearing from the web).

Fan pages, groups and event invitations are proven tools for Facebook marketing, but companies like IKEA are taking the basic features of Facebook and using them in very creative ways.  Another great use of Facebook can be found in the quizzes, which some universities have turned into instant polls.

Drop a line in the comment section to let us know how you’re using Facebook as a marketing tool.

Read All About It

This week on Inside HigherEd, read about how colleges and universities are attempting, with mixed success,  to social-network for money; how fewer students are coming to the United States for higher eduation; and how students’ paid affects their lives.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA MAZE: Colleges are eager to leverage Facebook and Twitter to boost recruiting and fund raising, but many still don’t have a coherent strategy for how to do it.

WILL WORK FOR BEER: Economists find evidence that college students choose to take jobs not to pay tuition but to cover other expenses and, unless they work a lot, those jobs don’t do much to harm their academic performance.

INTERNATIONAL ‘LEAPFROGGING’: Study examines impact of decline in share of world’s college students who are educated in the United States.

COURSE HERO OR COURSE VILLAIN?: Professors worry that new companies might be making money from their copyrights while encouraging plagiarism among their students.

DARWIN, FROM THE CREATIONISTS: Anti-evolution group plans to distribute 100,000 copies of Origin of Species next month — with an introduction designed to undercut the book and promote a literal view of the Bible.

Residence Halls of Fame: Geek Edition

We all know an untold number of fantastic, life-changing ideas are born in residence halls. Of course, we also know a dramatically smaller number of those ideas make it past the idea phase. (We also know that a good number of those ideas might end up requiring the involvement of local authorities, but that’s a topic for another story.)

A new book, though, has captured the locations where scientific ideas were born and then later flourished into world-renowned businesses, technologies, and products. The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science & Technology Comes Alive shows readers where the world’s largest science museum is or where one can find a descendant of Newton’s apple tree among others. In true geek fashion, the book even includes site latitudes and longitudes for GPS devices.

But beyond that, as part of this techy-tour, the book includes the residence hall rooms of those who would later become common names in the IT world. Among the book’s lists are:

  • Tech mecca No. 10: Room 2713, Dobie Hall, University of Texas — Austin, Texas
    This is where Michael Dell started his mail-order computer business in 1984.
  • Tech mecca No. 11: Kirkland House, Harvard University — Cambridge, Massachusetts
    On the third-floor here, Mark Zuckerberg (along with classmates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes) dreamed up Facebook in 2004. A housing officer’s job hasn’t been the same since.
  • Tech mecca No. 12: Lyman Residence Hall, Stanford University — Stanford, California
    In 1997 this hall actually housed the first Google server farm.

    What famous events and/or students once called your residence halls home? Share in the comments section or tell us in an e-mail and maybe your hall will be featured in a future blog post.

    Facebook Losing Face?

    …of course, we’re all still talking about whether Facebook is dead, so perhaps it’s not. If you have strong feelings on the topic (or want to read the views of those who do) see this story on the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s website. Since we’ve all heard that Twitter isn’t of interest to the young folks, what’s coming up next? Telegrams? Letter-writing? Calling cards? Do you have any ideas?

    Read All About It

    A selection of college housing and student affairs headlines from InsideHigherEd.com. Look for these on a weekly basis in the ACUHO-I news blog.

    SWINE FLU IMPACT: Texas Wesleyan, Western Oregon and Harvard Dental close temporarily. Northeastern seeks to prevent handshakes at today’s graduation ceremonies:
    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/05/01/swine

    ASSESSMENT FOUND TO BE WIDESPREAD: Survey finds wide use of measures of learning outcomes and curricular goals, but relatively little communication on these subjects with students:
    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/04/28/assess

    TO FRIEND OR TO REJECT: Many admissions offices are using search engines and social networks to check out some applicants, or to promote institutions, survey finds:
    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/04/29/nacac

    CUT AND RUN ATHLETICS: To avoid unprecedented NCAA penalties, colleges are eliminating teams that underperform academically to try to keep Division I status. Does this run counter to association’s academic reforms?
    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/05/01/apr

    Staying In Touch with the Online Generation

    Today we have our third and final conference presentation to share with you. In this one, titled “Text Me Your Program Proposal by Midnight,” Dan Oltersdorf (Campus Advantage) as well as grad students Meredith Larrabee (University of Utah), and Karen Morian (Kansas State University) discuss existing and emerging online technology and how it can be used to interact with professional and student staff members.

    There’s no question that online communication tools are affecting how housing staffs communicate with each other and the students, as well as the corresponding expectations (“What do you mean you weren’t checking your e-mail at 2 a.m.?”). As co-founders of the largest RA group on Facebook, Larrabee and Morian epitomize the “digital natives” that are quickly joining the professional ranks of college housing.

    You’re reading a blog now, so you must be at least a little tech savvy. But are you truly ready to speak the Millennials’ language? What electronic resources are you utilizing? Improve your online credentials by posting your comments below.

    How Far Do Your Policies Go?

    Justin Schaffer, a sophomore at the University of Dayton, has-or had-a Facebook profile. (Our link is a cached version.) On it, one could see that he enjoys the children’s book Everybody Poops, he is a former member of “Pole Dancers for Jesus,” and has made and received from friends a number of digital “bumper stickers,”  some of which exhibit shocking and offensive ideas.

    So far, it all sounds pretty… sophomoric, right? Well, there are two complications.

    Complication #1: Justin ‘s father is Bob Schaffer, a Republican former member of Congress who is now running a contentious campaign for the Senate. An anonymous tipster (or tattletale, depending on your POV) sent a Democratic blogger a link to a mirrored version of Justin’s profile (the one you see above), including the bumper stickers. One compares Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden; another shows images of pyramids with the phrase “Slavery gets s**t done.”

    Complication #2: The University of Dayton is a private, Catholic institution, and has “started a dialogue” with Justin concerning the elements of his Facebook page that violate the “standards of the UD community.”

    Justin has apologized; his Facebook page can no longer be viewed.

    Unarguably, institutions have a legitimate interest in being aware of what their students are portraying about themselves and their school. But where does free speech — even the offensive, juvenile sort — fit? When should the institution step in? Definitely, it’s a tricky balance. Also, how much of this conflict is the result of differing ideas of “humor” between generations? Discuss.