Archive for March, 2008


Keyword: Ensure Effectiveness

Effectiveness is a word that I have been tossing around my head for some time now. It started with my post a few weeks ago about Using Twitter for Higher Ed. I posted about trying to figure out a way to put Twitter to good use for higher education. It’s an excellent tool to keep up to date on what my friends and co-workers are doing as well as networking with other electronic media professionals, and while I think it would bee a useful tool for students to be able to use, it brings up the question of would they really use it.

Sometime before my post, Matt Herzberger posted on <uwebd> asking “Do You Twitter?” which has since sparked quite a bit of conversation. If you read through the comments (primarily page 3) there is a debate between Patrick Berry, Brad Ward, and myself about why Twitter would/not be good for a university. Hearing what they had to say was very enlightening. As great a tool as Twitter is, I started asking myself, will integrating this service actually be effective? Would the students even use it? Would they understand how to use it? I am in a unique position on my campus to be able to try any and every new social media technology that comes out. I have signed up for so many of them that I have a two page list of logins that I use. Most are the same, but some sites don’t like the syntax of a password, etc, so they are slight variations. Plus there are some that I have signed up for before I became a professional and so on. But if we were to use all of these services, we would never be able to get any work done.

That being said, I thought Twitter had some real promise, and I think it still does. And recently I found out that we will be searching for a new chat service as well as a message board service. And here’s the catch; it has to be free or cheap. In my other post I detail more about how I think we can use it as a chat feature. But I wonder, would the students really take advantage of it? I have no problem monitoring it and can set it up so that I get a text anytime someone posts, but would the students actually go through the process of signing up and posting a question? Would they understand the 140 character limit? So looking at it further tells me that maybe that’s not the best service to use. We may try it out, but I’m still debating whether it’s worth it.

And Twitter is just one example. Is it worth it to have a presence on Facebook or MySpace? Of course! What about posting photos to Flickr or videos to YouTube? There is a definite value here! What about lifecasting through or other video service? I think if you can pull it off well, then yes. But what about, Google Earth (technically not a social networking site – but maybe not a needed feature), SecondLife, etc? These may be some extra features we could do without. It’s good to push the envelope, but when you’re trying to recruit students, evaluating the effectiveness of your methods is extremely important. If you’re doing all this extra work, then you’re not following the rules of “The Four Hour Workweek.


When is technology too much?

I subscribe to a blog called Faces of Web 2.0 ★ 21st Century Teachers and over the weekend they posted a very interesting video called 21st Century Classes. Recently, there have been a couple of universities that have decided to give iPhones to their incoming freshmen. I thought at first the idea was absurd, but then I realized when I came to UIS, they were “giving” us laptops as freshman. I mean, come on, a LAPTOP!?! Who could really turn that down… Little did we know that we had to pay for them through our fees for being in the honors program, but none-the-less, it wasn’t a $1500 lump sum that we would have to pay prior to starting college. It was nice to be able to take them to class for notes and blackboard and discussions and whatnot, but really…did they think that we wouldn’t mess around on them? I wasn’t much of an IM’er, but a lot of my friends were. The thing about college though is that while teachers want their students to succeed and will do whatever they can to help them, if a student just doesn’t care, then there’s not much ANYONE can do about it. Don’t get me wrong, the laptop was an awesome feature, as were the scholarships I got, but would I have chosen one school over another just because of the free perks? Not me, but others might.

Anyway…back on target…how would you feel about your university giving you a laptop upon entering as a freshman? Or an iPhone? Or both? Would students really use them for good, or is it just another tool for them to access the internet at all times and pay no attention during class? I believe if the students are truly interested in learning, they will use them the way the universities hope (plan?). It is a very interesting concept though. iPhone cost < Laptop cost…or is the long run, iPhone Bill >Laptop cost. Depends upon who pays the service bill? I love my iPhone, but I’m definitely glad I got a real computer.


In my spare time.

**WE ARE LIVE**  It took a couple of days, but now we are officially LIVE in Google Earth!  Check it out by downloading Google Earth 4 and fly to “1 University Dr, Springfield, IL” and we will be there!  Make sure you enable 3D Buildings as well in the lower left hand “Layers” box.


**My Jing account only has 1GB of bandwidth that apparently I reached after 5 views yesterday…I’m going to work on fixing that today, but if you cannot view the video, my apologies.**

I’ve had something lately that I haven’t really had for a while: spare time. I’ve decided that I wanted to put some of that time to good use. I stumbled across a video on YouTube about the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO.

So I thought, why not do that for my campus?! I really enjoyed my 3D design class, so I told myself, “Self, you’re gonna do this!” I went to Google Earth to figure out what to do. They have a program called Google Sketchup which I downloaded, and after a couple days of testing and trying to figure it out, I was able to construct something that I thought looked pretty good. Watch the video below that I made using a service called Jing, something I had forgotten I was able to get. @Joe, Jing allows me to do screen captures for free! *Shakes head…

For now, I cannot embed my screencast video. Click here to view the screencast of my Google Earth Video.

I plan to be able to complete all the buildings within a month or two (it took me about 4 days to do UHB). It may not be a very widely used service, but I think some students will enjoy going in and playing around with it. Plus, it gives our online population the ability to see our campus without having to actually travel here. 2D photos can only do so much. So go download Google Earth and type in our address “1 University Plaza, Springfield, IL” and play around with it. Let me know what you think!


Target Marketing at it’s finest! A+ for effort!

As I was checking my Facebook messages, Superpoke, and App invites (deny all!), I saw this well executed advertisement. My friend (and facebook friend) Brad signed up for an offer a while ago to make some extra cash on the side. FusionCash put an advertisement on Facebook that checked my friends list with their fans and it popped up on my profile. That is good work by them! I signed up for it before, but I never actually used it…Looks like I am now!


And as a side note, I just spent the last 4 minutes refreshing my Facebook page to make it pop-up again so I could include a screen shot of it. Nice work FusionCash, you got a conversion today!


So I went to sign up and accidentally clicked the “x” to close out of the window.  It prompted me to stay and a “Live Chat” box popped up.  I didn’t think anything of it, but then Jessica posted again.  So I though, instead of being rude in the off chance that I was actually talking to a real person, I thought I would respond.  The image shows what happened.


Pay attention to what I said and then the following line by Jessica.  I figured it was a bot, and that made me laugh.  LOL, if you will.  It didn’t stop me from signing up though.


Using Twitter for Higher Ed

There have been a lot of posts lately about the uses of Twitter. Andrew Careaga asked Should Universities Tweet?, a University of Auburn student, Brett Pohlman posted about Twitter, Chris Brogan wrote about a company that Uses Social Media to Announce, and The Chronicle questioned whether it would take off with professors. Last week we brought in Shel Holtz, a consulting agent who spoke about social media in higher education, and he talked a lot about using Twitter. But I was really hoping that he would go into HOW to effectively use Twitter for Higher Ed. This is something that I have been running through my mind for some time now. I have been using Twitter for a good couple of months. The uses in my life are easy to track. I use it to keep up with not only my friends, but also people in higher education that I share similar interests with, etc. It gives me ideas and lets me keep up with what projects they are working on. Here’s an example…FJ Gaylor is an excellent Higher Ed photographer, Shel Holtz who I mentioned before, Matt Herzberger is a Web Rockstar at the University of Texas A&M, Brad J Ward is the Electronic Communications Coordinator (ie visionary) at Butler University, Heidi Cool is a web designer at Case Western Reserve University, and Seth Meranda is the Assistant Director of Interactive Media at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

twitter feed

I mention all this because these are all people that I follow (and who follow me) so that we can keep each other updated. We do it as friends and we do it as professionals.

However, I have been searching for a convincing manner in which to use Twitter for Higher Ed effectively. Amongst all the turmoil in my head lately (hence the lack of blog postings), I came up with an idea. The Admissions Department at UIS has been thinking about ditching the chat feature on our page for something much better. It is a very expensive service that doesn’t get used that often. So I thought, why not set up a UIS Admissions Twitter account and post that on our website? Most people in the chat use it like an IM and use very short sentences. Not only that, they don’t have to wait until a chat date to talk with someone. Our Student Ambassadors (as well as myself) can/will check the Twitter account during the day, and I will monitor it at night. It probably wouldn’t get that much use normally, but on days where we have advertised chat sessions, a group of ambassadors would be logged in and could post responses to it.

Now this may not be the best way to go about a live chat, but for all the time where the chat isn’t live, I think this would work well. Students have to log in to the chat anyway, so why not get them started on Twitter and build a community before they come to college. That way when they get here, they already have some connections.

If anyone has any good suggestions for a Live Chat service, let me know because the one we have now is not attractive and very expensive. This is definitely one area in which we could cut back costs since our governor keeps reducing our budget…that’s just my own personal insight and not necessarily shared by others.

I did want to mention one last thing though. Shel Holtz mentioned that the University of Michigan implemented Twitter as a FREE Emergency Notification System. There has been a lot of talk about ENS’s lately, and I know UIS has invested a lot of money into a cell phone notification system. The fact that someone at Michigan said why not use Twitter to send text messages to students is brilliant! I only wish I would have thought of that first…

The semester is flying by…

I cannot believe it is already midterms…I had my test last Tuesday so I’m done, but Jordan has one of her midterms today. Really quick shout out to Sarah Quigley, who amongst all her school work had the time to put together a couple shows called UIS Cribs. Made me reminisce about the old days of Pimp My Ride and Biker Boyz. I miss those early days as a freshman.

My favorite part about this video is the burnout at the end. Look for the fog machine behind the wheel.

Now I make video’s like this one…

All three videos have their place in my heart though…haha. I just picked up a Flip Camcorder, so keep an eye out for more videos like this.

What does this post have to do with anything other than just linking to a couple of videos? Hopefully it inspires students to create their own crazy (defined as safe and fun) videos and upload them to YouTube and let their electronic communications person know so they can link it to the university YouTube/Website/Blog, etc. Students want to see what students are doing and that’s one of the biggest selling points for your school!

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March 2008
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