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 uStream.tv or other video service? I think if you can pull it off well, then yes. But what about del.icio.us, 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.


10 Responses to “Keyword: Ensure Effectiveness”

  1. March 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

    Robert Michel

  2. March 19, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Return on effort – at some point that is reality, or you’ll regularly be working an 80+ hour week. Even doctors-in-training are limited to 80 hour weeks (averaged over two weeks), a change made just a few years ago. Yes, the surgeon slicing you up might be on his or her 70th hour for the week and 20th consecutive hour!

    For message board, it depends on your goals. phpbb is free and widely used, and there free options. Spam could be a problem, but there are workarounds for that, such as akismet. It can be noted that one firm focused on higher ed bundles phpbb as part of their message board product for an annual fee, though they take care of set-up and integrate it with some of their other products.

    Ning is also free. It can be noted that a different firm focused on higher ed resells Ning, with the annual cost related to set-up/customization, service, and support.

    Both phpbb and Ning offer enough customization options to meet most needs. And you seem to have enough in-house talent to go the free, non-supported route.

    Of course there is Facebook, but it depends on how you intend to use the message board: for prospective students not applied, admitted students, etc. Less customization, of course, but familiarity to at least some students. (Not everyone in high school has a Facebook account.)

    As for chat, are you meaning live, one-on-one chat on your Web site? Group chat nights? Any necessity to know the real names of who is participating? Depending on your needs, don’t overlook the IM clients that are already widely adopted.

  3. March 20, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    I think I’m that Pat Berry. I’m over at http://blogs.csuchico.edu/ik/ 😉

  4. March 21, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    My mistake Patrick. The link has been fixed.

  5. March 21, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    @Rob S. Thanks for your input! I think I can put together the Ning and we did decide to stick with the message boards still. We do have our presence on facebook, but no one really utilizes it. I actively add people to the facebook group when I get new information, but few, if any join. I know they will once the summer comes around and they are preparing to come here, but I was hoping to have more communication at this point.

    As far as chats go, we do need something where it can have multiple users in at the same time posting questions and comments simultaniously. I thought about AIM, but unless things have changed, the group chat feature is iffy. Plus, the students would have to actually have AIM, etc. I have one that I am leaning towards, and a few others that I have saved, but I haven’t decided which product will work best for us yet. I have until next August to have a final product ready to go, but obviously I would like to have it done prior to that so that I can error check it and make sure there are no bugs.

  6. March 22, 2008 at 10:15 am

    From my experience at UIS,it seemed that most students weren’t as tech savvy, affluent, etc. Heck, most recruits in the west central Illinois area are likely just getting DSL or are still on 56K. The way we live our lives every day (connected 24-7, iPhone in pocket, etc) always makes it hard to relate to these kids and how they wish to be communicated. If they aren’t using the tools now, they will eventually. It might be another 1-3 years off before everyone is embracing the change, but keep your head up and keep trying. Something that’s not working now might work down the road, so don’t get spread too thin! You’re doing a great job.

  7. March 24, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Thanks Brad! Always good to hear encouragement! You’re exactly right, just keep your eye on the end goal. I mean, that’s what we are here for, and it’s what we do best. Never lose sight of your objective.

    I’ve never lost focus on the projects I’m doing, but sometimes I question whether they are reaching their intended audience and whether they are actually using them. I hope that they are, but even if just one person uses it, I am satisfied. I am thrilled if more people utilize it, but so long as someone gets something out of it and decides to come to UIS because of it, I am totally happy and feel that all the work was worth it.

  8. April 2, 2015 at 5:02 am

    It’s great that you are getting thoughts from this post as well as from
    our discussion made at this time.

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