Posts Tagged ‘ustream

23
Jul
08

What I have learned from the eduWeb 2008 Conference

I know what you’re thinking: “You weren’t at the eduWeb conference!?!” True, however, due to the excellent coverage by many many people namely Nick Catto, Brad Ward, Matt Herzberger, Michael Fienen, and many more that can be seen on Matt’s blog! The blog coverage was great, the Twitter coverage was amazing, and uStream worked like a charm! I was able to follow many of the conference topics thanks to all the hard work by the attendees and some non-attendees.

However, as great as all this connectedness is, I know that I missed out on a lot by not being there. For example, there was a BlogHighEd social one night that I missed out on. I missed out on all the after hours conversations and debates about whether email is or is not dead for example, and other things I’m sure. What I am trying to say is that being virtually connected just does not equal being able to meet/talk/interact with people in person.

While that is something you all knew already, sometimes we tend to loose sight of that when talking about our students. We assume that all students are so connected that we forget about some of the “older” or more “traditional” methods of communication. I know that our students are connected, but they are not all as connected as we hope they might be. The reason I bring this up is that during the same time as the eduWeb conference, my university, the University of Illinois at Springfield, hosted the SLOAN Consortium conference for Online Learning. One of the sessions that I attended yesterday dealt with Student Life. I heard technology professionals talking about implementing Second Life in their courses. Requiring students, especially online students to interact with each other in that virtual setting. One of the presenters said proudly that 6 of their 15 students could access Second Life on their computers. If you ask me, that’s not really a good percentage of students, especially if you are REQUIRING them to use it! Someone else said that 25% of their class of 25 had used Second Life before. Again, not impressed… I was pleased to hear that other schools recognize this and are offering two tracks for students in those courses to be able to work: Blackboard and/or Second Life.

Going along with this, I’ve heard a lot of chatter about customer relations and how that affects retention. Students don’t appreciate always getting referred back to the website for answers. They probably checked their first and are calling you BECAUSE they couldn’t find the answers on the website. Giving students that personal attention they desire (and have pretty much come to expect) will certainly reflect positively on your university.

Earlier this summer, we were curious about how we could change the mailing of our publications. We talked to groups of students to see how they heard about us and got information to us and we found that the majority of the students said that it was our print publications where they got their initial information. I think we got a little ahead of ourselves by thinking that people were going online to find us. Our study groups prove that our student demographic is not quite ready for that shift yet.

There’s been a lot of talk on Twitter about screen resolution and web design. I know it’s not really possible to take care of everyone, but one of the factors that my institution has to consider is that we do have a LOT of students still running on dial-up. As great as it would be to have everyone with high speed internet, it’s not plausible right now for many people.

The last thing I have learned from the eduWeb 2008 conference is that conferences really pump you up. Actually, I already knew this from the other conferences I have attended, but even just being able to catch the coverage has really made me excited to do things. I know I’ve checked out Brad Ward’s reading list and I am going to pick up some of those books (hopefully I’ll read them all in a timely manner). It really helped to refocus me on my work.

I want to say thank you to everyone who provided coverage from the conference! I hope that I can return the favor at some other conferences that I will be attending this year! I hope the budget comes through for them… Andrew Careaga said to have a great week! So here’s to hoping everyone remains high after the conference!

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18
Mar
08

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.




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