Tag Archive for 'education'

Facebook revolt impacts university branding

This story about Middlebury has been out for a little less than two weeks, but I just discovered it this morning when a colleague passed it along. It has special relevance to my organization, as we’re currently going through a huge re-branding process and have been overly diligent in including various stakeholders. However, we aren’t doing a lot of testing with student audiences because our organization stands for so many different things and getting internal buy-in alone was a process that dragged on much longer than it should have. The majority of folks that are affiliated with us already is for cause-based reasons vs. image, and we’re counting on that as we move forward - the brand is just a new way to represent the great things we already and will continue to do. That said, I do think it’s important to reach-out to these student audiences a bit before we do the formal roll-out, to let them know what’s going on, and re-frame the branding process in terms of actual cause-based outcomes, such as a new focus on global citizenship and public events that focus on these initiatives.

I also don’t agree with the way that Middlebury backed down from their new branding. They obviously invested a lot of time and money in the process, and although the voices of their constituency matter, a Facebook petition shouldn’t have so much impact over their decisions, especially in such a short amount of time. Their reaction definitely sets a precedent and I imagine it will be harder and a much more arduous process to make any changes to their brand or the way they do business in the future as they’ll want to get buy-in from EVERYONE.

Facebook Petition Sinks Revamped Logo

“The College’s roll-out and subsequent retraction of its new logo this summer brought administrators face-to-face with a growing reality - the speed and power of Facebook as an organizing medium among college students.

Armed only with their computers and disdain for the “Middlebury Leaf,” Sarah Franco ‘08 and Alex Benepe ‘09 brought more than 700 students together in their group “Just Say No to the Middlebury Logo” within days of the College’s announcement of its new graphic identity to accompany a $500 million capital campaign…”

Harnessing the unpredictability of youth (or wishing you could) Part I

In the spirit of Beth’s recap of Amy’s strategy, here’s a go at combining work notes with blogging (and breaking it into pieces that are manageable)…

So it’s been a little over two weeks into our study abroad blogging pilot, and in my opinion, the experience so far has been a success, if not also a great learning opportunity. All students are finally on-board with blogging accounts, and almost everyone has written at least one post, with several writing more than that. I’m particularly encouraged about the potential of this technology, as several of the students physically signed up for blogging accounts when they already were situated in their host countries [testing the limitations of the local technology].

The posts are engaging and interesting, and definitely provide some great fodder showing future students what their experience might be like. It’s been a lot of fun re-living the study abroad experience through our students, while also learning more about the structure of our programs (since I am new to the organization). I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed that the Flickr component hasn’t really caught on yet, but I’m waiting for students to feel completely comfortable with Typepad before I send out another email reminding them that we have it, and encouraging its use.
Continue reading ‘Harnessing the unpredictability of youth (or wishing you could) Part I’

Social networking: has the train left the station?

It’s certainly no secret, and it seems like everyone has jumped on the Facebook bandwagon these days. I don’t have to search far to find a news article, blog, or radio broadcast talking about the political, cultural, and social implications of social networking - particularly the Facebook phenomenon. Teachers are using it to communicate with their students, friends are getting back in contact after years out of touch, even parents are signing online to keep track of their kids.

One of the biggest users of the social networking site (which also happens to be the second most visited daily website in the United States) are non-profit organizations. And why not? It’s a fantastic tool that helps mobilize communities, connects groups in disparate locations, rallies people around causes, and segments demographics in such detail that it is easy to learn what your users want and subsequently serve up customized content. The new application addition to Facebook also enhances the user experience and allows these organizations to create fun widgets that provide a fun and unique service and allows them to take action, while further cementing their relationship with the organization. Once action is taken - be it via signing a petition, RSVPing to an event or rally, or sharing what you do (or your application) to a friend, that user is much more likely to support your organization in the future, either financially or through in-kind support or volunteering. Now with Facebook profiles becoming semi-public and searchable through engines like Google and Yahoo, the potential seems unlimited.

Continue reading ‘Social networking: has the train left the station?’

“Media Fast” and study abroad

A great article from the Washington Post tells the narrative of a communications professor at American University who gives her students an assignment to shut off all their media devices for 24 hours, then write about it.

A few weeks ago 79 Academic Directors (ADs) from our study abroad programs came to campus for orientation. During this time I helped present a session on Web 2.0. to help them better understand the media habits of our students. Over half of our ADs aren’t American citizens, and while Facebook and Instant Messaging definitely has a global reach, many of these staff had limited experience with these technologies, and many others want nothing to do with them whatsoever. The overwhelming consensus among all of the ADs is that they’d prefer their students spend more time exploring the culture instead of wasting away in internet cafes.
Continue reading ‘“Media Fast” and study abroad’

Our first blogger

It’s official, our Fall 2007 SIT Study Abroad blog has it’s first student blogger signed on for when our programs start in September! We weren’t sure whether the project would appeal to our students, nor if they’d want to participate in a blog owned by World Learning vs. a personal blog. Some are doing both. However, the unanimous response from the students we chose was “Yes, of course! I’m honored!” Well, we’re honored to have them too. So it’s a win-win for everyone.

I received the signed waiver last night (via a photograph that was emailed from Brazil - smart kids!) and sent out the formal Typepad.com invitation soon after. You may wonder what the waiver is all about, or you may also ask why we haven’t taken a blood sample and an oath over a bible saying there will be no inappropriate material written over the course of the semester. I think some of our staff would have preferred that method, or that we’d have avoided blogging altogether, but maybe in my own young naivety, I’m trying to give our students the benefit of the doubt.
Continue reading ‘Our first blogger’

And you can’t keep up with technology…

Note: this was first published for Michaela’s personal blog on August 21. 2007.

No sooner than I had made my last post, Google Maps announced that they’ve added a feature that allows users to build their own personalized maps and post HTML snippets to their blogs or Facebook pages, similar to the Zee Map functionality I mentioned below. It’s clickable AND draggable, and has the potential to feature all the images, text and video your little heart desires. Harrumph.

You can read more about on the blog here.

And here is my quick attempt at playing with this new feature illustrating my fall travel schedule:

View Larger Map

Incidentally, and I’m not sure if it had to do with my slow connection at work, I was disappointed with the speed at which I could update this map. Everytime I tried to add a new place, the map froze and I had to return to maps.google.com to get it to respond again. At least it saved the markers I already added. Also, overall I felt Zee had more features and seemed a bit more simple to use…. For example, I couldn’t seem to figure out how to set the zoom “view” for the user, so I could make it obvious there were more than just a few links on the map. If I went to the intro URL (maps.google.com) afresh, I was able to pick a view just by zooming (not intuitive), whereas if I didn’t type the URL in afresh, it would only create a map of the most recent marker I had added. For now I like Zee better. For now at least…