Social media in 2013 has such a strong campus presence that colleges and universities simply can’t afford not to embrace it. So how best can the influx of information and opinions be dealt with? For many higher ed institutions, the answer lies in being proactive, honest, and open. In fact, some institutions are grabbing hold of the next generation of students particularly well, and it’s an attitude that is quickly catching hold.
85% of college admissions offices use social media—but it’s not just for researching applicants. Before being accepted or even applying to certain schools, potential students are searching for information on each and every school; much of this material is being found online. Instead of having students voice opinions about their schools behind closed doors, certain institutions are actually hiring student bloggers to write first-hand about their experiences on campus. Other schools are being proactive by using video messaging and having students interact with their Facebook pages. Tufts University even allows students to submit a one-minute YouTube video along with their application and essay, creating an instant interaction with hopeful high schoolers. And there’s a way to have fun with the whole process, too: UConn recently created a fun video that captures school spirit using current students and alums alike.
Students aren’t sitting still when it comes to engaging with schools either. In fact, 65% of college students engage with brands via social media at least weekly—and a third of those do so at least three times a day. Several colleges and universities are even in the running to receive the social media-focused Shorty Award, and Barnes & Noble College itself uses everything from Pinterest to dorm-life blog posts as ways to not just create noise with students, but to connect with a true dialogue.
From tweeting to each other to creating student-focused video messaging, all these cases have been win-win: The viewers are satisfied and the schools get applicants who are truly interested in all they have to offer.
Last month, we reported an upsurge in e-reading while the popularity of reading in general remained static. However, reading may see a spike in the near future as one county in Texas and one start-up in Israel blaze a digital path to greater accessibility for readers.
Israel-based Tool Boox is an e-bookstore that lets you pay per page you read rather than per book you download. While this may sound like a publisher’s worst nightmare, Tool Boox Founder and CEO Yoav Lorch told Mashable he believes “buying creates a barrier” and trusts this new platform will encourage more readers to try a greater variety of books. Students and researchers may especially benefit from being able to access pertinent articles and book chapters at a fraction of the cost of an entire book. According to Mashable, “It’s easy to imagine a system — perhaps subsidized by university libraries — where they could pay for just the portion they need.”
University subsidies may be exactly what Bexar County, Texas needs to make good on plans to launch BiblioTech, the first all-digital public library system in the US. CNET reports that while many libraries already allow people to download digital books, the residents, students and faculty members in Bexar County, including all of San Antonio, will be able to check out actual e-reading devices. While the project will certainly be expensive, BiblioTech’s chief architect, Judge Nelson Wolff, insists it will only enhance rather than replace the traditional library system. BiblioTech and Tool Boox share a common goal of making it easier for people to get their hands and eyes on books. Any way you look at it that spells good news for readers.
Video chats were once used primarily to connect friends and family members who couldn’t be together for holidays and birthdays; these days, however, they’re used as powerful communication tools everywhere from the highest mountains to the deepest ocean waters. But if a room full of 7-year-olds can Skype with a soldier in Afghanistan, then what might the possibilities be for today’s college class?
- Advisors can speak with students one-on-one to help plan and schedule
- Lecturers can invite students to collaborate real-time with project-based learning instead of just passively watching
- Students can attend class while sick, and guest professors can conference in
- Soon-to-be graduates can practice interview questions since many of today’s companies prefer to interview online
While Skype has hundreds of millions of fans, video-based learning discussions don’t necessarily start with the original video chat company. In the face of fierce competition from video calling newcomers like Viber, RaidCall, and so many more, new doors are opening every month for learning in the higher ed arena. Whether teaching, collaborating, or discussing education strategy, professionals are continuously exploring new video chat add-ons and apps.
HigherEd Live, for instance, is a weekly web show focused on the emerging role of social media and digital media marketing in higher education. The show’s hosts and guests prefer to use Google+ Hangout, since it allows up to 10 people—higher ed professionals, in this case—to video chat and broadcast their discussion live, all for free. Can’t listen live? The “Hangouts” are recorded and automatically uploaded to the host’s YouTube account, so anyone can view the video later and share. Students can use this technology to practice presentations, have mock debates, or take part in any number of studies, workshops, or labs.
With more ways than ever to interact, connect, record, and share, video chatting just may be your most important tool this year.