Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thoughts on My First Office Hours Event

Today I held my first live, online 'office hours,' hosted by Catherine Shinners, the community manager of GETideas.org.  I've been invited by GETideas to write a monthly blog post related to practical strategies for educational innovations through technology, particular pertaining to higher education. 

As I noted in an earlier post here, this month's blog topic was "Why Social Networking Matters to College Leaders."  The office hours event was attended by about 15 people, which I thought was great considering this is "back to school" week for many colleges and universities across the nation.  Here's a recap of some of the highlights from our conversation.

Corey Gin, from CSU East Bay, shared how his university is actively engaging Twitter to communicate important campus announcements and events to students and we reflected on how the university's recent adoption of Google apps is encouraging a recognition of the validity and relevance of web 2.0 tools across their campus culture. 

We also talked about the important and timely topic of negotiating the fine line of privacy in our social networks.  One can argue that privacy doesn't exist in a social network but doesn't this conversation change when professors are befriended by students or former students?  How do we, as educators, respond to these friend requests on Facebook?  How do we each move forward with establishing our own 'rules' in this area?  What are others doing in these situations?

Amy Moore, of Florida State College at Jacksonville, shared that her institution is collaboratively developing a set of guidelines to assist faculty with negotiating their presence on social networking sites.  And Kerry Mix of San Jacinto College indicated that a 'social media users committee' has been established at his college and the group is also working towards writing policy around topic, as well. 

Bethany Bovard, of the Sloan Consortium and New Mexico State University shared a great tip!  She and many of her NMSU colleagues have integrated Yammer into their campus dialogue.  Yammer (a site that is new to me -- thanks, Bethany!) is "like Twitter" but creates "private social networks for your company."  Those who converse in a Yammer network are conversing only with their professional co-workers.  And it's free (grin).  I'd love to hear more about this from Bethany and I already a slew of ideas I want to try out with Yammer.

Jeanne Guerin, of Sierra College, who is a former colleague of mine shared the innovative concept her college has developed in recent years which leverages Elluminate (rebranded "CCC Confer" at California Community Colleges) to create live online sessions between students and the writing center staff (called SCOWC, the Sierra College Online Writing Center).  The sessions foster live interaction with online students to foster improvements in the students' writing.  I love this story, as it showcases a very innovative use of a web conferencing system to directly support students who are not on campus but, beyond that, the project would not have been possible without a grant from the CCC Chancellor's office that makes the use of CCC Confer free to all California community college employees (and students).  Despite the success of the project, however, it remains on thin ice due to the budgetary constraints of her underfunded college. 

Together we posed the question -- don't budget allocations always come down to local priorities?  Are innovations valued as priorities in higher education?  Certainly the answer to that will vary but it's such an important question to keep at the surface as we take our steps into the second decade of the 21st century and continue to see our world transform.

Thanks to those who attended and participated in our conversation. If you missed the event and would like to listen in anyway, stay tune -- I will share the link to the archive when it becomes available.

My next GETInsight blog post will go live on September 13th.  The topic is "Online Learning in the Social Web" (very near and dear to my heart).  I hope you will consider joining us on Tuesday, September 21st at 9am for the office hours event for this topic.  We'd love to have you be part of the conversation!  Bring your ideas and questions to share!

Cheers!




 
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