How colleges use social media

I’ve been fascinated to see how much social media is penetrating higher education.  It seems to me that businesses might learn a thing or two from it.

Here’s an article that looks at the extent to which colleges in Springfield, Missouri have switched to social media as a way to communicate with students. It’s where they all are, so it makes sense to contact them that way, the colleges point out.

missouri stateMissouri State University set up a task force study in 2008 that led to the establishment of an office for Web and new media, with an annual budget of $386,000, a staff of five and several student workers. Later that year it started using iTunes, which enable audio and video files to be played on Apple devices like an iPod, iPhone or computer, as a means to make academic lectures available to students and the public. This averages about 50,000 downloads a week.

This month it launched software for Apple’s iPhone and phones that use Google’s new Android system. It means users can get news updates from the university, download university ringtones and wallpapers, access a campus map and locate the live positions of shuttle buses on their handheld devices.

It also uses YouTube to market the school through sports clips and videos on student life. A Facebook page enables students, past and present, to interact with each other and highlight campus events, and tweets alert followers to new goings-on.  All departments can have a presence, including tutors, who interact with students through Facebook and Twitter.

If these experiences are anything to go by, there doesn’t seem to be any limit to what one can do with these new media. It just needs a little bit in the way of resources, appointing some enthusiastic and savvy person to brainstorm initiatives with likeminded staff members, and a little bit of cash to make them happen.

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