Linkage Love: Upcoming Trends in Social Media

By Anitra Cottledge

I had a great conversation recently with some colleagues about ways to utilize technology and social media to communicate about your office or department. This is one of my favorite topics, so I had plenty to say. We talked about topics and strategies that have probably been mentioned before: create a social media policy for your office (building upon your institution’s policy if they have one), be strategic about what you post, develop a social media schedule, and track your engagement via social media, i.e., make a monthly note of how many followers, hits, likes you have. Pay attention to what’s working and what’s not working and be willing to evolve. Remember that social media and technology are just new(er) mechanisms of outreach.

The other thing that we talked about was deciding which social media platforms to use and why. I went through our usage of particular platforms (at this point, we are utilizing a lot of social media with the exception of Tumblr, because we don’t have a need for it. This past year, we started using Pinterest, and are playing with some different ways to use it and integrate it with our other communication vehicles.

What came up is that technology moves so quickly, and before you can blink, there’s a new platform on the horizon. Here are a few upcoming trends and/or platforms to watch out for:

  • (The Incredible) Shrinking Videos – Are you using Vine to make short, 6-minute, looping videos that you can share with friends via a mobile app? Wired Mag on how Vine is the next (current?) thing.
  • Embracing the Visual – I don’t know how this is necessarily new, because it seems to me (in an anecdotal way) that people already utilize visual imagery to engage audiences via things like Instagram, Pinterest, infographics, and using more photo and video on Facebook. Nonetheless, if you haven’t given this idea some thought in relation to your social media strategy, now is the time to reframe and rethink.
  • Going Mobile – I am starting to see more mobile versions of websites, and have recently gotten involved in trying to optimize a site’s information for mobile use.  Considering the large amounts of people who access the web via smartphone, considering mobile design or responsive design is important.

These are just a few things that I’m thinking and reading about. What are trends that you’re noticing?

Linkage Love: Upcoming Trends in Social Media

Blog Prompt: Best Technology Advances

By Anitra Cottledge

Occasionally, when I’m given a blog prompt, I go to my Facebook and/or Twitter for what I like to call “Audience Participation Time.” I ask my friends and followers what they think about a particular question or issue. So when I realized my topic du prompt was about the best advances in technology this year/this decade, I was very curious about what other people thought.

I have to say…I was very surprised by the response I got from other folks.

Before I get to that, let me share my own personal thoughts about the prompt. As you might imagine, it’s difficult to pin down one or two or even five top technological advances that have occurred in the last year or even the last decade. I think part of this difficulty is due to the fact that technology changes so quickly these days, that it’s simply hard to keep track. When I think about the technology that has really impacted my life, a common theme is “portability.” What a lot of technology in the last decade has done for many of us is make it much easier to take our media – books, music, film, – with us without too much fuss. I’m talking about iPods, iPads, and e-readers, etc. Who among us has some sort of iPod, or MP3 player, and also remembers your first one? Do you remember how revolutionary it was to walk around with a good chunk of your musical library in a small device that you could put into your pocket? Even as these things have been refined and made even smaller, even faster, even flashier, it’s still pretty amazing that technology has been able to take us from Walkmans to Discmans to MP3 layers, and in a very short period of time, to boot.

I will also go on record as saying, despite my initial reservations about e-readers, Kima (my Kindle Fire) is a godsend when I travel. I’m the kind of traveler for whom having several reading options is a must. Now, I can take a mini-library with me when I travel instead of having to choose one or two books (that I will probably finish too quickly).

Another common theme is convenience. It helps to be able to pay bills online, to order any number of things online, to schedule blog posts and tweets and Facebook statuses ahead of time. (I continue to be fascinated by the ways that the internet and technology in general simultaneously save us time and steal our time.)

Those where the things I was thinking about. Thus, I was expecting to hear echoes of that from other people. And while some people did mention their iPads and laptops, the clear winner that I heard from other people was Roku.

Roku - XDSI never saw that coming. But I suppose it makes sense: Roku fits right in with those themes of portability and convenience. With Roku, you can stream all sorts of media and services to your TV: Amazon.com Instant Video, Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO, TED talks, games like Angry Birds, Pandora, etc.

Most people who responded said that Roku was the piece of technology they couldn’t live without, and most interesting, that it signals the end of cable TV. I don’t use Roku, but now this round of Audience Participation Time has me considering it. And now, I’m curious to see what, in fact, does happen to cable TV if more people start using Roku.

What about you? What do you think are the best technology advances in the last year or decade?

Blog Prompt: Best Technology Advances

Trends in Higher Ed and Technology

By Kristen Abell

I tried to come up with an original title, really, I did. But in responding to this week’s blog prompt, this is pretty much what it is.

Although there are a number of trends in technology in higher ed right now, I opted to focus on three: mobile, social media and cloud computing. I picked these three probably because they are the ones with which I’m the most familiar or which I use the most, but also because I see our students using them, as well.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

When I entered grad school, I got my first cell phone – and I shared it with a friend of mine. That’s how little either of us used one at that point. Now, I pretty much go through withdrawal if I find myself without my phone for any reason. And it’s not just because I’m calling people – in fact, I barely use my phone to call anyone. I use it to email, text, surf the web, check Twitter and Facebook, take pictures – you name it, my phone does it. Although I’m still working on finding an app that will allow it to clean my house and office.

Students are also using phones for a variety of tasks and communications these days, and universities need to find a way to keep up. We need to be creating/using mobile websites, mobile applications that allow students to pay bills, enroll in classes, submit homework, etc. Rather than creating physical computer labs on campus, how are we working to enable students to access information through a mobile application or site? With the rise in tablet use, I think we need to continue to look at mobile, as the majority of these will use mobile browsers and applications. We also need to continue to think about location-based applications as more and more of these show up on campuses. Finally, we need to make sure that whatever we’re providing for our mobile users, we have another way of providing it for those students without the means for purchasing a smart phone.

Social Media, duh

Social media is not on the rise – it’s here. And it’s been here for awhile. And yet, we still have a number of staff and faculty who are resistant to participating in this “fad.” I even almost hesitate to put this as a trend, except that in a way, it is – at least it’s the first wave in a trend of our students demanding more personal communication from their university, more transparency, and most importantly, more authenticity. They want to know what’s really happening and who really works/teaches at their institution. In addition, this is providing us as educators more access to our students in a way we’ve never really had it before. While some institutions have really embraced social media in the form of blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc., there are a number of universities and colleges that aren’t even on the map and don’t have the slightest clue about social media strategy. So yes, I am beating a horse, but I hardly think it’s a dead one yet.

Cloud Computing

Did I mention something above about mobility? Students want to be able to access their files/information from anywhere. Sure, we can provide access to computers, but they need to be able to get their stuff. Google has provided more than enough ways to do this, but we also need to consider virtual desktop interfaces and file storage for academic documents – especially as we move toward providing more and more online classes. If your university isn’t exploring this, they need to jump on board.

What trends do you see in technology for higher education? Come on, I know y’all have some ideas – tell us in the comments!

Trends in Higher Ed and Technology