Is access to higher education a right?

One of my favorite songs from the musical In The Heights is “96,000.”  The main character, Usnavi, discovers that someone in the neighborhood has won the lotto for $96,000.  The song is about what each character would do with all of that money ranging from moving out of the barrio to paying off debt to getting a new hair weave.  In all cases, $96K would completely change the life of the winner.

And as I was watching this video tonight it struck me.

$96,000 is not enough to pay for a Bachelor’s Degree at many universities and colleges in the USA.

Actually, many undergraduate degrees are twice this amount!  I know I am not the first person to point this out.

Yesterday Seth Odell tweeted,

tweet on higher education

An excellent question that sparked a lot of conversation including,

tweet on higher education as a right is education a righttweet is higher education a right answer

I guess we have to start at the definition of what a “right” is and if we look to the constitution or the Bill of Rights… well as Katie pointed out, neither document articulates a right to education.

But we have all seen the information released that graduating from college helps you earn more in your lifetime.  And most recently the numbers show that college educated individuals are more likely to be employed in general.

So if higher education is the numero uno ticket to long-term success… how can it not be a right?

Seth phrased his question well asking if “access” to higher education is a right.

I think there is a fundamental difference between the right to higher education and the right to access higher education.

And personally, I believe access to higher education should be a right.

Does this mean we should all get to go to Harvard?  No.  To me this means that you should have a choice of institutions to attend even if you were born in a low-income area, even if your parents aren’t able to afford an expensive education, even if you don’t win the lottery.

If access to higher education is being hindered by extremely high tuition costs, what does that say about the right to access higher ed?  Who is out there defending that right?  Or maybe I am out of line and it isn’t a right at all.

This is kind of a huge topic…

…and I will admit that I have not done extensive research on the lengthy debate of this subject.  And truthfully, I don’t care if you have either!  I’m very curious to find out what you think.  Let’s keep this conversation rolling.

Advertisements

A new trend in higher ed video?

The creation of funny and light-hearted college and university promotional videos has been on the rise ever since UQAM published their lip dub to “I Gotta Feelin'” exactly two years ago.  Since then there have been flash mobs, 16 minute musicals, spoofs on those 16 minute musicals, strange British attempts to be funny, oh and of course… more lip dubs.

I’m a little sick of flash mobs and lip dubs (and still waiting for the unflash mob to appear) but one style of video that I really enjoy are the music videos that are being produced by both institutions and students.  Chances are you know by now that one of my favorites is Midd Kid (completely student produced!) but I also enjoy Call Me a Duck from the University of Oregon, a well produced video created to engage an eager audience who learned about the group On The Rocks from NBC’s The Sing Off.  While at St. Mike’s I ran a video contest for students and received two music video entries Knight Vision and the contest winner At Saint Michael’s, proving to me that these videos are of interest to the 18-24 year old range.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Joe Schuberth, associate director of undergraduate marketing at Towson University, asking me what I thought of a new music video he produced with students called I Tell ‘Em Towson University.

My response? “HOLY CRAP THIS IS AWESOME!”  Although, I think I toned it down a bit for my email reply.

Luckily, Joe was willing to answer a few questions about this fantastic video…
_____________________________________________________________________

Where did the idea for “I Tell ’em” originate?  Were you inspired by other institution’s music videos?

I wanted to do a music video since I started working for Towson a little over three years ago.  If they are done well, they are effective at getting tons of people talking and excited for an organization.  With so many students using social media, I knew a music video had the potential to explode and reach both people who were considering Towson University and those who might not initially have Towson on their radar.  I’ve seen “That’s Why I Chose Yale,” but I wanted to do something different.  I wanted it to be from the students so it felt genuine and original.  It took three years for it all to come together because I needed the right mix of talented students, and I finally found them during the winter of 2011.

What was your process?  You mentioned working with students, how did you discover their interest in doing such a project and what steps did you take with them to produce the video?

I manage a YouTube channel, which features videos filmed and edited by Towson students.  I hired Henry Basta to be part of the student YouTube crew in the fall of 2010 after an impressive interview and viewing some of his work which included a music video he and his friend, Jay Karolenko, produced for a video contest held by the library on campus.  After working with and getting to know Henry for a semester, I was even more impressed with his creativity, attention to detail and his zeal for Towson.  I knew Henry and Jay made up the band, Sharpened Crayons, and I started watching more of their videos on YouTube.  Search them yourself, you won’t be disappointed.  I started realizing that I had an opportunity to work with them and the rest of our student YouTube crew to make the music video I had been talking about for years.

At the beginning of the spring semester, I brought Henry and Jay in to talk over the idea with them.  They were thrilled with the opportunity and we immediately started throwing out ideas.  We met almost every week for the entire spring semester.  We started with the song.  A music video will go nowhere without a well-produced song.  I gave them some guidelines of things that I wanted them to cover, but I really wanted this to be something that came from them as students of Towson University, so I left most if it up to them.  They came back with lyrics, we made some tweaks, and then they added the music to it.  I loved what they did with the music.  I have no musical talent whatsoever, but I do think I know a good song when I hear it, and when I heard their first cut of this song, I knew we were going to be doing something big.  I couldn’t get the song out of my head!

After the song was finalized, we started planning out all our shots.  I also wanted the video to be a quick tour of Towson for anyone who watched it, so I knew we had to have lots of different shots and involve lots of different people all over campus.  We all worked to set up all the shots and made sure we could do things like have a dance party underwater with the women’s swim team or in the middle of a dining hall.

We wanted the ending to be our grand finale, so we spent a lot of time planning that out and getting some of our students, cheerleaders and marching band to participate, as well as our mascot, Doc the Tiger.  All of the student YouTube Crew, including Henry and Jay, played a part in figuring out the right camera angles and techniques for all the shots, especially the ending.  Chad Harrell was the main videographer for most of the shots, and Alex Nearey and Steven Wilson also played roles in filming.  I was really blessed with excellent student talent around me to be able to pull all this off.  After we got all the footage, Henry edited it together.  I gave him some feedback and so did some of the other members of the YouTube Crew our other students, Henry made some changes, and we finally had a music video after four months.

Why did you choose to invest time in a fun promo video?  What are your aims and objectives?

Our students are some of the best people to tell the story of why a prospective student should come to Towson University, so when I saw this opportunity coming together, I had to take it.  The main goal of the video is to increase excitement for Towson University and ultimately bring in more students who want to become Towson Tigers.

How will you be promoting this video?

We are promoting the video through e-mail and our website, and it is the featured video on our YouTube channel.  We will be showing it during our campus tours and our Open House events.  The Towson community liked it so much that we had a request for it to be played on the television screens in our University Union, so it now plays on a loop there too.

What will constitute success with this project?  How are you measuring results?

Measuring results is a challenge with something like this because you will never truly know how many people were affected by the video.  But we will do our best to measure results by including a question about the music video in the surveys we conduct with our prospective students.  Hopefully this will tell us whether or not the music video played a factor in their decision on whether or not to attend Towson University.  We can also obviously measure views.  We’d like to have at least 50,000 views within a year of releasing the video.  We are on our way with 28,547 views so far as of 9/8/11.  The comments on YouTube have been a nice sign of success too.  Alumni, current students and prospective students have all been commenting on the video with lots of excitement and pride for the school, which is exactly what we wanted.

_____________________________________________________________________

Watch the video for yourself!  What do you think about this new trend in higher ed videos?  Leave a comment and let me know.


YouTube Reactions

YouTube Reactions, a new way for viewers to respond and interact with videos, is a service YouTube started testing this summer.  Today it appears they have rolled out Reactions to all videos and made it’s location more prominent.

Here is a screen shot where you can see the call out to “Your Reaction?” at the bottom right.

youtube reaction example

When you click “Your reaction?” this is what you will see if you are logged in:

reaction drop down

My reaction to Reactions

  • Unfortunately you have to be signed in to participate in this feature, which is really too bad.   The very definition of “reaction” indicates a certain level of spontaneity that seems undermined by having to take an extra step.
  • The most popular videos on YouTube (think Bed Intruder, Sneezing Panda, and Evolution of Dance) all have less than 100 Reactions thus far.  Yes, the feature is new, but if these videos can’t get traction with Reactions… will yours?
  • Some videos will fit into more than just one of these categories.  In my example above I would like to select funny and incredible.  YouTube is forcing me to choose.  Give me check-boxes instead so I can express exactly how I feel.  And what about a video that doesn’t fit into any of these 6 choices?
  • Will this get measured? As pointed out in the article linked above, will we eventually be able to sort videos based on “funny” or “what?”  Will this voting system be integrated into Insights?

I’m interested to see how this feature continues to evolve and whether or not viewers choose to use it.

What do you think? Will you use YouTube Reactions?


Social Media is about people

What is social media all about?

People.

People use social media to connect, share, engage, laugh, cry, re-energize, discover, and so much more.

Social media gives people a voice.

So how do we use social media as a business?

We humanize the experience.

We remember that social media is the tool to connect and engage, but the key words are connect and engage.

We identify that people talk to people, not logos or brands.

We remember to act like people, to respond to people, to follow people, and to actually care about people.

It’s a revolution…

This summer Socialnomics updated their Social Media Revolution series for 2011.  It is well worth your time to watch this video… and be amazed.


Georgy Cohen’s HighEd Web Arkansas Keynote

You must watch this powerful keynote given by Georgy Cohen at the HighEd Web regional in Arkansas.

“Once Upon a Semester:
Storytelling as a framework higher ed marketing”

Storytelling rules by Georgy Cohen


Thoughts: 2011 E-Expectations Report

Think about your web presence and not just your web site.  Your web presence is anywhere, anytime.

your web presence

This is the concept that Nick DeNardis and I opened with in our Penn State Web Conference presentation called “Give Your Content Legs and Run With It.”  This idea is also stated in the very first sentence of the 2011 Noel Levitz E-Expectations Report.  “The rise of social networking and the growing use of mobile Web access have fundamentally expanded how students access information and interact online.”

Your audience interacts with content.  Are you spending your time wisely to create the content they need and want?  How can you know what that type of content is?

The 2011 E-Expectations Report can help guide you.

This report surveyed 1045 students and 517 parents from across the USA to find out what their online expectations are during the college search.  If you work in Admissions or do recruitment-focused marketing, this report is a must read.

Key Findings

While I strongly encourage you to read the report for yourself (and perhaps even print it out and go through with a highlighter!) I have pulled out what I believe are three key findings and my reactions to them.

55% of students watch videos on college web sites

This number is up 13% from last year’s survey.  Also, 27% of students report that they visit other video sites (like YouTube) to look at schools on their list, up 17% from last year.

What type of videos are they seeking? Nearly half of respondents report that student life-related videos are most interesting.  These are videos that highlight on-campus activities and events and simply give prospects a sense of what it is like to be a member of your college community.  These videos are typically short, fun, easy to watch, and feature current students.

Here are some examples of great student life videos:
Lunch Break – Boston College
Penguin Plunge – Saint Michael’s College
Gym, Tan, Laundry – Stonehill College
First-Year Trips – Dartmouth
The Final – 2011 – West Virginia University (an awesome recap of the Class of 2011’s thoughts on life and leaving WVU)

47% of students and 57% of parents say a bad experience on your site will have a negative effect on their perception of the school

In fact, E-Expectations reports that 1 in 5 students will actually drop a school from consideration.  This alarming statistic makes me want to immediately do user testing on my institution’s website to make sure that information is easily found and the content is useful and interesting.

The report did not ask students what they considered to be a “negative experience” but we know that for many prospective families the website is their first “visit” to your college.  How much time is spent training student ambassadors and admission staff with the goal of portraying an exciting and positive (yet accurate!) account of the school?  That time will be wasted if students are writing off your institution before they even show up.

The report also found that both students and parents are first clicking on academic programs or admission information.  If you are trying to decide where to spend your dollars and/or time beefing up your site, doesn’t it make sense to start there?

Here are some resources to help you evaluate the design, structure, and content on your school’s website and to help you keep up with web trends:
Meet Content
Rebranding in Higher Ed– Higher Ed Live
EDUCheckup
eduStyle

While 80% of students surveyed have a Facebook account, only 27% have viewed a college Facebook page and nearly 2/3 of that population say the experience had no influence on their decision.

Well this was a bit disheartening, I will admit.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a college that is not putting time and effort into developing a Facebook presence.

My approach to Facebook?  To the best of your ability try and emulate online the vibrant campus community that occurs in real life.  Facilitate interaction between current students, alumni, staff and faculty, and even prospective students under one roof.  I’ve never felt that having a Facebook Page just for the admission office was a good idea.  The audience changes too quickly to ever build a strong following and I’d much rather send prospective students to a main institutional Page so they can see broader information and have the opportunity to interact with the community

Many schools find that accepted and enrolled students are more likely to join a “Class of” Page or Group.  These students are interested in connecting with each other at that point.   A recent post on .eduGuru examined community-building on both Pages and Groups that you may find helpful.

Other Resources:
SUNY Plattsburgh makes excellent use of tabs on their Facebook Page to bring all of their audiences together under one roof.
Tim Nekritz at SUNY Oswego expressed his belief on having just one Page to rule your various audiences back in January.

Know YOUR audience

When it comes to re-evaluating your web presence, this report will give you a jump start.  However, you may find yourself scratching your head at some of the findings.  Your audience of prospective students may behave differently than those surveyed, which is why it is important to collect and pay attention to your own metrics.

For example, E-Expectations found that only 1 in 4 students review blogs.  I know (because we ask them) that 2 in 3 enrolled students use SMCBlogs as a tool to help them learn more about Saint Michael’s College, but our audience and the type of student we attract is very different than other institutions – especially big state schools!
________________________________________________________

There are many more compelling and important results to this survey that I did not discuss in this post.  Here is a Storify compiled by Mike Petroff on the findings he found to be important.

What results of this report did you find particularly interesting?  Please share your thoughts below.


What do I want to be?

Things always seem to happen when you least expect them, don’t they?

Earlier this week I officially accepted an offer to work as a Marketing Manager for mStoner.

There are no words to accurately describe how thrilled I am to be joining the mStoner team.  I have respected the work they do and the resources they provide to higher ed for quite some time.  This is an excellent opportunity  for me to further develop my marketing skills and I am excited to continue to serve the higher education industry, just in a different way.

I am grateful for all of the opportunities that have been given to me over the last three years of employment at Saint Michael’s College.   I am privileged to have had the opportunity to start my professional career at an institution that I graduated from, respect and believe in.

You can read the public announcement from mStoner here.


What do you want to be?

Have you ever had an aha moment? It is “a moment of clarity, a defining moment where you gain real wisdom – wisdom you can use to change your life.”

Last month I was contacted by Mutual of Omaha to contribute my aha moment to their campaign.  After some soul searching I realized that one of my biggest aha moments had to do with my career and #lovehighered.

While the wonders of video editing cut out all reference to #lovehighered… I want to share my moment with you.  It never hurts to remember why you do what you do everyday.

What is your aha moment?  Please share it below!


Turntable.fm, the new hottness

Turntable dj area

Answer yes or no to following statements:
I listen to music at work.
I use Pandora so I can discover new music.
I use Grooveshark so I can listen to music I already love.
I have friends.
I have friends who have jobs that allow them to listen to music at work.

If you answered yes to three or more questions, turntable.fm is for you.

This website has a very simple concept, yet it is truly a game changer.

Turntable assumes three things:
1. Humans are creatures who crave connection and socialization with others.
2. People enjoy listening to music they already love.
3. Yet, people want to discover new music.

By combining those three assumptions turntable has created a social experience around music.

Each individual user curates their own DJ Queue from the turntable database or from uploading music you own.  This satisfies assumption #2, you are ensuring that you will hear music that you already enjoy.

Users enter either public or private rooms based around music genres, themes, affinity groups, anything! Up to 5 users can DJ in a room, but you will only see the songs in your list.  This plays off assumption #3 as 4 out of 5 songs will not be your choice and you will not know what is going to be played ahead of time.

There is a chat function that DJs and room listeners can use too.  A lot of the conversation occurs around the music, especially in large public rooms.  However, I like to use turntable to connect with colleagues and friends.  The chat feature allows us to have real time conversation about what is going on in our day.

Turntable has also incorporated a gaming feature into the platform. You get to vote whether you think the song playing is “awesome” or “lame.”  The more “awesome” your song, the more points you receive too unlock new avatars.

turntable voting area

This gaming element was a brilliant move on turntable’s part.  It keeps users interacting with the site.  And personally I am gunning for the blingin’ gorilla.

Turntable has completely revolutionized the work day.

“Turntable is a fun alternative to Pandora for music during the workday. I’ve definitely heard (and liked) music I wouldn’t have stumbled on otherwise.  It’s also become a forum for collaborating with colleagues.  The music room is a place where I can ask a quick question when I am working on a project.  Plus, I’ve learned Mallory’s theme song, that Nick spells ‘hottness’ with two T’s, and that Aaron Rester has a band.” – Alaina Wiens

Turntable allows you to make connections.

“The type of music someone listens to really gets to the depth of who they are. It says as much about then as the shoes they wear. Turntable allows you to share with your friends who you are, on a personal level, yourself beyond face value. What music you play says to the room how well you pay attention to the mood and interests of everyone in the room. Seeing how people react to your and other people’s music builds a deeper connection between friends, better than what a random DJ could ever do.” – Nick DeNardis

Wishlist

As hott at turntable is now, the site is still in beta and there are a few features or changes to the interface that would make the experience better:

  • Turntable needs an app. The site loads on my iPhone but the music doesn’t come through the speakers.  Plus it’s very clunky to navigate on such a tiny screen.
  • Turntable could take a few cues from Grooveshark for song search and playlists.  It isn’t always easy to search for songs within turntable because only 25 results appear and you can’t designate your search by song title or artist.  You currently can not build playlists, so if you have uploaded or added hundreds of songs to your DJ Queue it can be tricky to find what you are looking for.
  • Turntable needs to be open to the general public.  Currently users can “get in” if they have a Facebook friend who is already using the site.  While this probably creates an air of mystery and exclusivity (google wannabes), turntable has huge potential that will not be realized until more people start to use it.
  • Everyone wants to be a DJ, but a room can only have 5 DJ’s at a time.  Michael Fienen would like to see changes that would allow for better DJ rotation in busy rooms.  His suggestions include a seat queue, DJ voting, or limitations based on song number or total play time.
  • Fienen also points out that currently the avatars are pretty useless.  You can’t customize them and “at the moment, they really are quite useless aside from indicating who has liked a song.”  Since we connect with turntable through Facebook, one might expect that we should be able to use our Facebook profile photos in place of the avatar.

Have you used turntable? How has it changed your music experience? Are there any other features you wish they would add?


Update on YouTube EDU applications

Letter from YouTube EDU:

I received this in my inbox recently from “The YouTube Team” regarding my pending (of nearly a year) YouTube EDU application.

Thank you for applying to YouTube EDU, home to high quality educational content from around the world!

<< I applied nearly a year ago.  IMO this “high quality education content” has not been vetted or paid attention to from YouTube for quite some time.>>

Our vision is to provide a vibrant, global platform where anyone, anywhere can obtain a world-class education.  Whether you are a student, teacher, or gifted storyteller, our hope is that you will continually discover, create, and share educational videos with the world.  

<< Lovely message.  Moving right along… >>

To reach this vision, we are currently revamping YouTube EDU to bring you a bigger and better version of what you’ve seen to date.

<< Revamping, you say?  I have felt for some time somewhat slighted by the fact that YouTube doesn’t pay very close attention to the content that their accepted channels are posting.  There are a lot of promotional/marketing videos and only a handful of educational videos.   Yet, they have turned higher ed institutions down, mine included, for lacking in the latter. >>

While we are not currently accepting new applications for YouTube EDU…

<< Turned down again.  Drats. >>

…we do invite you to consider applying for the YouTube Partner Program, which enables access to features such as premium branding capabilities, ability to upload longform high quality video, and advanced analytics. You can apply for the YouTube Partner Program at: http://www.youtube.com/partners.

<< Hmm.  The Partner Program requires monetization of videos and a Google AdSense account.  YouTube also has written on their site:  “We are currently focusing on accepting users who regularly produce videos intended for viewing by a wide audience or who publish popular or commercially successful videos in other ways (such as DVDs sold online).”  Something tells me this will not bode well for most higher ed institutions. >>

To learn more about Google education resources, check out http://www.google.com/edu.
To make the most of your YouTube experience, visit YouTube Essentials: http://www.youtube.com/t/about_essentials.

Again, thank you for your interest and we appreciate your understanding as we work to achieve our vision!

<< Blah blah blah. >>

Sincerely,
The YouTube Team

Insider information:

I’ve since learned that in the past the requirement for EDU status was to have a  ‘representative amount of educational content’ on your channel, which typically meant at least 50 videos, of which some are full courses (e.g. lecture 1-20 of an entire course).

Thoughts:

I’ll be very interested to see how YouTube goes about revamping their EDU site.  Will the requirements change?  Will current EDU partners be ushered into the “new” system, even if their current content doesn’t meet the old requirements?

What do you think?


%d bloggers like this: