Monthly Archives: March 2015

Social Media Is a Versatile Multi-Tool @InsideHigherEd #futureedtech

Source: Inside Higher Ed by Eric Stoller

One of my favorite examples when describing the versatility of social media is to talk about a Swiss multi-tool. With a wide array of accoutrements, the multi-tool is a great way to frame the many uses of social media within student affairs work. Recently, in a post about “The Rise of the Student Affairs Digital Communicator,” I talked about the evolution of student affairs practitioners in terms of social media fluency and use. After reading that particular post, a faculty member in a higher education / student affairs graduate program contacted me and asked what I would include in a social media / digital communications course for student affairs grads. My answer was broad in scope, and like a Swiss multi-tool, the versatility of social media was represented. In no particular order, and by no means complete, here is the list that I quickly typed up and sent in reply:

Social Data: It’s always useful to know some statistics when it comes to learning about social media. I’m a big fan of the Social Media Update from the Pew Research Center.

Strategic Communications and The Business of Social Media: Digital Communications 101 knowledge, for student affairs work or a business, can be enhanced by checking out these 8 communications resources.

Digital Accessibility: There is so much work that needs to be done to ramp up the overall state of social media accessibility. I would start with learning how to caption/subtitle YouTube videos.

Social Media Metrics: What does success mean in the digital realm? Are you looking for likes, followers, engagement, mentions, page views, etc? Note to self, write up a post in the future on social media metrics. For now, try to avoid vanity metricsand definitely visit Matt Hames’ posts on LinkedIn for some quality writing on digital data.

Social Media Sites & Apps: You’ll never stop learning in the social media arena. Developers keep iterating/creating and audiences shift over time.

Digital Professional Development: Connecting with peers, colleagues, mentors, friends, brands, schools, etc. is a wonderful way to keep informed, ask questions, and grow as a professional. My favorite method is the ubiquitous hashtag on Twitter.

Blogs: I would be remiss if I didn’t include blogs in this list. As digital hubs, content repositories, and engagement platforms, blogs are almost as relevant in 2015 as they were more than a decade ago.

Social Listening: Using social media for engagement is a terrific facet of the various sites/apps that represent the social sphere. However, you can use social media to “listen” for campus themes which can be useful for all sorts of educational initiatives.

Digital Enrollment Management: Needless to say, strategic enrollment management professionals understand the value of strategic social media communications.

Career Development / Digital Identity: Working on establishing a digital presence requires thoughtfulness and fluency. This section could probably be an entire course just by itself.

Digital Advising/Engagement: Learning tips on how to advise and engage via social media seems like an obvious section in an educational landscape that is made up of a variety of learners. For online-only students, social media and digital communications are going to be instrumental in advising, retaining, and supporting individuals who you may never see in-person.


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Digital Literacy, Engagement, and Digital Identity Development @InsideHigherEd #futureedtech

Source: Inside Higher Ed by Eric Stoller

seven-elements-digital-literaciesThe seven elements of digital literacies model from Jisc represents a useful visual/model for those of us who teach, speak, and write about all things digital. When you think broadly about each of the 7 elements, connections can be made that resonate with student affairs work. The section on communications and collaboration is especially relevant for those of us who work to enhance student engagement and create opportunities for digital community.

The career and identity management element matches up perfectly to the concept of digital identity. When students transition into higher education it is often the case that their digital identity will also be in a state of transition. Career services and orientation programs are in the perfect spot for providing educational efforts on digital identity.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is perhaps the largest element in the model in terms of overall evolution and flux. Digital devices, applications, and services seem to change on a daily basis as “new” and “shiny” tend to dominate the news cycle. This is the digital literacy element that requires a good amount of experimentation, discovery, and dissonance.

Jisc, the UK’s leading resource for digital solutions for education and research, provides a plethora of information on digital literacy on their web channels. According to Jisc, “digital literacy looks beyond functional IT skills to describe a richer set of digital behaviors, practices and identities.”

Speaking of digital literacy/identity resources, a fantastic complement to the Jisc digital literacies model is David White‘s work on “visitors and residents.” Breaking free from the all-too-rigid digital native/immigrant narrative, White writes about a “continuum of ‘modes of engagement'” that embraces nuance and varying levels of digital fluency.

When we think about digital literacy, it is important to think broadly about the many aspects of all things digital. How we engage students, staff, and faculty via digital means requires a thorough understanding of our own digital identity. Working to enhance the digital literacy of students as well as faculty and staff is absolutely critical for digital engagement and identity.

You may have noticed that I shared two UK-based resources in this post. That is due to the fact that my wife and I recently moved to the UK. Getting plugged into UK higher education social media channels has been quite enlightening and informing. I’m looking forward to expanding the many resources that I share on a weekly basis on this blog and am excited to connect with the UK higher education community.

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Digital Leadership @InsideHigherEd #futureedtech

Source: Inside Higher Ed by Eric Stoller

There are multiple qualities that make for a good leader. Listening, self-awareness, and a lack of ego are some of my favorite attributes. Those who lead don’t have to be loud or brash or even always right. Leadership is a nuanced path.

When it comes to digital leadership, this is where a lot of highly respected leaders don’t always make the leap from brick-and-mortar spaces to digital environs. For 13 years, I have worked in higher education. My career has always been focused around the intersections of technology, communications, and organizational dynamics. Since 2002, I have come to the realization that digital leadership requires three elements in order to be successful: experimentation, learning, and bravery.

Experimentation is something that we all have done. As children, we have built imaginary worlds, constructed sand castles, and gotten our hands dirty doing all sorts of wonderfully playful things. Kids experiment as a means of learning new things. When we get to a place in our lives where we identify as adults, some of us lose that spirit of play. Our experimental sandboxes are cast aside as we seek order and routine. To be a successful digital leader means that you’ll always be experimenting. A sense of wonder, trial-and-error, and joy at not always knowing something is required to be a leader in digital spaces. Not knowing things as a leader is okay. However, being open to experimenting AND making time to do it is crucial to figuring out how to be better at your job and to lead those who look to you for guidance and wisdom.

Lifelong learning is the only way to truly live. If you’re working in higher education, you’re probably instilling the concept of lifelong learning into your students. The journey of learning is a constant. In digital spaces, the climb towards the top of our technology-mountains is an infinite path. Plus, a willingness to learn new things is how leaders role model a way of being that can send positive ripples through an organizations culture. What you learn today will evolve tomorrow as you add layers of new information that guide your decisions, plans, and strategies. You will always be better off in the future if you keep an open mind to learning new things today.

Fear is a tricky thing. It keeps us in a fixed position. Our ability to learn and experiment is often connected to our internal sense of bravery. Being brave doesn’t mean that we’re loud or arrogant. It’s a sense of inner strength that says that it’s okay to not know how a technology works or to be aware of a lack of awareness of all of the latest social media apps. However, bravery makes us secure in the knowledge that we can always go back to our digital sandbox and learn new things.

Digital leaders manifest in myriad ways. They are almost always quietly brave, instilled with a spirit of lifelong learning, and engaged in ongoing experiments.

Join the Future EdTech Event taking place in London on 2-3 June 2015.

250+ delegates and 50+ speakers will come together at Future EdTech 2015! 

Download the event brochure here.

Register your free pass.


Smart City funding and finance: where’s the money, and who’s paying?

Show me the money

A highly important factor when thinking about smart cities, that isn’t always discussed, is how to fund and finance them. As exciting as it is to discuss the potential, exciting developments that smart cities can bring, whether in terms of urban development, citizen engagement or sustainability, they won’t get off the ground without funding. This is something that has not escaped Ovum’s Smart to Future Cities conference, with a dedicated set of presentations around funding options.

Firstly we have a case study from the Province of Torino, Italy, on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for smart city projects/financing future cities in the EU, in which they will outline the 2020Together project, detail its funding strategy, and examine the new forms of partnership between public administrations and private investors.

This is followed by an interactive panel session: attracting funding and finance for smart infrastructure projects. The panellists include Scott Cain, Executive Director, Future Cities Catapult and Frank Lee, Head of Financial Instruments, Western Europe, European Investment Bank, with discussion points including:

  • What are the different funding instruments available?
  • Best practice for attracting interest from institutional investors and investment banks
  • Financial instruments outside EU funding
  • ‘Joint venture’ infrastructure projects
  • PPPs for smart city projects
  • Sharing risk in PPPs, managing exit strategies and forecasting returns
  • The need for a smart bank for smart investment

The panel is introduced by Mathias Reddmann, from the Smart Cities and Sustainability Unit of the European Commission, in which he will address the need for large-scale investment in smart cities, detailing the Horizon 2020 and JESSICA initiatives.

This dedicated session is part of a comprehensive event, covering transport, energy, urban development, assisted living, sustainability, security and resilience, among 19+ global city case studiesDownload the brochure to see which cities will be speaking at the event, and find out what they’ll be discussing. Then book your ticket to join in the discussion!