Higher ed’s role in America’s reinvention

american-flag-795301_640There’s a global technology revolution under way, and despite what the pessimists say, the United States is leading the way, not falling behind. And the U.S. educational system plays a big role in this revolution. Continue reading “Higher ed’s role in America’s reinvention”

Friday Five: Teens and tech

The latest research from the Pew Research Center ought to be of interest to admissions and enrollment management marketers, or anyone who markets to the always-on teenage demographic.

Here are five important findings about U.S. teens from that research on Teens, Social Media & Technology: Continue reading “Friday Five: Teens and tech”

Friday Five: Short attention spans welcome

It’s been a long slog of a week, so I’ll be practically twitteresque in my introduction today. Here are five short but sweet and thought-provoking posts for your quick reading:

  1. The four horsemen of mediocrity. Pithy insight from Seth Godin.
  2. The trolliest headline ever, and it was written in 1922.
  3. What happens when brands overextend — an xkcd cartoon
  4. Web design: responsive vs. adaptive. OK, this one is relatively longish. But not as long as most web design blog posts I’ve seen.
  5. Photo: All this technology is making us antisocial, via @HistoryInPics.

Happy weekend.


WPHighEd: A new resource for #highered WordPress users

If you’re using WordPress as a blogging platform or content management system at your institution, there’s a nifty new resource available for you: WordPress in Higher Education, or WPHighEd for short.

Screenshot of the WPHighEd website (wphighed.org)
Screenshot of the WPHighEd website (wphighed.org)

The site is the creation of Curtiss Grymala (@cgrymala) of the University of Mary Washington, where Curtiss has implemented WordPress to run 50 separate “multisite” instances on a single WordPress installation. He created the site as a resource for the higher ed community, where higher ed WordPress users could share ideas on WordPress best practices. Specifically, Curtiss hopes the site will become a resource that will:

  • Serve as a showcase on how colleges and universities are using WordPress. “Not just for traditional websites,” Curtiss says, “but for blog systems, learning management systems, or whatever.” He encourages people to submit examples of how they’re using WordPress at their colleges and universities.
  • Be a blog where users may contribute WordPress news, tutorials and research related to higher ed.
  • House a collection of WordPress-related presentations, papers, etc.
  • Serve as a hub to host regular virtual meetups for higher ed WordPress users.

The site is still in its infancy, but it has the potential to become a very useful resource for those using WordPress, or wanting to.

Google’s Reader gamble: What #highered would never do

Google Reader is embedded in my iGoogle page, which will also goes away later this year (Nov. 1, 2013).
Google Reader is embedded in my iGoogle page, which also goes away later this year (Nov. 1, 2013).

So Google has decided to pull the plug on its RSS reader Google Reader effective July 1, 2013. And people are not happy about it. Google Reader grew to become a popular tool for aggregating, sharing and distributing information. It was not only “revolutionary in function,” writes Wired’s Mat Honan; “it was beloved.”

No matter what you think about Google’s decision to off Reader, you have to admire the company’s ability to make a decision to get rid of services that either a.) have no demand (remember Google Wave?) or b.) aren’t part of a key business objective. Google is a sprawling company that has forged its way along many paths. In that regard, its focus has been about as fuzzy as most colleges and universities, which strive to provide as many programs and options as possible to as many types of students as possible.

But what Google has done that higher ed seems incapable of (for the most part) is to realize that something that was once a smart thing to do has outlived its purpose. Google Reader has been one of the most popular and fruitful experiments, and now it’s on its death bed. Google made the difficult but unpopular choice to get rid of the service.

Colleges and universities have a difficult time focusing on core business objectives. They struggle to eliminate programs and efforts that aren’t critical to their missions. And when people freak out about administrative attempts to focus, then university leaders often back down and move forward with business as usual, or with some incremental change.

Last night, as I was reading about the demise of Google Reader, I also spotted this piece from Poynter about the University of Indiana’s decision to merge its journalism program with communications, telecommunications and film studies. This is a pretty bold move for a university, and not popular with the old-school journos at Poynter (or elsewhere, I’d imagine). Yet the provost argues that the way journalism has been taught for the past 100 years won’t work for the future. “[T]he field of journalism, in particular, has been the subject of numerous recent calls for renewal.” This push for a merger is IU’s attempt at that renewal.

Will it work? There will be backlash. Just as there is now with Google’s decision with its beloved Reader. (Remember in 2011 when Google eliminated the ability to share via Google Reader? I do. And boy was I hoppin’ mad about that decision. But guess what? I got over it. Other services have entered the marketplace to replace that function to some extent. And some of them do a better job of it.)

Making a decision to let go of something that is beloved is never easy, and rarely popular. But sometimes it’s the right thing to do. We’ll see if that’s the case for Google as well as IU. Maybe the rest of the higher ed community could learn from both of these examples.