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As in any profession, our jobs are never done when it comes to learning. 

Learning can come in many forms: industry articles, conferences and seminars, internal training sessions, or going back to school.  But there’s a different type of learning that requires being very conscious of yourself not as a marketer, but as a consumer.  The age old “Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.”

I call it Subjective Learning.  No, this isn’t technical, and probably somewhere in psychology or something there is a different (and more formal) definition of this.  But the idea is that you have your own personal feelings as a consumer that could be valuable when it comes time to make decisions as a marketer.

For instance, why does one direct emailing campaign cause you press delete, while another one causes you to sign up for a two hour free webinar during the busiest day of your week?  Is it the content?  Was it the subject line?

We need to actively identify ways in which data, content, info and….well…marketing campaigns either reach us or don’t.  And while you certainly don’t want to run a marketing campaign solely on what you feel as a consumer (that’s like running a one-person focus group!), these actively sought out pieces of information can be very valuable, especially when it comes down to the little things like the updating of your Facebook Pages status, or a company Tweet.  What’s going to make people come to your page or Retweet you?

So, be a little subjective in your information gathering and it could really help you hone your skills as a marketer.

What are some of the things you’ve noticed as a marketer when you put on your consumer shoes?

I’ve recently begun following the information musings of Kim Cofino at her blog, Always Learning. Kim is currently teaching at the International School Bangkok in Thailand as a 21st Century Literacy Specialist.  She describes her positions as follows:

I see this role as a bridge between the library and technology, and therefore, a key aspect of this position, which makes it different than a traditional technology facilitation position, is the strength of collaboration between all three teams.”

Kim has a lot of very interesting and informative posts concerning optimizing the classroom setting using Web2.0 technologies.  Some of our favorites are:

Universities seem to finally be getting the picture that use of social media is vital to reaching their core constituents, especially given that Facebook and other social networks have surpassed e-mail as the best way to reach many of the university’s core audiences: students and alums.

Yet despite the idea that Facebook and Twitter are gaining popularity, universities still struggle with how much prominence to give these tools.  Brad Ward’s blog had a great post on this subject in February, with some intriguing preliminary research on how social media tools are built into university Web sites.

Of almost 1400 schools investigated, only 20% had any kind of social media component built into their homepage, alumni page or admission page. While that seems like a pretty good amount, consider the fact that that leaves a whopping 80% of universities and colleges that don’t have any kind of social media component on any of these three key pages! What is even more amazing is that only 56 schools… 4%  of the schools… had a social media component on more than one page. That means if alums get to your site they see it, but potential students don’t, or vice versa. These schools have forfeited huge chunks of their visitor population.

Our question today is… why? If schools recognize the importance of online tools, why aren’t they using them better? And if they’re not using them, what is the main barrier to adoption? Are there more professors and admissions people using these tools but higher levels of administration don’t buy it yet, or are there perceptions of this being a fad and schools are hesitant to jump as far as including these tools where the primary core of their web traffic would actually see and interact with the tools?

How are you seeing social media being used in higher ed?

On March 25th and 26th, CollegeWeekLive held it’s fourth virtual college fair through producer PlatformQ.

In their words, “CollegeWeekLive is the world’s biggest virtual college fair, with more than 200 colleges and universities from around the world exhibiting and more than 25,000 attendees. The event revolutionizes college admissions, making the process easier and more cost-effective by bringing together students, parents, counselors and colleges online to interact, transcending time and distance.

From the lobby, attendees can break off into a several areas.  Students are able to talk to admissions experts on a variety of topics - such as financial aid or essay writing - and can also experience various forms of collateral from each participating school to get a better sense of what college is like on their campus.  Within each university’s virtual booth their are live chats with current students, faculty and admissions officers as well as videos and electronic brochures to offer as complete a set of information on the school as possible.  They also have keynotes periodically throughout the day on topics like preparing for the SATs.

CollegeWeekLive is responding to recent trends in both virtual conferencing and the propensity to accomplish processes in an online setting, especially for the demographic targeted by the conference.

A recent survey of college-seeking high school students, conducted by, asked for comments about how the college admissions process could be improved. The comments highlighted frustration with paper communication and a preference for online communications: “Use the internet to promote. It’s easier, takes up no paper, and students won’t have to bother with the multitude of brochures from unsolicited schools.”

In a discussion with Martha Collins, VP of Marketing, we gained some insight into the process:

You’ve done a few of these now.  What have you noticed about the technological uptake on the part of the universities?  Did you come across any issues? Has it improved with each one?

We’re seeing more and more schools understand that meeting the students online makes a lot of sense.  They’re online and they need to be there.  The way the connections happen in this setting are a lot more comfortable and casual.  A student can be watching a presentation - live-streaming - and text in a question, which is much easier for a high school student to do in that context.  They’re at the stage of life where they’re still a little timid and they’re much more comfortable in the environment.

In terms of the technology, many colleges have exhibited several times with us, and they’re the ones leading the pack.  The colleges realize how important it is to be there and be present and available in the booth.  For the high school students, the late afternoons and evenings are the most popular times to visit the conference, so the schools have found how important it is to be online in those peak hours and appreciate the students’ schedule.

In the broader context of online admissions, some colleges are recruiting more proactively online than others, and some of them are still going the traditional route.  Frankly, I’ve signed up for some of the services the students go through, and the amount of paper admissions information that students receive is overwhelming. Teens are not only wanting more of a conversation about these things, but they’re also becoming more increasingly green conscious, and this may affect their perception of a college. Whereas online, the students can choose when they want to speak to whom, how much information they want, or how much interaction they want.  The relationship is more accommodating to their desire to gather information, which the universities are realizing as being, in the end, more beneficial to the process.

Were there any large lessons learned on the part of Platform Q?

Don’t underestimate the technology.  From the attendee standpoint, people sometimes don’t appreciate that we’re putting together a virtual tradeshow on an online platform, and it’s pretty darn sophisticated.  We’re getting tens of thousands of kids in there in a 24-hour period, and we’re pushing the envelope in terms of the technology.  I think a lot of people think that it’s a webinar, just a webinar.  It’s a lot more than a webinar.  We’re streaming a ton of content from around the country, and a ton of attendees are viewing it.  There has been a lot of learning in terms of combining the technology over time, and optimizing the best tool set to get the job done.

In general, why do you think people are choosing to use a virtual conference format more now?  What are the pros and cons?

For admissions, it’s transcending time and distance.  It’s an opportunity for colleges to reach a much broader audience geographically.  Over 30% of our attendees are international.  It’s 100% free to the students, and we have several partnerships in place that make it available to socio-economically disadvantaged students, so it really levels the playing field.

On the admissions side, everyone is concerned with budgets, and this is a great opportunity to increase your general reach at a very low cost.  So while there may be technological barriers for some, most are willing to overcome those.

The next college fair will be held on 16 July, everywhere.

Image via CrunchBase

The Twitter tool kit of the business world only holds so much relevance in the higher ed space.  But there are some tools that would really add to the efficacy of using Twitter for educators who may have different needs.

We’ve listed several great ones below to start off:

Tweetdeck: A desktop application that let’s you organize who you’re following, save and display searches and organize your Twitter account to accommodate issues such as distinguishing student Tweets from colleague Tweets.

Tweet Later: With this tool you can schedule Tweets in advance, so they get posted when you want them to….like during a classroom lecture.

Twits Like Me: This allows you to find other Twitter users who are talking about the things you like to talk about, so you can follow more people who offer you value.

Tweetworks:  Move classroom discussion online into threaded groups that can be responded to from most Twitter applications, with each discussion having its own url.

Seesmic: The new version of this desktop app is great for educators and those in higher ed. It’s Tweetdeck plus maintenance of multiple accounts at the same time.

Twitilator: This is an iPhone app that has a lot of great options for Twittering from your phone.  Twitterberry has gotten some kudos for the blackberry.

TweetGrid: You can break this real-time search browser into several searches that update in real time, not only perfect for general monitoring, but a great visual addition to a class lecture.

Hashtags: Combining this service with something like TweetGrid or Tweetdeck, you can assign a specific hashtag to your lecture for students to Twitter live comments or questions, and project them onto a screen, or pick out the juicy ones for post-lecture content.

Tweetscan: By getting a notification everytime your custom search terms are mentioned on Twitter, you’re able to keep up-to-date on pertinent items coming out in the Twitosphere.

Breaking Tweets: By compiling the latest world news and Twitter feedback on that news, you can know not only what’s going on, but what people are saying about it in the Twitosphere.

TwitTrans: Have your Tweets translated into any language!

Twitscoop: This tool allows you to track trends in what’s being talked about online.  Know what’s going on in your discipline as soon as it comes out, or add some last minute content to the classroom setting.

postica: Have a note you want to get out to your students or your department?  Put it on a post-it on Twitter.

twtpoll: Conduct your own poll, including students, colleagues, etc.

[*Disclaimer* I am using the term "framework" very generally here, emphasizing those frameworks that are generally used in business, government, education, etc used to shape a way of thinking]

There have been some recent changes at our school concerning curriculum, and how to best teach our students what they need to know when leaving business school. It made me think about a very important point that I think applies to education, business, and most importantly, life as a whole.

Frameworks and the use of frameworks have their limits. They are very useful for certain ways of thinking, certain actions, certain teachings. They structure our thoughts in a way that (ideally) allows to see and tackle the problem/concept/idea more effectively. They work well in industries like marketing or consulting. They work well in classes like strategy or service operations. Thought processes are the focus of frameworks, more specifically how to organize your thinking more efficiently or concretely.

Where frameworks begin to take away from the full capabilities of learning is when it turns experience, or feeling, into thinking. For instance, if one were to go out to do community service, I feel that the experience gained is highly compromised by trying to force it into a framework. You don’t “learn” about “how” to do community service. You go out and you feel it.

Ask yourself what would be more rewarding and you might get a sense of what I’m talking about: dropping in a soup kitchen, passing out soup for a few hours, during which time you can chat with those around you, feel and see what they’re going through, and allow for compassion, or dropping in a soup kitchen after having been briefed on “effective volunteering structure” and asked to debrief the process and implementation afterwards.

Yes, there is a certain amount of learning that can be applied to something like community service, but people are going to grow the most when they feel while volunteering, rather than think while volunteering.

Frameworks don’t teach you to look into someone’s eyes when you’re talking to them, to connect with them, have compassion for them and interact with them on a human-to-human basis. In fact, if anything, they might even detract from that. Frameworks are sometimes too black-and-white, too structured to allow for spontaneity or a change of course that might actually require a gut feeling to initiate.

If we were to live our lives in a world of frameworks, wouldn’t be a rather robotic, emotionless existence?

Or maybe we just need to feel our frameworks…mmm… no, I don’t like that idea. Let’s just trust our feelings sometimes.

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