I had one of those moments when you smack your palm to your forehead and let out a, “Duh!! It makes perfect sense!”.
I believe it’s called…. an epiphany.
The other day I was trying to figure out why I felt like we were so far behind in terms of technology and especially Web 2.0 stuff. I couldn’t figure out why we were doing things that we moved on from five years ago at the college level-probably longer-actually, way longer.
In part I think it is because our students are minors, and we can’t just let them create freely and post it on the Web site. (*Disclaimer here: I may have told my bosses that I reviewed every post, but I never did and told my bloggers so. I felt like a.) it would take away from the authenticity and b.) if I reviewed it then it didn’t really belong to my bloggers and they didn’t really have freedom of authorship.) Being under 18 means that there are release forms to fill out. Some times the boxes get checked off, some times they don’t. Keeping track is a major hassle.
Another piece to this is that these are high school students at boarding school. They are highly motivated, hyper-involved and totally scheduled. It’s hard to find an hour in the day (This includes late in the evening because the work day doesn’t end until the students go home for summer break.) to meet as a group. It’s also hard for these kids to separate blogging from just another homework assignment. It should be fun and something they enjoy rather than be viewed as yet another evaluation tool or homework assignment.
The third reason I think we’re behind is because we’re old. I said it. I believe it. We are old. We meaning us as a school not us as in me and you reading this (Although you may in fact be old, I’m not judging.). Aside from interns who are with us for just one year, the youngest full-time faculty member was born in 1981. I’m the next youngest at thirty-one(derful). There’s no one, in a professional position, who grew up with a computer. And when I say grew up, I mean they were born and came home to a house that had a computer in it.
I wrote a few years ago that once I hit thirty, I am headed down hill in terms of social media relevancy. Like a pro athlete, once you hit that peak age of 28 or 30, you begin it. Fact of life. Deal with it.
Colleges are surrounded by young adults (adults is a key word here). Whether it be students or the entry-level workers they hire. That youth and those youths (using my best Joe Pesci voice here) help to keep their marketing cutting edge. We are not young, and I don’t think our model allows for it either. So we’re stuck with me.
What to do?
Keep the fresh perspective. Attending conferences is one way. Attending the right conferences is a better way. Three sessions into HighEdWeb, I know it’s one of those conferences that is a must. And a key part of that is that it’s High Ed centered. It a perspective that is outside of where I am, and it’s an area where real innovation happens.
When I get back to campus?
Keep preachin’ brother. Keep preachin’.
I spent most of last year figuring this place out, building relationships and getting to know the school. Now it’s time to talk more about social media, how we can use it, and how we can become a leader in social media at the independent school setting.
It’s time to start talking to students and creating a team that can totally be rock stars. More importantly, a team that wants to be rock stars just to be rock stars.
It’s time to start building from the ground up. Its time to start talking to other departments and starting conversations about how we can do what we do better; how we can all have a voice and tell people about the cool things we do; how we can brag about the great kids we teach; how we bring everyone together in this wacky place called the Web.