Ah… summer 🙂 A time of reflection and rejuvenation for many who work in education. The summer months are a great time to catch up and focus on key some technology and social media projects that you and/or your staff could work on. Certainly, you may not be able to accomplish them all, but if you can tackle even a few of these, your staff could be better positioned to better communicate with students and work more efficiently. Below are just a few ideas to get you started 🙂
Conduct a Technology Assessment:
Whether its of your student body, staff, or faculty, gather data on current technology hardware and software can help determine its effectiveness. Certainly, the data can also help you build your technology budget for next fiscal year, discover what type of mobile devices your audience uses, and what formal education may be needed. Constructing this assessment with a clear goal in mind and partnering with your university’s Institutional Research Board will help yield you the best data possible. It is important to use this data once you gather it, taking meaningful action from it. Share your findings through infographics to get folks talking about the salient points you discover.
Conduct a Social Media Communication and Website Assessment:
Analyze your Facebook Page analytics (go to your Facebook Page and click on the See Insights button) along with your Twitter analytics (visit and log in using your Twitter credentials. You may need to enter a credit card, but will not be charged for the service of looking at your analytics, only for Twitter ads you choose to post). When going through your Facebook data, start with your “Posts” section and do a qualitative analysis of your most engaging content, what type of media it may have included (pictures, videos, etc.) and when they were posted as a guidepost for next year’s content. When going through your Twitter data, sort by “Best” content and do the same thing. Beyond likes, mentions, and shares, this data is the most useful in discovering what your audience enjoyed the most. If you manage a blog or department website, access backend data such as most viewed posts and most popular day/time folks are accessing your site. These metrics are the key to knowing when to post. Again, share this data through an infographic to get folks talking about the most salient points you discover.
Create a Department or Division Technology Committee:
While I’ve written about this in full detail before, what’s important to add are key staff from your university’s I.T. department and engaged students to your group. Certainly, folks from web services are a great starting point, but also ask your fellow staff members for recommendations, as they may have students who work in I.T., thus giving you the best of both worlds. Use the committee to execute the most important technology projects in your area or division, along with prioritizing what department hardware, software, etc. should be pushed forward for purchase. Again, encourage your committee chair to share the committee’s work at the department and division level.
Familiarize Yourself With Social Media and Technology Research:
In some cases, shifting paradigms of faculty and staff perceptions of social media use in and out of the classroom requires research data. Josie Ahlquist has a wonderful list of current research in the area of Social Media in Higher Education that I highly recommend as your starting point. Other great data sources around technology use include the Pew Research Center and the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Once you’ve read and digested a few articles with meaningful data, write out the most salient points that you would use to strengthen the case for deeper integration of technology and social media. Certainly, the conversation on the #SAtech and #SAdoc hashtags may provide a place for conversation as well.
Overall, the most important exercise you and your colleagues can engage in this summer is developing a technology and social media mindset before developing a skill set. A proper mindset for you and your colleagues will help overcome the inevitable obstacles that will appear as you do this work. This is beyond goal setting and learning outcomes; rather, it is developing an overall attitude and belief in the importance of these topics as 21st century Higher Education administrators.