Blogging for Beginners! (even I can do it!)

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are favorite hangouts for college students. Reaching students where they already spend most of their time is efficient and can even be fun. Yes fun! You need not be a great writer to be a great blogger. Its true! Pratik Dholakiya (2013), of Social Media Today shares his recommendations for successful blogging, for the non-writers.

Step 1: “Play Mad Libs with headlines” – Do this to grab the reader’s attention. This step is basically a matter of borrowing headlines used before, and replacing a few nouns and verbs to make it your own.

Step 2: “Write your subheadings.” Subheadings should include one or more of the following traits: surprising, mysterious/intriguing, actionable, emotionally intense, and/or funny.

Step 3: “Do your research.” That is of course unless you already have a wealth of experience.

Step 4: “Don’t be a try-hard.” Short sentences and paragraphs are absolutely fine. Just write in a casual tone as if you are speaking to your readers.

Step 5: “Promote it.” Well of course, right?! Blog content is only valuable when shared and read by others.

To read Pratik Dholakiya’s entire article, visit

Now that we are all experts on blogging (she says tongue in cheek) Lets talk about micro-blogging, Twitter! In Mark W. Schaefer’s book, The Tao of Twitter (2012), he shares five basic best practices for Twitter presence.

#1. Include a picture with your Twitter account. Those with pictures have more followers than those who do not.

#2. Link your website to your Twitter account in order to bring more readers there to learn about your organization or business.

#3. Create a biography that includes all of your business interests. When readers are searching, they key words will attract them to you.

#4. Choose a short, easy to remember, unique, and relevant username. This will help readers find and remember you.

#5. Finally, keep sending tweets, even if you do not yet have any followers.  This way, your Tweets can be read and might invite followers.

Higher Education as a whole seems to be embracing social media. The college, where I teach full time, is slow to be a part of the trend. There are plenty of resources available to help us learn to “do it right” or at least “good enough”. Here’s hoping I can be an agent of change within my organization. 


Dholakiya, P. (2013). How to Blog (even if you can’t write).  Retrieved from:

Schaefer, M. (2012). The Tao of Twitter. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.


Social Marketing Brands and Risks in Higher Education


The question of whether to integrate social media into the learning management systems of higher education is difficult to answer. There is no question that its use in marketing and branding is very valuable. What about its usage in the online and hybrid classroom?There have been plenty of opinions and evidence supporting both sides of the argument.

The authors of “Social Media Use in Medical Education: A Systematic Review” began their study by presenting two questions. “ How have interventions using social media tools affected outcomes of satisfaction, knowledge, attitudes, and skills for physicians and physicians-in-training? What challenges and opportunities specific to social media have educators encountered in implementing these interventions? (Cheston, Flickinger, Tabor, and Chisolm, 2013).” They reviewed fourteen studies that met their criteria for inclusion. They found that social media tools correlated with improved knowledge as evidenced by higher exam scores. Attitudes and skills were found to be improved as well. Learner engagement, feedback, collaboration, and professional development were frequently reported positive outcomes of social media use in medical education (Cheston et al, 2013). As is most often the case, positive outcomes are accompanied by risks and challenges. Technical problems and variances in student participation were frequently identified as challenges. Privacy and security concerns were identified as well (Cheston et al, 2013). Educators, especially those who did not grow up with social media are faced with learning and adapting to the new technologies. 

Limited studies exist to support the assumption that the use of social media by students and instructors in higher educational institutions is a worthwhile effort. To fill this information gap a qualitative study was done to assess the experience if five instructors who already used social media in their courses (Veletsianos, Kimmons, & French, 2013). They found that instructors experienced frustrations with social networking sites. These tensions “arise from the use of technologies that collapse personal and professional contexts and audiences. (Veletsianos et al, 2013).” While 90% of surveyed students reported Facebook, its impact on academic performance remains unclear. However, it is thought that time on social networking sites may conflict with the need to spend the time studying (Veletsianos et al, 2013). On the other hand, benefits may include a means for identifying politics and resolving role conflicts (Velestanios, et al., 2013). While generally thought to be positive, institutional barriers may exist . Generally this is in the form of a lack of guidance, support, and/or policies regarding the use of social networking sites for educational purposes. Technical and integration challenges were reported as well (Veletsianos et al, 2013). 

Finally let’s ask ourselves, is it worth it? Do the benefits of using social media in higher education outweigh its risks and frustrations? Another question that must be answered is whether policies should be established to require and govern its use.


Cheston, C., Flickinger, T., & Chisolm, M. (2013). Social Media Use in Medical Education: A Systematic Review. Academic Medicine, Volume 88 – Issue 6 Retrieved from:

Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R., & French, K. (2013). Instructor experiences with a social networking site in a higher education setting: expectations, frustrations, appropriation, and compartmentalization. Educational Technology Research & Development, 61(2), 255-278. doi:10.1007/s11423-012-9284-z. Retrieved from:

OpenClass – a social media application for higher education


“OpenClass” is a trademark of Pearson.

OpenClass is a completely cloud based application that provides a learning environment from Pearson that goes beyond the traditional learning management platforms. Pearson describes OpenClass as open, easy, dynamic, and totally free. Used by educators, educational institutions, students, and content creators, OpenClass provides a means to break through the barriers to education and advance the experience of education for all users (

OpenClass helps instructors stay connected to their students. It also promises to ease administrative responsibilities like creating and editing courses and accessing course materials. The application provides easy to use tools for data gathering by individual, course, or an entire institution. However, at its core, OpenClass provides a social media means to keep in touch with students and “keep conversations relevant with the born-digital generation.” In addition to communicating with students, educators can use OpenClass to collaborate with other educators anywhere in the world. An Idea Exchange is provided by OpenClass ands in open to “world-class content from publishers and individuals.” Further, users have the ability to rate the content and write reviews of it as well (

With tight budgets in institutions of higher education, a free application, such as OpenClass piques the interest of administrators. Without the need for licensing, additional hardware, or hosting fees, OpenClass integrates with existing learning management systems. Benefits to the institution included streamlined administration and time savings. OpenClass is appreciated for its robust social learning tools that attract and engage students (

OpenClass was made for the way students learn. OpenClass claims to combine the best of social networking, collaboration, and educational sites into one amazing tool. Use of this tool makes it easier for students to work on projects assigned to groups, share course related documents, Skype, and collaborate together. Every subject is put within the reach of students through the interactive digital features (

When creating OpenClass, it was Pearson’s vision to create a data and technology driven platform for revolutionizing education. They strive to make it easy for anyone to connect course content to OpenClass ( Pearson boasts, “Through fully-supported, open APIs, we’re making it easy for anyone to connect content to OpenClass. And with a critical mass of students interacting with content, it’s possible to translate critical insights gleaned through data and analytics to content optimizations that help boost course efficacy and bring about amazing strides in personalized and adaptive learning (”

Get to know OpenClass better here:


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Photo courtesy of

Many institutions of higher education are turning to social media to recruit new students (ZOG Digital, 2013). “A quick scan of a bar code was all it took for college recruiters in Milwaukee to add prospective students to their database, as recruiting efforts have seen a major shift to mobile-based social media (eCampus News, 2013).” Calling on prospective students, by phone is not obsolete, but college most recruiters have their first contact with prospective students via social media or e-mail (ecampus News, 2013). Social media has become the primary strategy for prospective student recruitment (ZOG Digital, 2013).

Ken Cutts of the University of Wisconsin – Madison reports that their Twitter  following is up by a whopping 90% over the last year and their Facebook  “Likes” have increased by 60% (eCampus News, 2013). A look at their website  shows they are also active with other social media including YouTube  and Instagram.

Facebook gives UW-Madison a platform for everything admissions related. There are many links from the Facebook page to Twitter. Mysteriously, there are no Videos housed on their admissions Facebook page. However, prospective students will find links to the YouTube videos there.

On Twitter, #FutureBadgers keeps prospective students in the know on upcoming deadlines. You’ll also find links to their YouTube videos there as well. Once admitted, prospective students can follow #admittedbadgers to keep up to date on admitted students receptions’.

With only 363 followers on Instagram, it seems there is room for improvement. Pictures are cute and fun, but perhaps not the most efficient means of attracting prospective students.

A recent UW-Madison YouTube video answers this month’s most commonly asked questions in a minute or less. Prospective recruits can take virtual tours of residence halls  and the campus.

Colleges looking to make Social Media a priority for prospective current recruitment may seek help from a company called Higher education Marketing They have their finger on the pulse and can be found on RSS feed, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, and Slideshare. They provide data driven solutions for student recruitment.

There are a great many colleges and universities leveraging social media for student recruitment. Any admissions office not doing so will lag behind. In fact, I have been unable to find any colleges or universities without a social media presence.


eCampus News. (2013) College Recruiting Shifts to Social Media. Retrieved May 5, 2014, from

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photo by: Juan Pablo Duenas

It’s an exciting time in the industry of higher education. More possibilities exist than ever before. There are traditional, distance, hybrid, and online higher education options. Many programs are available through open-admission, meaning that no one can be turned away. Everyone gets a chance and the benefit of the doubt. There are three main benefits that social media provides for institutions of higher education. These benefits include support for recruitment, learning in the classroom, and for general outreach (ZOG Digital, 2013).

It is estimated that two-thirds of high school students have a preference for using social media over more traditional means of researching institutions of higher education. Gone are the days of requesting campus catalogs and brochures by mail. Instead, social media is used in order to reach these potential recruits in their “natural habitat” (ZOG Digital, 2013). Today’s high school students trust social media and have an expectation to quickly be able to access any in depth information they desire. Facebook is considered to be the top choice for contacting potential students (ZOG Digital, 2013).

E-college, also known as Pearson Learning Studio, is one learning management system that is used for online higher education. It is the one with which I am most familiar. It was modeled after popular social media sites, in order to be intuitive and feel familiar to students ( It has a feature called e-companion, which is an online tool to support traditional and hybrid courses. In both e–college and e-companion, a social home is available at the option of the institution. This option allows posts that remind the user of a Facebook newsfeed, and shows users which other students are in the virtual classroom at the same time. Further, collaborative social media tools integrate recent and relevant social features including social profiles, avatars, chat, groups, remarks, activity feeds, and fully-integrated Skype functionality (Pearsonlearning E-college also offers a web-based mobile version called mSite. It is compatible with all Smartphones and a download is not required.

General outreach refers to those efforts to reach potential students, current students, alumni, industry peers, and others considered to be stakeholders in the institution. Use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and blogs allow the institution to publicize a well-rounded school image including academics, awards, athletics, and campus life (ZOG Digital, 2013).

It is forecasted that social media will continue to rise in importance in the industry of higher education. Marketers must be knowledgeable about the use and benefits of all social media platforms in order to enjoy the benefits of increased visibility and enrollment for their institution of higher education.


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ZOG Digital, (2013). The Benefits of Social Media for Higher Education. Retrieved from:!F6lHp