November 5, 2007
Posted by Sam Jackson
Two weekends ago I was in New York because I was part of a panel about "Admissions in the Internet Age." My part was a very compressed summary of my general admissions-internet-teenagers philosophy with some examples of blogs and other online tools which appeal to students and are also great for schools. I said I would try to talk about "bridging the gap" between students and admissions offices / counselors where the internet is concerned. There were a lot of great questions afterwards and the panel as a whole did a really good job; I could praise my co-panelists for ages but instead I'll just move on and talk about my reactions... to the audience reactions?
I'm very much happier with how a lot of the higher education landscape looks now for uptake of blogs and new media (as well as integration with other tools familiar with my generation) compared with what it was even just a year ago. I'm not saying things are great, or even good, but there's a very definite measured improvement in attitudes institutionally from what I could smell in the wind. People were very interested in what I had to say, and not just in the way the monacle and tophat crowd are interested when they go to a zoo or circus.
For ease of digestion, I've made a list of some of my feelings (nine of them, to be exact) for your consumption:
Reasons for Optimism:
- More people from more places are interested in adopting new tools in new ways to reach students and connect.
- The people who "get it" are less trapped from above than they have been in the past.
- Continuing pressure to reform admissions (ha, ha) and admit students will keep driving adoption.
- There are more good examples every year, more success stories! People are, at the least, trying.
- My message resonates! Students and a random cross-section of the higher education community can and sometimes do speak the same language!
Reasons for hair-pulling frustration:
- Too little, too slow, too late--too conservative generally! Too little to achieve the full effect in many cases of adoption, too slow and too late to help out a lot of students today, and too conservative generally for reasons obvious to longtime readers of the blog.
- Wrong perspectives guiding misconceptions: people continue to misconstrue blogs, social networking, etc in context of old techniques. This is wrong and will only end in disaster!
- Risk-avoidance leads to counterproductive behaviors which undermine the success of institutional efforts to move forward!
- More people and schools need more exposure to more good examples! There is nothing to be (too) afraid about and there are examples to show as much.
So those are just a few feelings I wanted to share from some of my inferences talking to people. But, on the whole, I was filled with happy fuzzy feelings, not despairing sad ones. Even if some people still had more catching up to do there were a lot who were very eager to get cracking on some new projects.
Special thanks to all the nice folks I got a chance to meet and speak with afterwards, I know I saw some more people with more questions who didn't ask them and who for time constraints or whatever else didn't stop by to chat anymore... definitely drop me a line if you are reading this! The discussion at the end was what inspired me to have renewed faith in admissions offices around the country, let's keep it up.