This evening I received a comment on a blog post I did about the “My GR Six” contest currently going on in Grand Rapids:
“At least they’re doing something besides taking pot shots from your lazyboy. What an asshole you are. No wonder you don’t have any friends. Lol.”
- Andrew | Submitted on 2011/09/08 at 5:02 pm
Though it perhaps didn’t come through in my blog post – I think the My GR Six crew are a great bunch of people. I like Beth Dornan and John Gonzales quite a bit and even attended a recent Grand Rapids Social Media meetup to hear about the inception of the project.
While I’d never deny I’m an asshole, I do take exception to some of what Andrew said – chiefly the idea that I’m not doing anything. For example – after the less flattering entries were frowned upon I thought it would be great if they could find a forum. Read more…
My favorite thing about working at Grand Rapids Community College is the small group of amazing people I get to collaborate with on a regular basis on really innovative and tech-driven projects (many of which we’ve managed to get through bureaucratic hurdles and actually put into practice – like being the first college in Michigan to offer text message alerts for students/employees in crisis situations back in 2005).
Some of these people (Szymon Machajewski, Garret Brand, and Eric Kunnen) and I recently entered GRCC’s “Armen Award” competition as a team with a mobile application built entirely by Szymon in his free time based on a concept we developed that would help save both students and the college time and money and promote conservation and sustainable practices at the college. Read more…
*Updated with Photos Below
Like I said – the Follow-Through. Kudos to Rob Bliss.
Data integrity is really, really important. No, I mean *really* important. It’s tedious, boring, and unsexy – but how we tag, label, sort and publish information is critical.
It’s more important than before because the good news is that it’s being used more than ever (instead of wasting away in moldering file cabinets). The open architecture of so much of the Web 2.0 platforms means that we can mash data in new ways for new ends. The bad news, though, is if the data isn’t sound – it can lead to problems.
Case in Point: my friend and colleague Donna Kragt in Grand Rapids Community College’s Institutional Research & Planning Department just informed me that I helped uncover a state-wide problem in how colleges in Michigan report data to the Federal Government.
If the Internet is Middle Earth, I try to be the equivalent of the Eye of Sauron for GRCC [ask your geek friends].
I discovered that “Braintrack College & University Directory” (a 3rd party student-oriented website) was incorrectly informing students that GRCC offers degrees in Public Relations Management. I found out that they had scraped the data for GRCC’s profile from a federal database. They also scraped a variety of other data from other locations, like our Student Life offerings and enrollment numbers.
One’s first instinct might be to get upset with Braintrack for repurposing this data – but that’s misguided. It’s actually good that other entities like Braintrack are doing so; it ultimately helps put GRCC in touch with more students (they’re a third party so their reporting on GRCC has more credibility than our advertising efforts, plus they may format the data in a more user-friendly way for prospective students, and they may even do their own promotional campaigns – all of which benefit us).
Related to data integrity is a story that was just published in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Marc Perry (“College Web Pages Are ‘Widely Inaccessible’ to People With Disabilities”) about a study showing that most college web content can’t be viewed by people with visual impairments. This is important not only for ADA compliance, but because computers (like those that power search engines) are very similar to people with visual impairments: they rely on text to be able to experience the world – and making a site more ADA-complaint also allows search engines and social networking platforms to more easily index the site. On a positive note – Blackboard (the course management tool used by GRCC) was just lauded for its handicap-accessibility.
Many organizations are grappling with social media policy guidelines for their employees, including my own.
I tried my hand at writing some, and then refined them by poring over hundreds of other social media policies of other organizations (both in the public and private sector – one great archive is available here at socialmediagovernance.org) and borrowed some of the best suggestions to craft my own set of guidelines that I’m pursuing for approval with the leadership of Grand Rapids Community College. So for what it’s worth – I’m making them available to everyone in case they’re of assistance:
What a lot of organizations don’t realize is that their employee conduct policies already cover social media, so it’s not always necessary to create an entirely new policy. When you’re evaluating how to approach it – there are three simple ideas to keep in mind:
- Keep it Simple: There’s no need to address every single social networking platform individually, nor to describe every potentially negative behavior – something as simple as a statement reminding employees that the employee handbook/code of conduct applies online to social media may be sufficient.
- Appeal to Employees’ Good Nature and Common Sense: Encourage employees to take the view that social media is no different than face-to-face interactions with stakeholders. If they wouldn’t try to be anonymous, dishonest, or mean in person – they should hold to those same principles online. Relating to others well is a universal principal in both the digital and analog worlds.
- Educate, Don’t Pontificate: Rather than trying to browbeat employees into submission with restrictive Authorized User Agreements, monitoring employee activity online or lengthy rules and restrictions – try to offer friendly advice and take an educational approach. There are social media case studies virtually every day in the news; use those as “teachable moments” in your employee communications. (Besides - AUAs and monitoring workstations are irrelevant anyway given that employees can defeat them by using their smartphones to access the Internet.)
Thanks to Grand Rapids Community College’s intrepid Media Technologies department, a recent presentation/training I gave to some GRCC employees on best practices for social media is now available on YouTube. It covers the what, why and how of social networking/social media using case studies from GRCC.
"...and you shall have no pie."As my parents tell it, when I was an infant my first word wasn't a word - it was an entire sentence. Very little has changed.
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