Digital Technology and Social Media for More Influential Higher Education | Digital & Social Media | Social Media

For more influential higher education

use digital technology and social media

Brendan Barrett Ph.D. United Nations University

We academics worry about our contribution and impact...

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it...

Source: fatboyke

does it make a sound?

Learn more from Kyle James at .eduGuru

When no one can find your research

Source: San Diego Shooter

does it really matter?

Who are we trying to reach? people or peers?

We appear to be in a virtual revolution

The web is a social experiment

Web 2.0
is the future that has already happened

Source: ~Aphrodite

3 main characteristics

(1) Social software (2) User driven (3) Openness

1.7 billion
Internet users world wide (as of 9 March 2010)

of global population under 25 years of age


350 million
Facebook users (bigger than the USA)

200 million
YouTube videos watched each day

Will this virtual revolution impact on performance evaluation?

Will it result in “inappropriate measures that... drive the development of higher education in undesirable directions?”

What is the desirable direction? Depends on the mission

Mission of Cornell University: “discover, preserve, and disseminate knowledge; produce creative work; and promote a culture of broad inquiry....”


Mission of Harvard University: “to create knowledge, to open the minds of students to that knowledge, and to enable students to take the best advantage of their educational opportunities....”

The virtual revolution does not run counter to these missions...

but suggests universities may have to adapt to remain relevant.

Who is adapting?
Lets look at the top 10 universities in the world.

Harvard Cambridge Yale University College London Imperial College Oxford Chicago Princeton MIT Caltech

QS WU Ranking 2009 (

Harvard MIT Stanford University of California, Berkeley Cornell University of Washington University of Minnesota John Hopkins University University of Michigan University of Wisconsin Madison

Webometrics Ranking 2009 ( Takes account of number pages, in-bound links, rich files and citations in Google Scholar

Youtube Channel Harvard Cambridge Yale University College London Imperial College Oxford Chicago Princeton MIT Caltech




Who is using social media?

Universities are embracing these new opportunities

No.1 on YouTube
(from QS WU Top 10) MIT 1,523,494 views Less than 1% of videos viewed in one day

No.1 on Facebook
(from QS WU Top 10)

Oxford University 24,096 fans (but University of Michigan has 97,739 fans) Barack Obama has 7.8 million fans

No.1 on Twitter
Harvard University 14,306 followers (Twitter rank = 18,761) Ashton Kutcher has 4.6 million followers

So what?
How does that make you feel?

Be aware: As a university..... You will be judged in comparison to whatever competes with you on the web. (e.g., a search will find your university research and a blog)

Be aware: As a university.....

The quality of what you put on the web will be open for all to see. But what is quality online?

Be aware: The best universities will adapt. The challenge is clear (adapt or die adapt and remain relevant - like some newspapers).

Digital Natives/Digital Immigrants
“Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.”
Marc Prensky, 2001

Who are Digital Natives?

A digital native is a person for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence has grown up with digital technology.......

multimedia oriented web-based impatient non-linear multi-tasker less textual, more modalities very creative

Quality for the Digital Native
High Quality Addresses my interest Well made Fresh Substantive Compelling
Source: Chris Anderson, The Long Tail

Low Quality Not for me Badly made Stale Superficial Boring

Ok, so not every student is a digital native...

To understand more about digital natives

Or visit the Digital Natives blog at Harvard Law School

A Story How things work?

inspired by the UNU charter
The University shall disseminate the knowledge gained in its activities to the United Nations and its agencies, to scholars and to the public, in order to increase dynamic interaction in the world-wide community of learning and research. How do you do that?

We developed a webzine

Other universities have webzines

We heard about the... Perpetual Internet Traffic Machine

Social network traffic picked up by search engines Search engine results and visibility More traffic Optimize site for search engines Central interactive hub (Our World) Social networks (social buzz)

Twitter Youtube Vimeo Facebook

Content syndication

Other blogs can take articles Viral spread of content (Creative Commons)

Posting of quality content

Quality content is key!
(from UNU-IAS-TKI)

Picked up by Treehugger: monthly readership of 2.5 million22,137 readers watched the UNU Carterets video on Treehugger

Videos embedded on UNU-IAS-TKI website

Becomes an article on Our World 2.0

Statistics on Vimeo for the Carterets video 173,000 plus views from wide range of sites!

Statistics for Producing energy by walking on Shibuya station. Tokyo, Japan. 歩いて献電しよう! 123,000 views from one site!

Picked up by the Huffington Post

Co-production of content within UNU

Use the content in e-learning

Share the content with our partners

Projects generate quality content

Put it on YouTube

UNU podcasts uploaded to iTunesU

Download to your iPod/iPhone

Our World 2.0 articles published in the Guardian

Local on-campus screenings/events

Video can be screened by UNU researchers in the field

Conference on Biodiversity Loss in Khorog, Tajikistan

UNDP Offices in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Share your content with the public...

International screenings COP15 Film Festival

Know your target audience

Age distribution

79% below 40 years old Mainly digital natives?

Educational level

68% bachelors or above Well-educated digital natives?

In which Sinus-Milieus would you locate the UNU target audience?

Source: Stephan Schmidt presentation on Our World 2.0 Campaign (Sinus-Milieus)

The Sinus-Milieus approach is based the observation that differences in daily life shape the individual more than differences in socio-demographic or socio-economic situations.

Which reinforces the idea of connecting to digital natives... the adaptive achievers, experimentalists and intellectuals.

This is essentially inbound marketing... where you “get found” via search engines, blogosphere and social media sites...

3 concerns
1: This not academic? 2: Where is the quality assurance? 3: What skills are needed?

Five lessons on use of social media
1: Go where people are (don’t wait for them to come to you) 2: Less is more - make your messages clear and focused 3: Be patient. It takes time to build a community 4: Focus on thoughtful contact, rather than continual contact 5: Understand who you are trying to reach

Final thoughts

People who use social media love ranking things...

Final thoughts People who love social media enjoying writing reviews Just look at Amazon customer book reviews

Final thoughts

So which performance evaluation will be influential in the future?

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Winston Churchill

Thank you

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