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Take Two: Seeds of Possibility in Higher Education

This week, we’re excited to introduce a new feature here on social @ edu, Take Two.  Take Two is a series where Kevin and I will present each of our own perspectives, or takes, on a particular topic at the end of each month. It’s an opportunity for us to not only interact directly with each other on our blog, but also cross-examine something that warrants attention. We hope you enjoy the series and share your own take on the subjects with us.

“Right beneath the surface are seeds of possibility, if conditions are fertile people will flourish and grow.” Sir Ken Robinson, NACE 2012 Keynote Speech

This particular line from the keynote reminded me why I pursued a career in higher education – the possibility to help others flourish and grow.    It is increasingly difficult to accomplish this goal, however, in a time where higher education is faced with significant challenges. Budget cuts, rising tuition prices, a difficult job market for recent graduates, discrepancies in access and academic preparation, a growing college-aged population. These are a few of the issues facing our industry. Social media has the potential to help higher education address them. In fact, it has already in many respects. A few events this week centered on higher education finance drove this point home for me.

1. Higher Education Budget Cuts in Pennslyvania. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett recently said that the state should look at how it funds higher education because it does not make sense. PA needs to consider a voucher system to incorporate a market-based approach. Officials from a handful of public institutions in PA commented in the article. This is an example of where social media can create a more inclusive conversation. Clearly, administrators are discussing this on campus. What about off and between their respective campuses? What do their alumni, current and future students think? They are the most active on social media platforms and whose fate hangs in the balance. Social  media can help fuel the conversations across populations by aggregating comments across platforms through storify, or tracking and collecting important private institutional data through wikis.

2. Student Loan Rate Increases. Student loan rates will double in 9 days and 12 hours, according to a recent Facebook post by Obama.  I came across this in my own Facebook news feed (pictured below) and consider it an example of a great social media strategy. Politics aside, this post was clear, eye-catching and easy to share with my friends. Many of my friends have student loans, myself included. My younger cousins are prospective college students, as well. They are all on Facebook every.day. It is important to follow the latest bills and policies that influence one’s ability to pay for college, or pay back their education.

obama-7336515

These are two examples of where conversations about higher education issues have, and can be influenced by social media. At the end of the day, an inclusive and  fluid communication system is at the heart of identifying and implementing resolutions.  Ask their opinion. Tell them the facts.  Listen. Students, faculty, staff and government officials all have opinions and their own facts. I don’t deny that.  Sharing and listening (which is at the foundation of social media) generates buy-in and that is critical to success.

What issues are your institutions facing? How has or can social media contribute to a resolution?

by Shannon

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