Wednesday, 26 October 2011

'Don't affect the share price': social media policy in higher education as reputation management

Facebook culture 3

I'm doing a bit of work on social media policy in universities in the UK.

I'm particularly interested in the ways in which UK HEIs are responding to both the positive potential of social media as well as to its perceived threats.

My hunch - and it's just a hunch at the moment based on some quick reading of sample policy documents and discussions with colleagues at Kingston University - is that the development of social media policies has been taken in response to both the promise of social media in promoting university brands as well as the threat to institutional reputation. The creation and implementation of social media policies are, therefore, playing a role in helping universities manage both the risks and benefits of social media at a time when reputation or brand management is key.

Social media has greatly lowered the threshold technological barriers to creating online spaces, facilitating dialogue and sharing resources. With this ease comes potential threats: could online spaces and digital communication tools allow academic staff to stray 'off message' and publish statements or post media at variance with institutional policy or in some way detrimental to its reputation? There have certainly been cases in the UK of academics doing just this (Corbyn 2008).

What are the drivers behind the development of such policies? I think it's all to do with the context of the marketisation of higher education (Molesworth et al. 2010) and the need for universities to both create a differentiated brand for themselves and protect that brand at a time when they're competing for students. Legal or liability issues are prominent too but there's a lot in many policy documents about protecting the university against defamation.

And the levers? Well, in some policy documents it's more carrot than stick with disciplinary sanctions and management controls in place to ensure compliance.

I'm at an early stage in my thoughts about this so all comments, quibbles and corrections very welcome.

Sample of social media policy documents from UK HEIs

University of Bristol

University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN)


Durham University

University of Glamorgan

Heriot Watt University

University of Huddersfield

University of Leicester

Oxford Brooks University

University of Surrey


Corbyn, Z. (9 October 2008). By the blog: academics tread carefully. Times Higher Education Supplement. Accessed 26 October 2011 from:

Molesworth, M., Nixon, E. and Scullion, R. (
eds) (2010). The Marketisation of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer. London: Routledge.

Friday, 1 April 2011

First attempt at a quick guide to Prezi

The stand-out success of the 2010-11 staff development season has been, without doubt, Prezi. We've had double-figure attendance at the workshops we've run and have had to re-book rooms to accommodate colleagues wanting to learn how to use it.

I've also used it on our PgCert L&T in HE and at a recent session of student group presentations 3/5 groups used Prezi in lieu of PowerPoint or Keynote.

It's clearly striking a chord with some colleagues and I wonder why. There's some interesting research to be done here I think. My hunch is that it's partly discipline-specific with those in visual-rich areas (e.g. healthcare, art and design) most to gain from the ability to zoom into uploaded images.

I read an interesting comment on a Kingston University Elgg blog post from a colleague who was drawn to its non-linear potential that fitted well with the theme of her lecture:

I used Prezi (in place of PowerPoint) in a seminar last semester. It was relevant to the content of the lecture since we were discussing the digital future of 'books'. One of the key differences between physical and digital books (aside from the feel and smell!) is that physical books are linear. You tend to read one page after another, one chapter after another. Of course you can dip in and out and use the contents or index pages to find the material you want. But most people read an old-fashioned book more or less sequentially. Digital books, however, provide opportunities for presenting information or stories in a non-linear fashion. Prezi, therefore, was the perfect tool to not just talk about, but demonstrate, the non-linear nature of new technologies.

Kimberly Scheideman, in her blog post A Beautiful Sunrise - PowerPoint or Prezi - What's the Difference? makes a similar point. She claims that Prezi suited her thematic presentation of Eoin Colfer's novel Artemis Fowl better than PowerPoint ('I felt the Prezi captured a concept that a PowerPoint couldn't'). So, in other cases, it looks like the lecture topic or structure is informing lecturer preferences.

More thoughts on this later but for now here's the handout we distribute in our sessions - comments and corrections welcome.

Prezi Guide

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Learning technology review: the student perspective

This is my presentation for the next M25 Group session (31.03.2011):

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Graphic elicitation references

Bagnoli, A. (2009). Beyond the standard interview: the use of graphic elicitation and arts-based methods. Qualitative Research, 9(5): 547–570

Crilly, N. et al. (2006). Graphic elicitation: using research diagrams as interview stimuli. Qualitative Research, 6(3): 341-366

Prosser, J. and Loxley. A. (2008). Introducing Visual Methods. ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Review Paper. (accessed February 14 2011)

Törrönen, T. (2002). Semiotic theory on qualitative interviewing using stimulus texts. Qualitative Research, 2(3): 343-362

Umoquit, M.J. et al. (2008). The efficiency and effectiveness of utilizing diagrams in interviews: an assessment of participatory diagramming and graphic elicitation. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 8(53): 1-12

Varga-Atkins, T. and O'Brien, M. (2009). From drawings to diagrams: maintaining researcher control during graphic elicitation in qualitative interviews. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 32(1): 53-67

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Blogging workshop

I thought I'd park the Prezi I'll be using for this semester's blogging workshops here.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Jonathan Franzen on Apple

I've been reading, and quite enjoying, Jonathan Franzen's Freedom (I've the first edition with the typos).

A section that made me laugh out loud was when one of the main characters, a not-quite-failed rock star called Richard Katz launches into an attack on Apple - "I think the iPod is the true face of Republican politics" (Franzen: 2010: 201) - as part of a bigger tirade against the fake subversive edge of popular music culture in response to a question about the "MP3 revolution".

Here's a short extract:
I've been given the opportunity to participate in the pop-music mainstream, and manufacture Chiclets, and to try to persuade fourteen-year-olds that the look and feel of Apple computer products is an indication of Apple computer's commitment to making the world a better place. Because making the world a better place is cool, right? And Apple computer must be way more committed to a better world, because iPods are so much cooler-looking than other MP3 players, which is why they're more expensive and incompatible with other companies' software, because - well, actually it's a little unclear why, in a better world, the very coolest products have to bring the most obscene profits to a tiny number of residents of the better world. [...] We're about the relentless enforcement and exploitation of our intellectual-property rights. We're about persuading ten-year-old children to spend twenty-five dollars on a cool little silicone iPod case that it costs a licensed Apple computer subsidiary thirty-nine cents to manufacture.
Strangely, as someone in thrall to the unhealthy consumerist fetishism of all things Apple, it struck a bit of a chord. I love the design of their products but, partly as a result of recent experiences with the iPad, am increasingly irritated by Apple's closedness, control freakery and ruthless pursuit of profit.


Franzen, J. (2010). Freedom. London: Fourth Estate.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Those 'not digital natives' references

Net Generation

This is me using my blog again as a dumping ground for my references. This time it's for all those lovely papers debunking the myth of the 'digital native':
Bayne, S. and Ross, J. (2007). The ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’: a dangerous opposition. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) December 2007. PDF format.
Bennett, S., Maton, K. and Kervin, L. (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5): 775-786
Bennett, S. and Maton, K. (2010). Beyond the ‘digital natives’ debate: Towards a more nuanced understanding of students' technology experiences. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5): 321–331
Brown, C. and Czerniewicz, L. (2010). Debunking the ‘digital native’: beyond digital apartheid, towards digital democracy. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5): 357–369
Burhanna, K.J. et al. (2009). No Natives Here: A Focus Group Study of Student Perceptions of Web 2.0 and the Academic Library. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(6): 523-532
Hargittai, E. (2010). Digital Na(t)ives? Variation in Internet Skills and Uses among Members of the “Net Generation”. Sociological Inquiry. 80(1):92-113
Helsper, E. J. and Eynon, R. (2010). Digital natives: where is the evidence? British Educational Research Journal, 36(3): 503-520
Jones, C. and Czerniewicz , L. (2010).Describing or debunking? The net generation and digital natives. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5): 317–320
Jones, C. and Healing, G. (2010). Net generation students: agency and choice and the new technologies. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5): 344–356
G. Kennedy, T. Judd, B. Dalgarno and J. Waycott (2010). Beyond natives and immigrants: exploring types of net generation students. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5): 332–343
Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A. and Vojt, G. (2010). Are digital natives a myth or reality? University students’ use of digital technologies. Computers & Education. Article in press
Selwyn, N. (2009). The digital native - myth and reality. Invited presentation to CLIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). London Seminar Series. London 10th March 2009.

If you have any more please pass them on.

Delicious links.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Seconds thoughts on the iPad

I guess I continue to be delighted and frustrated by the iPad in equal measure.

The frustration is largely due to my expectation - probably misplaced - that the iPad would be more Macbook Pro XS than iPod Touch XL.

The fantastic web browsing experience it offers lures you into thinking that it can do everything a regular computer can do. For example, when web browsing, it's the full-sized pages you view not the mobile version of them. However, log into, say, Blogger to write a post and you'll find you can't edit unless you select the HTML option. There's also no uploading local files to your most-used sites (Facebook, Flickr, Blackboard, Moodle). Eh?

I really wanted the iPad to be the core portable device we use in the staff development workshops we run on various aspects of e-learning. However, its limitations mean this ain't gonna happen and I'll have to think about a more conventional netbook instead.

IS colleagues try out the iPad at a recent staff development event

A few colleagues have rightly commented that you can upload content from the iPad via apps (e.g. the Flickr app, BlogPress etc.). I know that apps are the way mobile technology is going but I don't necessarily think it's the best way to go. A recent Guardian article has highlighted the negatives of this trend - adding $s to the coffers of Apple's iTunes Store and others by making users pay for apps that restore functionality and access to content they once had for free via a browser. Is reading Wired through the iPad app really a better experience than reading it online through Safari?

Why can't I do the stuff I need to do through the iPad's browser? The paradox is that the iPad offers the best mobile web experience of any mobile device via a browser I know and yet it also forces users to find alternatives to the browser to do many things.

Is it a genuine technical limitation of the device or is it informed by a commercial strategy? I don't know the answer but I do know that I'm becoming less, and not more of an Apple fanboy by the day.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Blogging from iPad (iBlogger)

I'm using iBlogger to write this post on the iPad.

It's not a nice experience: portrait mode only and iPhone/iPod Touch screen size which becomes horribly pixelated - inc. keyboard - when enlarged.

The WordPress app offered a much nicer writing experience (see my Twitter blog for an example). I could also insert pictures with the WordPress app - I can't with iBlogger.

So, the app works fine on the smaller Apple devices but is much less satisfactory on the iPad. It needs an upgrade desperately - the TweetDeck iPad app leads the way in this respect I think. iBlogger 2 is due for release soon - here's hoping it's more iPad-friendly.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Blogging on the iPad (BlogPress)

I've just downloaded the BlogPress app for the iPad (£1.79).

Hurrah - we've got landscape mode which makes writing much easier.

I can also add location and tags really quickly. Just as important, I can insert images from my photo library:

It lets you add multiple blogs from all the usual suspects (WordPress, TypePad etc.).

It's my app of the week.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Eden St,Kingston upon Thames,United Kingdom