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Technology in Higher Education
Virtual Case Study Competition
New York University
Rebecca Ahlstrom
Paulina Abaunza
Ashley Skipwith
Technology Topics
• Institutional Spam
• Blogs
• Social Networking Sites
• iPods and Podcasting
• Second Life
Institutional Spam
Institutional Spam
• Email is an increasingly popular way for
administrators to reach college students
• Having policies in place for the use of
bulk emailing is important for preventing
• This terms refers to emails sent to the
entire institution or to targeted groups
Benefits of Mass Email
• Cost-effective, efficient method of
communicating with a large group of people
• A main mode of communication for students — this
is one way for institution to connect at their level
• Particularly beneficial for communicating with
commuter or non-traditional students
• When used properly, students recognize that
emails from the administration are important
Potential Problems with Mass Email
• Messages can be easily erased
• Impersonal method of communication
• Can be easily overused, leading to decreased
• Not all students have computers at home
• Not an appropriate mode for some types of
communication due to privacy/security issues and
possible legal issues in some situations
• Human error could lead to incorrect information
being rapidly transmitted to a large group
• Need to discuss issue of allowing students to opt
out of some communication
Sample Bulk Email Policies
• EDUCAUSE: E-mail Policy Resources
• Bryn Mawr College
• New York University
• University of Wisconsin-Madison
• Central New Mexico Community College
An academic forum for
graduate students
Harvard students express
their feelings about their
commencement speaker
Used by Santa Clara
University as a
recruiting tool for
potential students
Blogs & Blogging
As adopted from ‘Exploring the Use of Blogs as Learning Spaces in the Higher
Education Sector’
Australasian Journal of Educational Technology:
What is a blog or blogging?
'Blogging’ a contraction of the term 'web logging'
• Blogging is perhaps best described as a form of
micro-publishing on the internet.
• Easy to use, from any Internet connection point,
blogging has become firmly established as a web
based communications tool.
• Many blogs have large and dedicated readerships,
and blog clusters have formed linking fellow
bloggers in accordance with their common
What are some of the benefits of blogs?
Has many different applications (personal, professional,
User-friendly: Easy to create and customize a blog using
a variety of commercial sites (such as
Test ground for scholarly publications, allows scholars to
get feedback from readers
Can be used by student affairs offices to communicate
information and get feedback via comments
Can be used as a forum for outside of classroom debates
and discussions
What are some of the problems associated
with blogs ?
If using institutional resources (webspace), what
responsibility does university have to police it?
Less face-to-face interaction with students when used
in a scholarly setting in place of class time.
Information could be very easily distributed on a large
scale, less damage control if a controversial topic is
posted on an institutional blog.
Privacy issues: Students need to be aware of their
postings and the fact that they can be read by anyone.
In the same way that potential employers may look at
someone’s facebook page, they can also read their
Examples of Some Fun Blogs
As found at The Chronicle of Higher Education:
ABD Anonymous:
"AA: a twelve-step program for dissertation writers/graduate students."
Academic Coach:
"Earnest exhortations and random tidbits for dissertating grad students,
post-doctoral job hunters and tenure-track faculty.“
"Academics, literature, composition, pedagogy and general studies."
A new site designed to serve as a community for academic bloggers. It
currently includes news/newsfeeds about academic blogging and a
directory of academic blogs
Confessions of a Community College Dean:
"In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990's moves into
academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of
two. Foucault, plus lawn care.“
Campus Press Notes:
"Daily glances at collegiate newspapers and university politics."
The Yale Insider:
A blog by the unions at Yale.
iPods and Podcasting
Apple Computer’s 3 types of
iPods: The iPod, iPod Nano
and iPod Shuffle
Stanford University on iTunes U
iPods and Podcasting
• The iPod is a portable digital media
player and hard drive sold by Apple
• Podcasting combines the words “iPod”
and “broadcasting.” A podcast is an audio
or video broadcast that has been
converted to an MP3 file or other audio /
video file format for playback in a digital
music player. Podcasts can also be played
back on a computer.
Importance to Higher Education
• iPods are already used by many college students. In an
interest poll conducted by USA today, students ranked
the iPod as the #1 “in” thing on college campuses.
• Since students know how to use these devices, their
incorporation into academic and student affairs would
be simple.
• Incorporating this technology into the academic
environment is an innovative use of a well-known
• The iPod can be used in conjunction with podcasting,
which allows information to be downloaded and carried
wherever the student and his / her iPod goes.
• Apple has created iTunes U, specifically designed for
the benefit of colleges and universities. iTunes U is a
free service for colleges and universities to host their
How has this technology already been
used in higher education?
• In 2002, Georgia College & State University was
the first higher education institution to launch
academic programs using iTunes technology.
• In 2004, Duke University introduced the iPod in
the higher education sector by giving 20-GB iPods
(retail price = $300) to all incoming freshman
students. These iPods were preloaded with
freshman-orientation information, an academic
calendar and the Duke fight songs.
• Many schools currently use iTunes U as a way to
podcast academic and student affairs material
(including UC Berkley, Stanford University,
University of Michigan – School of Dentistry,
University of Wisconsin – Madison, Drexel
University, and more).
Benefits of the iPod / Podcasting
• Students can download lecture / course material
from iTunes U, for use outside of the classroom.
• This type of technology could enhance both online
and distance learning.
• There are added benefits for students with
learning disabilities.
• In student affairs, iPods and podcasting could be
used to present student life material, such as
campus tours for prospective students and
workshops for current students (Example: New
York University campus tour).
Problems with iPods and Podcasting
Not all students have or can afford an iPod (lowest cost of an
iPod = $150). Costs would be large for the college / university
also, if schools decide to provide each student an individual
iPod (like Duke).
Students might not attend lectures, which takes away from
professor-student and student-student interaction.
iPods only allow for one-way interaction, which does not
permit feedback.
School’s development of a close affiliation with Apple
Computer could affect other relationships with outside
companies, as well as campus life as a whole.
iPod technology is constantly changing, so schools could have
difficulty in keeping up with these changes.
Requirement of added administrative and technological
Issues with academic freedom.
iPods are currently used mostly for recreational purposes,
which might conflict with their use in the academic realm.
More Information on iPods and
• iTunes U website.
• Campus Technology article outlining iPods
/ podcasting in higher education.
• Concerns about using iPods in the
• Stanford University and iTunes.
Facebook &
Other Social Networking Sites
Things you should know about Social
Networking Sites
As adopted from ‘7 Things You Should Know About Facebook’
What are Social Networking Sites?
Social networking sites are designed to connect
users. Facebook is the leading social networking
site for college students.
On all networking sites users are able to create
profiles that include everything from their basic
information, to their interests, affiliations, and
Things you should know about Social
Networking Sites
As adopted from ‘7 Things You Should Know About Facebook’
Why is this a hot topic issue in higher
education today?
 Millions of students are connecting to these sites
 Social Networking sites are used by students from
institutions of all types
 It has made student affairs practitioners question
their role in monitoring student profiles
What are some of the benefits of social
networking sites?
Student Affairs Benefits: Offices and student
organizations can use them as a tool to reach students
by advertising events, having office descriptions, or
using them for recruitment (especially true for
Academic Benefits: students connect with other people
in their classes, offers forum space for debating issues
Social Activism: politicians have facebook/myspace
pages, there are pages for different issues
Can be used by the institution as a tool to help connect
with students before they arrive; additional connection
could help with retention efforts
Being used as career/recruitment tool by law firms,
corporations, etc.
What are some questions and problems
associated with social networking sites?
Ethical issues: Faculty and staff having profiles that may not
be appropriate, questions regarding the appropriateness of
checking student profiles when considering for admissions;
hiring decisions
Safety issues: kidnapping and legal issues (especially with
Judicial Issues: to what degree should we police our students’
use of substances (alcohol, drugs, etc) and other behavior?
Student Privacy Issues: Is what students post or have in their
profiles private? One example is the issue of LGBT students
kicked out of conservative schools
Other Issues: institution can’t control content, students get
preconceived notions about people they haven’t met (future
roommates, etc.)
Social Networking Sites
Points for Discussion
 What responsibility does an institution have for
teaching students about the potential dangers of
social networking sites?
 Are there any issues with being affiliated
with/endorsing an outside site (Myspace and
Facebook sponsors)?
 Should faculty and staff be allowed to have
profiles? If so, should the content they place in
their profile be censored?
 How does student engagement in social
networking sites contribute to their identity
Second Life
Harvard classroom in Second Life
(image linked from
What is Second Life?
• Online virtual world that is built and owned by its
• People create avatars (characters) to represent
themselves in this virtual world
• Through their avatars, people can create things in
Second Life, including starting online businesses
• Many real-life businesses are also getting involved
in Second Life by having virtual branches
• Allows for collaboration and interaction from
anywhere in the world
How is Second Life relevant to higher
• Schools can offer classes or other activities within
Second Life
• Can be used in distance education to create a greater
sense of community among students
• Allows for new ways of learning and interaction for
students and faculty
• Encourages collaboration
• Can be utilized both as a tool for distance learning or as
a supplement to traditional classroom interaction
• Institutions can make classes available to anyone or
purchase a private island and offer classes exclusively
to registered students
• Over 70 institutions of higher education are currently
utilizing Second Life
Benefits of Second Life
• Increased interaction and sense of community when
compared to other forms of distance education
• Does not require classroom space for a discussion
• Can be used by a wide range of institutions
• Relatively affordable (cost of a private island is about
$1,000, plus a $150 monthly maintenance fee)
• Offers potential to prepare for real-life scenarios using
simulation exercises
• Classes tend to be more discussion based, allowing for
more interaction and exchange between students and
• Offers a new medium for education whose options have
not been fully explored yet
Problems with using Second Life
Requires a relatively high level of technical knowledge and
Requires computers with reliable high-speed internet
connections and graphic capabilities
New technology can be intimidating to both students and
Works better for discussion-based classes rather than lectures
Questions about whether virtual communication and
collaboration are an adequate substitute for real-life classes
Students under age 18 cannot access the adult area of Second
Life and therefore could not participate in classes
Classes can occasionally be interrupted by intruders
Where can I learn more about Second
• What is Second Life?
• Education in Second Life
• The Ultimate Distance Learning
(article from the New York Times)
• Universities Register for Virtual Future
(article from CNet News)
• List of Higher Education Institutions
currently using Second Life
• Second Life Educator Workshop 2006
Technology in Higher Education
Summary of Topics Covered
• Institutional Spam
• Blogs
• Social Networking Sites
• iPods and Podcasting
• Second Life
Concluding Thoughts
• Although technology can benefit higher education,
institutions need to thoroughly review what type
of devices best fit with their institutional mission
and their students, faculty, and administrators.
• Technology is undoubtedly part of education now.
Higher education institutions should offer training
to students, faculty, and administrators to keep
them up to date with new technologies.
• Perhaps the Dean’s Council should consider
creating a “technology committee” to keep up to
date with new technological developments and
their applications in the higher education sector