Blogging for Inside Higher Ed

Student Affairs and Technology - IHE year 1

I’ve been blogging for Inside Higher Ed (IHE) for 6 months. The word cloud represents the most-used words in the 45 posts that I’ve written for my “Student Affairs and Technology” blog. Twitter has been one of my favorite topics to write about. It’s such a wonderfully versatile social media tool.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my ride as a blogger for IHE. I write at least 2 posts per week. As a seasoned blogger, having deadlines and a post quota has been incredibly motivating. My editor has a fantastic sense of humor. He has been a delightful boss. I can’t wait to see if I can crack 100 posts in 2011.

The only caveat of course has been that this blog has been a bit neglected. I’ve been much more active on Twitter in 2010. With a paid blogging gig and Twitter taking up more of my publishing time, I do try to put something up on this site from time to time. Stay tuned for significant site updates. I plan on incorporating more of my consulting endeavors on this blog as I continue to navigate the “Stoller Coaster.”

TweetDeck: The Best App for Twitter

tweetdeck-social-media-dashboard

I’ve been a big fan of TweetDeck for quite some time. It’s my go-to “mission control” app for Twitter. I generally have somewhere between 20 to 30 active panels of various searches, hashtags, and lists. The latest version of the TweetDeck desktop client incorporates “real-time streaming.” The nifty thing about TweetDeck is that it is available as a desktop client and as an app for iPhone, Android-based phones, and the iPad. If you want to leverage the power of Twitter as a communications and marketing platform, TweetDeck is by far the best free app for staying connected.

Student Affairs Professionals, Search, and Personal Branding

Eric-Stoller-Google-Profiles

I was interviewing a potential candidate for the Oregon State University College Student Services Administration program when she asked for my business card. Unfortunately, I had not brought any with me. I found myself saying what has become an inside joke amongst my friends: “Just Google my name.” Trust me, it sounded a little ridiculous when I said it. However, I think it brought up a valuable topic/question for student affairs professionals: Are you searchable and how does it relate to your personal brand?

We’re all aware that people like to Google each other. Prospective employers, current employers, colleagues, friends, family members…any member of our professional/personal network can search for our name. I’m often asked how I was able to get my name, and the sites that I either run or belong to, into the top 10 search results page for the top 3 search engines: Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

The answer is relatively simple: consistency, reach, and connections.

Continue reading Student Affairs Professionals, Search, and Personal Branding

Blackbird Pie – embedding individual tweets

Are you a blogger? Do you ever reference tweets in your posts? If yes, then you really need to use this http://bit.ly/b6dERc #BlackbirdPieless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Have you ever wanted to embed an individual tweet from Twitter into a blog post? A couple of months ago, Twitter released “Blackbird Pie.” It’s a nifty web-based tool that generates embed code for a single Twitter post that you can paste into a blog post.

blackbird-pie-twitter-blogging

Continue reading Blackbird Pie – embedding individual tweets

WPtouch: Is your WordPress blog optimized for mobile users?

Questions: Do you have a WordPress blog? Is it a self-hosted site (a non-WordPress.com site)? Have you ever accessed your blog via a smartphone?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I would like to introduce you to the WPtouch plugin for WordPress:

“WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects, when viewed from an iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Opera Mini, Palm Pre and BlackBerry Storm mobile devices.”

WPtouch does a terrific job of stripping out your blog’s sidebar / extraneous features. Your site is instantly optimized for smartphones. Sample screenshots after the jump..

Continue reading WPtouch: Is your WordPress blog optimized for mobile users?

My parents need a new computer

I had the longest arms so I had to hold the camera

My parents now have “the broadband” and are in need of a new computer. Their Dell desktop PC (that I customized for them when I lived in Chicago) is about 8 years old. It is now time for a new PC. Since I’m now a total Mac head, I am in need of some PC suggestions…my Macbook Pro is about 4 years old and I will never go back to a PC or MS Windows.

My parents have a budget of about $600 to $700 for a new computer. I’ve been looking at Dell.com and HP.com, but haven’t been able to configure a desktop that meets their requirements without going over budget. The added cost of Windows 7 Professional and Microsoft Office – the useful edition – keeps putting me above $700.

Here are the basic requirements for the new computer:

  • Windows 7*
  • Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010
  • 4GB’s of ram
  • 19 in. LCD

Does anyone have any ideas for a reliable yet inexpensive computer setup that meets these requirements?

*I wonder if Windows 7 Home Premium is as useless as Dell and HP make it seem to be? Is Windows 7 Professional worth the added cost?

**Every post that mentions computers should really include a Commodore 64. Just saying:
commodore 64

Disagreeing with Bill Gates

Bill Gates and I don’t often disagree. However, at the recent Techonomy conference, Bill was predicting the future of higher education. I took umbrage with some of his comments. Per his usual rhetoric, Bill positioned technology as the panacea for the future of higher education.

Here are some of Bill’s comments:

“The self-motivated [college] learner will be on the web and there will be far less place-based things.”
“College, except for the parties…. needs to be less place-based.”
“Place-based activity in that ‘college thing’ will be 5 times less important than it is today.”
“The room for innovation, thank God for charters, there’s no room for innovation in the standard system.”

Bill’s commentary at the conference was picked up by TechCrunch and posted as “Bill Gates: In Five Years The Best Education Will Come From The Web.”

The post quickly spread like a wildfire throughout Twitter:

“In five years, the best education will come from the web.” – @billgates http://cot.ag/aK6f0Mless than a minute ago via CoTweet

The interesting thing is that the quote that’s being passed around on Twitter as originating from Bill Gates seems to have been actually just the post title from TechCrunch. I wasn’t able to find video or text where Bill Gates actually said what is being attributed to him by a lot of folks on Twitter.

The disturbing aspects of Bill’s quotes from the video are that he seems to have a negative attitude toward the physical spaces of higher education. Bill constructs his arguments around cost and access, but fails to adequately critique his own points. “Self-motivated learners” generally do not include students from traditionally marginalized groups. Bill Gates went to an exclusive preparatory high school and attended Harvard College. His is not a story of overcoming obstacles. Access issues are pervasive in higher education. Socioeconomic status catapulted Gates to where he is today. His arguments around access fail to include awareness of the digital divide in terms of both class and disability. Simply offering more web-based opportunities for learning will not improve access issues. And don’t get me started about the bit about “parties” being the only rationale for “place-based” institutions.

Bill’s rhetoric is consistently anti-student-involvement. Gates approaches his arguments from the position that every student is coming out of an innovative charter school and where self-motivated learners roam the higher education sphere. What Bill is forgetting is that involvement is crucial to student success. Can a student be successful when there primary involvement opportunities take place via the web — absolutely. However, most of our students benefit tremendously from their involvement and interactions within the brick and mortar activities of their educational institution.

Student involvement theory is a foundational element for student affairs professionals. Research has shown that increased involvement leads to higher amounts of persistence and greater academic success.

According to Alexander Astin (1984) [pdf]:

[S]tudent involvement refers to the amount of physical and psycho- logical energy that the student devotes to the academic experience. Thus, a highly involved student is one who, for example, devotes considerable energy to studying, spends much time on campus, participates actively in student organizations, and interacts frequently with faculty members and other students.

Astin (1984) concluded that “the greater the student’s involvement in college, the greater will be the amount of student learning and personal development.”

I wish that Bill Gates would offer a blended approach. Why can’t we have both? Amazing opportunities can be created to support students in both the virtual and physical spheres.

References
Astin, A. (1984). Student involvement: a developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25(4), 297-308.

Droid X wifi hotspot creates force field around users

My new Droid X smartphone (hardware: Motorola, network: Verizon Wireless) has many nifty features. One of its most touted features is that it can serve as a 3G mobile wifi hotspot for up to 5 devices. In the promo video for the hotspot feature, the phone’s owner places the Droid X (unplugged) next to her and voilà, instant internet for all of the fortunate souls caught in the Droid X’s wifi force field.

Having had the Droid X for a little while now, I can say that the wifi hotspot works fairly well. The connection speeds are fairly quick and it works great for checking email and reading web content. Where it doesn’t work so great is when you try to doing anything that requires a fair amount of bandwidth. Watching YouTube videos and/or downloading anything large than a megabyte causes the Droid X hotspot to intermittently drop your connection. Your only recourse is to tap the 3G icon and restart the mobile hotspot service. It’s also important to note that the 3G hotspot drains your battery exceptionally fast. I only use it when I can plug my phone into my laptop. The Droid X gets extremely hot when you’re using it as a hotspot. That’s the result of copious amounts of battery charge consumption. My hope is that Android 2.2 (Froyo) will maximize battery life and fix the connection issue. Overall, the Droid X is a terrific phone….even if it doesn’t create a visible force field around you.

It’s okay if you don’t “get” Twitter right away

eric-stoller-twitter-stats

tweet tweet tweetI started using Twitter on March 14, 2007. I didn’t “get” Twitter at first. It took me more than a year before I realized that Twitter was useful. When you first start using Twitter, it’s like being on Facebook without friends…It’s not exactly a party. Once I started following various Twitter accounts and being followed by folks, Twitter became much more useful. In fact, Twitter has turned out to be one of my favorite ways to connect with people in a variety of spheres.

Don’t worry if you don’t “get” Twitter right away. Be patient with it. Follow some folks. Engage with people/accounts. Take the time to learn how Twitter works.

Twitter stats courtesy of TweetStats.

Jimmy Fallon is an uber nerd

What happens when Jimmy Fallon goes on the Engadget Show with Joshua Topolsky…uber nerdery ensues:

If you are looking for the play button, it’s on the bottom right of the video. Hello UI…anyone?!