Mashable tells us that the check-in company now wants us to use our checking accounts with them (thanks Mallory Wood, for the heads up). Well more like a credit card. The system would use personal QR codes linked to a credit card to let you pay for items with retailers. SCVNGR says it would have a more immediate impact than services like Google Wallet which are “five-year plays.”
I am curious to see if these kinds of services gain any traction at colleges and universities. I have a feeling that the right one would draw a lot of interest from students who would be happy to not have to carry an ID around with them to use for dining hall meals and such. SCVNGR has good relationships with colleges already. The current test will be with 500 merchants in big cities. I wonder if a campus test run is planned somewhere and what kinds of results it would get.
I attended RIT’s Social Media and Communications Symposium Thursday. It was great to put some faces to Twitter handles and make some new connections. However the content was rather hit and miss. I know organizers were trying to appeal to a broad audience, but much of the content seemed to fall into the “Social Media 101” realm. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it did cause some fuss on the Twitter feed and at time left me thinking I should have been in another session. Some thoughts on the good and the bad from Thursday.
Say no to Gloria Gaynor. Morning Keynote Speaker Pam Moore for some reason felt it necessary to play “I Will Survive” to the whole assembly at roughly 9 a.m. There are a a couple of problems with this. 1) Playing a 30-something year old disco song may not be the best way to convince a crowd of tech-inclined people that you’re going to tell them something cutting edge and helpful. 2) There needs to be a moratorium on playing that song anywhere, for any purpose much like NPR Music has suggested should be enforced for covers of “Hallelujah.” Preferrably accompanied by a large fine. “I Will Survive” ceased to be fun, or have any real meaning, about 15 years ago. I’d like to have heard more from Moore in the way of case studies— more demonstrations of just how the methods she was espousing worked for her clients.
Never Underestimate the Value of a Tweet: Rachel Clapp of Wake Forest had an interesting comparison of the tweeting habits of Southwest Airlines and US Air. She did her masters thesis on the study. But she had a great turn of phrase “A Twitter response can act as a press release for positive customer service.” Meaning all it takes is one good (or bad) experience via Twitter for news of your good (or bad) customer service to spread like wild fire.
Clay Shirky rocks. Shirky’s talk offered some probing insights, some humor and some stuff that left you thinking. From moustaches to medicine I enjoyed his take on the ways we organize information on the web and how our “cognitive surplus” as he calls it, impacts our activities on the way. As he notes, the intersection of the serious and the silly on the web should not be discounted. In fact it often strengthens the quality of information we find on the web from communities and encourages more creativity.
Tech Problems at RIT: The wifi was a pain. Some presenters alluded to not being able to get the information they wanted to present up on their screens. There are some kinks to be worked out for next year.
A comeback for content: Maggie Fox, the last speaker of the day, told us the age of privacy is over and we should just get used it to it. Advertisers may be creepy some times, but they’re not out to do us harm. She also suggested that the avalanche of information on the Web will lead to a comeback for media companies, because consumers will be desparate for some one to filter and analyze that content for them, in order to tell them what’s important and why. Which is a nice thought. The problem is, when their advertising went kaboom all those media companies laid off vast swaths of their experts— the writers, producers and reporters who made their products so valuable in the first place. Will readers come back to products that are in many cases pale shells of what they once were? Will advertisers pay for those products? We’ll have to see.
Other highlights for me: Learning about a Foursquare version of Monopoly, Thom Craver’s take on metrics and getting a closer look at how Kodak handles its online relationships with customers (though I imagine they’re having a hell of a day over there right now).
Long term, I’d like to see SMACS develop a bit more of an identity. Only in it’s second year, it admirably tries to cover a lot of ground, but judging from Twitter that approach also put off some folks during the day. I’d suggest one way to combat that is asking presenters to focus on case studies, showing attendees how they tackled tough projects, what they learned, what went well and what didn’t.
This year’s event definitely had its moments. It will be interesting to see what next’s year’s conference looks like.
The quality versus quantity debate in social media will likely rage for years to come. But at The College at Brockport, we’ve been seeing a good argument for quality unfolding before our eyes. Our first year of students team has created a Facebook group for parents of Brockport students. While at last count it was holding at somewhere between 135 and 145 members, those parents are developing an active and interesting community. It’s proof your FB groups don’t need overwhelming numerical superiority to be a success..
Parent engagement is a good thing, the Noel Levitz folks tell us. Using social media for parental engagement is a growing need in higher ed.
But I have to say I’ve been incredibly impressed with the fervor that parents have embraced this form of communication. This week alone, we’ve had more than 100 comments posted. In the last few months we’ve had posts in our Facebook group everything from where to buy textbooks online and how to track down room assignments to how long an ethernet cord needs to be or how much space is under the beds in a dorm room for storage purposes. Now that move-in week is upon us, parents are even swapping restaurant recommendations for that post move-in meal.
It runs a little counter intuitive to how we might think about parents and the Internet. And as our numbers show, it’s not every Mom and Dad that’s running out to post on Facebook. But it is showing just how traction a few dozen involved community members can created. I’m excited to see how this group grows over the next year and how traffi ebbs and flows.
If you haven’t started a parents group on Facebook yet, here’s one vote for doing it, no matter how small a school you are.
My friend Marlisa pointed me toward this piece in the Times about how social media and the backchannel are finally being thought of as teaching tools, and not “electronic versions of passing notes” in high school and college classrooms. In some quarters at least.
The jist of the piece is that using the backchannel and other social media might actually get more students involved in the discussion than you’d normally see speak up in a lecture or your 7th period English class. I think there’s a lot of merit to this.
But the writer also points out just how far there is to go.
Skeptics — and at this stage they far outnumber enthusiasts — fear introducing backchannels into classrooms will distract students and teachers, and lead to off-topic, inappropriate or even bullying remarks. A national survey released last month found that 2 percent of college faculty members had used Twitter in class, and nearly half thought that doing so would negatively affect learning. When Derek Bruff, a math lecturer and assistant director of the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University, suggests fellow professors try backchannels, “Most look at me like I’m coming from another planet,” he said.
I’m willing to bet though, that even in Popular Kids High School in Cliquesville, USA, the back channel bullying would be almost non existent. Even though the Internet can be mean enough to make Chuck Norris cry, when ground rules are established by a community, the community can self-police very effectively. I’m nearly positive that would work in high school classes too, if the teacher and the class helped establish the ground rules for effective, respectful discussion.
I’d love to see more professors experiment with Twitter on my campus.