I remember the day that I told my mom all I wanted for my birthday was the internet. I didn't really know what it was or why I needed it, but I definitely knew I wanted it. So, about a week later I plopped down at the computer and told the weird thing called a "modem" to dial-up the internet for me. I don't know what I did wrong, but I surely must have screwed something up, because the next thing I knew, this terrible screeching sound came screaming out of the modem, followed by the loudest fuzz and static noise I had ever heard. The only good thing that could come out of the situation, I was sure, was that the inevitable explosion I had brought upon the computer would most likely take me out with it, so I probably wouldn't have to feel my mom's wrath for having blown up our computer and half of the basement.
Of course I did not blow up the computer, or myself, and soon was introduced to the world's most simplistic email (which at the time, was pretty much was all the internet could do for me). I remember sending my first email to my grandmother, who then--within five minutes--replied back, and I thought: Sweet mother of pearl, this is going to change EVERYTHING!
Little did I know that not only was email just the beginning, but it would actually one day lose its luster to a fun little world we have dubbed Social Networking and Web 2.0. With sites such as facebook, myspace, twitter, etc., it seems people are more apt to carry out their interactions through little web worlds such as these, and only really use email for business, professional, and more formal matters. As a result, writing an email has become a bit mundane and even cumbersome, being not quite as instantly gratifying as the other options available. Plus, people know that their more interesting interactions are waiting for them not in their email account, but on their facebook page, because their friend just dropped in to say they agree with your latest status update that "Mondays suck."
The reasons are debatable, as well as whether or not email even is losing any of its relevance, but at the very least the multitude of social networking and communication options available on the web and their growing popularity have led many colleges to ask the question: How can we utilize this? It's something Oberlin has been looking at very seriously, especially considering we currently use email as one of our first lines of communication with students. We often hear responses that a student doesn't check their email, or check it often enough to respond to our time sensitive message. We do follow-up with phone calls, but that has also proven to be ineffective at times, and it's just not always possible to call every single student.
So, with all that setup, what do you think? I invite you to leave your opinion, especially to the following questions:
• What's the best way to get in touch with a student quickly and effectively?
• If Oberlin had more of a presence on sites like facebook, would you want to be contacted and interact with an Oberlin rep that way? If so, what site(s) do you use?
• How do you feel about college reps reading and responding to forums/groups etc. on sites such as College Confidential? Would you welcome a more "official" insight within more "unofficial" platforms?
• Are there any social networking sites where you would have appreciated having the presence of a college rep?
That's my unofficial poll. Thanks for reading and for your feedback!