Saturday, 30 July 2011

Social media challenges for higher ed

An interesting article in UK newspaper the Guardian, on how college students are using social media more and more - ahead of relying on official communications channels. It also gives a few examples of what universities are doing to begin to engage with these key audiences in new ways.

I experienced this behaviour first hand recently when conducting user research using personas. I asked staff to  play the roles of prospective postgraduate personas and try to answer their key questions about study at Edinburgh. I then recruited a small group of current students to do the same.

Both groups encountered the pretty much the same challenges when using the University website, but the key difference was that most of the students 'pogo-ed' in and out of the University site using Google and third party advisory sites as their primary means of navigation. Staff basically had arrived at some point in the University site and stayed there, relying on the site's navigation and search engine to track down the information and contact details they felt the persona needed.

The Guardian piece also prompted me to go back and look again at related articles about user research that basically said "...teenagers don't want to 'Like' your company on Facebook"

Social media presents challenge to universities - article by Harriet Swain for the Guardian

Previous post: Facebook user attitudes to business (March 2011)

Previous post: University students - usability study by Nielsen (December 2010)

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