Most serious league tables of the year?

League tables of choice

All rankings have their shortcomings. Some though are perhaps even more methodologically questionable than others. I was struck recently by two league tables which seemed to be even less credible than this very important ranking of universities based on the length of their name.

First up is the ranking of the most influential UK universities on Twitter. This appeared recently in Times Higher Education but has since sunk without trace. The methodology, if it may be called that, is simply to use a site called followerwonk which magically creates a ‘Social Authority’ score for institutions based on some combination of followers, and number of retweets etc. It doesn’t get much more authoritative than this.

 

influential on twitter

Meanwhile, at the slightly more salacious end of the league table spectrum we have the University Sex League 2014. Nothing dubious about the scoring method here. It’s a self-selecting survey in which there is a slim possibility that respondents might be less than entirely accurate in their recall:

unisexleagueThe bottom 10 has not been reproduced here for obvious reasons.

Anyway, there you have it, two league tables which if they achieve nothing else manage the remarkable feat of making other rankings look pretty credible and methodologically robust.

 

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Banning key Twitter words for athletes

Vocabulary tightening for student athletes using Twitter

It seems that, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, two universities are to bar athletes from using hundreds of words on Twitter. Monitoring social media postings by athletes is, apparently, quite normal but this goes even further:

The University of Louisville flags 406 words or slang expressions that have to do with drugs, sex, or alcohol. The University of Kentucky flags a similar number, of which 370 are sports agents’ names.

The words range from the seemingly innocuous “pony”—a euphemism for crack cocaine—and “panties,” to all manner of alcoholic drinks and sexual expressions.

Software used by the universities sends an e-mail alert to coaches whenever athletes use a word that could embarrass the student or the university, or tarnish their images.

Here are some of the words the universities block:

Agent

Alcohol

Benjamins

Cheat sheet

Doobie

Fight

Gay

KKK

Murder

Nazi

Payoff

Porn

Rape

Robbery

White power

You’d hope that most of these wouldn’t routinely appear in tweets. But this kind of targeted proscription just seems ludicrous. (Might be worth a go with some Premiership footballers though.)

Best apps for university administrators?

Which are the best apps for administrators?

This does presuppose that every university administrator is equipped with an iPad. Which is not necessarily the case. Anyway, if you are fortunate enough to be issued with an iPad in support of your administrative duties there are a number of key apps you will want to get hold of. Most of these are general productivity apps rather than higher education specific but nevertheless very useful in my view. So, these are my favourites:

20120501-082620.jpg

Evernote

One of my most used and most useful apps. I use it for note taking in most meetings and for recording all sorts of notes and clippings from web pages. It synchronises across iPad, desktop and iPhone and I really find it thoroughly indispensible.

And it’s free.

Dropbox
The simplest way to share files. Just very straightforward.

 

 

Twitter
An essential, obviously, for the tweeting administrator (although not to be used in meetings).

 

 

Pages
A straightforward but also rather feature-rich word processing app which does cope with and enable export of Word documents. Transferring files does require a little effort but worth it.

 

 


iAnnotate PDF

A really useful app which I use for most meeting papers – enables you to scribble, highlight and add typed notes to pdfs. Very handy.

 

 

Reminders

Simple, straightforward to do list with no frills.

 

 

Kindle

Er, for reading books. Occasionally even higher education related ones.

 

 

Plus a couple of others:

UKHE stats

A very handy summary of some HESA data – total student numbers in the sector, by country and by institution broken down by student type.

 

 

Zite

A really lovely app which is effectively a personalised, custom-built on-line magazine.

 

 

iTunesU

Heaps of podcasts and videos from lots of different institutions and covering many disciplines.

 

 

Are there other apps you use which are useful for the university administrator with an iPad?

The difficulties of leading via Twitter

A Cautionary Tale: “A College Unfriends Its Social-Networking President”

The Chronicle of Higher Education carries a fascinating story about a new breed of institutional leader seeking to engage through twitter. Unfortunately, not everyone at the college seems to be fully bought in:

John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, may be the only college president to publicly describe his leadership as “in beta,” a product rolled out before it’s fully tested.

He’s tinkered with using social media to connect with constituents on and off campus. He’s blogged, posted video messages on YouTube, and tweeted more than any other college president. (He has more than 175,000 Twitter followers.)

He even has a new book due out this month, called Redesigning Leadership (MIT Press), relating scenes from his three years at RISD and samples of his tweets. One example: “When people ask if I’ve stopped designing I say, ‘No. I’m designing how to talk about/with/for our #RISD community.'”

But many professors at the art school do not appreciate being part of Mr. Maeda’s high-tech experiment in leadership. In March, more than 80 percent of faculty members voted “no confidence” in his performance. To them, all that tweeting feels more like distraction than engagement.

A cautionary tale perhaps for senior university tweeters. But don’t think anyone in UKHE has as many followers as John Maeda. It must be a bigger college than you’d think.

Twitter banality = academic credibility?

Professors With Personal Tweets Get High Credibility Marks

A piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on an experiment at a US college to investigate students’ views of their teachers’ use of Twitter. The article also highlights a number of academics using Twitter in creative ways to support their teaching. It’s a small and slightly dispiriting study:

Kirsten A. Johnson always wondered whether her personal posts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social-networking Web sites affected her credibility in the eyes of her students.

So the assistant professor in communications at Elizabethtown College designed an experiment for 120 students at the college and has just reported the results. It turns out that professors with personal Twitter streams appear to be more credible than those who stick to business. The study, co-authored with Jamie Bartolino, one of her students, appears in the most recent issue of Learning, Media and Technology.

The researchers created three accounts on Twitter for three fictional “professors” named Caitlin Milton, Caitlyn Milton, and Katelyn Milton. One account was filled personal tweets (“Feeling good after an early morning swim at the rec center”), the second with scholarly ones (“working on a study about how social-networking sites can be used in educational settings), and the third with a combination.

To Ms. Johnson’s surprise, when the students were surveyed, they rated the personal professor the highest on measures of competence, trustworthiness, and caring—which adds up to credibility.

So it would seem that academics should just forget about using Twitter for anything useful in the classroom. Unless they are unconcerned about their “competence, trustworthiness, and caring”. Meantime, we’ll wait for the experiment looking at attitudes to administrators who post personal tweets.

Ranking of Colleges’ Twitter Influence

Ranking universities and social media

Some entertaining nonsense in the past couple of weeks on ranking university use of twitter etc. Chris Sexton beat me to this with her posting on this topic which covers more than I will.

The fact that people are producing league tables of this stuff shows it already matters but it remains difficult to take it too seriously. Will universities start chasing better ‘Klout scores’? According to the Chronicle Stanford tops the list:

Stanford University’s Twitter feed is the most influential among college and university accounts on that microblogging service, according to a new ranking.

The list was published this week by Klout, an online company that tracks the popularity and impact of Tweets and gives every Twitter account a numerical score for influence. Factors reflected in the score include the number of followers a user has, how often a user is retweeted, and how a user’s tweets are being used in the conversation on Twitter

Stanford earned a Klout score of 70, with Syracuse University, Harvard University, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison all following with a score of 64.

The top 10 is rounded out by University of California at Berkley, Butler University, Tufts University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas at Austin, and Marquette University.

Compare this with a brief summary (which you could turn into a ranking if you really wanted to) on the use of twitter by Russell Group universities. It does suggest that UK universities are still a bit behind the curve on this.

And lest anyone think that the ranking of universities on their social media is getting too serious we have this rather entertaining Dutch analysis.

So, serious rankings of social media useage will emerge no doubt but it is all probably a little premature.

Twitter in Higher Education 2010

Report on the use of Twitter in Higher Education 2010

Interesting report on Twitter in HE which includes a survey on academic staff use.

Is Twitter a powerful learning tool or a colossal waste of time? It depends whom you ask. In its second annual survey on the popular micro-blogging technology, Faculty Focus found a great divide in how professors perceive Twitter, including whether it should be used in the classroom or is best reserved for networking with peers.

Of those who currently use Twitter, the most common activities include “to share information with peers” and “as a real-time news source.” Instructional uses, such as “to communicate with students” and “as a learning tool in the classroom” are less popular, although both activities saw increases over the previous year.

Non-users expressed concerns that Twitter creates poor writing skills and could be yet another classroom distraction. Many also noted that very few of their students use Twitter. Finally, a new trend that emerged this year centered on the belief that many feel they already have too many places to post messages or check for student questions/comments. As one professor put it, “I have no interest in adding yet another communication tool to my overloaded life.”

In addition, Times Higher Education has recently published a feature on social media use in UK HE:

The experts seem to be divided not only on social media’s future, but also on their present in terms of their use by academics, and the research that has been done has reached contradictory conclusions. A survey of UK institutions conducted by online consultants Jadu shows a high level of use among academics, with more than 70 per cent of respondents using social media in some way.

And includes this entertaining comment from someone slightly sceptical about the value of social media:

“You can’t get a degree on Facebook; you can’t get a degree from Twitter. Social media are forms of communication; they are no substitute for the university as the place where your curriculum is structured, where you learn. You don’t get a degree for reading books; you read books to get a degree. The same is true of social media.”

So, opinions divided then. No surprises there.

Admission Officials’ Tweets – Students Not Interested

Another social media disconnect?

According to a report in The Chronicle, Admission Officials’ Tweets are not being noticed by prospective students:

Colleges are ramping up efforts to connect with prospective students through Twitter—but students aren’t interested, a new study says. Evidence has shown that teenagers rely on college visits and Web sites to learn about colleges, rather than social-media outlets. When it comes to Twitter, students are barely on the site at all, let alone for college research purposes.

Abe Gruber, director of marketing at Bloomfield College, found in a recent study that while 40 percent of college admissions offices are active on Twitter, only 15 percent of prospective students expressed interest using in Twitter to learn about colleges. Mr. Gruber surveyed 200 prospective freshmen and 70 admissions offices in his study, which is not available online. He presented his findings at the Hobsons Connect U conference this week in Minneapolis. “Twitter scores high for the admissions officers, but not for students,” said Mr. Gruber.

Interesting this although it is not clear what the reasons are for the reluctance on the part of applicants. Some of the commentators on the piece suggest, reasonably, that it might be down to the purposes to which Twitter is being put by the Admissions staff: if it’s just used as another marketing device rather than as a communications tool to connect with applicants then it is perhaps unsurprising students are not excited.