'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Blog

Paul Harvey

Excuse the interruption, but I'd doing a little crowdsource experiment and am interested in getting any comments you have.

We are busy doing some "updates" to my home department, the History Department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Like a lot of departments, we're trying to figure out how best to communicate with our students. In our case, it's more difficult than it might be in some others, as we have students ranging in age from 18 to 70, most of whom work a lot (a large number full time). Some of them take classes in the daytime, some in the evening, some on Saturdays. We also have nearly 300 history majors, a lot for a busy regular faculty of 8 members to keep up with. We have some students living on campus, but the majority of our students, I believe, are commuters. Even the students living on campus spend a lot of time away from school working.

I've created a blog for my Department, and am very interested especially in hearing from anybody who has used blogs/FB/twitter or whatever to communicate with students in your history/religious studies/American Studies/English/whatever departments. My thought was this would take the place of a departmental "newsletter," or maybe be in addition to that.

But truthfully I'm not sure how much students read blogs at all, never mind when it's not assigned reading. John Fea, whose history department at Messiah College has a nice blog of its own, already has told me that nearly all of his students "get" the blog through their facebook feeds. I don't doubt some of our students would do that, but a lot of our older students don't use facebook.

Anyway, feel free to give the UCCS History Department blog experiment a quick look, and let me know if you have any reactions or what your experiences have been using any kind of social media in your own departmental setting.

Now, with apologies for the interruption, back to our regularly scheduled programming.


JW at: September 6, 2011 at 8:04 PM said...

We are undergoing very similar updates at the University of Cincinnati. Getting information to everyone can definitely be a challenge. So far, the blog and Facebook have been the best ways to communicate directly with students on THEIR schedule. Of course, this has just been set up over the summer so I may have some very different opinions after classes get going. Feel free to check out what I have set up at http://uchistorydept.wordpress.com Links to our Twitter/Facebook/can be found there. Also, the Main website is undergoing a massive overhaul (finally) and it should be up and running in the next two weeks.

Paul Harvey at: September 6, 2011 at 8:59 PM said...

Hey, that looks great, thanks -- you're doing on your blog what I want to do on ours. Whether our students/alumni will read it or not is another matter entirely.

Congrats. to your colleague Phillips for getting on the NY Times Disunion blog, I just read that today. There's been really great stuff on Disunion, looking forward to using it in class next semester.

Maybe someone will give us some money to hire a student to run a departmental FB page. I just don't have the energy.

JW at: September 6, 2011 at 9:38 PM said...

Don't wait for funding. Get in touch with your computer science and graphic design programs. Students (at least the ones that plan on going forward in academia) are always looking for ways to bump their CV.

Bryan Kessler at: September 6, 2011 at 11:12 PM said...

To offer a student's perspective, I think the blog will be lost without Twitter and (more importantly) FB connections. It can be as simple as having a dept. account simply to link/share articles from the blog to student users, who mostly won't check the blog regularly unless required. The FB group also provides a nice network for alumni to stay connected easily; any substantive engagement from the actual account (i.e. an active admin) is really not necessary.

At least, this has been my experience with my undergraduate institution. Even as someone with a healthy interest in what is going on back at Samford, I get updates on articles/events/students from the FB account, which simply shares the links to its webpage or other sites of note (and usually without comment). If nothing else, seeing the headlines in my News Feed (and this is an optimal way to reach those who would be nominally interested) keeps me informed.

John Fea at: September 11, 2011 at 8:06 AM said...

Thanks for the post, Paul. We in the Messiah College history department are enjoying the spike in visitors!

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