Communication between academic administrators, faculty and students has never been easy. Should administrators embrace new media? Should they blog, tweet, post videos on YouTube? Or is it somehow undignified, too familiar?
Not only do I recommend it for Department Chairs, Deans, Provosts and University Presidents, I am beginning to view it as an imperative. To be effective educators, we must understand how our students learn, the sources of their information and how they communicate with each other. It is insufficient to try to keep up with the latest – if we really want to educate them well, we need to be ahead of the curve, so to speak.
So, I decided to take the plunge, and yesterday launched a blog, VPAA Corner, at my University’s website, devoted specifically to communicating with faculty, staff and students about the latest within academic affairs. I am looking forward to using this blog as an effective means to reach a broad audience within the University community in an accessible way.
I am certainly not the first academic administrator to embrace new media to reach a campus community. Below are few examples:
Chronicle of Higher Education, on President John Maeda, leader of the Rhode Island School of Design:
He also talked about his own experiments with using technology in his leadership role as a university president. Not all of his Web 2.0 experiments worked. After enthusiastically dashing out notes on his Facebook page, for instance, he eventually decided to close the account because he felt it did little to connect him to others on campus. He also changed the way he blogged, deciding that it was not productive to personally invite all manner of comments and questions (he heard from people who wanted him to fix the heat in a studio or attend to other hyperlocal matters on campus). “It disrupted the entire chain of command,” he said.
And from my alma mater, University of Virginia Dean Meredith Jung-En Woo, you can read her thoughtful and beautifully written blog here.
What do you think?