Showing posts with label alumni. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alumni. Show all posts

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Social Alma Mater

Over the past week and a half, I've had several great conversations with former students... especially recent grads. By-and-large these students and I have kept up our friendships via social media.

@schickbob and I were talking about this today and came to the conclusion that -- in a way -- the future of education is bound up in the ways that we relate to our alumni via the social connections of the Net. Because the future of education isn't about the classroom; it's about the world. And your alumni are the bridge between the two.

With that in mind... if any old alums happen to be reading this, do get in touch. We need you now more than ever.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Something for Alumni Affairs and School Communications Directors to Think About Regarding Social Networks

My high school alma mater announced that it's started a Facebook page.

Well, thing is... they didn't exactly start it. Turns out an '03 alum had launched an 'unofficial' page years back that had gained about 700 followers and was steadily turning out information for alumni about what was happening at the school.

The alumni relations dude at the school stumbled upon the page and was amazed. So he and the director of communications staked out a deal with the alum who'd started the whole thing to take over as admins of the site and bring it all into line with the 'official' brand of the school.

I can only imagine how quickly those original 700 fans moved on to join a new unofficial page.

Nothing destroys a social network quicker than an institution trying to co-opt the resources developed by 'unofficial' means. As an alum, I find it much more interesting to occasionally see updates sent out by fellow alums -- real human-being fellow alums who aren't an institution trying to sell me alumni Beef-n-Beer nights and raffle tickets.

Fellow alums who can share the 'unofficial' history as well as state their own opinions on the current trajectory of the school. Not some nitwit admins and communications directors trying to re-brand the school into my brain.

I went there. I'm an alum. Remember?

If schools themselves are going to get into the social networking game, they have to realize that there are just certain aspects of a network that they'll never be able to replicate as an institution yoked by a necessarily limited voice.

Alumni Affairs folks, head's up: those original alums didn't link together in that network because of the existence of your school and your institution's varied publiciz-able successes. They linked together in that network because of their shared experience in attending your school.

They didn't link there because of you. They linked there because of each other.

And the shared experience of a student body has very little to do with what communications directors like to share with the public.

There are myriad ways institutions can use the Net -- and I hope my alma mater finds a way to make it work. But, taking over an alum's friend page probably ain't one of the most effective routes to building a grassroots community. You may see initial returns in terms of the number of friends you rank, but before all too long, your network will bore of soccer scores and mission-themed posts; and the heart of the communication that existed originally will find somewhere else on the Net to flourish.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Talking Alumni Blues

Almost missed posting today because I was at an event at school.

We throw an annual Country Fair at John Carroll and this year, one of our teachers put together a music stage full of student and local bands as well as teachers' groups. I did a solo set of electric blues following a great set of Irish and Scottish ballads performed by an ensemble led by one of our art teachers.

One of the great things to see, despite the rain we've had all day, was the number of alumni who showed up to support the current students as well as their former teachers. I think it's really important for both our current students and our alumni to see us as real people and not just in the confines of the classroom.

Been thinking about alumni alot recently because we are entering into the week where we start evaluating Senior Projects. Many alumni have supported our Seniors as mentors and it's really a great way to make connections between students recent and past. Those connections are what allows a school to fit into the larger community.

A lot of people have been discussing community and the larger role of schools recently. There actually still is an idea out there that schools aren't predicated on the concept of test scores, but that schools are foundational as the places that instill a understanding of and sense of power in democracy.

And I think that's where 21st century learning fits in perfectly.

The Internet provides access to information. Any student in just about any public library in this country has immediate access to almost all of the information that humanity has produced over the last 5000 or so years. So it becomes a matter of what to do with it.

And that's where alumni mentoring programs fit in perfectly.

We often approach education from the point-of-view of creating and training new professional teachers. But what about the greatest resource our schools produce: alumni. Our alumni are going to be entering into a wide variety of careers. Careers that operate within the reality of a 21st century digital world.

So why not activate that alumni connection and help former students create authentic bonds with current students.

It is authenticity that we're going for, isn't it?