Wednesday, July 19, 2006

College Student Blogs

I attended a session today titled "Creating a Successful Web Strategy and E-communications Program" at the Noel-Levitz National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing, and Retention.

The discussion came around to some of the social networking sites (FaceBook and MySpace in particular) and hosting blogs on the campus website. Many of the audience members had very strong objections about letting students speak their truths. The air of censorship and denial was very thick. I think there is very little evidence to show that this fear is warranted when we are talking about students posting on official college websites (and no, FaceBook and MySpace are not official college sites and there's not much we can do about them, nor should we). A few examples and snippets: University of the Pacific has student bloggers (they call them journals...whatever). Very nicely produced, but a little too controlled for me. For example, no dates listed on the posts and no opportunity for comments...which I think are essential for blogs. Here are a few quotes from their students:

Vickie says: "Even though the work is hard, I have to admit that I am enjoying my classes. I’m taking Public Speaking (easy), Economic Principles and Problems (shudder), Interpersonal Communication and Mass Communication. Mass Communication has to be the best class ever invented. It is taught by a guy named Alan Ray. Prof. Ray is from down south and has the best sense of humor. He actually makes it worth waking up at 9:45 to make it to the ten o’clock class (gotta love small campuses). Best of all, I get to have my own radio show. Imagine that, making learning fun … what a novel concept."

Jennifer says: "After receiving my paper with the grade, I quickly realized opposing arguments do not fly with this professor. I have never seen more comments and marks on one of my papers in my whole life. I mean, it is as though he was just trying to tear me down. This grade prevented me from receiving the 4.0 I was working so hard to obtain this semester. I then did what any college student in the right mind would have done; I wrote a rebuttal."
    "Let me tell you, writing a rebuttal is the best advice. Not only did I get a chance to defend my position on the book, my paper was looked at again with a sharper eye. My arguments were strong and my word choice eloquent. With that being said, I am happy to announce that my grade was changed. The new grade is still lower then I am used to, however; at least it was the grade I earned and deserved."
    "I have learned a valuable lesson — It is important to stand up for your opinions, even if someone else disagrees."

Marcel says: "I didn’t plan on half of the things I got myself into, and these pleasant surprises began the moment I started class. I changed my major to Religious Studies, became a cheerleader, and met one of my closest friends in exactly one week. The rest is campus lore, but I can leave all of you college prospects a token of advice from a rotting away senior. If you’re going to college to read textbooks then you’re wasting your money—that’s what public libraries are for. If it’s for the future salary, to dribble the ball, or to drink to oblivion…these are probably not the best reasons either. Do the college thing for something more."

Gee, it's easy to see what they're so afraid of, isn't it?

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