“Prospective Sally, meet Ambassador Joe,” a Medley of Lessons from 2011 HighEdWeb

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It’s been percolating. All of that HighEdWeb knowledge-y goodness. My nearly four days in Austin, Texas for the 2011 HighEdWeb Conference was educational and, better yet, inspirational. No matter how much we focus on our online communication efforts in the office, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day. Learning from and sharing with colleagues from around the country was priceless.

I have pages and pages of notes from a fantastic line-up of presentations (you can find summaries of many of the sessions thanks to LINK), and many tweets chronicling the experience. There’s been so much to mull over. What can I do better? What new initiative can I propose? How can I better use the tools available to my university? It wasn’t until I was back in the office that my light bulb officially blinked on.

The conversation was in a staff meeting, and it was about upcoming recruitment events. “What if prospective students were invited to campus by current students?” our wise director asked. Yes, what if?

What would that look like?
How would it be implemented?
What kinds of connections could be made?
How might we foster those connections?

Two HighEdWeb presentations immediately came to mind during this meeting. In “Beyond Blogging: Create an Integrated Online Student Ambassador Program“, Mallory Wood urged us to employ involved and passionate students to help tell our universities’ stories. She shared great examples, especially from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where student ambassadors document their college experience through video blogs on 5 RIT Students. We also learned from Kevin Prentiss in “Tying it All Together Part Deux” that students want to connect with others like themselves. They want to be heard. And we should facilitate that connection at the university-level. Specifically (at least in this case), “Prospective Student, meet Current Student–and many other current students as well as some more prospective students.”

My light bulb?

Let’s recruit some student ambassadors, train them, and let them loose. Yes, they can blog and provide authentic and personal content that will help potential students and parents make their application decisions. Our ambassadors can spread news and tell us what we’re missing. They can attend the events we cannot and keep us in the loop. But they can also serve as that all-important connection hub. “Prospective Sally, meet Ambassador Joe, who will be happy to answer your questions about the university and introduce you to other current students with your interests.” So, what if prospective students were invited to campus by current students? Maybe this group of ambassadors can help us make this happen.

So much to think about. It’s exciting. Time to make brainstorm. Stay tuned.

Image source: Wikipedia

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2 thoughts on ““Prospective Sally, meet Ambassador Joe,” a Medley of Lessons from 2011 HighEdWeb

  1. Kevin Prentiss

    I love that you are going to take action and setting up an ambassador program can be a great first step.

    I do want to be clear that “ambassadors” are still about control. Many schools will need to take this step and many will never move byeond “official social media”. It’s what I was calling web 1.0 thinking with web 2.0 tools – it’s still a publishing model. It is simply choosing select students to do the publishing for the school.

    What we’re excited about are true everyone to everyone platforms- focused on connections.
    Open online spaces, the equivalent of the quad or the student union, where prospective students could take a tour of the collective content of the university and the tech would help deliver what is relevant- both content and people.

    Keep pushing forward- we’ll get there!

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