Category Archives: University Tech

Highlights case studies and forward thinking campus-based technology.

Two Kinds of Committees – Which Have You Encountered?

David Wedaman writes:

I’ve been reflecting on two different ways of organizing people: the grass-roots organizing committee, and what you might call the generic standing operational committee.

Model 1. The organizing committee (think Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, think Norma Rae, think your local Neighborhood Committee to Save the Park) creates ex nihilo; wrests people from their comfortable lives to solve a collective problem (or brings together people already so wrested); is intense and real, is full of arguments, passion; is omnivorous in regards to talents — takes whatever members can give; is ecumenical in regards to methods and modes and hours of operation; is experiential, reflective, dynamic, limber, nimble; is always in danger of failing; gets in trouble; either does great or horrible things or does not exist.

Model 2. The operational committee (think any standing body in an organization) exists to exist; refines operations (if it’s good) by increments and iterations; is tautological (we do this because we did this); is particular about modes, methods, and members; is not particularly experiential; likes to thoroughly vet ideas or squash them under a heap of well-intentioned questions; is not reflective; does not challenge a person’s comfort (say, desire to continue to be as they are); does neither great nor horrible things; does just enough to keep from getting in trouble.

Nice post. Read the whole thing. It makes me want my own committee work to be full of passion and for my students “group” endeavors to be the same. What do you think drives passion in committees?

No Exceptions

Shared with me via email is the response from a university library who would not make an exception for an online student who needed an article and who was without access from home and at work due to unforeseen circumstances:

The Library policy states that the Library will not send an article if the article can be accessed online. As you may be aware of that many of our patrons have no access to computer or internet from home, so we are unable to make exceptions to anyone for such kind of requests.

I’m trying to understand what this means exactly. I do know that making a tiny exception to deliver a much needed article might just “save the day” for a student. Isn’t that more important?

Social Media Experiment – Harrisburg Pulls Plug

Please read:

Just posted this comment:

I use social tools extensively in my teaching and interaction with students. From Facebook office hours to a WordPress/BuddyPress course site developed with an outstanding grad student, I would virtually have my hands tied during this “experiment.” I agree with commenters above: how about a week without phone service so faculty would have to walk across campus to chat with a colleague or ask a question. Or shut down access to library databases for a week and rely on the library’s print collection for resources.

I’m much more interested in the connected campus concept – how are educational institutions embracing emerging tech to extend their mission. A million times more interesting to study those possibilities/drawbacks/unforeseen consequences than “to evaluate the extent to which social media are woven into the professional and personal lives of the people on the Harrisburg campus” by turning everything off.

I also appreciate the comments about IRB applications. Thanks to Jen Waller for sending me the link. This will be useful for class discussion for sure! :-)

The provost’s bio is here:

Library in Your Pocket – Presentation on Mobile Strategies from EDUCAUSE

I’m prepping for my talk on Tuesday at the NY Academic Librarians Conference and I’m thoroughly enjoying clicking through this EDUCAUSE presentation from David Woodbury (North Carolina State University) and Jason Casden (North Carolina State University) from last January! I am sorry it took this long to get to it.

Take a look:

Students are arriving on college campuses with the ability to connect to the web with a diverse array of mobile devices. However, some online services aren’t a good fit for the small screen, and new services can also be developed that take advantage of the mobile user context. Developers of the NCSU Libraries Mobile site ( will share their strategy and techniques for creating a suite of mobile services that are optimized for a majority of mobile web platforms, from iPhones to flip phones. The session will also include a discussion of site usage and promotion as well as plans for future mobile services.

Mobile Devices & Libraries Experts Speak at ALA

Libraries had better prepare for an explosion in the capacity of mobile devices as well as the transformative increase in user capacity and expectations. This was the message conveyed by a panel yesterday at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference on Libraries and Mobile Devices: Public Policy Considerations.

After all, explained Jason Griffey, assistant professor and head of Library Information Technology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, cell phones are the most popular and ubiquitous information device worldwide; in 50 countries, cell phone penetration (phones/person) exceeds 100 percent.

By the end of 2010, he continued, 90 percent of the world’s population will have access to a cell-phone signal. Right now, more than 60 percent of people have a cell-phone subscription, and three-quarters of them use text messaging. That total, 2.4 billion people, is twice the number currently using email.

Further, more people are now accessing the web through mobile devices such as a smartphone. New examples include the always-on Kindle and the growing number of netbooks.

Read the whole article. It provides great coverage of a dynamic session and much food for thought. Griffey, Eli Neiberger and Tom Peters make up the ultra-hot panel of experts assembled to talk about mobile devices and libraries.

Dear University Folk – How are you using Facebook?

Don’t miss this guest post by Mike Richwalsky, assistant director of public affairs at Allegheny College at UK Web Focus:

I’d like to examine how schools in the US are using Facebook and share some thoughts and experiences I’ve had from managing my school’s presence there.

First, why are schools using Facebook? First, it’s where the students are. College students today in the US live and breathe Facebook all day long. For us, using it to reach them makes sense – after all it’s a medium they are comfortable in. Second, it’s free for our institutions to use. Finally, the tools that Facebook offers have developed to the point where it’s become a compelling communication platform for us to use to reach a large number of people very easily.

Now that we’re in the golden age of social media, many colleges are developing strategic plans on how to use Facebook. At Allegheny, our adoption of this medium and the successes we’ve had have been very organic. We didn’t jump right in with a set plan, instead we started small, just creating an official page before someone else did. As we got more comfortable with the tools, we added more and more and have grown to the presence we have today.

When Facebook launched its Groups tool, many schools, mine included, created a group for not only our institution but many offices across campus, such as career services, student life, libraries and more. The groups behaved much like they do today, we could post events, participate in discussions and more.

Eventually, Facebook created its Fan page platform, and many schools transitioned their main institutional presence from the Groups tool to the new Fan page format, which offered many similar functionality but added new tools like video, wall posts and most importantly, analytics.

At the time I write this, we have just north of 2,100 fans of our institution ( Our largest number of fans are in the 25-34 age group, which includes graduates of the last several years, so it makes sense that number is high. The next largest group is the 18-24 group, with the 35-44 group a close third.

Read the whole post. I’d urge universities, colleges and libraries who have not explored the potential of Facebook to jump start an initiative now. Mike offers great evidence as to why this is so important – and whatever Facebook becomes in the next few years will probably be even more integrated into our Web, our devices and our lives.

TTW Mailbox: Favorite Places to Study

Frank Haulgren, Collection Services Manager, ILL – Document Delivery  &  Assessment Cooridnator at the Wilson Library, Western Washington University writes:
Hey Michael some of your readers may be interested.
Each quarter The Western Libraries sponsors a mid-term Study Break.  We set aside an hour and a half in the early evening and provide food, fun and information about the library and campus activities for students.  They love the food (of course) and the crazy goggles that the Student Wellness Center has that allows you to simulate being drunk and having to walk a line.
This quarter we set up or video camera and asked students a number of questions.  The common thread was that The Western Libraries offers great places to study!  So 40 minutes of tape yielded this minute-forty-five promotional video.