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Brian French, The University of Montana-Missoula

Brian French.jpgThe emergence and growth of Web 2.0 software has introduced various new methods for communication in academic advising. The days when communication technology tools were limited to the telephone and email are over as various campus departments experiment with Web 2.0 communication tools to supplement the more traditional means of reaching students. This article describes the basics of some of the more popular Web 2.0 software, discusses how academic advising efforts can be complemented by Web 2.0 tools, and offers suggestions on how to best implement Web 2.0 resources through effective campus collaborations.

Colleges and universities have made efforts to revise their communication strategies to more effectively stay connected with students. As students change their preferences for receiving information, institutions are faced with the challenge of adapting the ways they deliver information to these “digital natives.” Colleges and universities are working to incorporate many of these Web 2.0 tools into their communication efforts. This can be a daunting process as academic administrators attempt to navigate the many options available, decide which software best meets the needs of their institution, and then attempt to coordinate implementation of new communication tools among the various offices affected by the change. However, the more prevalent these tools become within higher education, the easier it should become for other institutions wishing to utilize Web 2.0 tools effectively and efficiently.

Today’s Options: blogs, social networking sites, wikis, and podcasts/vodcasts.

  • Blogs:  Blogs are “the central hub for any Web 2.0 communication implementation” (Stoller, 2009).  Blogging software allows individuals who do not have advanced Web development skills to create Web sites on their own and easily update these sites with a few keystrokes. In an academic context, blogs can be useful for quick updates about upcoming deadlines, course offerings, tutoring availability, etc. Course instructors also find blogs very useful as supplements not controlled within course management systems such as Blackboard©. Blogs can also be very useful to repurpose content from one source to several other outlets through Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds that do not require advanced HTML coding knowledge.
  • Social Networking Sites: Facebook© has emerged as the leading social networking Web site.  A large percentage of college students use social networking sites such as Facebook and over 60% of students log in daily (Krieglstein, 2007). Many institutions are incorporating social networking into their communications with students. As stated by Esposito (2007), “ Facebook is a tool for student self discovery and social development – two important aspects of students’ college years” (¶14).  Advisors have created Facebook groups and pages that allow students to voluntarily receive pertinent academically related updates through their individual Facebook accounts (Wright and French, 2009).  While many institutions do not endorse third party communication vendors such as Facebook because of security concerns, several institutions have permitted the use of social networking for general student contact as long as it is not the official means of communicating with students.
  • Wikis: Wikis are “web pages that can be viewed and modified by anyone with a web browser and access to the Internet” (EDUCAUSE, 2005).Wikis are used by campus departments for paperless communication and coordination. Meeting agendas, minutes, and vacation schedules are examples of information that can easily be coordinated and shared via wikis. Wikis not only save paper, but can significantly improve the efficiency of departmental communications. At the 2009 NACADA Technology Seminar, many presenters utilized wikis to share information and offered participants the opportunity to contribute even after returning to their home institutions.
  • Podcasts/Vodcasts:The use of personal audio and video devices among college students has exploded. Podcasting and vodcasting allow users to easily download audio and video files onto their personal computers and transfer these files to devices such as iPods® or MP3 players to listen or watch the content at their convenience. Institutions utilize podcasting and vodcasting to record various presentations, class lectures, group and distance advising sessions, orientation offerings, and other academically related material that can help us “meet today’s students where they live – on the Internet and on audio and video players” (EDUCAUSE, 2005).

Successfully Implementing Web 2.0 Tools in Higher Education: To successfully implement Web 2.0 tools within institutions of higher education, collaboration must happen between all involved campus departments. The sooner departments can collaborate with each other and with Information Technology specialists the more effective and efficient the implementation of the new software will be. Collaboration not only saves institutional resources but serves as an educational opportunity for those implementing the new technology tools to improve their programs.

Another important aspect to consider when implementing Web 2.0 tools within academic institutions is to include how these tools can be used in official campus communication plans. Developing written policy regarding how best to utilize Web-based communication tools helps garner support from institutional administrators and gives credibility to campus communications. Administrators then can encourage departmental exploration of Web 2.0 software for the improvement of communications with students. Including best practices procedures within communication plans guides users on how to take advantage of Web 2.0 tools.

This article provided the reader with a general description of how some Web 2.0 tools are being utilized in academic advising. There are many more detailed articles and resources available via the NACADA Clearinghouse Technology in Academic Advising Web site, where members will find numerous excellent references on utilizing technology in academic advising.

Brian French
Undergraduate Advising Center
The University of Montana – Missoula
Brian.french@mso.umt.edu

References

Krieglstein, T. (2007). A guide to facebook for school faculty, administration and staff. Swift kick technology: Increasing engagement in education through technology, community, leadership and training. [Web log messages]. Retrieved from http://swiftkick.typepad.com/activities_affairs/2007/05/a_guide_to_face.html

EDUCAUSE Learning Institute. (2005). Seven things you should know about wikis. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7004.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Institute (2005). Seven things you should know about podcasting. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7003.pdf

Carter, J. (2007).  Utilizing technology in academic advising. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Technology.htm#tech

Esposito, A. (2007).  Saving face(book): Engage through facebook and retain relevance.  Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/ePub/AAT30-3.htm#8

Stoller, E. (2009).  Blogs and microblogs. Presented at the 2009 NACADA Technology Seminar.  Retrieved October 25, 2009 from the NACADA Technology Seminar weblog at http://nacadatech.net/blogs-and-microblogs/

Wright, L., & French, B. (2009, April). Facebook face-off: Identifying problems and developing resolutions for successful implementation of facebook in academic advising. Concurrent session presented at the NACADA Region 8 Conference, Missoula, MT. 

Cite this article using APA style as: French, B. (2010, March). Advising 2.0: Utilizing web 2.0 resources in academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 33(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Posted in: 2010 March 33:1

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