Too Cool for School? Think Again.

141103-Higher-Ed-UEDAFourth Economy has been immersed this year in conversations about higher education’s role in economic development. Over the summer we worked with a major research university to identify ways for improving their business engagement practices. This effort involved hosting a roundtable discussion with university-based economic development practitioners from around the country.

In October, Fourth Economy team members managed the 2014 University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which brought together more than 230 economic development representatives from higher education, economic development organizations, consulting firms, federal agencies, and many other groups (you can view the agenda and presentations here). Conference participants shared and discussed best practices, including initial thought leadership from UEDA’s Body of Knowledge Committee, developed in conjunction with representatives from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Continue reading “Too Cool for School? Think Again.”

Small Towns, Great Gowns, Big Opportunities

131024-Town-GownIn recent months our Fourth Economy team has been hard at work on several town-gown development projects.  It’s time to share a few lessons learned.  First, if you live in a smaller town and are fortunate enough to have an institution of higher education close by, don’t squander the opportunity to build upon this high value asset – embrace it, leverage it, and cultivate it.

While the many positives associated with town-gown partnerships may be obvious to most of us, surprisingly those positives often need to be clearly identified, communicated and tactically acted upon. Continue reading “Small Towns, Great Gowns, Big Opportunities”

Social Media Blackout is a Failure of Power

 

As of this exact moment, I’d like to welcome back the students of Harrisburg University, who are now allowed to read blog and social media posts, such as this one.

Curious…?

Last week, Harrisburg University flipped the switch and turned the lights out on their students…at least when it comes to social media. The University turned off all access to social media sites to encourage a “healthy balance of social media” use. The University first conducted this experiment last year, where they determined that five percent of their student body spends between 15-20 hours on social media sites in the course of a week.

Such a stunt is off the mark.

While I can understand and appreciate the value of such awareness campaigns, and I am sure, naturally, people classified their time “offline” as productive, I tend to believe that actions like these send the wrong message to students. By treating social media as an evil, which takes grasp of our time and our lives, the University is spinning social media in a bad light. It’s the job of the University to prepare students for the outside world. I, as a member of this outside world, can ensure the University, that there’s social media out here…and it’s a lot more than chatting with friends, planning keggers and helping raise barns on Farmville.

Social media is a valuable and proven learning tool. Online communication and collaboration is growing. Think I’m wrong? Look at what Indonesia universities are doing to support digital media. Did you notice the part that said “everything in Indonesia is on a rise, especially the number of start-ups within the country”… attributed to social media. Seems like the creativity and collaboration that social media offers is being rewarded.

And this blackout goes for the campus faculty and admiration as well. The official University Twitter account has been inactive for a week, as well. That can’t be good for recruitment.

Eric Darr, the University’s provost, suggested that his hope for the blackout is that students will experience life. And today, after a week, they finally will. There’s a lot going on here in the outside world…sorry you’ve missed it this past week, Harrisburg University.