Professional Development

Giz at the 27th Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience – Day One

Sunday, February 17, 2008 7:17 pm

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Session: Leveraging Facebook Applications for More Effective Orientations

Red Rover is a Facebook application (free) by SwiftKick, the presenter was Kevin Prentiss. It is a connection tool, not a communication tool.

Began by telling us that Mark Zuckerberg wrote Facebook in 3 weeks at Harvard, he is 23 and his company is worth 15billion. 3.5 years old, worth more than GM. Prentiss described one Wisconsin University Facebook group with 28,000 members; that equated to 110% of enrollment.

On average, 80% of 70 schools surveyed had a freshman group that was formed by a random student about 10 months out. Freshmen are self-orienting on Facebook. (And that one random freshman can email everyone!)

One challenge we face at Universities to get them to check the official email. Facebook is checked 5-6 times a day. The goal for students is to find their people and get comfortable. Some university staff are “seeding” these groups with positive topics, a subtle approach. They join the group and then slowly introduce positive things to meet around.

Some assumptions and beliefs around Facebook:

  • Assumption 1- If we don’t introduce them around something positive – they will meet over beer.
  • Assumption 2- From Learning Reconsidered, social, academic and institutional context all overlap.
  • Assumption 3- Facebook relationships are a good thing, face to face is better and preferred. Social capital, bonding capital, bridging capital (Christmas card friends) Students using Facebook have more bridging capital (small town America)
  • Assumption 4- Students looking to Facebook for bridging capital and social integration
  • Assumption 5- Institutions must facilitate social context with being the parent at the party.
  • Assumption 6- Faculty participation in Facebook is a best practice (for those who can do it well) chronicle of higher ed dec 4 2007
  • Assumption 7- Schools are not going to beat Facebook, so don’t recreate or buy a new social network and try and impose it (students use Facebook 15 times more than official portals)
  • Assumption 8- Doing a few things well is better than doing many things “half-vastly.” The goal should be simple, NOT comprehensive.
  • Assumption 9- To stay relevant schools must experiment faster. It is getting cheaper to be wrong.

Demo of Red Rover:

  • Identity profile- Red Rover helps theem write a profile, then we can see the diversity. Also lets them see all the tags of all the groups on campus.
  • Only thing Red Rover hides is phone number, all information is public and searched by Google.
  • Red Rover is publishing only positive academic stuff in red rover
  • Tags appear, choose tags that apply to you.
  • They find out by school emailing it, and by dropping it in the facebook freshmen group.

Session: Engaging an Entire Campus Community in the First Year Summer Reading Program

The presenter was Dr. Vickie Folse of Illinois Wesleyan University. She began by describing the school and the student population. There are 550 incoming first year, transfer and international students. Students all take a Gateway Colloquium, similar to the Wake Forest First Year Seminar. (Similar tuition to WFU) They use the gateway class as the group, rather than advising group as we do at WFU.

Previous program prior to 2002 had not been successful. From 2002-2005, the model was more of a festival for orientation. In 2005, the school wanted to have students participate in a shared intellectual conversation with the campus community.

School felt it had to be more than a one time event/discussion, needed to be integrated into the first year. They wanted students to talk about the book in small groups, large groups and to write about it. They tried a very classical approach, reading Shelley’s Frankenstein, and it was a failure. Now they try to focus on issues like civic engagement and global citizenship (most of their students do a semester abroad)

When selecting the text, they asked the faculty who were freshman advisers for their feedback and asked Gateway Colloquium instructors. After the fact, they surveyed and found the summer reading program was either despised or loved. Much depended on the group they were in.

In 2007 they teamed with Development and Alumni Relations to invite select graduates to participate, about 15 participated. They even approached the Board of Trustee with the President’s support. They also included orientation leaders, student leaders and others. This gave them many facilitators and co-facilitators. (Student criteria included: under 300 pages, something that grabbed students immediately)

Recent reading choices have been: “Nickled and Dimed” by Ehrenreich, “Mountains beyond Mountains” by Kidder, and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Haddon. Kidder was also a convocation speaker. (They considered Freakonomics but it would cost $75,000 per author to have them come and present) They do make the students purchase the text. They also try to engage the parents. Parents come to summer workshops and at those they encourage the text. Discussion questions and facilitation skills are shared with the discussion leaders.

Facebook has become an active source of information. They also set up man co-curricular activities around the text.

Session: Taking it to the Streets: Extending a First-Year Reading Program to the Community

This program was not my first choice, but by mid-morning the number of attendees had grown and my first choice was beyond standing room only, I thought the topic of extending reading programs to the community would also be interesting, especially given the location of the program and its’ chosen speaker, so I headed to that session!

The presenters were Katherine Powell and Clarice Ford of Berry College in Rome, Georgia. (Which happens to be where I went to high school) and the speaker they brought to campus was Maya Angelou. They had a desire to find an author who was also a public figure and would engage the community. They partnered with Shorter College and Darlington School, my alma mater. Events around the evening with Maya Angelou included an all day reading of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” a writing contest through the local newspaper, film viewing and discussion and numerous other events.

Almost 2,000 people in the community attended these various events. After getting the primary event venue donated, they were able to get other donors for other venues and items. Their assessments of community members after the events showed they were successful in some areas and not others. They only had about 35 responses to their survey which was done in survey monkey and required users to click on it.

Session: Not Just Smiling and Nodding: How to Use and Engage Student Members of Committees

The speaker, Kelly Thorngate, was a second semester senior at Edgewood College. She discussed her observations as a member of the common reading program committee. First she discussed communication and creating an open environment to get students to participate. She also mentioned point of view and not assuming students have the same institutional knowledge as faculty and staff. Another potential problem she mentioned was coordinating with faculty and staff and handling differing schedules. She also mentioned using student to get feedback from other students, but not to be the sole student voice.

Interestingly, a secondary discussion started about common reading programs. In this group they were less common than in some of the morning sessions. One school even had a common reading program for faculty and staff. Also discussed were how to manage student expectations on committees and aligning programs to the University mission statement.

Session: Transforming Library Research in a Web 2.0 World

The speaker was Colleen Boff, First Year Experience Librarian, at Bowling Green State University. By a show of hands, half the people at this session were librarians/library staff. Bowling Green is a 4 year residential campus with 17,000 undergraduates and 5380 first year students. 88% of undergraduates are from within Ohio. Her job is constantly changing. There are three major library consortia there. OhioLINK in higher education pools resources of 80 libraries and 300 databases. Everyone struggles to incorporate all this into their sites.

Next she discussed Curriculum Mapping, “the process for collecting and recording curriculum -related data that identifies core skills and content taught, processes employed and assessments used for each subject are and grade level. The completed curriculum map then becomes a tool that helps teachers keep track of what has been taught and plan what will be taught.” (as defined by Linda Starr, Education World)

When polled on 4 of the 40 people in the room were using Blogs and Wikis. Boff started using Blogs and Wikis when the University took control of department website away from individuals. She created a blog to discuss the work of the common reading experience selection committee (the book, Mountains beyond Mountains, by Kidder, got another mention here) Also using blogs to create pathfinders. She also used Ebsco Composer to create a cool page of resources. Explained reAssess, a software developed by students, faculty and staff at Bowling Green. It can be used to develop online quizzes, tutorials, evaluations, assessments and surveys. Boff also discussed WebQuest, a tool more often used in the K-12 environment, but useful here as well.

2 Responses to “Giz at the 27th Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience – Day One”

  1. Red Rover sounded intriguing. Here is a link to their website: Also, YouTube has a promo:

  2. Thanks so much for posting all of your great notes! I’m sorry I didn’t find them until now.

    A few of the numbers are off, I definitely might have said it incorrectly, but in general, you got almost all of it : )

    Assumption number 5 should be “without being the parent at the party.”

    Again – thanks much, I will link to your notes when I finally get all my CFYE blog posts up on I’m slacking big time!

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