Professor replaces term papers with Wikipedia entries

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Technology, Web | Posted on 30-10-2007-05-2008


This article struck me as amazing.

[ArsTechnica: Prof replaces term papers with Wikipedia Contributions, suffering ensues]

Professor Martha Groom from the University of Washington-Bothell is having her students write entries on Wikipedia rather than write term papers. It might sound ridiculous, but think about it.

If you are writing a Wikipedia entry, you can’t really quote Wikipedia, which has been debated as a bad source by professors for many years. Now the student writing the entry must get out there and actually do research to find the information about the page they are creating, all while contributing to one of the largest resources in the world. Here are some of the entries, and I have to say they are well done and conform to the Wikipedia standards.

Anyone else think this is a good idea? Bad idea? As ridiculous as SecondLife? Feel free to comment.

My mom won’t let me write my own college essays.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Recruitment | Posted on 28-10-2007-05-2008


Finally, someone admits it. Every Sunday morning I wake up and read the latest PostSecrets. It is a site where people can put there deepest secrets on a postcard and mail them to someone, who then posts them for the world to see.

This one definitely caught my eye today.

Keep your eye out for this application. How many others are there out there?

Occasionally someone will respond to a secret with an email and it will get posted.  This postsecret is one of them this week, and here’s what someone had to say.

—-Email Message—–
Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 8:04 AM

By the time my mom finished “editing” my Harvard essay, nothing of what I wrote was left. I knew it was a terrible essay, but I submitted it anyway rather than fight her. Unsurprisingly, I was waitlisted and then rejected. I am convinced that the horrible, stilted, lifeless essay did me in.

Later I applied for a prestigious full-ride scholarship and hid the paperwork at school so that I could write my own essay. I won that scholarship, and two degrees and $120,000 later, I’m a debt-free Fulbright grantee living in a foreign country.

Moral of the story: love your mother, but write your own college essays. Being rejected for who you are is so much better than being accepted for who you aren’t.

Soundslides: 2nd thumb of approval

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Technology, Web | Posted on 25-10-2007-05-2008


College Web Guy just posted a great post about Soundslides, which is a nifty little program that you can use to create some unique multimedia for your site. I won’t go into too much detail, because he’s already said what needs to be said. Instead, here are some more ‘Higher-Ed’ examples of what can be done. For the audio, check out his other post on the MicroTrack 24/96. Most of these were done with an Olympus VN-960PC, which does a decent job and has a USB output.

Senator Durbin Visits” – A senator came to campus to speak with students about cuts to financial aid, which provided some good dialogue for the video.

VT Candlelight – By getting this SoundSlide live overnight, we were able to show the campus community what the students did after they went home for the day.

Students on the Quad- A light-hearted look at one of the first days of Spring! And of course, it’s always windy at UIS.
Mr. UIS 2006- A men’s ‘beauty’ contest on campus. Always a good time! I started this event when I was an RA, so it was neat to cover it and not be running the show!

Take me out to the Ballgame- No better sound than the crack of the bat on a windy spring day!

Anyone else out there have some examples to share??

Falling Behind

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Web | Posted on 25-10-2007-05-2008


It seems like that time of the year when we all start falling behind.  Counselors on the road, Early Admission dates coming closer and closer, new projects trying to get rolled out for the recruitment season, and more.

The guys of SquaredPeg recently took on a little extra as we lost one of our biggest assets; a team member.  Brian, a self-described web developer that happened to be in the higher ed world, has gone on to bigger and better things.  He has done an amazing amount of work while at Butler, and created many amazing applications.  We wish him well in his new gig in the financial world!

Meanwhile, the search begins soon for a new web developer.  Keep your eyes peeled for the job description, and bring your finest meats and cheeses to the interview.


Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education | Posted on 16-10-2007-05-2008


We talk a lot about generations in Higher Ed.  Millenials. Baby Boomers. Gen X.  They define a lot of who/what we are trying to target and segment.

That’s why this story caught my eye today: [First U.S. Baby Boomer applies for Social Security] .  We now mark October 15th, 2007 as Boom Day.  Start saving your money now, who knows what’s going to happen.

On another generation-related note, my best friend Matt recently mentioned another generation in his personal blog – Generation Q.

Who gets to name these generations, anyways?  Does someone just come up with a name and it sticks?  Is there some elite, secretive committee that names them?  Are they the same people who name hurricanes?

You ever worked in a creative department, son?

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Technology, Web, YouTube | Posted on 15-10-2007-05-2008


“We write ads, son. We write ads or people die. It’s that simple. ”


This is too funny to not share.


The .EDU Underground

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Web | Posted on 09-10-2007-05-2008


LifeHacker has a story on the ‘.edu underground’, or the vast amount of resources contained within higher education websites that is all free to the public.  I found Berkeley’s World-Wide Panorama very interesting, and I’ll probably participate in future shoots.

Looking at the broader spectrum of .edu’s and our prospective students, how many of them know what all is on our website?  What might they find interesting in the academic side of the site?  Do they just stick to the Admission(s) page, or do they venture out into the greater unknown, trying to learn more about classes, etc?  Do they take our word for it or are they digging deeper to get their own answers about the cafeteria, student life events, and more?  That could make for some interesting research.

Historically Black Colleges at a Crossroad

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Recruitment | Posted on 05-10-2007-05-2008


This article on US News and World Report discusses the crossroad that many historically black universities and colleges are at: recruiting students.

As I read the article, I came to a realization. Every single university I have interacted with recently seems to have one goal in mind: increase diversity. The students have to come from somewhere, and it sounds like these schools are starting to feel the effect of these efforts. This article got me thinking about several things, from accessibility/affordability of education for all students to our role as higher ed professionals in letting the students pick the school that’s right for them rather than luring them in with scholarships.

I think I’ll be chewing on this one for awhile.

Launching a Blogger Program: Part 4

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education, Marketing, Recruitment, Technology, Web | Posted on 01-10-2007-05-2008


This should have actually been an earlier topic, but it’s still important so I’m going to throw it into the series.


One of the first things you should be doing is deciding what platform you want to run.  Obviously, the guys of SquaredPeg were rooting for a WordPress install (Cost=$0).  Unfortunately, IT does not support PHP installs on our campus, so that went out the window rather quickly.  Our next option was to pull a Ben Jones and launch a hosted .com that would allow us to use WordPress and also allow a high level of customizing. The .com solution had several problems for us, mainly being that we wanted to ensure that all of the content was searchable from the main Admission site.

Another option was hosted blogs through a vendor.  Hobsons offered hosted blogs for approximately $1200.  So I looked into it…. and found out that they just use WordPress.  Pay someone for a template blog using free software? No way.

Then our research led us to a nifty little software package back in June: Community Server.  Initially a free open source package from Telligent, they recently beefed up CS and now charge for it.  At $600 (or cheaper), it’s great, and more importantly it will install on our .NET platform.

So we bought it, and started customizing it.  We wrapped the entire site with our template using CSS, then let the students go wild with their own personal blogs.  I gotta say, a few of them are doing a great job at designing.

I have been very impressed with this software so far.  Fully integrated blogs, forums, and photos.  My bloggers are able to upload an image directly to their photo album from the blog WYSIWYG, THEN  pull that image into the post at any size they wish (thumb, small, medium, etc…), and link it back to the photo album or the full size image. Very cool.

There are a lot of ‘community’ features (thus the name Community Server??), such as rating posts, adding friends, private messages, point/rank system for doing certain things, and more.

As the year goes on (and as soon as we officially introduce it all to our prospectives at the end of the week), I think the true potential of this software will come out.

At first I was unsure, but for what we’re trying to do, I’ll take Community Server over WordPress any day.  I would fully expect to see some other universities start to use this solution after they see its potential.