I’ve been thinking a lot lately about uses for Twitter in Higher Ed. I’ve said before (here):
[...] having the kids sign up for Twitter is just another barrier to communication. While I am typically an advocate for universities using services rather than reinventing the wheel, Twitter has yet to prove its stability to me.
There has also been a lot of talk about Twitter, how to use it in Higher Ed, what might be effective, what might not be, etc. I’ve sort of sat back and soaked this all in, watching developments at other universities and trying to think of how I can use Twitter to enhance a student’s experience on our site.
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No, i’m not trying to sell you a product. I’m trying to sell you on usability testing. That’s right, with only $10 and 10 minutes YOU can IMPROVE your SITE! (insert big logo and web 2.0 graphic here)
Last November I did a usability test with Marcie, a senior at a local high school. There was one question I wanted to ask her because I was pretty sure I knew the answer already, I just needed it recorded for proof to others.
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Posted by Jesse | Posted in Ethics, Higher Education | Posted on 02-05-2008-05-2008
The education industry is a funny creature. We go to conferences and openly share experiences, strategies, and methods. Then we go home, sign up fictitious characters on other schools’ mailing lists with our home addresses to get the actual materials and communications. We create applications (not submitting them of course…) with other schools’ to see what kinds of designs others have, and what questions are asked.
My question- Is this Ethical?
Could you consider this espionage? Let’s break it down. Our communication flows and application process is considered our informal intellectual property. It’s how we put things together to make our class every year. It’s how we hope to create a program that will be better than our competition (schools our size and region). Would you want to disclose your entire communication flow to a school with comparable size and region?
If your answer is no, then your stance on this subject seems to be set in stone.
If you are willing to share your information with competitors, then this issue takes on a different light. There’s no harm in asking your counterparts in other institutions how they do things. I think most of the time (especially at conferences) you will find people extremely receptive to sharing at least the framework of what they are doing. The likelihood increases when the information sharing is reciprocal. You also have the added benefits of being open, honest, and helpful.
This Admission espionage is something that you can’t really enforce, or even identify – it’s just up to the honor system here. One thing people may or may not think about is the amount of money you cause a school to spend on fake prospects. We all know each school has a substantial budget and money for 1 campaign doesn’t seem like much – but what if 10-20 schools are “testing” another institutions’ communication flow? Now we’re talking about hundreds of dollars being spent – and they’re making a direct financial impact on the “target”.
So what do you think? Is this just something we do, or should we think twice about signing up Mickey Mousee to check out University X’s visit piece?