MiFi… WiFi for me.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Flickr, Higher Education, Lifecasting, Marketing, Photos, Recruitment, Strategy, Technology, Thoughts, Web, YouTube | Posted on 03-06-2009-05-2008


If you haven’t heard yet about the awesomeness of the MiFi and how it’s going to change the way you think about media, allow me to explain.

The MiFi (available through Verizon and Sprint) calls itself the ‘intelligent mobile hotspot’.

Thinner and shorter than an iPhone, and as simple to use as pressing an on/off button, the MiFi is essentially a router in your pocket.  You’re able to connect up to 5 devices to it and use the signal.  On Verizon, I typically am on a 3G network and have averaged a 2.0mpbs download speed.  I rarely notice a lag in page loads.

At last check, the price of the MiFi was $99 with a $50 rebate. A $40/month subscription gets you a measly 250mb of data.  Upgrade to the $60/month package and get 5GB of data.

So how does this affect my job?

Two words: Streamlined Media.

With a MiFi, you have internet whereever you go, for whatever device you need (as long as Verizon really is everywhere they say they are!) To explain streamlined media and how you can take advantage of it, let me offer a few examples.

1) Event Photos live to the web

Go pick up an Eye Fi 4GB Explore Video SD Card for $99 and put it in your camera.  The Eye Fi allows you to upload photos as soon as you hit a pre-registered wi-fi network.  With the MiFi, you no longer need to wait to get back to the office to send photos. Do it on the fly, right from the event!!

Here’s what you can do with the Eye Fi:

1) Set the card to instantly upload photos to Flickr with a tag for the event.  We’ll pretend it’s Commencement. So we set up the Eye Fi to upload each photo taken to Flickr with the tag commencement2009.

2) Set up a page on your .edu website that will show all of the photos taken.  Link to it from your social web efforts, the home page, the commencement page, the live video streaming page, and more.

3) Put some simple code on it that will pull in photos from Flickr. (Put your username where the red is.  Find it here.) Use the API to create something like:

<iframe align="center" src="http://www.flickr.com/slideShow/
frameBorder="0" width="750" scrolling="no" height="750"></iframe>

4) Go wild!  Take photos and they’ll automatically be put on your .edu website.  No need to get back to a computer and get them uploaded, have someone resizing images and putting them on the web.  Streamlined.

2) Live Video anywhere on campus

If you haven’t realized that it’s time to get serious about video, wake up.  Video is becoming increasingly important and with the MiFi you can provide it.  Whether it’s using the same steps above to do YouTube videos on the fly or have a uStream feed from anywhere you have a signal.

And remember this that I talked about last January?? Next week, it will be 2 years to the day since I put together the plan for it at Butler.  With the MiFi, it just became that much easier. And yes, it’s coming to a campus near you very soon.

3) Campus Tour Enhancement!

This one comes from Adam Epstein at WPI (@epsteada on Twitter, blogs at http://epsteada.com/), and some discussion we had while I was at NEACAC last week. (If you want to see the slidecast of my presentation, it’s over here.) Adam talked about the possibilities of photos during the campus tour, and when the students arrive back to the Admissions office…. BOOM!  They’re already on the screen as they walk back in.  For a tech-savvy campus like WPI, that’s pretty cool stuff to show off.

So what can you think of?

There are probably 101 other ways to use this new technology, what do you have in mind? Where are we going from here as we get one step closer to an internet chip in our skin? :)   Leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Oh, and next time you’re at a conference, look for the BlueFuego connection.  And if you need an internet fix, come find me for the password. :)


Social Media Strategy in Higher Ed

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Concepts, Lifecasting, Social Media, Strategy | Posted on 05-12-2008-05-2008


There’s been a lot of talk lately about social media strategy in higher education and more specifically, a strategy/action plan. I’ve bounced back and forth on this topic quite a bit.  I can see value in having a ‘social media plan’, but I know that most plans would be outdated before most schools even get started on it.  Colleagues across the states are short on resources to handle the emerging market and budgets are being cut at many schools, which is creating an interesting situation.

After chatting with several colleagues and administrators this week, I am seeing more and more that there is indeed a need for a plan, a roadmap, of where to go with social media at the 30,000 ft. level campus-wide, as well as how to integrate efforts.

I mentioned on Rachel’s recent post that I have never operated under a defined social media strategy. I have strategy and goals in my mind, I have papers pinned to my board outlining projects I want to do each 4-6 months, but I have never taken the time to put much on paper. But as more and more sites come up, as opportunities to engage and create community and conversation arise, and more importantly, when a job like mine will not be enough to handle all social media communication, there will need to be a strategy in place.

2009 is going to be a very exciting year as the realm of social media continues to develop and mature. If your institution hasn’t jumped on board yet, it’s probably a good idea to start coming up with a strategy before the decade ends. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive, it doesn’t have to detail every single action step, but it does need to start integrating efforts.

On the other hand, having a strategy in place might be good to keep projects on the radar.  When I pitched Lifecasters in June 2007 I was told “let’s try bloggers first and go from there.”  Now, 1.5 years later, I’m still ‘in beta’ and hoping for buy-in before August 2009, over 2 years after the concept was pitched.  I can think of a few other projects on the table that might have benefited from a timeline that was put on paper and agreed upon.

What do you think? Are your schools still dabbling or are you ready to do some serious integrated stuff?

Taking Chats to a new level

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Analytics, Blogging, Higher Education, Lifecasting, Recruitment, Research, Technology, Thoughts, Video, Web | Posted on 30-10-2008-05-2008


Last night we had our Butler Bloggers Chat, which we do once a semester. It always has more students join than any other chat we do (What is Diversity at Butler University? Chat, Admitted Student Chat, Pharmacy Chat, International Student Chat, to name a few).

Last night the chat was from 8-10pm (I’ve done 7-9, 8-10, and 9-11pm.  8-10pm has been the most popular.) and we had 132 students come through. Last week’s diversity chat from 7-9pm had 22, for comparison, with the same group of students invited.

To learn more about the methods of promotion/emailing about the chat, read this post from last April.  For this post, I’d like to touch on some new methods I experimented with last night.

During last semester’s chat, I learned a few things:

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Blue II is live.

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Lifecasting, Mascot, Recruitment, Web | Posted on 03-03-2008-05-2008


Consider this your super secret beta look at our mascot’s lifecasting stream.  We’re doing some testing today.   Check it out, it might not be there tomorrow!


I had the chance to get my pic with the little dude this weekend at the BU game.  What a stud.

YouTube to offer Lifecasting capabilities

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Lifecasting, Mascot, Recruitment, Web, YouTube | Posted on 29-02-2008-05-2008


YouTube has given the big thumbs-up to lifecasting, with plans to offer the ability to stream a live feed, according to WebWare reports.  It’ll be interesting to see how they approach this, and I’m definitely excited.

Between uStream, Stickam, Yahoo! Live, and many others, we will definitely have some choices for implementing our lifecasting.  That’s right, after getting denied on student lifecasting nearly 9 months ago now, I am in the process of setting up lifecasting on our admission site.   No, not students… Butler Blue II.

Yep, a live feed of our slobbery mascot dog and his daily adventures.   We figure it’s a little safer since he doesn’t drink or party too hard.    I have been lifecasting my dog for 8 months now (but still figuring out logistics in the new house, we should be live again next week), so I’m well experience in canine camerawork.  It’s all part of a new multimedia area I am working on putting together to try and breathe some life into our site, which is approaching 1.5 years of stagnancy.   More to come.

Isn’t he handsome?

Oh, and Happy Leap Day!

Speaking at Innovative Educators

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Conferences, Google, Higher Education, Lifecasting, Speaking, Technology | Posted on 06-02-2008-05-2008


Just in: I’ll be giving two presentations on day 1 of the upcoming conference:
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Lifecasters: Second Try

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Blogging, Lifecasting, Vlogging, Web | Posted on 29-01-2008-05-2008


Last year, about 2 weeks on the job, I pitched a lofty proposal to have Lifecasters in addition to bloggers. These lifecasters would have a setup similar to Justin.TV, and would essentially stream live video of their college experience for future students to see what it’s really like (outside of marketing, microsites, and rehearsed pitches).

Last year the response was basically “no way”, or “you really think it’s a good idea to let students with cameras walk around campus and show what it’s like?!?” My general answer… Yes. They decided that we should get the bloggers going and see how that would go first. (Side note: everyone was worried about letting bloggers say what they want, letting people comment without moderation, etc. etc. etc. Guess how much content we have had to moderate or delete? ZERO.)

At what point will we stop trying to show students what we think they will like to hear, and just start showing them what it’s really like to go somewhere? Even our overnight visit programs are strategically designed and planned, and I agree there needs to be some sort of organization, but is there truly a way to give a student a “real” experience without putting them in danger? :)

I’d love to hear what you all think about this. I’ll admit I have generally been hush-hush about my Lifecaster initiative because I would have liked for my University to be on the forefront of this technology, but now it seems that it might be beneficial for others to be doing it before I can try to get some buy-in. At least I can say I tried, and I had all the resources ready. Even Justin.TV was going to stream our video for FREE. (Click this link and listen to our conversation from about 7 months ago, scroll to 1:05. Most of the clip got cut from its original version for some reason.)

And if anyone knows of a school that’s doing this, leave a comment so I can check it out. And as always, I’d love to hear what you think.