My internship with the College of Business has been, to sum it up, fun. I have worked independently to evaluate two social networking tools and their relevance within higher education.
The first network I have been evaluating over the term is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is commonly thought to be the “professional” version of Facebook, just another collection of “people I know.” However, LinkedIn has the potential to be a wonderful tool when used effectively. My job this term was to research what was being said about LinkedIn and synthesize a users’ guide from there. What I have learned is that LinkedIn is in another realm of its own, and while the functionality is just being discovered, it will be incredibly helpful to emerging professionals. For instance, LinkedIn has a feature in which users can recommend each other; for employers, this means that instead of hunting down formal letters of recommendation in a job search, those recommendations are only a click away. Granted, it is not a perfect method of communicating information, but it is a step in the right direction, especially in our growing tech-savvy world.
The second network I began evaluating is Chatter.com. Chatter is an intranetwork tool, meaning that it is intended for offices to communicate within themselves, not to network in extensive ways, like LinkedIn. Chatter combines elements of an exclusive Facebook and Twitter site to offer a unique form of communication. It is easy to use, which is the basis for social networking sites, but it simultaneously offers a way to promote quick, informal transfer of information between office members. Instead of sending cumbersome emails to one another, employees are able to post updates and share thoughts with ease. Its usefulness in higher education is something that is being evaluated, as it was developed by Salesforce.com to drive communication and collaboration in the corporate world. That said, it has the potential to streamline processes in various areas of universities, not just the OSU College of Business.
Whereas my internship with IDEA required a good portion of in-office time, one thing I particularly enjoyed about the COB internship was its portability. Although not necessarily something I had anticipated learning more about when I started my internship, the “working from home” portion gave me some insight into the appeal of telecommuting and how the work week is reshaping in today’s society. A tool such as Chatter retains its functionality from computer to computer, whereas remote email (like mobile Outlook) does not. I could see Chatter becoming a big player in the realm of admissions and recruiting, when members are on the road. It could also serve as a more tight-knit version of the Twitter “backchannel” at professional conferences; members of a group would be able to share their thoughts using trends (words prefixed with the # sign) on a platform that would ensure the rest of the team would see it.
Competencies addressed: (7) Teaching, Presentation, and Publication; (8) Individual, Group, and Organizational Communication; (1) Knowledge of Higher Education and Student Affairs [particularly in tech-related areas]