Beyond E-Mail: Mary Baldwin’s Communication Calls on New Tools of the Trade

June 24, 2009

Connection. The world today — and the frontier of higher education — is all about it. If you’re not Tweeting, Facebooking, watching videos on YouTube, posting photos on Flickr, or networking via a combination of these and more, valuable information is passing you by.

Denise Kinsinger ’08 signed on to Facebook about a year ago to keep in touch with college friends who were graduating, and the graduate-school-bound English major has since adopted it as a primary means of reaching and being reached by friends, professors, and others around the world.

Although most Mary Baldwin professors do not specifically use Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking tools in the classroom, Kinsinger know that many have active accounts. “I also noticed that several college clubs and organizations set up Facebook pages to communicate with their members and to publicize campus events,” she said. Kinsigner also has a profile on the career networking site LinkedIn, “because you never know who might connect you with an interesting project or job,” she added.

But even those who are plugged in to social media — the term used to categorize the relatively inexpensive tools that allow everyone access to create and share content — might not yet know about Mary Baldwin University’s presence on those sites, so we gathered the college’s links on a new Web page: Mary Baldwin on the Web. A quick rundown of what you’ll find there:

Facebook Join one of the nearly 800 fans (now it’s up to 1,200) of Mary Baldwin on Facebook, the connection engine for college and university students that started our recent social media frenzy. You’ll see when articles are posted on almost instantaneously and read posts from Mary Baldwin communication folks, among other features.

Twitter Welcome to the world of 140 character meta-messages. (In Twitter-speak this article would have ended “…watching videos on”) You could call it a spin-off of Facebook’s “status” function, but Twitter has generated a life of its own and gone far beyond that. According to a recent article in US News & World Report, “… Twitter might not yet be quite as popular among students as Facebook or MySpace, a growing cadre of professors and administrators are embracing it and using it to introduce their classes to a different kind of communication and networking.”

There is no shortage of sites devoted to maximizing the use of Twitter, and classroom uses abound. Suggestions from include connecting professors and students through direct Tweets, setting up groups for specific projects through Tweetworks, taking classroom polls, using the Just Tweet It colleges and universities directory to connect with others in academia … and 46 other ideas.

YouTube Did you miss Commencement 2009? Mary Baldwin posted video of the keynote speech by Karen Sherman, director of global programs for Women for Women International. Also available on Mary Baldwin’s YouTube channel: interviews with students in the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, a performance of the Mary Baldwin fight song, Global Rhythms in concert, and more.

LinkedIn Yet another way to post your resumé, research careers, and connect with people in specific fields. Mary Baldwin boasts 95 members, but we know there are more out there.

RSS Real Simple Syndication (RSS) offers news junkies a way to stream all their headlines to one location (think: your Google home page). Just like CNN, The New York Times, and your local media outlets, Mary Baldwin offers an RSS feed for updated news from the college’s news site.