Thursday, March 12, 2009


A colleague sent me a pointer to a cool recruiting mashup from Davidson College that geo-tags comments from applicants. Click on the image below for the actual site.

[Image by] This is a clever idea for creating authentic marketing. I've been thinking a lot lately about two items from this excellent piece from the Lawlor Group on trends for the 2009 recruiting cycle (quoted in these pages previously). The two items are
  1. Addressing the value proposition (proving that your product does what it advertises)
  2. Using authentic voices in advertising
This second item is the point of using blogs and other customer-generated content to create a sense of authenticity. Yes, you give up some control, but the payoff is that you don't depend solely on slick advertising copy that is likely to be viewed somewhat cynically.

I wondered what else is out there like this, so I used to search for keywords "highered" and "mashup". Here's a couple of the more interesting ones, quoted directly from "40+ Most Useful Mashups for College Students."

  1. lazylibrary: The motto of lazylibrary is practically marketed just for college students: "read less. Get more." This mashup filters out books with page counts of over 200 pages, so you can find cheaper books, get quick reference guides and more.
  2. Campus Explorer: Campus Explorer is a great mashup for high school students, students looking to transfer, and even individuals thinking about going back to school. You can search schools by location or major, view photos and video clips of different schools, and set up your own profile to save your favorite schools.
Another find is, which allows presentations to be shared online. And of course there's for researchers--a very useful Firefox plugin.

An Educause article linked from my search page caught my eye. It draws a circle around a brewing conflict with social/Web 2.0/mashup services offered by colleges:
At one point, the phrase "Net Gen meets FERPA" was coined to address the quandary faced between the "old-fashioned" way services are delivered (a way intended to protect student privacy and maintain standards, as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and the "new" expectations of Net Gen students for flexible, seemingly less private and open-ended e-services.
This is a problem I'm wrestling with directly now. Faculty demand better access to, for example, student records, so that advising can be more flexible. It's easy to deliver such services--even as RSS feeds or other dynamic data ripe for mashing up. How far is too far to go down this route? I don't want to find a public geo-tagged map created by some enterprising professor that lists names and GPAs, for example. That would be a clear FERPA violation.

Creating the mashups is fun.
There's an article from OUseful.Info, the blog... showing some pretty sophisticated tricks in the higher education setting. I've found some of the tools to be a bit flakey and unreliable (google docs, in particular is laggy and buggy about pushing out to the web). A dedicated development environment, for example in Perl, would be nice.

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