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Social Media for Universities?

Still fishing for a suitable social networking site for your institution? (Design by Megan Robichaud

Should the adminsitration engage in social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.? This was the main topic discussed at the 10. Alumni-Talk organized by the MPA unibe Alumni.

Martin Bunjes from the city of Lucerne’s Department of Education answered this question favorably and explained how the city of Lucerne has profited from being part of the most popular social media networks. At the beginning, the project had faced some skeptics, Bunjes mentioned in his talk, one central question being: Are we ready for dialogue?

I guess the same question is relevant for universities today as well. To be “reduced” to the status of a co-creater of public discourse raises uneasiness especially among institutions that were formerly in a privileged position to transmit particular expertise to a passive public recipient. Social media fundamentally transforms the relationship between the sender and the recipient. It fosters dialogue and, according to guest-speaker Thomas Mauch from Blogwerk, it will in five to seven years replace the phone. The line between the producer and the consumer or the sender and the recipient will be blurred further as dialogical interaction on social networking platforms increases. Mauch drew attention to the fact that an article on a particular topic is not finished at the point when it is uploaded on the web. Given that it attracts attention, it will be commented, criticized, added on, etc. and thus transformed by a community of readers.

One can of course deplore the fact that control over a certain content is increasingly lost. However, one can also see a benefit in non-closure and open-endedness typical for dialogical interaction – especially in the field of knowledge production and management.

What is your opinion: should universities engage in social media or not?

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