SOC6: Tying it all Together: Part Deux

Kevin Prentiss 
CEO, Red Rover

The audio for this podcast can be downloaded at

Announcer: This is one in a series of podcasts from the HighEdWeb Conference in Austin 2011.

Host: All right folks, we're going to get started and I've lost track, this is sick, let me introduce Kevin Prentiss. Kevin has been with us before. He was The Red Stapler winner back two years ago when he gave the first version or first edition of this talk. Just a little back story, about a month before the conference in Milwaukee, I was talking about Pecha Kucha, the catch cup presentations where you do 20 slides in 20 seconds and its time so it changes every 20 seconds.

I give Kevin full credit because he actually took up my challenge and did a Petcha Kutcha presentation that was good enough to win that Red Stapler Award. So I'm really looking forward to this. Just to give you an idea, we had somebody come up right before the start of this asking Kevin if this is going to be awesome. Kevin was too modest to answer that question, I will answer it for him. I am expecting this absolutely to be awesome. So Kevin, not to put any pressure on you, with no further ado, Kevin Prentiss from Red Rover.



Kevin Prentiss: Thank you. Yeah, that's good. That's my favorite in the intro, build you up on the pedestal so there's only one place to go. Yes. So how many of you are new to HighEdWeb? There are a lot in orientation. Raise your hand if you're new to HighEdWeb. Wow. Look around. Give them a round of applause. Welcome to HighEdWeb.


Kevin Prentiss: That's fantastic. It's a really great community as you've seen. So this is about tying it all together. It's the story of innovation in Higher Education. It's the story of innovation in Higher Education told through my experience as the last two years. The presentation that Mark just referenced was a future forward. Isn't it going to be great when social media and higher education work like this kind of presentation? It was a vision. So this story is about what happens next.

So this is checking back in. This is chapter two because innovation takes a long time. So who knows how many chapters there's going to be. So for those of you who are not new and who saw that presentation, there will be a little bit review to catch up everybody else. We obviously want to welcome people. And then I'll take it forward from there.


So unfortunately, the story of innovation starts with some bad news. We're going to had a trillion dollars in student debt next month. Colorado is going to slash its Higher Ed budget by half. And authority no less than Seth Godin says that there's too much middle market product in Higher Education that's undifferentiated. So there's combination of too much student debt and dramatically rising prices is going to cost the Higher Education meltdown. If you read all of these in quick succession, you can very easily get a sense of doom that settles in nicely here.

And in fact, Higher Education is most certainly doomed if we let the future happen to us. That's how it works. That's what reaction is all about. So I'm here this morning to present an alternative vision that looks like this.



Kevin Prentiss: Visionary leadership is about chasing things that are not there, yet. Things that would be magical and awesome if they were. Visionary leadership is about we choose to go to the moon, not because it's easy but because it's hard, because doing so will marshal our absolute best because that's what's worth doing. Now, right now technology is going to be the thing that either changes or saves Higher Education which is good news for you because technology is your medium which means that this is your moment and this is your opportunity to do something visionary and pursue collectively some sort of innovation.


Now, history has some lessons about innovation. There was a time when flight was the unicorn of its day. It was theoretically possible but it haven't been done yet. Otto Lilienthal was a researcher in Germany studying birds and trying lighters and he said, "the trick is even though the theory is possible, it's in the practice that the learning happens, it's in the difficulty that the learning happens." The key is to try something. Two weeks after he said this, Otto was killed in a glider crash. Innovation is not for the faint of heart but we have to try things, it's the way it goes. It's the only way we can possibly make progress.

And starting from, excuse me one moment. Starting from good theory is the key. So let's talk about dance floors as a way to get to the theory. And it goes like this, how many of you have ever been to a dance? Raise your hand if you've ever been in to a dance. How many of you have in to a good dance? How many of you have been to a bad dance? And the hands go up faster.


Here's how it works. If I were to ask a hundred people on the street, what makes a bad dance? Ninety out of a hundred people would say the DJ. They blame the DJ, they always blame the music but ladies, this is how you work absolutely. When you go out, you form a circle with your good group of friends and if the girls are good enough friends, it does not matter at all what the DJ played, the DJ can play the worst song in the whole wide world, I like big butts and I cannot lie and you'd be like "oh yeah" doing your thing. Robin for sure, I've seen it happen multiple times. Tim Nekritz, MC Hammer, just wait for it.


Kevin Prentiss: Just wait if we can be so blessed. Maybe just maybe, it's not about the DJ, maybe and maybe it's about the connections, maybe it's about the circle of friends, maybe that's actually more important determining stage of engagement on dance floors. Imagine yourself hovering about a dance floor like this, you could see the state of engagement, you would immediately see the the five to ten that congregates in the middle, people that are the most engaged. They stand the closest together, they produce the most energy. Way towards the edge, you have lots of people standing farther apart with their arms crossed typically making fun of the people in the center. We've all been there, we all know what this feels like, this is a human thing, this is how we do it. You've all been to good dances, you've been to bad dances. A good dance looks like this, a bad dance looks like that.


Here's the challenge, college campuses and dance floors work the exact same way. National Students Survey of Engagement says that 60% of students will never participate in a college sponsored activity the entire time they're at school. We have college campuses where 60% of the people aren't dancing, they're bad dancers. At a two-year school, the number is 84% and that's where we have a 30% drop out rate on average in the first year because their dance just aren't engaging enough. So how do we go from that to that? How do we go from bad to good? Here's the move, "hey man, it's Kevin. And your name is?"

Carlyn: Hi Kevin, it's Carlyn.

Kevin Prentiss: Carlyn, nice to meet you. Hi, I'm Kevin.


Meg: I'm Meg.

Kevin Prentiss: Meg, great to meet you. Meg, have you met Carlyn?

Meg: Yeah.


Kevin Prentiss: Why don't you just pretend for a second?


Kevin Prentiss: Everybody repeat after me with your right hand up like this, uhh.

Audience: Uhh.

Kevin Prentiss: Have you met.

Audience: Have you met.

Kevin Prentiss: Uhh.

Audience: Uhh.

Kevin Prentiss: Complete inclusivity for the lefties in the room, one more time. Left hand up, repeat after me, uhh.

Audience: Uhh.

Kevin Prentiss: Have you met.

Audience: Have you met.

Kevin Prentiss: Uhh.

Audience: Uhh.

Kevin Prentiss: That's the move. It's real simple. It's far more effective than actually switching up the music. And it works great at HighEdWeb. Try it here too. It works in real life. So it goes like this, visual learners "hi", "hi, nice to meet you. Uh, have you met uh?" that's the move because if you do that then you get this and then you get this, more people show up, you get that and this is what a great dance floor looks like.


This is what HighEdWeb looks like after three days. This is why it's a great conference. Just to review, yes and no. On the right, you have massive redundancy and the left you have a single point of failure and a massive ego. This is bad social media on the left hand side. This is what we're living for, this is the trend of all history from technology 1.0 and Broadcast Media, publishing the New York Times to Twitter, 2.0. It drives me absolutely crazy still to this day, yes your school has a Twitter feed, yes your school has to have a Facebook fan page but just look at the difference here. Having a Twitter account for the school and using it to broadcast message, it's using a 2.0 tool with 1.0 thinking.

We have to move to this, where we're actually connecting students to students, students to faculty, students to alumni, everyone to everyone, that's what makes a great dance. This is scalable, this is a business model that survives change. This is not scalable. This is not a business model, it's survives change. This is Khadaffi, this is Tahrir Square. See where I'm going?


Students need connections. They need connections first and foremost to people who are like them so they can feel comfortable, that's the basis of the pyramid. They need people who like what they like. They need people who also like chess, who are not like them in any other way but they happen to like chess, that's how they get the diversity, that's where the growth comes from. And critically, they need people who care about what they're doing. They need an audience that cares. To get to this one, think about it from the perspective of a dance floor, if you had a great dance and you took the fours and threes and twos and ones and made them disappear, the fives would stop dancing immediately.

People need an audience. Everybody needs an audience. Think about it from the perspective of all the different campus departments. It's connections, it's connections, it's connections, it's connections, it's connections, it's connections, it's connections, it's connections. Admissions once connect with authentic students who are just like them, who are successful at you school. Orientation once connect with people in the residents halls, ambassadors, whoever it is. Involvement once connecting with that Chess Club, study groups with the people that care about the academic interest that they have just as much as they do, career services to the potential jobs that anyone know they could have, alumni to people to be mentored, people to be mentors of, it's connections, it's connections, it's connections.


This is the unicorn. The system that can get to know a student over the system or systems, they can get to know a student and make those, "uh, have you met uh" connections as they move through their experience with school. That's what's theoretically possible, that's what we're trying to build, that is the unicorn. And that's where you come in to play because HighEdWeb does this wonderfully.

Your critical to this. First and foremost, you have the tools. You're not scared of the technology, that's actually a big difference this days. Secondly, you do this on a regular basis. I have yet to meet this person, have you enter, are you in the room? Hey, so have you enter?


Kevin Prentiss: I'm Kevin. Good to meet you. Hey, I'm Kevin. Andrew, have you enter? Just making sure. This is what's normal at HighEdWeb. Somebody pops up and says, "hey, I'd like to meet these people" and I say, "great. I would like to meet you too" and then he says up on top "so you're the person who reads my blog because they did, I clicked through his Twitter and I read his blog and it was great stuff and I said, "yeah, absolutely" and he said, "I like your ideas too, I would like to chat." All I'm saying, the "uh" the only thing that I want to build with you guys is a system that gives students an experience like this, every single day at college.


Hey, I'm like you, I'm excited about what you're excited about, I want to get together in person so that we can learn, so that we can grow, so that we can build community. That's what's exciting to me. If only the line from theory to practice was straight, it would be so easy but it looks like this and it feels like this. Flying is going to be awesome.



Kevin Prentiss: But that's the learning moment. That moment's absolutely necessary to go there as long as it's shared, as long as it doesn't happen in the quiet. And that's why I'm here, to share this because this is what enables the Wright brothers nine years later to take off. They credit Otto with all the research that they need to make it happen. So we'll get there together.

Here's what Red Rover did, we launched, University of Wisconsin Madison, we launched a simple directory that had tags, we'll come back to that so this will be a theme. It worked really well, they replaced their interest survey. And then we lost our stakeholder, she left her job. She had the vision, she believed in it and she left her job and then we got replaced by CollegiateLink because Wisconsin Madison decided that solving the pain of paper work around student groups was more pressing than the opportunity of increasing engagement at Madison. That's the choice they made.


We launched them to Mexico State University, same thing. Six months later, we lost our primary stakeholder and then there were brutal budget cuts in the Mexico State University, not unusual. And we got cut there after the first year at the same program. I want to be clear, I'm not blaming Higher Education or these people or these institutions for doing anything wrong. There's tons of things that we did not do well, there's tons of things. It was a new endeavor but this is where we were in the learning moment. Here's the lessons that we learned, so the good, directories. Directories are massively underutilized for making those connections. They're not perfect but there's a couple of small tweaks that you can make to make a big difference.

Simple, simple, simple really smart and super useful. It goes like this, students love people like you over the summer. Send them an email that says, "hey, you can meet people like you at this school." If you can deliver that with the directory, they don't need too much functionality to actually deliver on that promise. All you need are simple tags. I'll come back to that. Students are happy to connect their social media.


Two years ago, there was a ton of concern about, will students be comfortable connecting their Facebook or will they be comfortable connecting their Twitter? The answer is yes, the adoption rates when we get them a profile and we say, "here's the slot where you put your Twitter" they do it at the same rates the students adapts Twitter in general. So absolutely, they're totally comfortable sharing that as an expression of their identity.

Students love tag shopping. Give them a list of the interests that are available with the other students or the other faculty on the campus and they will click away and add tags to themselves, it's really a fun game for them. That was one of the most successful things that we did inside of an interface. And I'll show you what that looks like. Insights from tags are super powerful. At San Antonio College, they found out that 12% of their incoming class was interested in golf and they didn't have a golf group. So then they sent an email to those people saying, "hey, uh have you met uh?" you're all golfers. They made a golf team and then they went to state the following year. An amazing opportunity that came from introducing students to each other using technology.

I'm not talking about social media with this unicorn. I’m talking about social architecture using the data that’s available and the technology that’s available to get better outcome systematically for students. The last one is really simple inside of this, is technical communications increases open raised an email. So if you’ve send us an email and you say, hey, because you’re interested in golf, you’re getting this communication from somebody about golf.

They’ll open it up three or four times the rates of other subject lines that are available. Because you’re expressing care by telling them hey, I’m trying to be relevant based on what you’ve told me. So these are what we’ve learned directory making us little tweets adding that functionality to your directory. It makes a big difference. It’s really worth doing. It’s not very hard.

Then we made a mistake and we want to step further with something that worked but was dangerous. Group recommendation – so the campus groups that exist on campus right now by matching the tags that were on the directory sort of tags within the groups. It increased involvement – initial involvement rates by about 80%, which is great. Thirty six percent involvement added to your college is about double the average rate according to Community College Survey of Engagement.


So that was exciting but it let us down this road into group management software, which is a massive explosion of bureaucratic. It needs to have these seven fields and these nine pieces of functionality. And we got pulled away from innovation and all the things we wanted to do, and into the old way that it needed to be done. That was – that lesson.

Said in another way – we start out with the directory that did a few things really well, and then we tag on this group management software like a big old horse trail that it nearly killed us. Or said, yet another way – if this is vast and that’s not vast, we ended up at half vast. Doing new things is inherently more complicated than doing old things.

Complication comes at a cost and time and money. That’s just kind of how it works. I wish it didn’t, but it did, so to learning, really, really simple. We learn small or large but not half vast. That’s what we learn.


Going a little bit deeper into large, we thought it was about the technology because we’re technologist, because we are so excited about the possibilities of what technology could do with the big data and the machinery and all the stuff that we wanted to do, we neglected their account for all of the different process that needed to come in front of that technology, especially neglected their account for the fear.

This was our biggest mistake in going out. Fear was insanely expensive in our process. It looked like customer support, customer support, customer support, hand holding, late night phone calls – it’s going to be OK, we’re going to be OK – it’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK.

It looked like one department not being able to communicate with another department because the other department said, “You know, that’s just too new and too scary. We’re not going to do it.” So we couldn’t get pass the initial stakeholders. This is just the struggle of innovation. Again, I don’t mean to sound complaining. I just want to tell you how it works.


So this is our path. This is what we spent a year doing. We did some soul searching at the end of last year. And we thought, we got three fifths of the unicorn. What do we do with that? And it was a tough time. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s a little disappointing when you find yourself in other’s position. Then I did a presentation to a large multinational corporation.

And I said, “Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and peer-to-peer learning.” and I said, “Oh, my gosh! The guy literally found on the table.” We want it. And like well, that’s fine but it’s not for you. It’s for higher education. He said, “No, no, no, no. I don’t care.” We have the exact same problem. We have tons of people on our dance floor across our global corporation that are not engaged.

Our best knowledge is trapped inside the heads of our people. If we could connect them to each other where everyone could be a teacher and they could all teach each other, we will get massive knowledge transfer. We’ll get massive employee retention. We wouldn’t really get recruitment. That would make a big difference on a bottom line. By the way, we spend a billion five in our people. If we could just twist that 4-5% more effectively, we’d pay some money for that. Would you pay a lot of money for that?



So I made a choice a year ago to work with corporations. I felt a little like selling out. But it was the right thing to do if we want to build the unicorn. And the good news that I get to come here and tell you today, “Guess what, HighEd? Corporate America is going to buy you a unicorn.”

But just the technology not the process – just the tech not the process. We don’t have the process figured out, we just have the tech. So this is the conversation around innovation. I’m not really sure what to do with it. I’m interested in talking about it. I know that from most of you on most campuses especially army of one, small schools, budgets – that’s like you’re not in innovative mindset. I get it, I know. And somebody – I don’t I think we’re saying that. He’s team is doing 20% innovation time. That’s great. I think that’s rare.


I know I want to talk about the big night’s thing. I want to make the big thing happen – that’s just our nature. But I just want to just leave you with the simple step. So I do want to go back to the directory. What’s the simple cheap thing that you can do right now. You can build this, you can buy this, it’s simple. It doesn’t do much. But when it does, it does really well.

Michael Staten is taking pictures of it, so he can jack it. Interest, right here – that’s the key. That’s it, it’s just tag. Just add that to whatever profile you have. You can totally do this Drupal or BuddyPress, or whatever you want. Just add tags, it’s really simple. Because now your changing the used cases of your directory from – I’m searching from somebody I know who’s contact information I forgot, which frankly is not particularly useful when it comes to educational context for a new student to I’m looking for someone that matches this attribute, who’s also interested in chess, who’s also interested in calligraphy.


For somebody, that’s a really interesting used case for anything student. And then you can do tag matching if you want, or you can get people that say, you can sort or find people page by similar interest so people can get across this interest.

Because then if you can get – once you have those tags, the next used case to add on top and then stop here because beyond here is doomed. But do this, just go this far. Once you have these tags, you can let your admin sort. So the people in this residence hall who are interested in movies, I want to send a message to just those people so that students can get relevant communication from you administration, and you’re directory can now be very useful with three or four brand new used cases with only a couple of features that you valid.

Again build it really proves that work but I do like unicorns. So here’s what we build with the corporation last year. Addition – start out with the same directory. But now when they attach the social media, we build a feed aggregation engine, so that when they attach external services, things like Facebook or Twitter or YouTube or whatever else, and internal services – things that are attached like student information systems, collaboration spaces, e-portfolios, WordPress blogs, Confluence, Wikis whatever you got.


People can attach those to their profiles and the aggregation system pulls it all into one giant sortable, filterable, searchable database. So, now inside of your search, students can search for something like Web design and they get an interface like this where they’re searching across all of the social media published by whoever is in the directory – faculty, staff, students, alumni, everybody.

And this is where it gets really fun because it’s go back to dance floor. Now, on a Web design using the top contributors to that topic, across everybody, across the whole dance floor that’s in the directory, you can see the files. The people that are most engaged in the topic that you just told is relevant to you. Then you get trending topic, so you can drill further into. What are the trending topics? Live trending topics across all your social media for your whole school today. Right? That’s really fun.


What’s your school talking about on Twitter, hashtags, come up as tags – it pulls everything in. And you get a filterable save search, so that you as an administrators or whoever you want to this, you can send one. Everybody have on their top channel their feed from their major because things start out with their major. Or I want something for this special day. I’m going to this hashtag and now whoever wants to do, add this hashtag. Anything will be just live pulling feed from all across all the social media.

Underneath the hood – where is Todd? In New York, this concept has been overexposed. It means when you go to the party early and stay late, you’re overexposed and standards as really good at avoiding being overexposed at least in the edge sessions.


Activity streams are under the hood. This is actually the biggest technical piece that’s really, really important. So by harvesting the social media, what’s this – this is the standard Jason format that breaks up streams into actor, verb, and object. When you start aggregating these different streams in one storage place, it gives you all kinds of amazing possibilities.

Social media will start the feeds this way, the practice of getting things out of banner and some guarding things like that will take a little more time but the APIs are getting there. Start with the social media because then you can build analytics. Once you gather the activity streams logging, reading, sharing, liking, checking in, commenting, posting any verb you can think of, you can send into the system in activity stream format.

Then you do dashboards where you allocate points for those verbs. So blogging is worth 10 points, liking is worth 2 points across these different social media formats. Now you can do runtime scoring. So if you’re adding up – a blog is worth 10 points, you do 10 blogs, you get 10 points in that point. So, 100 points is at level 5 engagement on the dance floor.


Seventy points is at level 4 engagement on the dance floor. You can actually model out the engagement of your entire campus. You can do the passive and search, drill into that. This is what corporate America is really excited about because they’re really interested in how South America doing on this conversation. Who are the people they are talking about this topic that are really engaging in.

What’s that curve actually look like? How do we bend that curve? Because we want more people talking about this topic. It’s really fun. Again, social architecture not social media – it’s really more advanced. Having this sort of scoring system allows for stakeholder involvement because this is a really simple language around it. How’s our school doing?

The old way of measuring engagement on your campus is the National Student Survey Engagement. It’s a Likert scale. It’s a self reported Likert scale with the results come back nine months later. You can’t do anything about self-reported Likert scale that comes back. The representational samples are 5%. This is the standard right now.


Seven hundred schools are paying eight grand a year to the survey. Think about self reporting Likert as an instrument just for a moment. How many times that you go to the gym last year? How many times that you’re going to go the gym next year? How accurate are those two statements? That’s the best we’ve got.

But this real time actionable insight is what’s exciting to me – this is the unicorn. Because students need people like them. They need people who like what they like, and they need an audience. They need people to care because that’s what they’ve going to get them to start publishing their best. That’s what’s they going to get them to come out their shell.

In the same way, people at HighEdWeb some of you I’m sure in this room come out of your shell at HighEdWeb because you have an audience. The choice is pretty stark. It’s going to take a while. It’s not going to be a straight road. I’m not going to say to work out with friends and that’s what I got. From here it’s just a conversation. I don’t really know where it goes from here. It’s kind of weird vendor position, I know. But that’s what I got.


So what I’m hoping for – there are three main categories around this talk. There’s the people stuff how do people work when dance floor is coming to get out of that. There’s the technology what might be systems look like to this sort of social architecture that’s available to you that you grasps conceptually in way that most people in your campus wont because you have the experience here.

And then there’s the – I don’t know, let’s call it business stuff. So, does this ever apply to your campus? Does this make sense to your campus at all? Would you ever do this, yes or no? If you want to do, would you build it in Drupal. Would you want it build in BuddyPress? Would you want to buy it? How would you want to do it?

So there’s the three categories of conversation. To kind of open it up, why don’t we start the tables just like for two minutes and then we’ll come up and do a back and forth so everybody can share. I’ll give you little new music. Go for it.

Audience: I’ll start, hi. So, my question is you know, I’d really strongly believe in all the community building when it comes to retention and those efforts at colleges because I feel that’s one of the big things that we’re not tracking. And I love that you’re looking at it and now applying analytics to look at some longitudinal stuff. What is your thought with academics when it comes to – I’ve heard sort of the main purpose of going to college is…


Kevin Prentiss: I’ve heard about that.

Audience: Right. So, I mean I feel like this is an amazing model that helps with building student community, but do you see academics feeding into this or that’s a separate thing to measure success, measure engagement with faculty and student interactions.

Kevin Prentiss: Yeah, yeah. So this means – unicorns I don’t know if the aggregate entirely done. So this is a big vision. But the way that we’re thinking about, the way that we’re planning with it is that you add a hashtag to yourself so #09123, now you’re in group with a class and you’ve got a live back channel, back and forth type interface, so we can track that for engagement back could be fed in to a system like Moodle.

Most of these new LMSs, I know Blackboard just announced an educ cause that they now get social, which I haven’t look out but I’m highly skeptical of. So, you know they’re going to have more, more plugins where they’re trying to pour in content in and out.


And the new vendors like Instructure, which are awesome by the way. Instructure, if you don’t them you have to check them out. They’re absolutely incredible. Our all API’ing up, right. This isn’t one system. This is a bunch of systems doing what they do well. And so, I think there are copyright types of things around the LMS that we don’t want to touch.

Because we already touch the hot stuff a couple of times. And then the faculty adoption thing is another thing that we don’t want to touch. So, I’m excited about informal social learning context online. I think that’s what ‘crackable’ in the near term. And I do think that that’s portable with the APIs into LMSs if that 3% of cutting edge professor that will play the tools, play with that. We’ll make an easy form. Great question, now thank you.


Audience: So, yeah we’re talking a little bit. It kind of stems from this like – what would we do. You know, there’s a portal project going on. Why would students want to go to a portal? And Darrel has it – works. By the way, have you met Darrel? Damon, sorry.

Kevin Prentiss: I have not.

Audience: To my point – who is he? Is he Darrel or is he Damon? So, how do you know who this people are? So, there in Facebook or there’s a site you like, or Rough Works where people are sharing, things they’re reading in the library. And they say, I’m interested in this topic – I’m interested in this author.

There’s all this data already out there, students’ sorority supplying it. So how this infrastructure works? So, do you have to drive them to a particular interface? You’re saying no because there are APIs. But how do you trace them through all of these different services?

Kevin Prentiss: Right. That’s the activity stream. And actually, it’s the same exact situation in corporate America. They’ve got tons of Thompson writers – friends and we had a long conversation with them. They purchased 15 companies in the last however long. So every one of those companies is using some different communication – Wiki, confluence, forum, chat, whatever bookmarking something rather system.


And so, by replacing the directory and having it via meta directory, where the question is what services do you actually use. It’s really a need. It makes each one of their people a librarian for the content that they care about. And all they need to do to categorize that is attach it to their profile and then we harvest whatever API – we harvest whatever activity streams are available.

So now we’re already holding a little bit to the activity streams. Sometimes in the case of a blog, we’ll get – David posted a blog and we’ll get the content of the blog. Some activity streams just based on their XML, we’ll just say we know they posted a blog, but we don’t know really what’s in it. Facebook does that quite a bit. They’ll hold on to some key data. You know, in Facebook what you’re going to do.


But for the most part, those APIs are conquerable. When you get enough people to say, “Yes, this is the system we care about.” We’re big believers and don’t replace anything that’s working. Don’t ask users to change the interface from the one they want. Just aggregate the information from the places they actually use it. Has that answer the question?

Audience: Yeah.

Kevin Prentiss: Yeah.

Audience: I was talking to somebody earlier and I don’t know any numbers on this. But, we right now use Facebook group for your freshman class and I was thinking about possible using Ning, use Facebook login to pull their info and that. I have heard don’t do that. Nobody wants to have that extra network you have to be a part of.

How do you make this not become an extra thing on top of the Facebook where they’re already spending their whole day? How do you make this the thing that they can really grab on to?

Kevin Prentiss: Yeah, and I think that’s one of the biggest questions for sure. And it goes back to process and adoption. That yet another network syndrome ends like, that’s the thing, right. So it goes a little bit back to – they don’t have to.


So they’re just aggregating it. They’re just logging in once. There’s something up in the directory that students will do pretty much. I don’t – this sounds belittling but I don’t mean it this way. Do pretty much for anything you ask of them in the summer before they start school. And then once they start school, they stop opening their email because they get family crazy and then they stop doing anything that you ask around and that’s the state of affairs for the rest of the time.

So you got a little window of adoption there where you can get them set up in a directory, you can start harvesting the feeds and then you just bend the curve over time. This isn’t intended to be a social network. This is intended to be a connection place. So around Facebook in particular, Facebook is incredibly powerful and does great things in students actually spending a lot of time on it.

And so it’s easy I think to go to, let’s go where they are. And I think Facebook pages for the most part do that pretty well. I feel strongly that there is an ethical responsibility for higher education to move students from social context in Facebook into a professional context and give them a chance to be some in public.

So I think that for the students that are already sharing blogs and sharing tweets and connecting around that or connecting to alumni in LinkedIn. Those are important patterns for their success in life, and I think that’s what schools need to do. I feel like going too far in the Facebook as like moving the school into the mall, like it’s weird.

Audience: Do you have any pages like ad... and does blog, and still makes emails based on our likes?

Kevin Prentiss: Yup, so this – I don’t want to be like this is our feature sort of thing. But the patent is that you want to go for if you’re going to build this kind of thing is absolutely you need newsletters that go out once a week and then every other week. Every other week is the right pattern during the school year. And it has to be just – you said this, so you’re getting this. The second you change your mind, just click here to change your mind – not a big deal.


So you said you’re interested in chess, we’re telling you about this guy that’s bugging about chess on campus who’s in your residence hall – there you go. You know, so that the pattern could be really lightweight. I really like the feel in general of Mint – for anybody who’s on Every Friday, so I hook on my credit cards, it does the same sort of stuff. It’s reading the background figuring out where on spending money.

Every Friday it tells me how much money I don’t have. That’s really great because it makes me feel responsible. And the second I know – the second I get that email if I want to go see what my money is doing if I want to be a little more responsible. I know I can log in. We’re not trying to compete on the daily basis with Facebook. That’s the social belonging. Later, that’s going to be huge well into their 20s as far as their cycle, psychological needs. We’ll, thank you very much.  

Audience: Can I ask about this sponsorship of the – you talk about your key stakeholders and when key stakeholders leave that did not as go well. So, I mean I’m a programmer on a creative team, which is a little bit like a fish out of water anyway. And I don’t have a whole lot of where who’s the stakeholder if I think this is direction that would be great for the institution, for connection and for those things.


What kind of stakeholder would you suggest to be able to push that forward to be able to get the right resources, not just money but people’s time or effort behind it.

Kevin Prentiss: Yeah, totally. Thank you. So, I’m not 100% sure. I don’t know exactly the right pattern yet. But what I’m clear on is that the Web team can do a great directory and that can be great. You don’t need to do any change management to do a better directory to offer that service to people. It used well enough, they’ll pick up and after go. No big deal. Partner with orientations, and here it is and that’s it. We’ll just let them know.  For the bigger sort of change, you have to start at the top, and so whatever top is for. It depends on the size of school.


So that’s why you know for unicorns it’s going to be a few schools, it’s going to be a long conversation and build my friends. So if you’re interested in this, we want to talk. If you’re working on this, we want to talk. We’re going to be open sourcing some of the deeper technology behind it. So if you’ve got Drupal front ends and WordPress front ends – a lot of us has tied with WordPress. We just want to play. We want to get there. We want to get there together, and a little help from your friends. Thanks.