As a grad student in Library and Information Studies here at FSU I am currently enrolled in a course titled “Assessing Information Needs.” I will admit, I chose it solely because it is a required course. But now, two weeks in, I have become intrigued by the concept of an “information need.”
In addition to being a student, I work at FSU as an academic advisor. Part of my job is to effectively communicate to students the requirements of their degree, and what the university expects of them in order to graduate. Based on some early readings for my class, I started to wonder, “What are the information needs of a student at FSU, and how can I effectively communicate with them if I am not privy to those needs?” Walking through Strozier Library this afternoon, I “took inventory” (spied) on the screens the students were using. As expected, 7/10 were on Facebook and at least 2 were using some sort of chat client. Therefore, based on my highly scientific methods, it would seem that students are gathering information from sites like Facebook, and sharing it via instant messaging. (I made no immediate judgments about the type or content of said information). Going further, it would also make sense that in order to accurately fulfill my position and duties, the students would be best served by at least having access to me via their preferred communication channel. Right?
Maybe. This is where it gets sticky. There are more than a few universities that are currently adopting social media strategies to “meet the students where they are at,” as the catchphrase goes. UT Dallas for example supports a Twitter feed and multiple Facebook Pages. The complications come in dealing with Information Policy, privacy issues and sometimes unwillingness at the administrative level to put in efforts to accomplish such goals. Here at FSU, as far as I know, there are little to no official policies or motions toward addressing the information gap between students and advisors, for example. (or any policies discussing faculty/staff blogging practices… yikes!)
In becoming interested in this topic and through some asking around, I have been invited to join an official FSU Social Media Committee. I hope that this opportunity will allow me to propose that the school quickly introduce a policy that allows, or better encourages staff and faculty to get creative with their communication. Because, lets face it, kids just don’t care about websites anymore. And if we are to interact with them, it is going to have to involve some social and immediate point of access.
If you were/are a student right now, would you appreciate your university being available on some of the communication channels you use regularly?
How do you prefer to get information from your school/job?