University Communications in the Third Millennium

I have the delightful opportunity this morning to present on social media for the Marketing and Communications Conference for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. I’m even going to get to meet a real-life Chancellor, James McCormick. I’m thinking I might ask what it would take for me to get SMUG accredited, but a more realistic goal would be to avoid have Chancellor McCormick (or one of his colleagues) tell me it’s OK to still use the title Chancellor for my office in this tongue-in-cheek university.

I think we’ll have a lot of fun with this, and hope to post some video later from the event.

Here are the slides:

Meanwhile, I think it’s pretty exciting that they have a Twitter hashtag established for the conference: #madmn. Please feel free to follow a long and chime in. I’ll be getting started about 9:15 a.m. CST, just after the real chancellor gets done with his greeting.

SMUG Campus in Summer

When SMUG was officially established (last January) as an on-line university providing hands-on help in learning about social media and how to practically apply these tools in businesses and other large organizations, I included some campus photos in our SMUG Facebook group.

The photos included interior shots of our turn-of-the-20th-century architecture as well as some exteriors. But let’s face, for most people Minnesota in January seems less appealing than it does with our lush spring and summer foliage, so here are a couple of videos that show our Ivy covered walls:


And our Oak-shrouded “Old Main” campus, including a preview of SMUG’s North Annex (a.k.a. Aase family garage), which is under construction and will include “classroom” space on the second level.


By the way, if any philanthropists are interested in funding the SMUG campus expansion, your generosity may be appropriately recognized through the facility naming. 😉

Making it Easy to Enroll

It just occurred to me (maybe because I’m too close to the content of this blog) that I need to make it clearer how people can enroll as SMUG students. So we have a new page, Enroll Now, to simplify the process. You have enrollment options, but now you don’t have to find your way to this post on the SMUG page, which was kind of buried.

There’s a difference between being unstructured and being disorganized. Hopefully now we’re back on the unstructured side.

Social Media University, Global doesn’t have any financial barriers to entry, since we charge no tuition; hopefully now we’ve eliminated a site navigation barrier, too.

SMUG Week in Review 2-24-08

It was a full week for Social Media University, Global (SMUG) students, of whom there are now 49 (up from 34 just a week ago!)

The Facebook Hacker Challenge was updated and expanded. Then a commenter raised the issue of whether encouraging someone to try to hack the group would constitute a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service. Your Chancellor decided it may be worth up to $200 to find out how secure Facebook’s secret groups are, but it’s not worth getting his Facebook account suspended, so I brought the challenge to an end.

Which is, I guess, a way of saying Facebook (even though it’s free), is worth more than $200 to me. That got me thinking that maybe a $15 billion valuation for Facebook isn’t all that outlandish; if you multiply 65 million active users by $200 each, that’s $13 billion. I may not be typical; there may be lots of users who would walk away from Facebook forever if you offered them five bucks. But I suspect many others wouldn’t trade their access to Facebook for $500 or even $1,000.

In one way, this back-of-the-envelope calculation doesn’t mean much. The fact that I perceive Facebook as being worth more than $200 to me doesn’t directly put money in Mark Zuckerberg’s pockets. But it does suggest that there will be a reasonable tolerance for Facebook trying to monetize its service, even if it means some minor annoyances, because users find Facebook so personally valuable anyway. Of course, the best scenario is one in which the targeting of relevant advertising actually enhances Facebook’s perceived value to users.

In other developments this week, SMUG got a great new URL: This is part of growing up from a blog that started on a whim about 19 months ago to an on-line higher education institution (even if it’s not accredited). The process was pretty painless on my end, and the total cost was $19 (although I did spend another $10 for the .com version of the domain, too.) I hope it’s not too painful for those who had subscribed to the original feed from, or the one that had been burned through Feedburner. I would appreciate any feedback from anyone for whom this has caused a problem (but then, if it has cut off their feed they wouldn’t know about this request, would they?)

We also added two new courses, for which there are homework assignments:

Remember, SMUG is built on the principle of self-paced, hands-on learning. Don’t worry if you get behind. The Curriculum section will always have an up-to-date listing of available courses in sequential order. Complete the coursework as you have the time and inclination.

Unlike traditional colleges and universities that offer degree completion through cohort programs, you don’t have to work at the same pace as everyone else. The SMUG cohort is always growing and accepting new students (15 in the last week alone). So you can’t get behind, because there’s no pace you’re expected to match.

Of course the other major difference between SMUG and other universities is they actually give you a real, accredited degree. And even the cheapest public universities charge tens of thousands of dollars for it.

At SMUG, the B.S. degree you earn has a double meaning. But since it’s free, and since you’ll be gaining a lot of practical knowledge and experience through the process, I’m confident you will find it an exceptional value.

Happy studies!