Online Resources for Students

The first few weeks of classes have come and gone and we’re officially immersed in the 2017-2018 academic year. Running from classes to extra-curricular activities, both students old and new are starting to settle into their rhythm for what’s to come as the year progresses.

But what if I told you there are more ways to help with this rhythm? To assist in discovering important information and acquiring access to tools that will make the day of any student easier? There are more than a few to be found around different Hope College websites.

Here’s a look at a few of the helpful online resources that you may not have known about:

inHope (in.hope.edu)

When you log in to in.hope.edu, you’ll have instant access to the one-stop shop of online resources for students. Not only can you search employees and students at Hope College, but you can also sign in to your 1Hope, plus.hope.edu, and Moodle accounts. And, don’t miss clicking on “Resources” for a full menu:

There are a number of useful links featured, including:

  • Marketplace, an online buying-and-selling board
  • Dining Menus for both Phelps and Cook Dining Halls
  • Handshake, the Career Development Center’s new website for discovering internships, job opportunities, and career-related events on campus
  • Ride Exchange, a forum for students to get a ride back home from another student in the community heading to the same place

 

inHope also features campus announcements, news, and more.

Hope College Campus Map (maps.hope.edu)

 

The Admissions Office isn’t the only place you can find a map of campus. At maps.hope.edu, you can find an interactive map of our entire campus. See 360 images through the Pine Grove, the Bultman Student Center, and more. Access virtual walking tours around the residence halls and learn the history of each through information bubbles that accompany each location.You can even select the “Parking” box and easily discover which parking lots are for students, employees, or visitors. The Campus Map is a perfect way to see all campus from the comfort of your laptop or phone, anywhere you may be.

Hope College Blog Network (blogs.hope.edu)

When asked about what makes Hope College the best college for them, many students often respond with the word “community”. The Hope College Blog Network highlights the stories of this transformative community. From academic features to study abroad experiences, the directory of blogs from across campus share pieces of the amazing things happening at Hope and in the world. This resource is also particularly helpful for hearing what’s happening in your favorite academic departments and student groups.

One useful blog offering, in particular, is a podcast through the Campus Ministries blog (blogs.hope.edu/campus-ministries/) which features a recording of each message given during our thrice-weekly chapel services as well as our weekly Sunday night Gatherings.

Library Search (hope.edu/lib)

On the Van Wylen Library’s website, students have access to a myriad of search options through the library’s own resources. These include The MightyFind, a search engine optimized to assist students in starting research projects by showing them an abundance of online resources related to their subject that can be refined by content type, date published, and more. Another option included is the Online Reference Shelf, which searches through encyclopedias, dictionaries, and almanacs to further define terms and concepts.

These resources are ones that will equip students with the knowledge to better tackle the year ahead and best utilize all that your Hope College education can offer.

Kill Your Jargon

This post provides a brief overview of how to enhance problem-based experiences within a meaning-centered paradigm while strategizing metacognitive decision-making across cognitive and affective domains. By the time you reach the end, you’ll understand how to disaggregate assessment-driven manipulatives for our 21st century learners.

No, I don’t know what any of that means. In fact, I hope it’s complete nonsense, because I copied it out of an educational jargon generator. Jargon, like the kind you find above, generally falls into three different categories. You should avoid them all when you write — and especially when you write for the Hope website.

One type of jargon is industry insider terminology — the kinds of words from my first paragraph. Closely related to these words are industry-specific acronyms and initialisms: If you don’t know what a LYBUNT is, you must not spend much time talking to donors in advancement, development or fundraising.

Another type is words that are so commonly used that they’ve been pretty well emptied of their meaning. These are a bit trickier to recognize: “Engagement.” Yes, but what kind of engagement? “Convening.” Who’s coming together and why? “Impact.” What sort of impact?

Finally, there are those big words that you use when you really mean something simple. What do you mean when you talk about ‘scaling up’ or ‘taking something to scale’ or ‘maximizing’? Right, you mean ‘make it bigger.’ ‘Conceptualize’? Oh, you mean ‘think about.’

Here are three reasons using jargon is a bad idea:

  1. Jargon obscures your message.
    When we write, we write to be understood. Your words should make it easier for people to understand you — never harder.
  2. Jargon makes people feel like outsiders.
    We’re in this together, really, and that means we should speak a common language. Don’t use language that excludes, condescends, or reminds people that they’re not in the know.
  3. Jargon makes you sound dumb.
    A lot of people use jargon because they think big words make them sound smarter, but it actually does the opposite: If your readers don’t know what you’re talking about, they’ll assume that you probably don’t know what you’re talking about, either.

When it comes to effective writing, getting rid of jargon is a must. There is no neutral ground: Either kill your jargon, or your jargon will kill your message.

Here’s how to get rid of it:

  1. Say what you mean, and say it plainly.
    Use short, simple, common words.
  2. Use a conversational tone.
    Unless you literally sound like you’re reading a peer-reviewed journal every time you open your mouth, write how you speak. Better: Write how you speak to middle schoolers.
  3. Ask someone unfamiliar with higher education or your subject area to read your content.
    Do they know what you mean? Can they correctly repeat the information back to you in their own words? What did they find confusing or unclear?

Blogger Bootcamp

What to improve your blog this fall? Public Affairs and Marketing is hosting a Blogger Bootcamp with Elizabeth Council, digital strategist at Hope. Elizabeth helps manage our blog network, including editing Stories of Hope. She also manages the college’s social media accounts, and wants to help you be better at sharing your department’s stories on your blog.

This one-hour session will energize your interest in blogging and offer tips on:

  • Getting started
  • What to write about
  • How often and how much to write
  • How to cross-promote your blogs on social media
  • How to plan ahead

Join us!

Thursday, Aug. 17, 2:30 p.m.

Plaza Large Conference Room

Register Here

Building Social Media Strategy A Shared Task Across All Colleges

From left, Alan Babbitt, Jil Price, Baylor’s Associate Director of Athletic Communications, and Benjamin Stockwell, Assumption’s Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications

Instagram Stories. Facebook videos. Twitter graphics. Snapchat filters. Rapidly evolving social media presents similar challenges and opportunities for colleges all across the country, whether they are trying to promote student-athlete success in the classroom or in athletic competition.

The questions asked and answers sought here at Hope College aren’t much different than the ones asked at scholarship-offering institutions such as Baylor University in Texas and Assumption College in Massachusetts.

I recently was invited to speak on a panel at the annual College Sports Information Directors of America, National Association of College Marketing Administrators, and National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Conference in Orlando, Florida, along with athletic communication professionals and marketers from NCAA Division I member Baylor and NCAA Division II Assumption.

Jil Price of Baylor, Ben Stockwell of Assumption and myself shared our insights on and experiences from developing a social media strategy with fellow athletic communication professionals and athletic administrators. We covered topics ranging from covering all of your sports without making teams feel inferior, to how to emphasize how to focus on a positive social media message, to teaching coaches how to support the college’s social media reach and how to utilize the coaches who already excel in social media.

We stressed how important communication and consistency are to creating a social media strategy that is both engaging and celebratory of all student-athlete accomplishments, no matter the varying levels of public and media interest.

While there are an increasing number of promotional options in social media, the fundamentals and keys to success remain the same for all institutions. Be focused. Be intentional. Whatever you do, do it well to maximize your opportunity to connect with the public, whether it be student-athletes, coaches, fans, or prospective students.

Updates (upgrades?) to Directory Profiles

Hey all! I’m coming to you from the sunny back corner of the Web Team office in Public Affairs & Marketing with a quick post to catch you up on recent changes in the profile templates in the Hope College directory. When the profile template was originally designed, it included an optional Google Map to indicate your campus office location, and four fields to link to major social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram). After using the template for a while, creating nearly 400 faculty and staff profiles, we thought it was a good idea to make the options a bit more flexible, a bit less manual and a bit more fun. So here’s the skinny …

Automatic Office Maps

Profile Google MapYour profile always had the option to include a map showing your campus office. But the address had to be added manually. Since your profile is already connected to Banner, there’s no sense doing extra work! Now all profiles will automatically drop a pin on the Google Map, indicating the office address in your Banner record.

Do you spend more time at another location? No worries. We can enter a different location! Don’t want a map at all? No worries. We’ll check that little box and poof no map.

Buttons for External Links

A lot of folks have additional links they like to include in their profile, aside from social media. Some are personal websites, some are CVs, and some we haven’t thought of yet are probably coming to mind as you read this. No longer will you need to awkwardly work these links into the otherwise brilliantly crafted narrative of your profile. We give you, custom buttons.

Flexible Social Media Links

If hearing about these new features hasn’t made the old profile options seem outdated, hold on to your hats. We reached into our interweb wrangling imaginations and pulled out some magic, and sprinkled it all over your social media links.

You can now add any social media link you like. Let me repeat that. You can now add any social media link you like. The page will automagically style the link using the social network’s logo and brand colors!!

Profile Social Media Icons

The networks currently included in the template are:

PRO TIP
To add a Snapchat link, put your handle after https://www.snapchat.com/add/ and the link will take users to a page with your Snapcode!

Is this superb, or what?! Are you disappointed to not see one of your favorite sites on the list? No worries. If it’s included in the FontAwesome collection, we’ll add it, for FREE! You read that right — we will add all requested, available icons at no additional cost to you! If it’s not available as a FontAwesome icon, go ahead and add it anyway — it will show as a stylish link icon.

That’s all folks! Commence dancing around your office with excitement.
It’s cool. We do it too.

As always, holler with any questions.
Much thanks,
Craig Tommola

10 Steps to Building a Better Blog

hello cut letters sign

Hope boasts over 40 blogs on the college’s blog network ranging in focus from faculty and administrative work to admissions features for prospective students. Public Affairs and Marketing helps maintain our network and serves as a campus resource to help our bloggers improve their site and their posts. We’re here to help you get better at blogging — and to blog more!

Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Know your audience. Decide who you’re writing for even before you start typing.
  2. Think like your audience. What do they care about? What do they want and need to know? How do they talk and write? Write for them.
  3. What’s your topic? Start with a general topic but know that it can evolve once you’ve started and that is OK! Subheadings are great for breaking up ideas.
  4. Have a lot to say? Simplify your post with a bulleted list or create a series of shorter blog posts.
  5. At a loss for words? No worries. Sometimes a paragraph or two, or even a short list, is all you need to say. Or, if you’re stumped, start by simply ask yourself questions about your topic and then answer them. Voila! You have a new post.
  6. Include a graphic, photo or short video that supports your writing.
    macbook and coffee
  7. Include links to relevant and/or additional information. If you like this post, you might like 12 Blogging mistakes most beginners make.
  8. Publish your post when your audience will have time to read it — and when they expect it. Timing matters. For example, don’t wait until two days before to tell people about your event; And, publish on weekdays if it’s work related (but avoid Mondays and Fridays).
  9. After your post is published, share it to your social media by telling people what’s in it for them. Give your followers a reason to click through. It’s OK to repurpose content over and over, too. Create a strategy for promoting your blog on social.
  10. Keep at it! Decide how often your blog needs fresh material and work to follow a consistent publishing schedule. Your followers will come to expect and enjoy your new content on a regular basis.

Still have questions about improving your blog? Contact Elizabeth Council in Public Affairs and Marketing to schedule a consultation. 

Instagram vs. Snapchat Stories: Why I’m (Still) Obsessed With Both

2017 is the year of the social media story. Originally created and monopolized by Snapchat, “Stories” is also a feature of Instagram (and Facebook, with little use), and is eerily similar to the Snappy original.

It’s here that I need to admit that, when Instagram originally added the Stories feature, I was flummoxed. Flabbergasted. And angry. The update came around not long after I began my first social media marketing job. I was at work when it surfaced on each person’s phone in the office, a familiar notification in the App Store. We spent the rest of that day discussing Instagram Stories off and on. How dare Instagram rip off Snapchat?! Instagram is owned by Facebook so, to us, stealing ideas from independent Snapchat just seemed wrong; I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t just use Snapchat, the home of the original story. Before I ate lunch, I posted a Snap to my story claiming my territory, promising I would never leave. 

And then, slowly, I began to see what makes Instagram stories unique: the quality. I started noticing gorgeous images and videos (along with the occasional amusing Boomerang). The drawing tools are smooth and alluring, and there are more distinct filters offered to lay over images and videos. As more of my friends and favorite influencers became acquainted with the feature, the more intrigued I became. Could I dare step back on my promise to defend Snapchat until its dying day?

I was not the only one easily suaded by the aesthetically pleasing Instagram spin-off; according to TechCrunch, Snapchat users have been using the application 20-40% less since the launch of Instagram Stories. Instagram definitely hit Snapchat where it hurts.

There’s good news here. Snapchat is not dying, with upwards of 58% of Snapchat users not being reached on any other comparable platform. Additionally, a survey conducted by WhatsGoodly in April found that 78% of millennials surveyed still preferred Snapchat over Instagram stories. And brand ambassador network Heartbeat found that out of the 100,000 13-20 year olds they surveyed, 74%  post more on Snapchat than Instagram. Yet, Instagram stories are gaining traction overall, with over 200 million daily users around the world.

The best news? You don’t have to choose just one.

Here’s why I love both:

Snapchat

 

 

  • Having been a Snapchat user since 2013, I think of Snapchat as the application on my phone that most embodies its “social” label. My friends on Snapchat don’t have to look pretty, or fancy, or be doing anything particularly interesting to post to their story or send something to me privately. 
  • Concerts, hangouts and other social events are best placed on Snapchat for privacy, which serves as another draw for the platform. Unless your account is private, anyone can see your story on Instagram. To be friends with someone on Snapchat means both parties consented to add each other. That makes the experience more intimate and explains the relaxed vibe most users find on Snapchat.  
  • I head to Snapchat if I want to know what everyone’s up to tonight. I post spur-of-the-moment videos of my friends being funny, scenic shots if the weather’s nice or not, and little victories I want to brag about. It’s where my friends are.

Instagram

 

 

  • I’ve started appreciating Instagram only really in the past year, and it’s because of newly-developed features such as the optimization for high-quality images. When Instagram updated the design of their entire interface about a year ago, every element was intentional in directing the focus of users to the images.
  • The Explore feature works to create a community feel by offering a stream of posts by accounts you don’t follow. It allows users to view similar posts to ones they’ve already liked.
  • Instagram allows you to discover new companies, stores, retailers, restaurants, and events to interact with socially. 
  • I use Instagram stories when I’m out to brunch with my friends. I post when the angles line up in my office, the sun hits just right, a tree or flower looks particularly alluring, or my favorite local shop has a cool display. It’s where I can build my social clout and community.

Unlikely as it may seem, many young people like myself still find Instagram and Snapchat stories relevant. Next time someone tells you they use both Instagram and Snapchat, know it’s a true story.