Announcements in our Student Portal

When MyPCC was first introduced at Portland Community College, I would grab emails that came out to staff to post in our new student portal. The typical practice back then was for staff to send emails out to all other staff about something pertinent to students. Of course these messages were never seen by their true target. Hopefully some staff shared these with students in some way — perhaps posting on a wall or announcing something in class.

The days of me searching for news to post faded quickly. The college soon learned that students do indeed pay attention to announcements posted in the student portal (MyPCC). How did we know this? At the time we didn’t have any real statistics but we did have stories.

A faculty member thanked me for posting a poetry reading. He was very thankful because the reading had more than 70 students attend. This was a very impressive turn out.

We would also regularly get staff members posting an opportunity for students. For example, a job posting. Soon after we’d receive a request to remove the announcement due to the large response.

With success came the flood. I no longer had to search for announcements, everyone wanted one. Now we had to structure the communication. We did (that is a separate story), and while not perfect, our practices and governance are still in place.

We also now have better statistics on views of our announcements. Here are total views for a recent set of announcements:

  • 7,500 views: Grades Available Tues. 3/26
  • 12,000 views: Update on police investigation in the news
  • 6,500 views: Course evaluations online until 3/17
  • 2,500 views: Message from the President: Budget forums set
  • 5,900 views: Desire2Learn Outage and Storage Issues – 1/29/13 (only up for 2 full days)
  • 1,500 views: Weather Alert: All classes and events cancelled until noon today (only up 1 day and available prominently elsewhere on the PCC website)

Here is what a typical month looks like showing pageviews which equate to a view of an announcement:

Graphic showing views of announcement in MyPCC, the Portland Community College student portal, with daily totals ranging from 1,000 to 7,000

Our audience is aware and paying attention to what we say. While MyPCC isn’t the only way we reach our students it is a primary channel.

Oaxaca Team Building Fun

Takeoff, a group launch of balloonsThe college sent me to Oaxaca to learn about the culture and bring this back to Portland. Rather than buy small gifts for my work team, I shared a bit of Oaxaca in the form of drink, food and fun. This afternoon we enjoyed watermelon flavored water, conchas (a Mexican sweet bread), and fun with globos.

Globos is Spanish for balloons. At the Zócalo in Oaxaca there are globos vendors selling all kinds of balloons but for our activity the long tubular balloons were the stars. I’ve been told two different Spanish names for these toys: globos salchicha and globos cohete. While they may look sausage-like, for our purposes — and the way the kids used them in the Zócalo — globos cohete (or rocket balloons) seems more fitting.

I’ll be sharing more stories with the group but this bit of culture made for a fun team building break this afternoon.

Google Ngram Viewer

The Transfer of GoogleLike the rest of the world I’ve been playing around with Google’s Book Ngram Viewer. I can’t say I found anything truly unique in my playtime searching with Ngram that others haven’t already reported, but I was able to find a nice short story while searching for “google.”

In this case Google is the nickname given to an infant by a caring burglar in “The Transfer of Google” by E. J. Rath from Everybody’s Magazine in the January 1908 edition. Google is found home alone one evening by a nurturing burglar. The relationship between these two needy souls has each fulfilling a need in the other’s life. What makes one feel better than to be cared for by a loving person (regardless of their status) or to care for someone in need? (Okay, maybe I read too much into the story but it is cute and worth a few minutes of your time to read.)

Much like the burglar searching for treasures, our searches for information have their own Google. Sometimes too much time can be spent and I too can end up feeling like our besieged burglar, knowing I need to move on or, as the burglar states,

Well, I can’t waste no more time with Google.

But you just can’t let them go.

Twitter Use and KFC

Interesting conversation here on demographics of Twitter users. Everyone had their favorite “study” to reference.

One question was use of Twitter amongst the younger crowd. There are many new reports on an upswing in use over just a year ago. This contrasts the theory that Twitter is a place for older West Coast programming types.

KFC apparently agrees that usage is up amongst college age students. They are offering a healthy scholarship to one deserving tweeting student.

The contest is going well if #KFCScholar hashtag usage is a valid indicator. Alas, some are using the opportunity to bash KFC and others are playing with them by running another competition.

I choose to stay publicly neutral on the KFC front, but it looks like everyone is having fun. We’ll see if this healthy offering of student support gives KFC warm hearts or heartburn.

In the end it will be nice to know a deserving student is getting much needed support.