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Speaking the language of students with Facebook

How can Avans use Facebook? That was the main question co-workers asked Godor during the meeting organised by the Learn and Innovation Center (LIC) of Avans on innovation in education.

‘You can start a new group within a minute and there are no costs’, says Godor. ‘I started on a Friday morning around ten o clock and invited 160 students through e-mail. The first hour sixteen of them signed in. Between eleven and twelve another fifty signed in. “Holy shit”, I thought. Now this is something.’

The Avans International Student Alumni group started by Godor has 331 friends at the moment. These are former and current students of ASIS who live all over the world. In China, the United States, Canada, Africa, you name it. Through Facebook they are able to network and exchange personal messages. ‘A lot of the former students expect their first born around now.’

‘But why shouldn’t we use LinkedIn, which is more businesslike?’, asks Ingeborg Janssen Reinen, assistant director of the Academy for Healthcare. ‘I consider LinkedIn to be more of a professional network’, Godor responds. ‘It doesn’t appeal to students. You have to speak the language of students and use the instruments they use. Then it’s a powerful tool.’

It’s nice that students can show each other pictures of their holidays, but what use is it to Avans, was a recurring question.

‘A lot’, says Godor. ‘I read that five Hungarian students followed a technical training here, but went to Boston to get their master. That’s a missed opportunity for us. They could have got the same master here.’ Other examples followed: finding internships abroad, inviting alumni for guestlectures, a recruitment tool for future students.

There were also some ghost images. Godor told about an American mother who approached him through Facebook and asked why her son didn’t phone her. And not everyone wants to see pictures of holidays. Still it’s a source for information if you’re able to look past that.

Avans should be careful though using Facebook. Especially Americans, Godor is one himself, are very sensitive toward teachers and universities interfering in social networks. ‘Facebooks is not for professors’, students in America say. Avans should never use Facebook for example to spread inquiries. [PM, translation:AR]

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