From the Editor

Photo by wblj, Flickr.Five amazing days in Austin has left me with a sense of awe, both of that incredible city and the stellar people who make up HighEdWeb. All of us on the Link staff truly enjoyed bringing you wall-to-wall coverage of the conference, and hopefully you’ll find our efforts a worthwhile resource going forward. I got to hang out with so many great people, put faces to names I’d only “met” on social media and came home more inspired than I’d been…since #heweb10. While I’m still digesting all of the killer ideas I came away with from the conference, I’m struck by the notion that you can boil down a lot of the messaging into two key questions: so what? and why not?

So What?

#heweb11 seemed to be conference where we started to ask as a group, “What does all this cool stuff really mean to our institutions in terms of both metrics and result?” or, as Seth Meranda dubbed it in this outstanding presentation, “measuring the result of the bright and shiny.” Rick Allen even flashed the words “so what” on the screen during his presentation.

It’s a key thought: What does it actually mean to have 5,000 Facebook fans on your school’s page? Are they really engaged with your school? Commenting? Posting? Coming for an admissions visit? That snazzy app you built for your mobile presence that gives the GPS position of your schools shuttle bus? What is it actually doing for you? How well is it serving your intended audiences?

Seth and others showed off some cool ways to measure your social media effectiveness that I’m betting a lot of us are heading right back to campus to plug in to our efforts.

Why not?

This isn’t just “Boss, why can’t we do this?” It’s a question you have to ask of yourself. What’s really holding this project back? Is it my laziness? My frustration? My lack of time?

As Karlyn Morisette pointed out in her fascinating Red Stapler-winning presentation, we can’t let obstacles stop us from trying to see a really good idea through, Keep asking your boss for permission and that “no” might turn into a maybe and then a yes. Put in a few extra hours to push that project forward. Ask a colleague you trust to give you a hand. Build your own private skunkworks. Fuel yourself with your passion for doing your job well and with your desire to bring cool stuff to audiences who will appreciate it (even if your bosses don’t think it will work).

Push as long as it takes, as hard as it takes. Weeks, months, if necessary Turn the conversation in your favor by refusing to accept that you shouldn’t do something that clearly has value to your audience. There is no good answer to the question “Why not?” if you truly have a good idea. Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. You can always ask forgiveness later.

I’ve been asking myself these questions after returning from #heweb11. I think they’ll lead to a third I’ll ask a lot more: What awesome project can we tackle next?

Photo by wblj, Flickr.