The Digital Campus

The Digital Campus

Fall 2011 Study Tour: Day 3

On Wednesday morning, Vincent Borel of Webdoc gave us a demo of his company’s innovative technology, which allows for rich conversations that go way beyond links and photos. One of the guest bloggers for the day, Anne-Dominique Salamin, Responsable Centre e-learning // HES-SO Cyberlearn, actually created a webdoc (click on the screenshot below to view the full document) to describe another product and company we visited later in the day, Wildfire. I’m loving her creative approach to blogging. Thanks Anne-Dominique, and Webdoc!

Day three also included a stop at the San Bruno headquarters of Google-owned YouTube. Sara Fedele, Marketing Communications Manager for the Executive MScom Program at the Università della Svizzera italiana, gives us her thoughts:

All you need is… Google!

“People don’t work at Google for the money. They work at Google because they want to change the world!” Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, has said. In fact, today when visiting the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, there was the impression that we’d landed on a different planet where employees were sort of super heroes with super hi-tech powers ready to save us from some kind of cybernetic war. But, was it like this or it was just an impression? Or maybe it was just an amusement park?

Certainly Google is not a conventional company, and as they affirm, “we don’t intend to become one.” Everything in Google is about creating an experience and, as a consequence, a strong loyalty to the brand. Employees are not simple employees…they are Googlers , they are cool! Google wants them to be part of the community, more than that to feel part of the community, creating a voluntary commitment to the brand.

“At Google, we know that every employee has something important to say, and that every employee is integral to our success,” according to Schmidt. “…Googlers thrive in small, focused teams and high-energy environments, believe in the ability of technology to change the world, and are as passionate about their lives as they are about their work.”

And this is the point: I am not sure there is someone at the employees’ backs with a shotgun ready to fire them if they leave their desk at 17:30. I’ve heard of people sleeping overnight at Google, and I think they voluntarily did it. Walking into Youtube I was stopped by an employee and when I asked him if he was an engineer he told me “well, I am a Google Engineer.” Not a surprising answer! Google created the sense of community by giving employees the instruments: they are free to use them the best they can if this helps them to be productive. This is the deal. And I think it is a quite clear policy inside the company, indirectly written everywhere.

I am not saying this is the best strategy or that it is correct but, as a matter of fact, Google is successful. Every book of brand management tell us about the commitment to the brand, and I was happy to finally experience the theory.


Our last visit of the day was at LinkedIn. I’ll shut up and let guest blogger Hans-Dieter Zimmermann, of FHS St.Gallen, Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, inject his impressions. Read more about the study trip on Hans-Dieter’s blog.


Our final visit on the third day of the Social Media Study Tour led us to the LinkedIn HQ in Mountain View.

Here Christina Allen, Director, Product Manager for the University and Student Initiative, presented the latest developments of LinkedIn for universities, colleges, and students. The overall goal of the initiative is to make LinkedIn more relevant for all stakeholders in the education sector – and thus to develop a new market. Some major developments will go online shortly or have already been released.

For students LinkedIn shall serve on the one side as a safety net providing a network. On the other side it shall be something like a lottery ticket as students could be found by interested employers searching for a specific profile. Students will be able to request a profile review in order to present themselves in the best way possible. Through the LinkedIn network, in which students will be able to indicate whom they know within an organization, they shall find their first job after having finished their studies.

Following the student’s lifecycle from getting into college until having their first job LinkedIn shall support them accordingly. For example, the network allows students to gain insight where they might find a future job or what kind of internships might be possible.

For colleges and universities LinkedIn will introduce respective pages in the system. Based on the information already given by users prospective students get an insight into the institution or former classmates could be found. A ranking of institutions based on current career outcomes will be provided as well.

For companies LinkedIn will provide targeted search functions in order to search for student profiles.

As students are used to social networks they shall be motivated easily to register their profile which then can be integrated into the institution’s LinkedIn page.

Covering the whole life-cycle LinkedIn might have the potential to serve as the institution’s Alumni site as well.

And finally we met the three language localization teams which cover the French, German, and Italian language versions of LinkedIn.

In summary, LinkedIn will roll out some very smart solutions to integrate students, universities and professionals. From all the three groups we learned about the localization challenges and could discuss further issues about more localized versions of the service.

Fall 2011 Social Media Study Tour: Hands-on Learning and Content Exercise

If you’re reading this, you must be very interested in social media and how it can be utilized and optimized for higher education, particularly in Switzerland. This post is geared toward an even smaller audience: the attendees of the Fall 2011 Social Media Study Tour to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Read on, though, even if you are not attending the study tour, to find out how you can follow along with our activities virtually.

Attention participants: We are just days away from welcoming you to San Francisco. As you know, we have prepared what we feel is an outstanding program that connects you to social media practitioners at leading universities and provides introductions to major players at well-known social media companies and new start-ups alike. But what kind of study tour would this be if it didn’t also include a little participation?

Hands-on learning

If you thought you were coming to San Francisco to sightsee, think again. We will have fun, of course, but we’re also going to put you to work—and will work hard ourselves—to implement the tools and lessons we encounter throughout the week.

Bring your laptops and mobile phones, hopefully with data plans that allow you to be online and active while here. We expect you to snap and post photos (perhaps even shoot some video), to tweet, to check in, and most of all, to share and connect. Experience is the best way of learning, as we say at swissnex San Francisco, and experience we will.

We will all use social media as much as is comfortable throughout the study tour, but it won’t be for naught. We will collect and curate our activity as we go and compile our very own “newspaper” on, from Swiss start-up Small Rivers. Through this service, we will have access to a shareable, digital publication (updated daily) chock full of resources, contacts, and memories.

Content streams

Of course it’s up to you, but we highly encourage you to take part and show your commitment to learning and experimenting, with the aim of better guiding your institution toward the future and assessing new tools. We expect you to update your social media accounts prior to arrival or start new ones (if only to experiment with them), and to engage with the people you meet along the way as well as with each other.

Twitter: Please tweet! Twitter is the most important stream for our and also the most immediate, meaning it is the perfect tool for real-time reporting and interaction. To facilitate activity and engagement on Twitter, we created a list of study tour participants and the companies and individuals we will be interacting with so that we can easily, and in one place, follow, respond, react, and connect among the group. Please take a look at the list and let us know if your account is missing.

To tag study tour related tweets throughout the week, please use the #fallstudytour hashtag. Remember to use the rules and best practices of Twitter to engage with others effectively. Include links, re-tweet, and be nice. To refresh your memory if you are new to Twitter, take a listen to the Twitter 101 webinar.

Facebook: Our will also pull from the program’s Facebook page, so be sure to post and comment on the wall and “like” the page if you don’t already.

LinkedIn: Is your profile up to date? Do you have one? Remember to connect with each other and with those we come in contact with throughout the study tour. These connections may be important in the short- and long-term.

Blog: Study tour participants will be split into small groups on Monday, the first full day of our program, and each group will be assigned a “Guest Blogger Day” on which they will collectively be responsible for one short blog post (500 words or less) on our site. Don’t worry, we will provide more instructions, and this can be very basic! We just want to hear from YOU about what ideas or activities stuck out each day. It wouldn’t be as much fun if you only heard from us, now would it? :)

Media: Don’t neglect multimedia. We will hopefully all be taking photos and video throughout the week. swissnex San Francisco will upload ours to a dedicated Flickr group for the study tour. You are welcome to submit yours there, too, by joining the group (FYI: you need a Flickr account to do so). Video will be posted to our YouTube channel. These links will be useful for sharing across all other channels, and they will make products like our and blog posts much more fun, too.


So here’s your homework: Update your social media accounts or set up new ones if you are willing to do so. If you have a LinkedIn profile and haven’t yet connected with your fellow study tour participants and with us, do so. Same for Facebook and certainly for Twitter. Please also share your Twitter handles with us so we can follow you back.

Also, do a little homework on the companies, individuals, and institutions we will visit. What social media channels are they active on? Are you following them? What questions do you have for them on how what they do is applicable for Swiss higher education? Coming prepared and connected will make all of our interactions, digital and in-person, all the more fulfilling.

Resources and Required Reading

We’ve prepared a full list of useful articles and links about the people and places we’ll be visiting, including social media accounts, websites, presentations, interviews, and more. Please take advantage of these and come prepared. See you in a few days!