Friday, September 25, 2015

Tried and True Ways to Incorporate Social Media in Higher Education Classrooms

In August, I was invited to speak at the #LEAPTX annual meeting in Nacogdoches, TX. I was excited to take advantage of this opportunity as a #LEAPTX Fellow and presented a session on "Incorporating Social Media in Higher Education Classrooms (and High-Impact Educational Practices)".

Here are the slides from this session:

Also, to continue the conversation, the #55HigherEd Community was launched on Facebook. This community is for faculty to ask questions about the teaching, research, and/or service process and to also keep one another accountable on our journey towards tenure (or towards becoming a full-professor). Here's the community -


Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
- Twitter/Instagram - @drjtedwards
- drjtedwards at

Monday, September 21, 2015

When Academic Interests and Administrative Interests Positively Collide

As a mid-level higher education administrator, it is important realize how your academic field positively affects your administrative work. This has been especially evident for me during this past academic year when my academic interests and administrative interests collided in four beneficial ways.

Employing a Communication Intern (Social Media Coach) Who Works in Our Office (Social Media)
Our communication intern is absolutely wonderful and she has amazing ideas about how to reach students (from a student mindset). She is also learning about social media along the way: crafting effective posts, deciphering the analytics for the student success and multicultural initiatives social media channels, and blogging about student success from a student's perspective. Here's her blog for our area:

Crafting E-Mail Messages with the Current and Potential Readers in Mind (Target Audience Approach) (Fundamentals of Speech Communication)
When writing any e-mail message for students, faculty, or staff, I always strive to write the message for the audience and to avoid any potentially interesting responses by never utilizing the BCC line and sparsely utilizing the CC line. This is especially important when conversing about interesting issues in higher education. I always reply to the original sender and almost never include the individuals carbon copied on the e-mail, because your sender intended for this message to go to you, you do not have permission to reply to every cc'ed on the e-mail. Also, never send e-mails that you do not intend for others (in addition to the intended party) to read.

Creating Publications (and Videos) that Others Will Want to Read (Mass Media)
This semester, student success and multicultural initiatives created an infographic instead of a bulky (and potentially unread) annual report for the university's faculty, staff, and students. In this infographic, the data is presented in an engaging (and graphical) way and I think the intended parties are more likely to understand what we do in student success and multicultural initiatives instead of sending the data-based message in a report.

Forming Mentoring Groups for Mothers and Faculty of Color (and Other Underrepresented Populations) - Intercultural Communication
Last year, we formed a university mother's group and a group of diverse faculty members. Our membership for both groups ranges between 25 and 60 members. These groups serve as wonderful sounding boards for the mothers and diverse faculty and they also gain ideas and form research collaborations. Both of the aforementioned groups helped me through my journey as a new mother and I wish that I had the faculty of color group when I persisted through the tenure track.

Each of the aforementioned skills (and associated courses) continue to make an imprint on my life as a mid-level administrator on a daily basis. I am thankful for delightful and fulfilling experiences in the classroom as well as working with an amazing group of academic leaders at the university. Administrative experiences make academic experiences richer and academic experiences make administrative experiences richer. We become more because we teach, we reach more because we serve others through administrative duties in higher education.


Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
- Twitter/Instagram - @drjtedwards
- drjtedwards at

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Finding a Budget-Friendly College or University By Using the New College Scorecard by the U.S. Department of Education

Today, the new college scorecard from the U.S. Department of Education made it's debut on a new website - This scorecard is meant to help parents and students discover the best and more affordable higher education opportunities for their families.

Also, the new College Scorecard tool was featured on the White House Blog and the Department of Education blog today - Under the Hood: Building a New College Scorecard with Students.

In addition to the New College Scorecard (Comprehensive and Updated Data on Higher Education Institutions), there are several additional resources for families to find the more affordable college with the best features (majors, minors, etc.) for their students. These resources (as featured on the Department of Education Blog) include the following:

Additional Customized Tools for Students

- Scholarmatch

- StartClass

- College Abacus

- Payscale

- InsideTrack

As higher education administrators, faculty, and staff, it is important to know the information that exists about our institutions that is available on the internet. Did you find anything interesting about your institution (or aspirant institutions in the data available via any of the websites listed above)?

Let us know!


Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
- Twitter/Instagram - @drjtedwards
- drjtedwards at

Monday, September 14, 2015

Leaving Our Mark as Millennial Mothers in the Community, the Internet, and the Workplace

How do you want to be remembered? As a millennial mother, professional, and wife in my early 30s, I struggle with this "memorial" question on a frequent basis. Millennials (like myself) want to be remembered for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important reasons that I would like to be remembered is because I made a positive contribution to my community, my state, my country, and perhaps beyond.

Millennial Mothers Leaving Their Mark in the Community Through Service
In my current work position (as a professor), I have many opportunities to positively impact each of those areas, but my family position takes priority (at least for the next few years). My daughter is still relatively young, but I long for the day of the future when I can take her to volunteer in the community, nationally, and also internationally.

Millennial Mothers Leaving Their Mark on Their Family Through Multitasking
I've discovered that the key to true work/life balance is knowing that it does not truly exist. Yes, you can let the e-mails sit in your inbox until the next day, but usually millennial moms are always thinking about work (from sun up to sun down). By involving your children in your daily activities including answering e-mail, attending family-oriented family functions, and in my case - grading papers, my daughter realizes the importance of a hard day's (and night's work). She has also learned valuable skills (and concepts) along the day. Recently, I discovered that she can correctly identify a professor, a university, a classroom, and yes - she can identify Blackboard (our learning management system as well).

Millennial Mothers Leaving Their Mark on the Internet (and the Blogosphere)
Each summer, I look forward to meeting new millennial moms and refining my existing millennial moms (in Texas) by attending a summer blogging conference. We meet in San Antonio and our families (the dads as well) connected and everyone learned techniques focused on how to make their blogs more effective.

As first, it was difficult for me to think about how I could connect with the bloggers because of them were stay-at-home mothers, but when I ventured out of my shell I quickly realized that these were some of the most dynamic, down-to-earth, outstanding millennial mothers that I have ever encountered. These mothers are making their mark on the internet and are impacting how corporations are marketing to the millennial consumer. I look up to all of these millennial mom bloggers, they inspire me to be a better blogger and mother.

Millennial Mothers Leaving Their Mark on the Workplace
Millennial mothers (and other categories of millennials) will leave their mark on the workplace through their ingenuity and creativity, support for diversity, and their energy (among other factors). Most Millennials in the workplace have the following qualities and values...

1 - An increased support for open communication (Dowdy, 2015) CNBC Article

2 - An increased support for workplace flexibility (Gillenwater, 2015) Entrepreneur Article

3 - An increased value for professional development (Papas, 2015) Fortune Article

4 - An increased value for workplace and environmental sustainability (Bridges, 2015), Co.Exist Article

5 - An increased value for mentorship and networking (O'Connell, 2015) Huffington Post Article.

These qualities help will help millennials determine their worth, their impact, and their future in the the workplace.

Thinking Ahead
As the older millennials (especially the mothers) enter the middle portion of our careers, we have a few items to determine - How do you we to be remembered? As a millennial mothers, millennial fathers, and all other types of millennial professionals, how will we make positive contributions to the community, the state, the country, and beyond?


Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
- Twitter/Instagram - @drjtedwards
- drjtedwards at

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Data Display 101: Using Excel and Slicer Tool to Create Fabulous Dashboards" on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 2pm

If you are interested in higher education institutional research, make plans to attend this free Excel Webinar titled, "Data Display 101: Using Excel and Slicer Tool to Create Fabulous Dashboards" on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 2pm. This event is hosted by the South Carolina Association for Institutional Research. Register here to see the time zone -

This looks like a great, FREE opportunity for anyone interested in making their data more "digestable" for the average person. Anyone should be able to understand the data that your office/center provides and dashboards/infographics enable YOU/YOUR OFFICE to provide this data for the general population (internal and external to the university/college).

Here's the description of the webinar from Ryan S. Otto, Ph.D. Board Member, South Carolina Association for Institutional Research:

This webinar will use Microsoft Excel 2010 (or newer) to easily produce an updatable, user friendly grade distribution dashboard. We will design a couple of different views (i.e., by course, by instructor) and create one or two calculated fields (i.e., overall success rate, overall success rate without W’s). We also will discuss the ease of the updating process. Example data will be available for any participants wishing to actively participate and build a dashboard.

Dub Green,
Director of Institutional Research, Office of Institutional Research
Trident Technical College

Donna McHugh,
Research Analyst, Office of Institutional Research

Trident Technical College

I will see you there! :)


Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
- Twitter/Instagram/Periscope - @drjtedwards
- drjtedwards at

Monday, September 7, 2015

Dorm Room Tours, Dorm Room Hauls, and Student Success

When I lived on the third floor at Steen Hall, I had a dorm room to myself as a Resident Assistant and I loved decorating the room in red and yellow (cardinal and straw) because those were the colors of my sorority (Chi Omega). I wish that I still had pictures, but I want you to know that my room was NOTHING compared to the rooms that you will see in the dorm room tours at the end of this post. All of the videos are focused on dorm room decorations!

If I had a room similar to these rooms, I would never leave! These rooms are truly like home for these students. As a higher education professional, our task is to make the day and evening activities attractive enough for students to venture our of their residence halls.

Love, love, love the summer dorm room halls and the finished product...the dorm room (residence hall) tours!

Here are the dorm room tours!

College Dorm Tour 2015 - Lilly Pulitzer Inspired Kaitlyn Mekel

One of my favorite (and very organized) bloggers - At Home With Nikki's College Dorm Room Tour

Veri Keri (another amazing vlogger)'s Dorm Room Tour

As you can see, decorating a dorm room (residence hall room) is not an easy feat. Also, it will not be an easy feat getting these students out of their residence hall rooms to attend residence hall programming (or programming for student life). Let's make our programming (and classes) appealing for these students and remain student centered this fall!

Here's my disclaimer, I am one of those odd professors who will call students and send them direct messages on Twitter if they are late to class or if they did not attend class (or turn in assignments).

In addition, this fall, I am working with an amazing group of students in a living learning community and they have a shared kitchen (which will be their common living space). Exciting opportunity for this faculty member!


Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
- Twitter/Instagram - @drjtedwards
- drjtedwards at