Eduvation Blog

Back to School 2016 – Social Media

This week, Ken reviews this fall’s back-to-school college and university videos, from presidential welcomes to o-week excitement, from bubble gum records to Pokémon Go!

You may recall, we looked at “O-Week Winners & Sinners” in an episode last year.  This time, we’re focused on more official videos:

But back-to-school videos also tackle “heavier” issues. In a previous episode we looked at campus and dorm room safety videos. Respect and sexual consent campaigns are also widespread at this time of year, and for good reason: The first few weeks of school are when the vast majority of sexual assaults occur. In an effort to keep things gender-neutral, this fall the Sexual Assault Resource Centre at Montreal’s Concordia University enlisted some unusual spokesfruit to explain sexual consent.

Just as we’ve seen holiday greeting videos proliferating in December, it’s no surprise to see presidential “welcome back” videos in September. Most just capture a president’s welcome to new students, although others are specifically directed at staff and faculty, and some manage to incorporate some quirky humour, like this from St Lawrence College president Glenn Vollebregt.

And then there is Pokémon Go, perhaps the viral sensation of the summer. Within weeks the new augmented reality game attracted more than 21 million active daily users in the US alone – more than Candy Crush or even Twitter! Old fogeys took delight in mocking the distracted gamers, but some Pokemon players “poked” fun at themselves.

Colleges and universities quickly discovered that their campuses were popular locations for Pokemon hunting:

(If you haven’t already discussed ways to incorporate Pokemon Go into your next student recruitment cycle, your competitors have!)

At a time when public health experts are worried about the impact of a sedentary gaming lifestyle on North American young people, fans of Pokemon Go were quick to emphasize the exercise component of the game. Campus student life and mental health professionals are hopeful that augmented reality games like Pokemon Go may create a stronger sense of community, particularly for introverts. Naturally, school mascots were among the first to get into the Pokemon craze, like Duke the Lion at Florida’s Warner University.

This summer, some students were already starting to worry that their obsession with the game might be interfering with their studies, but at least one professor at UC Berkeley is playing along, and considering using Pokémon lures during his office hours.

In fact, within weeks Fresno City College announced a new Pokemon credit course in Phys Ed.

Finally, just #ICYMI, my favourite back-to-school video this year comes from the Student Union at Dalhousie University. They welcomed students back to campus with a rousing 3-minute music video, a tribute to their school colours, “Black and Gold.”

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