Eduvation Blog

Spring Fever & Frivolity 2022

Good morning, and happy Monday! Welcome to April, and to Ramadan.

Today’s a day to celebrate Carrots and Chicken Cordon Bleu, Vitamin C and Rats – and also to raise awareness of Landmines – but I’m writing this to you “from the past,” on Friday, as I’m monitoring higher ed’s observations of April Fool’s Day.

Why bother? I ask myself that question from time to time… In part, I take what seasonal opportunities I can to compare the creativity and professionalism of video and social media efforts by institutions across Canada and around the world. (You may have seen some of my Ten with Ken Holiday Specials, too.) Those of you who work in the marcom and social media trenches may appreciate examples – good, bad, or ugly – to inspire your efforts.

April Fool’s, Christmas, and Hallowe’en greeting cards and videos obviously don’t offer much insight into marcom strategies, but I think they do serve as something of a barometer of campus esprit de corps. And remember: a willingness to experiment, play, make mistakes or even look silly is a fundamental precondition for a healthy culture of innovation in any organization!  

Hopefully this isn’t too frivolous a way to start your week…


April Foolery

In many parts of the world – and beyond – corporate brand managers got into the spirit of April Fool’s Day on Friday. As usual, it seemed particularly popular among high tech companies…  

Twitter simply tweeted “We are working on an edit button,” which sparked a twitterstorm of excitement and outrage among its users (as you would expect).  Twitter

Synology unveiled its new “FloppyStation,” revolutionary new network accessible storage with a bank of four 2.5” floppy drives and a whopping 5.75mb total capacity.  Twitter

Newegg announced a quantum-dot-sized PC with subatomic components. (Within moments, the demo host loses it – and critics complain they can’t plug in HDMI.) To win it, just look for the microscopic half-pixel link on the Newegg homepage!   YouTube

Formlabs, the 3D printer manufacturer, announced that it was “eliminating the 3rd dimension” and unveiled a revolutionary new “Form 2D” printer in a clever 2-min video. “Our mission is to make digital fabrication easier to use, simpler.”  YouTube

Is April Fool’s Day a guy thing? (Certainly the jokes are often puerile…) From “tech bros” to beer and steaks, the highest-profile corporate foolery seemed to revolve around some archetypally male products…

Budweiser offered fans the opportunity to book an overnight stay in their clydesdales’ stables through “BudBnB” (for just $1,876 a night).  Twitter

Busch Light offered a $20 “Pee in a Busch Kit,” to encourage beer drinkers to urinate into their empty cans instead of damaging local flora. (Actually, this looks like it might be available for purchase.)  ShopBeerGear

Bud Light Seltzer unveiled a “Really Really Retro” Afternoon Tea in regency needlepoint, “after a weekend of binging our favourite shows.”  Twitter

Omaha Steaks announced a new “well-marbled roll-on perspirant with powerful 24-hour non-protection” called “Meat Sweats.” Choose from 3 scents: Original Beef, Lighter Fluid, or Mesquite.  Twitter


Then again, there were plenty of other new food announcements on Friday…

7-Eleven announced the 0.7-ounce “Tiny Gulp,” available for just 7 cents.  Twitter

Wendy’s announced they were entering the metaverse starting Apr 2 with a new “Wendyverse” virtual town, accessible with a Quest 2 VR headset. Expect a park fountain that sprays Fanta soda, a football game played with a Baconator instead of a football, and discounts on real-world food. (Actually, this one is starting to look like it’s serious, too…)  Entrepreneur  |  The Street

Sun-Maid released an elaborate promo for new product ideas, from “raisin cabernet” and “wasabi raisins” to extreme flavour “Grape Jerky.” “It’s whole fruit meets extreme adventure.”  YouTube

Hellmann’s unveiled a new “crispety crunchety twist to your favourite mayo” in “Butterfinger Mayonnaise.”  Twitter


Busch wasn’t alone in embracing toilet humour…

Tushy, the bidet manufacturer, teased a new dating show, “It Takes #2,” that pairs prospective couples on matching toilets for a first date. “Helping people find love in a hopeless place: the bathroom.” (Warning, this one’s a bit too gross to watch at your desk.)  YouTube

By comparison, PSE April Foolery is downright intellectual…



“High”-er Ed

I’ve been watching Apr 1 “Higher Ed Hijinks” for a decade now, and blogging about them in one form or another since 2015. On the morning of Apr 1 – which extends throughout the day when you consider time zones – serious PSE announcements fall silent, in a PR ceasefire, and every new program announcement is suspect. (One of my favourites was Berklee College of Music’s new kazoo program, announced Apr 1 2015.) Here are some that caught my eye on Friday…

Cannabis Programs

On the morning of Apr 1, we’re especially suspicious of program announcements related to cannabis or alcohol, of course. After several careful readings, I’m left assuming that Loyalist College’s research into “hemp germination in space” is in fact legit. (It’s not funny enough to be in jest.) On the other hand, Emily Carr Uannounced a “Groundbreaking New Ceramics Course,” taught by prof “Phil Blunt” in partnership with cannabis retailer “Doobieously,” to explore bong-making as an art form. “There’s a reason why the word ‘pot’ is in ‘pottery.’ I don’t think it’s a coincidence. It’s an indication of divine design.” (We can be pretty sure this was an April Fool’s joke, because while the page still exists, it says merely “404 – Not Found.”)



Steenkamp’s School for the Gifted

Royal Roads U’s picturesque Hatley Castle is best known for its starring role as Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in various X-Men movies, as well as Lex Luthor’s mansion in Smallville, and a variety of “bit parts” in other shows and movies. So you had to smile when RRU announced Friday a new boarding school to open Spring 2023: “Dr Steenkamp’s School for Gifted People of All Ages.” As president Philip Steenkamp practices some Xavier-like mind control, he explains: “It can’t just be about gifted youngsters anymore.” YouTube  |  RRU

Explain NFTs to Grandpa

Australian online learning provider announced a series of course modules on “How to explain NFTs to your elderly relatives,” like “Imagine if you could right-click the Mona Lisa,” or “It’s like Facebook, but also not.” This “incredible free course” will help you “navigate awkward encounters with haste, while also preventing any future inquiries” from your crazy old uncle. (One magic phrase? “It’s probably a scam.”)

Alternative Break in Space

It’s hard to top Simon Fraser U’s “Semester in Space,” announced with a splashy video in Apr 2014, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… On Friday, Illinois State U unveiled plans to send 10 students on an Alternative Winter Break service trip to the International Space Station this December, in partnership with SpaceX. The news story reads pretty “straight” until the penultimate paragraph, when director Bruce the Goose is quoted saying “Honk… honk… honk… [etc].”   Illinois State

“Houston, We Created a Problem”

The Canada Space Agency unveiled “a new line of products available today only,” like scented candles that read “smells like space, and maple syrup,” or toques that read “the cold and darkness of space doesn’t scare us. We have winter.” (As afterthoughts, they also suggest “Canadarm Duct Tape” and a jean jacket that reads “Putting the ‘eh’ in space.”) Twitter swamped them with genuine purchase requests.  Twitter


Going to the Birds

It’s an annual tradition for April Fool gags to focus on campus wildlife, from squirrels, geese, and goats, to rabbits or even tribbles. (When Royal Roads U needed to broadcast a genuine “Wolf Alert” on Friday, it had to repeatedly assure people it was no laughing matter.) Most other fauna announcements were intended in jest, though…

“Crow-munications” at MSVU

Mount St Vincent U released an Instagram-style 1-min vid on Friday, to announce its new interdisciplinary “Bachelor of Crow-munications” degree program, delivered jointly by Communications and Biology faculty. (Apparently MSVU has up to 8,000 crows roosting on its campus.) Courses in the program, “believed to be the first of its kind in Canada,” include crisis management (“when feathers ruffle”) and stakeholder engagement (the “shiny object” effect). MSVU mascot Captain Crow contributed to the program’s development.  YouTube  |  MSVU

Rooftop Llama Herd

U Central Lancashire is reportedly considering “a small herd of bright-eyed, sure-footed llamas” for the rooftop garden of its Ł60M student centre, to help trim and fertilize campus lawns, provide a mental health boost to students, and participate in veterinary teaching and research.  Blog Preston

90-Year-Old Lutfisk

There’s something “fishy” going on at the American Swedish Institute (MN), where renovations at the Turnblad Mansion uncovered 3 wooden trunks from 1932, packed with dried cod that remained “surprisingly edible.” Some of the 90-year-old cod (which has “a practically infinite shelf-life”) was prepared as lutfisk and put on the menu at the ASI cafeteria, for one day only (guess which day). Food researchers recommend drying lutfisk for at least 30 years before preparing, although “some… would recommend never preparing it at all.”  YouTube  |  ASI media release


Campus Infrastructure

PSE April Fool videos have long announced improbable new infrastructure, from campus domes and monorails to waterslides or living buildings come to life. I noticed a couple again this year…

A Campus Gondola

Canadore College announced the construction of a new gondola system on campus this summer, to connect the Lower Residence to The Village at College Drive campus. The free 3km ride will take a “relaxing” 25 minutes – slower than walking or catching the bus – but is ecofriendly, and provides passengers with in-cabin coffee service, and a bird’s-eye view of campus. The sign-up form for the inaugural ride promises “Canadore sickness bags” to those who indicate they are afraid of heights.  Canadore

A Second Clock Tower

uBirmingham announced a plan to address timekeeping issues whenever the campus clocktower, “Old Joe,” is shut down for repair. “Planning for our 2nd clock tower – Joe Jr – has been approved, and construction will start in the next few weeks.”  Twitter



New Brands

Institutions have announced new brand identities or even names on Apr 1, like Bryn Mawr dropping all its vowels, or Pittsburg State finally adding an ‘h.’ This year’s crop are a little less ambitious…  

Carleton Ultimate Frisbee

Carleton College (MN) president Alison Byerly unveiled a “bold new design” for the institutional brand on Thursday, retaining the familiar “radiant C” but adding “an iconic Carleton image: the frisbee.” The new brand, taking effect Apr 1, reflects “the whimsical, free-wheeling spirit that informs every aspect of life at Carleton” – and acknowledges the real success of the college’s 6 ultimate frisbee teams.  Carleton  |  Inside Higher Ed

VIU Bunnies

Vancouver Island U unveiled their new logo, designed in-house and “inspired by the many bunnies that live on our Nanaimo campus.” The logo comes in 4 colours to represent “the ocean, the sky, and the mountains” (plus red, “because we thought it looked really nice”). The VIU Mariners will retire mascot “Stuey the Sturgeon,” and introduce “Bailey the Bunny” in his place.  Instagram

Indiana Dung-Beetles

Indiana Tech president Karl Einolf roamed the campus on Friday, showing off an exciting new athletics mascot and logo to replace the Warriors: the “Dung-Beetles.” Student reactions in this 2:20 min vid range from shocked silence to bemused snickering, particularly at the idea of changing the Schaefer Center’s name to “The Dung-Pile.” Explains Einolf, “Our competition are crap, right? Well, we eat crap!”  YouTube


Time Travel

I have to admit, I think THIS is a whole new category…


In one of the more elaborate time-released gags, SAIT shared a series of very short “eyewitness videos” to Instagram, YouTube and Twitter on Friday morning, documenting the shocking appearance of a “floating spherical orb” outside Heritage Hall. Campus Safety activated “level six of our safety protocols” and transferred the titanium orb to a secure location, where it was opened to reveal a message and a gift from members of the SAIT graduating class of 2064. (Naturally the final update, at 11:30am, confessed it was all a hoax.)  SAIT  |  Instagram  |  YouTube


Dress Codes

We’ve seen announcements designed to mock or embarrass Millennials before, like Simon Fraser U’s announcement of campus “pedestrian texting lanes” back in 2015. In general, PSE seemed to take it easy on their students this year, although here’s one exception to prove the rule…


Puffy Shirt Pledge

Emory U (GA) president Greg Fenves expressed his dismay Friday that the campus doesn’t display “unity… colour coordination… or clothes that match,” and so a new dress code policy will come into effect this Fall. The new Emory uniform will include a “gleaming white, puffy, button-up shirt” with khahis or “a festive kilt in the Emory tartan.” Because after all, “the future starts with a puffy shirt.”  Twitter  |  Vimeo


Athletics & Mascots

School mascots in particular have always been free to embrace frivolity on social media, from Tik Tok dance phenoms to lonely “Home Alone” parodies. (See Ten with Ken’s “Festive & Fuzzy” for a round-up of plenty of Christmas examples.) So naturally they show up in plenty of April Fool vids too…

Slower Offense

uTennessee’s Volunteers Football released a brief video interview with offensive coordinator Alex Golesh on Friday, in which he explains his “big coaching point,” which is “just slow down.” The :30-sec vid includes Golesh shouting at players to slow down, and ends with a new logo, “Slow. Fun. Real.”  On3  |  Twitter

Baby Baxter at Binghamton

Binghamton U (NY) announced with much fanfare Friday a new athletics mascot inspired by Grogu (Baby Yoda): a pint-sized version of the existing mascot, Baxter the Bearcat. Sporting “a Binghamton-branded diaper and Pantone 342-coloured pacifier,” Baby Baxter will serve “as a symbol of the youthful vibrancy of Binghamton.” (Except when he naps in his crib during games.) Explains the athletics director: “Other teams will be too distracted by Baby Baxter’s cuteness to concentrate on the game. It’s a winning strategy.”  BingUNews

Rainy Raccoon at VCC

Vancouver Community College Board and Council adopted a “furry and loveable mascot,” Rainy the Raccoon, in “a moment of unprecedented school spirit” last week – even though VCC has no athletics teams, sports fields or even a gym. “Every post-secondary should have the right to cover someone in fur and have them perform slapstick gags at campus events.” Rainy won out over other finalists like Cackle the Crow and Spawny the Salmon because Raccoons have respect for personal hygiene, from washing their hands to wearing masks.  VCC

Camosun Chargers now Mustangs

Camosun College rebranded its athletics teams last Friday, from the “Chargers” to the “Mustangs,” because president Lane Trotter is “a big fan of Ford Mustangs.” While not everyone shares his preference, VP Heather Cummings sighs, “at least it’s a Mustang and not a Pinto!” The current goat mascot, “Rampage,” will be “put out to pasture” and replaced by a donkey until a suitable horse is found.  Camosun




Dirty Birds at FGCU

Florida Gulf Coast U was “in the news” Friday over campus protests against the Eagles’ official student section, “The Dirty Birds.” Members of NOGO (the National Organization of General Ornithologists) picketed the campus arena “in force” to protest the “unacceptable” name, since “Birds aren’t dirty.” (Campus experts beg to disagree, and assure us that the birds aren’t going to be offended.) Mascot Azul the Eagle declined to comment.  YouTube

Duke the Dog at JMU

James Madison U’s mascot, Duke the Dog, has his own “special announcement” in this 1-min music video. (What, are we in 2008 again??) You can’t argue with success, though: this video has far and away the most views, with more than 9,500 views!  YouTube


That was altogether too much work for too little payoff, but hopefully you found at least one laugh – and for those of you who truly care about PSE social media efforts, hopefully I’ve saved you a lot of time!

Doubtless I have missed a few Twitter and YouTube examples, and I confess I haven’t tried to scan TikTok, Instagram or other platforms at all. So if you spotted something good that I missed here, please add a comment on the blog version of this roundup!


This issue is already too long, so tomorrow I’ll be back to consider what, if anything, these April Fool hijinks might be telling us about the state of higher ed…

Meanwhile, stay safe and well!


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