A little more conversation, a little less action, please

A little more conversation, a little less action, please

Newsletters via e-mail, announcements via Blackboard, messages via Facebook and Twitter; Tilburg University is up and going and easy to find on social media. But what does the university want? If their goal was to build and maintain a relationship with (potential) students, you would expect them to interact with their audience. Well, this is certainly not the case. There are a lot of different accounts on Facebook and Twitter that send out a lot, but there is barely interaction with the students.

Huge gap
We can conclude that Tilburg University is far behind on the field of social media. There is a huge gap between the university and institutions, companies and organisations that are innovating and intensively use social media like Facebook and Twitter. “Universities do not think about their target: their students. It is not the nature of the scientific world to go along with the environment and the innovation that goes with it”, says Peter Broeder. The characteristics of education in general and the scientific world ensure that innovation is pushed away, instead of embraced. According to Broeder, Tilburg University is withstanding any of the possibilities that the World Wide Web offers these days. With that, the old-fashioned and conservative colours of Tilburg University shine through even more.

Social media expert Hans van Driel explains
Tilburg University lecturer Hans van Driel, who teaches the courses of Media Awareness and Image culture, is not spoken for and has a critical look on the level of education. Next to his work as a teacher he also busy with the renewal of education. We talked to him about the current affairs of social media at Tilburg University.

What do you think about Tilburg University’s use of social media?
“Tilburg University sends a lot, but there is no communication. Overall you see that social media is only used as a way to send information and not as a communicator. It is just displaying: this is what we’ve got, this is how we do it. Businesses and educative institutes are only using the tools they are used to be working with. Tilburg University has a study guide with their program, a flyer about how awesome they are and there’s also the copycatting. Only when students take the lead on social media, for example with a master’s information evening, you can see there’s interaction on social media.”

What is, according to you, the reason behind the bad dealing with social media that are full of potential? The intention is there, there is a Facebook account and there are multiple Twitter accounts.
“Tilburg University does not know which strategies there are for using social media. When e-mail became popular, they were quick to find out that using multiple e-mail addresses was clarifying. They have done this on Twitter too, but Twitter is not the right medium to use multiple accounts. It is not clarifying on Twitter, on the contrary. Moreover, we had a communication department that was against the use of social media. ‘You don’t do that as a University’, according to the head of that department. That is ridiculous, right? My colleagues and I then told the world what kind of crap this guy was telling. That did work. The blog had been read 4000 times within no time.”

 “Tilburg University sends a lot, but there is no communication”

Why is Tilburg University not opening up to using social media, even though it is general knowledge that it is effective?
“A university is, apparently, very slow. It’s like an oil tanker. If you want to take a corner you have to steer for kilometres in advance. There aren’t a lot of people that are interested in education and the renewal of education, so almost every teacher just focuses on getting knowledge across. We share knowledge, students need to process this knowledge and reproduce this knowledge. This is only the basic level of the pyramid. For all other things that you could do as a teacher, you could use social media. But the university is stuck at the bottom of the pyramid. The application of social media, a critical look and the generating of knowledge are still vacancies. Education in general is however content with the transferral of knowledge and the reproducing of knowledge. In that case, a lecture, a book, an online article and then a classical exam are sufficient.”

What should the university do with social media, according to you?
“Ideally, there should be a team, which includes students, in which team members stimulate each other. No head of a department that should tell them what to do. The students don’t cease the power often enough. They should, as a matter of speech, force teachers to use social media. I saw a student the other day, which was searching for an internship via Twitter. I ‘retweeted’ that message and after that she immediately received a message from a former student who could use an intern. That is just great!”

Dit artikel is geschreven door studenten Transmedia Journalism van Tilburg University: Sara van der Boon, Suzan van Dijke, Tom Grosfeld, Malou Marteijn en Maud Vorstenbosch.


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