By now, we’ve all heard about Linkedin adding University pages. As we all scramble to request our upgraded company profiles, read what others are doing to implement this and head off requests from departments about what this means for all of us, we’ve yet to discuss what this means for higher education and it’s perception. Especially among younger generations of college going students. Is positioning higher education search so closely tied with careers a detriment to the idea of education for civic engagement and critical thinking’s sake?
A first look at the ‘in progress’ pages of the upgrade place heavy emphasis on searching for alumni and students based on class year, place of employment and career. No mention of degrees or courses of study on the opening page. Hopefully there will be a way to show what degrees lead to what careers or vice versa. But for now, being that it is Linkedin, careers are the primary focus.
As liberal arts colleges struggle to prove that critical thinking skills are key in a changing economy, outcomes for career readiness and job placement – for better or for worse – are highly prioritized in the media. Will institutions that focus on turning out the best website builder make the most of Linkedin and leave the idea of learning for the skill of being agile and ready for any career fall behind? Aren’t we putting emphasis on the wrong thing here?
Many questions remain as to how this ‘upgrade’ will pan out: will social media savvy middle schoolers even be interested in a career based platform? Will the new alumni search by class year and career bypass many college’s own alumni directories and chances to connect alumni to a career center or other programs? How much of this will be based on selling new features and ad space to really gain traction? Will promoting the university page to a younger crowd fight the already solidified alumni base? How will this compete with our Linkedin communities? Many questions, few answers. Time, implementation and strategy is needed before we can find any. The most important thing to remember is that this is another tool at our disposal. We need to understand the audiences already in play, not only for our brand, now, university page, but also our community groups.
For now it appears to be one more place that social media managers will need to be updating but for a varied audience with very different expectations.
How do you feel about the upgrade? How will you manage it for the different audiences? How will it differ from Facebook?