June 7, 2010
Stanford mixes in mobile social media for Commencement Weekend
Have a cell phone or Facebook account? If so, Stanford University's Commencement Weekend, June 11-13, just became a little more interesting.
Stanford plans to use mobile technology and social media to provide new services for graduates and their families, and to make key events accessible to a global audience online.
For graduating students, Commencement can feel like a whirlwind of events and goodbyes. But this year they'll have a new tool to help them get the most out of Commencement Weekend: a social mapping application (and mobile rewards game) known as Loopt Star. Students who download the Loopt Star application onto their iPhone or iPod Touch will be able to follow their friends and earn a special Class of 2010 graduation gift by checking in to multiple Commencement events.
The Stanford Alumni Association is collaborating with this Stanford-engineered startup in an experiment with a dual purpose: to help graduating students get the most of their Commencement experience, and to help them keep in touch with one another as alumni. "By making Loopt Star available to students, we hope we'll be helping them stay connected with each other and with the university once they leave campus," said Howard E. Wolf, president of the Stanford Alumni Association and vice president for alumni affairs.
Stanford is also offering a variety of mobile services for family and friends who visit the campus for Commencement. Stanford recently launched an official presence on Foursquare, a location-based social networking application. Foursquare users can become a "friend" of Stanford and receive tips on their iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phones of interesting things to see as they walk around campus. Explorers can earn a special Stanford badge on Foursquare by checking in at multiple spots.
Campus visitors are also encouraged to download the university's official iPhone application, iStanford. It provides visitors with the most detailed campus map available for mobile devices. The application is searchable, shows users where they are based on their GPS coordinates and includes Marguerite shuttle timetables.
Making Commencement accessible through Facebook and YouTube
Through the Stanford Open Office Hours program, Facebook users will be able to post questions for Commencement speaker Susan Rice, '86, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Rice will answer a few of these questions via video on Stanford's Facebook Page. Previous Stanford Open Office Hours have featured Bill Gates, Philip Zimbardo and faculty from Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (familiarly called the d.school).
Recognizing that many family members and friends of graduates cannot make it to the Commencement ceremony, Stanford will offer a live webcast of the ceremony on June 13, beginning at 9:30 a.m. People around the world will be able to interact during the ceremony via a live Facebook chat that accompanies the webcast.
Twitter users can receive live updates from Commencement via the Stanford Twitter feed (@stanford). The hashtag for Commencement is #stanfordgrad10.
As has been the case in previous years, audio and video recordings of the main Commencement ceremony will be available on Stanford on iTunes U and Stanford's YouTube channel following the event. Recordings of past Commencement speakers have been very popular, with more than 5 million people watching the 2005 Stanford Commencement address by Steve Jobs.