Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type



Computer Science

First Advisor

Thomas Blum


Information Technology departments in higher education often have a difficult time communicating with faculty, staff, students and alumni. Because of the vast amount of information, some of which is more time sensitive than another, it can be a challenge to get the information out to the many different types of users as quickly. After an examination of the functional and nonfunctional communication practices of a few different higher education facilities, our team has put together a proposal on how a university’s IT department can use social media to communicate to its entire user base. Our research has been conducted through the use of reading books, articles, blogs, and other online amenities as well as first-hand observations and situations that have been encountered. From our readings and observations we have been able to investigate communication throughout the academic environment from the perspective of faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

We have examined Web 2.0 and how it has changed the way that users communicate online by enabling an interactive means of communication, and real time information sharing; creating more of a “customizable” online experience that can be geared toward a user’s personal inclinations. From our research we have been able to provide different software options that could be put in place to help meet the overall goal of effective and efficient communication throughout a university. These software options include technologies such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, SharePoint, Tumbler, Socialcast, and several other applications. By having the ability to implement these technologies to help ensure more effective communication from the IT department to the rest of the university, there is then the ability to see what technologies best suit the needs of a university. By comparing these technologies, one is then provided insight into the needs, as well as level of customization that would be required to implement a solution that can be utilized to increase communication throughout an entire university, including students, faculty, and staff, not just IT. The use of software platforms, such as Socialcast, can help to create a more connected environment, while maximizing on the ability to communicate information, as well as share knowledge.

The cost of implementation depends heavily on the level of customization we achieve by making the different software options compatible with the current university systems and operations. Many of the applications are offered for free; therefore, by using the free version of the different applications, as means for testing, we can find the options whose features and functionality are most suitable for the needs of the university, prior to purchasing and customizing them for the university environment.

By having the ability to implement several software solutions, a university could position itself to be a leader in the education industry in relation to how communication is handled, not only between different departments/divisions, but also to students and getting them more involved with what is happening in the academic community.