Thanks to our friends at WhippleHill for this video of the excellent Keynote address by Ben Jones, VP for Communications at Oberlin College and former Director of Communications for the MIT Office of Admissions. Ben shared his experiences in using social media, focusing on the “what,” “why,” and “how” from his point of view. This is a truly engaging presentation and should be a “must watch” for anyone thinking about how to use social media to advance the goals of educational institutions.
Ben Jones is a national expert on blogging, social networking, and creative uses of web 2.0 initiatives in higher education. His pioneering work in admissions blogging was recently featured in a front-page article in the New York Times. In July 2008, Jones was appointed Vice President for Communications at Oberlin College, where he double majored in English and Environmental Studies as an undergraduate. In his first year, Jones overhauled Oberlin’s web presence and launched a variety of social media initiatives. Highlights included student and faculty blogs and the Oberlin Stories Project, which translates Oberlin to the world via hundreds of primary-source narratives from students and alumni. Under his leadership, Oberlin’s Office of Communications established an official presence across all major third-party social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn. The Global Language Monitor recently ranked liberal arts colleges “according to their appearance on the Internet, throughout the blogosphere, and in global print and electronic media;” Oberlin was ranked 5th.
Prior to his appointment at Oberlin, Jones served for four years as Director of Communications in the MIT Office of Admissions. At MIT, he developed a communications plan and admissions web community (mitadmissions.org) that has been cited nationally as the gold standard in admissions communications. During his tenure, MIT’s applications increased 28 percent. Previously, Jones was a founder and partner at Blue Coda Inc., a web strategy firm whose clients include Harvard, MIT, and Boston University. He served as a director of design and production for About.com, the fifth largest web site in the world at the time; directed the online version of American Prospect Magazine; and helped to develop an online community known as the Electronic Policy Network. Jones is an active musician with multiple songwriting awards to his credit. He and his wife, Tanya Rosen-Jones, have two sons, Emerson and Asa.