Why ALL College Business Students Should be on Yammer

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Yammer

How many groups/teams have you been a part of that could have been more effective?

How many times have you waited for an email from a team member, only to receive an outdated version of the file?

Wouldn’t you love to give your team instant access to what you are working on, and have a place where you can come together to exchange and collaborate on ideas real-time?

Introducing Yammer–a private, secure social network for companies. No matter what the business, Yammer allows you to connect with your coworkers to collaborate, share ideas, and be more productive. You must use a verified company (or university) email to confirm your eligibility to join the network.

Yammer incorporates many familiar social media elements like the Feed, where users can post updates, ask questions, share news, links and files, as well as give feedback on current projects. Each user has a profile page containing personal expertise, status updates, vital contact information, and fun conversation starters.

Working on a team project? Perfect! Yammer provides work spaces where you can easily collaborate on projects. Creating a group (public or private) only takes seconds. Team files are easy to view, and notification of changes or progress in the group can be sent by email, IM, or via text directly to your phone, so no time is lost waiting.

Yammer is available for the web, desktop, tablet, and smart-phone, so you can stay connected and updated at all times. Tag conversations so they can be easily found and sorted. Discuss changes real-time with chat, and see what is happening with every member on the team.

Yammer Screenshot

So why should ALL college business students use this?

From my own experience as a business student, it is hard to work with teams that are disconnected. Bridging any possible gaps or lapses in the team dynamic, instantly validates the utility of this tool. Emailing Powerpoints back and forth is so antiquated–especially when someone makes a mistake and you have to wait for them to realize and send the corrected version back. The turnaround time is costly, especially if you are pressed by an important deadline.

College students understand the dynamics of social media better than anyone. So there is little to no learning curve with Yammer’s tools. As many graduates progress to the working world, they are forced to learn the operation of new products, software and systems, because their education has not utilized any of the tools major corporations are laying emphasis on. Yammer is used by 80% of Fortune 500 companies…a statistic that speaks for itself!!

Applying a top-down and bottom-up strategy, targeting both professors and students simultaneously, Yammer should infiltrate college education. This will encourage students to collaborate by exchanging ideas with ease, using a medium they already understand, aided by technology which effortlessly, and instantly connects them through various sources (phone, tablet, IM, email). If students experience the utility of the product they will be Yammer evangelists by the time they graduate.

Why would any grad go into the working world and spend costly hours learning new software when instead companies could rely on the students learning to maneuver that world class enterprise software while they are still in school? Even if the students are not huge fans, when asked in the work place what they would recommend as a collaboration tool, the natural response would then be “Yammer.”

Yammer operates on a freemium model, so signing up is…you guessed it…FREE, and most functionality that is important to higher education team work can be utilized right away. Full features such as advanced admin & security controls, data export, and SharePoint integration can be purchased by the company or university who claims the network. In this case, the institution pays $5/user/month, a fantastic price considering what it will gain access to.

If you have a business class coming up (you know you will have group/team projects/work) or you just want to see how cool Yammer’s tools are, visit their site, and sign up for an account!

Once you have given Yammer a try (or if you already have), let me know…

I’m curious what you think??

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9 thoughts on “Why ALL College Business Students Should be on Yammer

    Otto Hilska said:
    July 26, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Actually I think teamwork is not one of Yammer’s strengths. It’s good as a organization-wide social network, where you’ll stay roughly up-to-date about what the other 1000 people are doing. The Feed paradigm as such is not very effective as your only communication tool – I think that’s why Facebook is also trying to focus on the chat.

    Flowdock (http://www.flowdock.com/) is a communication hub that’s meant for teams, and teams only. It’s better for intensive teamwork, and it combines the Feed with group chat in a new way. On the other hand, it’s not suitable for organization-wide status updates.

    It’s already used by many universities around the world, for free. Let me know what you think. 🙂

    – Otto

      thinkingaboutbiz responded:
      July 28, 2011 at 8:54 pm

      Otto,

      thanks for the feedback and for the share as well. I checked out flowdock, and I definitely see it’s utility, especially for tech or web work. I agree the Feed is not enough to relay vital team information, but as I am aware, Yammer features chat as well, and members of a network can communicate real-time while discussing changes to their work.

      Additionally an item I did not address was admin activity monitoring. If managers in a company can see how much employees are contributing, collaborating, and exchanging worthwhile content, the same should apply to college/university professors.

      example: for the final paper/project/presentation in my international business class, our professor required us to submit a form dividing 100 points between self and teammates. This was used to determine each member’s contribution, as well as final grade. I found this technique to be quite effective, because generally nobody would sacrifice hard earned points by giving them to a lazy member. The flaw was friends working together on a team, because they would rate each other higher than those outside their personal circle.
      I would solve this by giving the professor (in this case an admin) access to the content created by the students, so he or she can quantitatively view who add what content–or who did nothing at all.

      This is not relevant for most educational applications, but would make for a great monitoring tool.

      Thanks for your share Otto, I’ll check back from time to time to see what changes you have made with flowdock

    Shadeed Eleazer said:
    July 28, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Yammer in the educational space would be a great addition to mainstay educational networks such as Blackboard and most recently SharePoint has made its way onto college campuses around the world. Yammer works flawlessly with SharePoint, augmenting social sharing, commenting and profiles to identify key members for tasks.
    This article provided with a viewpoint I had not initially considered, and thats Yammer for targeted groups such as college students. I understand its value as an Enterprise social network but your viewpoints take it one step further. thanks for sharing.

      thinkingaboutbiz responded:
      July 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm

      Shadeed, thank you for the kind feedback, and for condensing my post into such a simple explanation. We (Loyola Marymount University) students currently use Blackboard, and it is a drag! I am interested to see how well Microsoft will push Sharepoint into more schools especially considering how many established relationships the company already has.
      It’s time education overhaul, and the tools we learn about/work with are a HUGE part of that! Will one of the big boys like Microsoft be the dominant player or will a relatively new company like Yammer try to shake things up?
      Thanks again for taking the time to leave a comment.

    Susan Gautsch said:
    July 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Great post. At Pepperdine’s Business School, we’ve been using Yammer for the last 18mos and it’s doing things we never imagined. A few things of note:
    1. students from different programs and campus centers (we have 5 across southern california) are connecting, sharing insights, and helping each other with pressing questions
    2. we’ve effectively crowdsourced our elearning support. If students have a problem with their email, Sakai (our LMS), or anything else that they’d be calling a helpdesk (and crossing their fingers for an answer in the next few days) they simply post their Q to Yammer and inevitably some other student will get to the answer before someone official does. Since Yammer is a knowledge base, they can simply search and find (or we refer them to) the thread to answer the same question whenever the next person asks.
    3. students form groups for the team projects and share document, updates, etc
    4. just this week, some students started talking about a particular book. With many others interested, they ended up starting a whole new group and scheduled a book club meeting for next Thursday. They’re still discussing it online even when they have a live discussion scheduled.
    5. Our Dean is starting a Town Hall where she’s communicating more directly and 2-way with students. They love the personal attention, get their questions asked, and it’s a great way for her to get real feedback.
    6. Many profs set up groups to discuss readings/case studies. They find the discussion is much more interactive then a traditional LMS discussion board (students now actually read each other’s posts and reply with further ideas, agreements or disagreements, examples, etc. — It makes for great in-class discussion as they’re already warmed up and ready to dig deep into the topic. )
    7. when our power went out or the time there was a police chase (god love LA) that ended ugly in front of our West LA campus blocking traffic for miles and hours, we were able to get word out to our students who were just leaving to drive in to steer clear.
    8. Our student facing units provide student services directly in Yammer — Career Services has a group called “Get a Job” where they post valuable career resources, tips, event invites, answer questions, etc. Likewise our Academic Advisors have their own groups to serve their students, as do our Global Programs office, etc.
    9. We’re launching a “Class Across Borders” where faculty informally share insights and ideas while facilitating discussions with students about a particular area of expertise — sort of like a special topics graduate seminar.
    10. Student engagement skyrockets.

    If you’re curious about any of this, we have lots of presentations, articles, and even a book chapter on Social Learning available at: http://tinyurl.com/aboutglean (Yammer is part of our greater Graziadio Learning Environment and Network — aka GLEAN).

      thinkingaboutbiz responded:
      July 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      Wow Susan, thank you for the incredibly detailed feedback! I very sincerely appreciate that. You not only answered many of the questions I had, but also addressed several utilities I had only thought about and imagined in real-life application.

      1. I love that geography is no longer a factor in collaboration!
      2. As a student I really care about response time from on-campus services–this gives students essentially “instant” responses compared top some generic, one sentence email. Its great that students are answering each others’ questions, because they would do so anyway, but now they have access to a much larger knowledge base…not to mention referring them. Great use!
      5. I have spoken to many of my classmates and one of the biggest hindrances we feel is the bureaucracy and hierarchy of the institution–it is difficult to speak to important people without being dismissed by some administrator first. It is not that the Dean (or whomever) does not wish to speak with students, it is the administrative staff below them that feels their boss’ time is too precious for students’ questions. You said it perfectly–students “love the personal attention, get their questions asked, and it’s a great way for her to get real feedback.” I really admire the horizontal structure you have created through this!
      6. I like that Yammer allows all of this to happen in one place. Some of my professors attempted using Blackboard for discussions…MAJOR FAIL. Only 3-4 students in each class used it, mostly because the technology was not engaging/social enough. It seems like students are actually participating in conversation through this.
      7. LMU currently has an emergency response system, but it has been ineffective several times in the last few years. LMU specifically focuses on emergencies, not so much updates relating to students. Again great utility, especially as a student resource!
      8. Career services could use a more direct source to students like this. Do they link it to Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter?
      10. I bet engagement skyrockets! What kind of monitoring is the institution able to do in terms of what students and professors are doing on the network? For example, can the school see when a students plagiarizes or uses another persons work?

      Thanks again for your feedback, I have already read over some of the content you referred me to (http://tinyurl.com/aboutglean), but I will definitely be looking at it some more!

      Any school thinking about making the switch to Yammer, check out what Pepperdine is doing as a real LEADER!

      TheMaria said:
      July 29, 2011 at 9:08 pm

      Hi Sue, you guys never cease to amaze us! We are so excited about and humbled by your support and innovation at Pepperdine. And thanks for sharing the crisis response use case — we are seeing more and more companies use Yammer for that. I’m also thrilled to see that a discussion on Yammer inspired physical action like forming a book club.

      – Maria from Yammer

    TheMaria said:
    July 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Andreas!

    We’ve been sharing your post internally quite a bit, and I wanted to make sure that we left you a comment here to thank you for writing it. You have given it quite a bit of thought, and your enthusiasm and understanding of the product shines through brightly.

    I love your note about Yammer “infiltrating” education with students and professors alike. Just like in for-profit companies, there’s a ton of trapped knowledge and siloed communications across the groups of students, professors and administrators. Just today, I was talking to a client who referred to Yammer as “continuing education” on the job. So it definitely goes both ways: students learn business collaboration norms, as well as business practitioners learn from each other like they were in a University setting. I remember in the “olden days,” when I was in college, we used Blackboard, and I so wish we had something a bit more fluid that can start a discussion prior to class, sustain it during and continue afterwards and retain it for posterity.

    Thanks again for your thoughts!

    – Maria from Yammer

      thinkingaboutbiz responded:
      July 29, 2011 at 11:24 pm

      Maria, thank you for not only commenting, but for engaging Susan in conversation as well. I am especially happy to hear you have tossed my ideas around at Yammer.

      I really enjoyed writing about Yammer, because as I’ve learned more about the company and the culture my passion for the product has grown. I see a HUGE utility in the educational space, one Yammer clearly has the capacity to fill. Maybe create a new ECSM position (E=educational)? Or perhaps a student ambassador program to infiltrate those professors and students simultaneously? This is an under explored space, and I’m curious what company is going to provide best tool that allows students to “start discussion prior to class, sustain it during, continue afterwards and retain it for posterity,” just as you pointed out.

      You complain about the “olden days?” We are still stuck in “those olden Blackboard days” at LMU…precisely why I am making my community aware of a great opportunity for us all to benefit and learn more from each other by engaging in conversation.

      Thanks again for your comment!

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