How a Small Non-Profit College Created a Global Presence
May 9, 2014
Gaining visibility as a non-profit organization can be difficult due to limited funds. UQUDENT, a non-profit Saudi Arabian government-run dental school founded in 2007, turned to SlideShare to increase global awareness of its name and educational opportunities.
The Goal: Spread Knowledge
UQUDENT, which offers free dental courses to about 200 students, has two main goals: 1) to establish itself as a global name; and 2) to openly share knowledge. University administrators knew they wanted to accomplish this through social media, based on the idea that learning is a social process.
“We are trying to be innovative and social in the way we teach our students,” says Sohail Bajammal, UQUDENT’s Associate Dean for Postgraduate Studies and Research.
The idea was that putting content on social sharing sites like SlideShare was a way to get the university's name out there and a means for students to exchange knowledge and learn from each other.
The Impact of Greater Distribution
With no cash flow coming from students, and no government funding dedicated to marketing, UQUDENT had to get creative with how it would engage students across the globe.
"The decision to start a channel on SlideShare was [part of a goal] we have to make UQUDENT a non-conventional global college," Bajammal says. "The presence of the presentations on SlideShare increases the chances that they are shared among the students in a social manner."
UQUDENT uploaded its first SlideShare in 2010: "Introduction to Research Methodology." The university has since uploaded 66 SlideShares on topics ranging from dentistry and health research methodology to evidence-based clinical practices and how to write a CV -- totaling more than 380,000 views to date. Most uploads are classroom presentations by faculty members.
The university initially thought its main audience on SlideShare would be dental students in Saudi Arabia -- but it has gained an audience in almost every continent. The country that has viewed its content the most? The United States, followed by India. Its most popular SlideShare is “EBD Course: Lecture 4 Secondary Sources,” which shares how to use secondary sources for evidence-based healthcare, and has reached more than 32,000 views.
By uploading SlideShares that are then promoted on other social media channels, UQUDENT's hope is that students take part in "situated learning," which Bajammal describes as a collaborative and social learning process. He says they chose SlideShare as a platform to share knowledge because content can be easily shared and embedded across the web.
Connecting Students and Brand
Posting lectures on SlideShare has had a positive effect for both the students and the university’s brand.
“Using SlideShare in addition to other social media sites quite early (in 2010) made us a college close to our students,” Bajammal says. “[We gave them] a feeling that we are very reachable and made their learning process less stressful because they could easily view presentations.”
The presentations also helped build brand recognition, which is not common for academic entities in the Middle East, Bajammal says.
"By sharing more presentations on our channel in SlideShare, we are telling the global dental community that we are providing open access to information for all dental students. When we started implementing our first strategic plan in 2009, we had a very clear strategy in mind: We should not limit our activities to the boundaries of the university," Bajammal says.