Graduates linked by digital Convo-sation

Larger Twitter walls and new photo capabilities will make Fall convocation a social affair! Join the CONVO-sation with #uwgrad2012.

By Christine Bezruki

Alumni Affairs

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When the university integrated social media into the convocation ceremonies for the first time in June, it did so quietly, unsure what the response would be like from students and parents.  But 2,000 congratulatory tweets and one marriage proposal later, it was clear that the CONVO-sation, as it was dubbed, had taken on a life of its own.

Designed both to make the ceremonies more inclusive for family and friends, especially those not in attendance, and provide graduating students with a way of sharing their Waterloo memories, the first CONVO-sation garnered tweets from across the country and as far away as Dubai. Even Waterloo alumni sent their congratulations, with one tweet reading: “Congrats to all the new mathie alumni! I was there 6 years ago. Best feeling in the world #uwgrad2012 #uWaterloo GambitIT”

As a result of the June social media success, attendees of the Fall convocation ceremonies can expect bigger and better social media capabilities.

“We had such a positive response from the June ceremonies, we knew we wanted to build on the initiative going forward,” said Cynthia Breen, Alumni Officer, E-Services, and one of the key players in the social media integration.

Two enhancements will provide graduating students and ceremony-goers a better user experience. Larger screens will be set up in the robing area for graduating students to see messages from family and friends before the ceremony begins, and a new Twitter wall provider will support the display of pictures marked with the official CONVO-sation hashtag, #uwgrad2012.

Like in June, guests will be able to view the Twitter wall on two large screens in the ceremony room before the ceremony begins. Screens will also be set up at the reception in the Student Life Centre after each ceremony.

By having screens in several locations, the Office of Alumni Affairs and the Registrar’s Office hope to capture the excitement of the day in real time. “At the end of the day it’s about celebrating the graduates and their achievements,” said Jason Coolman, Director of Alumni Affairs. “What better way to do that than in real time on social media, allowing family and friends to be a part of it.”