Finally yesterday my luggage arrived at GSP Airport four days after I last dropped it off in Philly. It was a short lived time of rejoicing. It’s been a challenging weekend as I visited my family and going through my father’s will and discussing moving issues and passing on his car; he won’t need it as he can never drive again. Just a quick update, my father has been diagnosed with brain cancer and it’s a form that is not curable. The good news is that we are looking at years of time with him instead of months. He’ll be starting radiation treatment in a few weeks and I’m sure that will be challenging for our family. As he tells me and I couldn’t agree more, “It will be alright”. Everyone, thank you for the prayers and offers of assistance. So let’s get back on reflecting on this conference and my takeaway points three, four, and five.
Higher Education is full of followers
This theme came up a few times in conversations with people. Higher Education Web individuals tend to be followers. If one person comes up with an exciting and innovative design, concept or site, then others scramble to copy. I’m not saying this is really a whole lot different than any other industry, but it does help explain the 10% who tweet and 5% who created content around this event.
The perfect excellent example of the follow the leader mentality is apparent with the eduStyle awards. Don’t get me wrong I loved the awards and Stewart has put together an amazing resource, but so many higher education sites look so similar and very few really venture off in really creative direction. This is also apparent with two schools dominating the awards. I won’t be surprised in the least to see much of the elements of these sites being copied over the next year.
I really challenge everyone to try and not copy, but really think through unique and creative directions to take Higher Ed Web.
Email is NOT dead
In Mark Greenfield’s opening keynote speech one of the tops that generated the most buzz and discussion was his proclamation that “email is dead”. This was a real challenge as I was scheduled to present on Email Marketing for Higher Education the very next day. I had a quick chat after Mark’s presentation where he told me *drum roll* that he made that statement to create the buzz and discussion and not necessarily because he 100% believed it. We both agree that it’s a very important discussion and something that a lot of people need to take a part in. To get the ball rolling last Friday I created a discussion over in the University Web Developer Ning network and I hope everyone will contribute their feelings on the subject. A lot has already been hashed out and I plan to add my two cents later this week once I’ve caught up and freed up a little more time for deep reflection.
Blogs are the answer for any school that doesn’t have a CMS and a lot that do
Heidi Cool’s presentation about College Blogs really my interest in creative ways to use blogs as a platform. When I asked her afterward why they had blogs for everything she informed me it was because they don’t have a fully developed Content Management System (CMS). From talking to lots of you there are still quite a few schools who aren’t on a CMS and a blog really is a realistic alternative. Case Western Reserve University uses blogs for pretty much everything and because the easy installation, adding new content, syndication, and management nature of a blog it really is a “low hanging fruit” type opportunity for schools to get their feet wet in a basic content management system.
Of course I’m a big blog advocate, Wofford has about twenty linked blogs and I’m an active blogger myself, so I’m a little biased, but there are a lot of sites that I’ve seen that run fully on a blogging CMS like WordPress. Also for News Rooms and Athletics Releases it can make a lot of sense to do those in a blog format.