At next month’s HighEdWeb Michigan conference, I’ll be presenting a talk titled “The Dream Org Chart,” in which I’ll examine some of the different organizational models within which institutions of higher education place their web teams, and suggest a model that I believe would solve some of the challenges that institutions face in the maintenance of a high-quality web presence.
To gather data for the first part of the presentation, I set up a Google form and turned to my colleagues on Twitter and the UWebD mailing list. Exactly one hundred responses rolled in over just a few days, far more than I had planned on or even hoped for. I am no longer surprised by the kindness and generosity of spirit that resides in the higher ed web community, but I continue to be thrilled and humbled by it.
Sifting through all of this data will take some time, but I will continue to post here as I analyze it, and will of course post my final presentation here as well. Clearly, there is a hunger for this information in the community, so I am happy to make the responses public (please note that I have had to update this link). I have stripped as much identifying data as possible.
So without further ado, some initial numbers are below. How these numbers relate to your expectations? Any surprises, or suspicions confirmed?
What size is your institution?
Under 1,000 students: 5%
Between 1,000-5,000 students: 40%
Between 5,000-10,000 students:14%
Over 10,000 students: 41%
How centralized is the production and maintenance of the web at your school?
1 (very centralized): 21%
5 (very decentralized): 9%
The group that does *the majority* of your institution’s web work is part of:
Some combination of the above: 12%
How many people work for that web group?
Over 10: 9%
Are you a part of that web group?
What kind of tasks does that web group perform?
Website Development 94%
Information Architecture 87%
Visual Design 87%
Content Strategy and/or Production 77%
Social Media Management 61%
Application Development 58%
Server Administration 36%
To whom does the head of the web group report?
VP or Dean: 31%
Assistant VP or Assistant Dean: 14%
President or equivalent: 9%
I also asked one follow-up question of those who had shared their email addresses with me, namely:
Does the group that you identified as performing the majority of web work at your institution charge other departments at the institution for its services? (n=26 27)
I just got home from HighEdWeb 2012 in Milwaukee, and rather than wait weeks to jot down my impressions like I did last year, I figured I’d best write up my thoughts on this year’s Bonnaroo of the higher ed web world right away.
I definitely enjoyed this year’s Best in Conference winner, “I don’t have your Ph.D: Working with Faculty and the Web,” by Amanda Costello (summary by Laura Kenyon), but my “golden nugget” for this year’s conference had to do with the potential of site-specific mobile experiences, something that ties in neatly with my academic fascination with the creation of spaces. Both Cornelia Bailey of UChicago and Kyle Bowen of Purdue (Kyle, whom I had the pleasure of running into at the Mars Cheese Castle on the way home, won Best in Track for his talk [write-up by Lori Packer]) gave really interesting examples of how mobile technology could be used to great effect in specific but very different settings, namely a museum in Cornelia’s talk and the classroom in Kyle’s. I’m itching to try projects like these at the Law School if the opportunity presents itself.
And while this year’s conference sadly did not include a Johnny Cash cover band made up of conference attendees, I did get involved by presenting two talks. The first, “Reach Out and Touch Someone: Marshall McLuhan and the Tactile Web,” was pretty theoretical and abstract, a change of pace for a conference mostly focused on the nitty-gritty of web work, so I wasn’t sure how it would be received. You can download my Keynote presentation (sorry Windows users, still trying to find a good way to present a presentation this big on the web) or read the write-up by Lori Packer on Link. I was pleased to get a good amount of positive feedback on the content of the talk, as well as on the concept of keeping the higher ed web engaged with big ideas like McLuhan’s work. I also gave a joint presentation with Tonya Oaks Smith of UALR Bowen Law on the differences between working in communications at a professional school or other specialty unit within a university and a four-year undergrad institution (slideshare is here). We had a few audience members who were really engaged, and I hope the conversation will continue.
Each year I give a presentation to incoming students at the Law School that introduces them to some of the School’s online resources, and also aims to aid them in their future careers by helping them take control of their online reputations. I thought the latter part of this presentation might be of interest to others as well, so I’ve produced a slightly modified version of the presentation below.
It is almost impossible in today’s knowledge economy to avoid having an online presence. Many times that presence is helpful — we can reconnect with old friends, discover books and music that we never would have otherwise known existed, and impress potential employers with our resumes and portfolios. But if not properly curated, that online presence can also damage our chances of, say, being able to actually land that new job that we’re applying for. And unfortunately, most damage done to online reputations is self-inflicted, whether through ignorance or carelessness.
Here are four things to consider when posting anything online to avoid shooting yourself in the digital foot:
Your employer WILL Google you. According to a study done in 2009 (and discussed in this Concurring Opinions blog post), 89% of human resources professionals thought it was appropriate to take an applicant’s online life into account in hiring decisions, and 70% had rejected an applicant because of something they had found online.
Nothing you put on the internet is ever truly anonymous. “Well,” you might think, “if my employer is going to Google me, I’ll just make sure that anything questionable I post won’t be associated with my name.” Good luck with that. Many websites log the IP address of all computers that access them, and even if you’re accessing a site from a public computer or have IP masking software, chances are there are other ways to discover who left that “anonymous” comment on the company blog. According to a study by Know Privacy, 88.4% of websites have SOME sort of “web bug” that collects data about users usually without their awareness.
Once you put it online, it could very well be there forever. My favorite example of this is the young woman in Britain who was fired from her job after calling her boss a “pervy wanker” on Facebook… having forgotten, it seems, that her boss was her Facebook friend. Aside from the cautionary tale of remembering who you’ve friended, what’s amazing to me about this is the idea that this screenshot — obviously taken by one of the poster’s friends — will now live on indeterminately on the internet. The young woman should be grateful that whoever did so had the courtesy to scrub out her name, otherwise she might very well have been haunted by this boneheaded move for the rest of her professional career.
Email counts too. I would be willing to bet that people do more damage to their professional prospects through email than through any other electronic means. It’s far too easy to accidentally hit “reply all” for your scathing comebacks intended only for one of many people on a mailing list, or for a disgruntled coworker to forward a “private” email to your entire company. If you are in school, remember that email interactions with administrators are professional communications and should be treated as such. While you don’t have to be quite so formal with your classmates, remember that these are people that you may very well be working with — or for — one day. In the hiring process, you don’t want to be the person who gets remembered for drunkenly spamming the class mailing list every weekend. And of course, there’s the worst-case scenario in which a questionable email is forwarded far and wide with your name prominently attached to it.
How to protect yourself:
A rule of thumb. At the Law School, we encourage our student tweeters to consider one rule of thumb before every tweet: “Do I care whether my grandmother, my dean, or my future employer will ever see this post?” The potential readers in your rule of thumb may be different depending on your situation and online comfort level, but if the answer to your question is “yes,” back slowly away from the keyboard and go get a sandwich.
Check your privacy settings. Do you know who can see what on your Facebook page? If you’re not sure, spend some time learning how Facebook (or whatever social networks you happen to be on) deals with privacy issues (Facebook’s FAQ’s are here). Personally, I make sure that only my friends can see anything I post; it doesn’t eliminate the risk that something might escape my newsfeed and get into the wild, but it does reduce the risk.
Control your brand: post more. It might be tempting, given the dangers I outline above, to throw up your hands, delete your Facebook account, and take a vow of digital silence. After all, what you don’t type can’t hurt you, right. Wrong. If you have no online presence that you control, then you are leaving a vacuum that can be easily filled with the negative comments of others (or of others pretending to be you). Instead, take control of your personal brand by producing high-quality content — whether on a blog, your LinkedIn page or something else — that will be associated with your name and will highlight your skills and abilities.
Monitor your data shadow. If anyone is writing nasty things (or, for that matter, good things) about you online, you want to know as soon as possible so that you can take steps to nip disaster in the bud. Google Alerts is a great tool for this; it will send you an email every time Google’s search engine encounters the phrase of your choosing.
So that’s a brief primer in protecting your professional reputation online. If you have any additional tips, I’d love to hear them.
Yesterday, I gave a presentation at the eduWeb conference entitled “Wrangling the Octopus: Managing Your Social Media Ecosystem.” In the presentation, I outlined the tools that I use to keep content flowing to the University of Chicago Law School’s many social media outlets. The Cliffs Notes version:
I try to operate under two general principles: automate as much as possible, but don’t lose the human touch.
Using Yahoo Pipes, I create a master feed that aggregates all of our syndicated content (blogs, podcasts, news items, etc.).
That master feed is fed into Feedburner, in order to maintain a single static URL and to ensure that the feed validates. Feedburner also creates an animated gif of the feed that can be added to HTML emails.
The Feedburner feed is fed into dlvr.it, which sends content out to Twitter and Facebook.
We use CoTweet to share our primary Twitter account among team members, and Echofon to monitor Twitter in real time.
Next week I’ll be presenting at the 2009 eduWeb conference here in Chicago. My talk will be entitled “A Bird in the Hand: Twitter as a Higher Ed Communications Tool” and will present some of the reasons why institutions of higher education might want to use Twitter and provide some tips and techniques for getting such a project off the ground. The powerpoint of my presentation is now up on Slideshare.
Today I had the pleasure of participating in The Southside Arts & Humanities Network‘s Meet the Press 2009 event. I presented with Adam Thurman of the Court Theatre, who gave an outstanding presentation on *why* arts and humanities nonprofits need to be using social media. For my section of the presentation, I discussed the *how,* providing some of strategies and tools that they might be able to use to implement a social media strategy. My powerpoint is available, but I also plan on turning this presentation into a series of blog posts over the next several weeks. Stay tuned!
Late last year, along with Renee Basick, the Interim Director of the Chicago Media Iniatives Group, I did a couple of presentations on podcasting and new media. The first, entitled “An Introduction to Podcasting,” was presented in November to a group of University of Chicago IT folks as part of the University’s “Get IT Together” initiative. The presentation was (gulp) video-recorded, and you can watch it below. In it, Renee and I address the logistical and technological issues surrounding starting a podcasting initiative in a higher education environment, using my experience in starting the CHIASMOS program as a case study. The advance publicity for this presentation may be the first and only time anyone has ever referred to me as an expert in anything.
The second presentation, “Embracing Web 2.0 and New Media Communications,” which was an expanded version of the presentation in November, was presented at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education District V’s annual conference in December. While this one wasn’t recorded, you can check out our slideshow below. If you download the prsentation, you can also read our notes that went along with it (which will make a lot more sense than just looking at the slides).