Lessons learned about web 2.0 news in higher ed


This fall we enhanced the news area of our website with a number of web 2.0 tools. The enhancements included:

  • Post comments on stories and create a community-wide conversation
  • Submit your own images for the Gettysburg College Photo of the Day
  • Share stories easily via Facebook, del.icio.us, and other networks
  • Easily email stories
  • Access related stories via a tag cloud
  • Visit Gettysburg College’s pages on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and YouTube
  • Sign up for email alerts or an RSS feed of Gettysburg College news as it happens

This week as we were driving back and forth for the holiday weekend I was thinking about what some of the lessons learned would be if a college was beginning to think about these types of enhancements.

Education
I started web 2.0 education on my campus in March of 2007 with the primer that Karine Joly published in a CASE Currents magazine (http://www.case.org/Currents/ViewIssue.cfm?contentItemID=6700). It was really well done and summarized many of the tools in just a few short pages. The education continued with my Admissions and Public Relations colleagues and soon after the Web Task Force, our strategic campus wide web committee. In May 2008 we used our Board of Trustee Committee meeting to focus on marketing and specifically web 2.0 enhancements and included an educational component. It was so successful that many members of the committee asked me for hard copies of course of the power point.

Senior leadership
Senior leadership teams tend to be skeptical of flash new technology. In fact when we brought up the idea of allowing comments on our news stories one member of the team asked why we would even think of that idea?

We used a summer lunch retreat meeting to give a web update and do more education with the Vice Presidents and President which proved to be a great use of time. It set the stage for us to push forward in a number of different areas.

Collaboration
This type of project will require a high level of collaboration between the web area, your PR and Communications Office who eventually will be using the tools, your IT staff and for our project some time with the college lawyer looking at our policies and terms of use to protect us legally.

Planning
This was one of the most important keys to success especially as you start to tag and categorize your content. Having a strategic plan for tagging helped us to efficiently tag a whole year in only a few hours while hopefully helping to communicate the brand and  making it easy to find news about a subject you are interested in.

The last lesson learned was that it will always be evolving. Even as I sit here writing this blog post we have over 20 enhancements and tweaks we want to make as we move forward.

Good luck web 2.0 warriors.

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3 Responses to Lessons learned about web 2.0 news in higher ed

  1. Agatha says:

    I am commenting on your blog.

  2. Agatha says:

    ok that was a really lame post, but seriously in being now obsessed with the web, i’m feeling like i’m having a web overload. is this because we’re overzealous in our efforts, or reflective of the fact that there is a limit to how much people enjoy communicating via the web?

    or maybe it’s because i was on youtube for two hours tonight without luck uploading a video. so….as long as the stress is all on our side, and not the students we’re recruiting, that’s ok.

  3. predfern says:

    you are right about the stress. Even I get “web overload” at some points but that’s when I step back and figure out what is really important to be spending time on or reading and what is not.

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