Web strategy in higher education: the good, the bad, the better

Effective Web strategy should be good strategy in any profession right?

You start with a strong executive sponsor, clear governance, and business-critical goals. With roles, responsibilities, and processes well established, you nimbly prototype, test, and refine a product for clients. Once in production, feedback informs continuous improvement. Then, as the environment changes, the life-cycle begins again.

Well, obviously the ideal is seldom equal to the real, and the organizational environment affects the success of even the most strategic project or program.

Through my work at Dartmouth, MIT, and Bates, I’ve gotten to know online professionals from around the country and, even though higher education is really a collection of very different kinds of institutions — colleges, universities, and programs in public, private, and for-profit settings — the academic environment does, indeed, provide some consistent challenges and opportunities for online communicators.

In this session, I’ll focus on several of those challenges — including governance, staffing, systems, and silos — and suggest ways that WordPress can be used to surmount those challenges, integrate across the whole college domain, and support the entire constituent life-cycle: from prospective student, to current student, to alum.

I’ll showcase several schools using WordPress to its fullest, and give a shout out to the developers who maintain the plugins that are critical to using WP in higher education. (I’ll also describe a couple of gaps that could be filled with new, or updated, plugins.)

In the meantime, if you haven’t added your school to our growing WordPress in Higher Education list, please do: http://bit.ly/wphighered.  And, if you have pointers or comments use #wpedu on Twitter.

This non-technical session is intended for higher education online professionals expanding their use of WordPress, and for WP developers expanding their support for higher education.

Jay Collier is a communications strategist and producer with over 20 years of experience supporting learning communities, from WGBH, MIT, Dartmouth, and Bates, to his current work prototyping an online professional community for Maine educators. He has been advocating and using WordPress in many forms since 2006. Recent projects include the Maine Department of Education Newsroom, the Chinese-American Friendship Association of Maine, and the WGBH Alumni community. He scouts innovative trends in lifelong and blended learning at JayCollier.net.

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