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Articles: Internet

Once visitors get to a college or university website, the aim is to keep them there. Keep in mind that they might not know what questions to ask and probably don’t have time to read, says Stephanie Geyer, associate vice president of web strategy services at Noel-Levitz. “They just want to get to pieces of content quickly and institutions struggle to provide that.” Here are some tips for ensuring navigation doesn’t negatively impact the time that visitors spend on your institution’s site.

An institutional website is not only often the first contact a prospective student has with a college or university but also a constant landing point for current students, faculty, and staff. “We looked at trends and research and realized that the website is very important to recruiting,” says Beverly Golden, director of marketing and communications at The University of Texas at Tyler. “It might be the first thing people see about your institution.”

webcam

Imagine being a student in a class listening to your professor as she writes on a whiteboard at the front of the room. She asks a question and you faintly hear a voice, but you can’t see who it came from or understand what was said—because you’re sitting at your desk participating in class through your webcam.

screengrab of SHSU's social media page

People can be very sensitive about their social media accounts, as witnessed any time Facebook makes changes to the news feed presentation. So it makes sense that the Sam Houston State University (Texas) campus reacted badly when administrators tried to implement a new social media policy requiring any school group with SHSU in its name to grant administrative access to the Marketing and Communications department. Cries of “free speech” quickly followed. Since then, reports in the campus newspaper indicate a social media committee was created and tasked with developing a new policy.

Last month, Professional Media Group, owners and producers of the EduComm conference, announced a new name for the conference’s 2012 incarnation: UBTech.

When it began in 2003, EduComm’s focus was on the convergence of AV and IT in higher education. But as the years went by, EduComm sessions increasingly reflected the disciplines and topics covered in University Business magazine and its companion web seminar series.

A Prospective student attending an open house or career fair, who has just finished the LSAT, or even who has some time on a train commute can apply to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School on the spot—via smartphone or tablet. Officials there say it’s the first law school in the country facilitating the application process through the use of portable devices.

How many 140-character messages were tweeted today? How many posts have been published in the past 24 hours? How many photos have been posted, and liked, on Facebook since yesterday? Hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

Like many institutions, Murray State University (Ky.) paid a vendor to back up its data regularly and store it off-site for retrieval in case a disaster struck campus and wiped out hard drives and servers. But university administrators found the service lacking for a variety of reasons: It was pricey in lean times, recovering information was too lengthy a process, and effective testing was practically nonexistent.

These days, most students are never more than an arm's reach away from their mobile phones. They live, eat, and even sleep near their phones, and increasingly, many of these devices are smartphones. A study from IDC Research found the worldwide mobile phone market grew nearly 20 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2011, fueled by high smartphone growth. Clearly, there is a growing opportunity to engage high school prospects via their mobile devices.

Cloud email

Numerous advantages are driving cloud email adoption. Migrating email to the cloud offers campuses substantial financial savings and eliminates on-site mail system infrastructure. Schools avoid email server backups, shrink email support time, off-load maintenance, and bypass the need for server-based anti-virus, anti-spam and email filtering products, according to Rich Brown, founder of Dartware, a network monitoring software developer, and a former network manager at Dartmouth College. Decent uptime (when service is up without any downtime) is usually a benefit, as well.

The success of online education giant University of Phoenix has inspired a host of web-based higher learning and career training institutions. And while this increase is indicative of a growing demand for remote learning options, it also makes delivering the right student to the right school more challenging. Generating leads for the sake of generating leads is an inefficient customer acquisition strategy.

Visitors to the University Business website last month began seeing a redesigned site, built from the ground up to add more features and greater functionality. To give you an idea of what you'll find on the new site, I turned to Stephanie Martinez, CIO of Professional Media Group, which publishes University Business.

"The UB website was built using Drupal 7, an open-source content management system," she says. "The Drupal CMS allows us to manage content more efficiently, and it is very scalable. New features can be added easily."

portal

Like many institutions, the University of St. Francis rolled out an online portal a few years ago in order to offer round-the-clock support and information to the entire campus community. Given its varied academic profile—a main campus in Joliet, Ill.; a satellite campus in Albuquerque, N.M.; and a thriving distance-learning program—officials hoped the integration of technology into business processes would lead to greater efficiencies and cost savings.

interface

With a web-based interface allowing for staffers across the institution to input information, officials at Central Methodist University, located in Fayette, Mo., figured that awarding scholarships would be a breeze. After all, admission counselors, coaches, and others could easily enter academic and extracurricular credentials for accepted students, allowing for the appropriate officials to approve scholarships and notify the recipients.

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