ANY COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY THAT ISN'T WEB 2.0 to its fullest is falling behind. We all know that. Colleges need to be RSSing, Digging, tweeting, blogging, social networking, virtual worlding, podcasting, Flickring, YouTubing, and wikiing. (My apologies for creating new and possibly horrific verbs.)
AS I’M FINALLY SITTING IN front of my computer to write this column, I’m frantically following real-time developments at one of the major conferences for web professionals working in higher education: HighEdWeb in Springfield, Mo.
With all the Web 2.0 hype these days, it’s no surprise that student expectations of the web continue to swell. Is your institutional website living up to these expectations? Today higher education websites are more than just static pages. They are strategic assets for admissions and enrollment, advancement and fundraising, brand awareness, disseminating information such as news and safety alerts, and, now more than ever, they are strategic assets for social networking. Research shows that social networking is the most popular online activity among today’s internet users.
We are entering the age of collaboration. Web 2.0 has gone mainstream. An entire generation of students is arriving in our schools and universities, for whom Facebook is their most important source of information and communications.
The process of leading higher learning institutions is not for the faint-hearted. Leaders are called upon to navigate the competing and sometimes hidden agendas of multiple taskmasters and the communities their institutions call home. A new challenge that is showing up on the agenda of administrators in higher education is cyber-bullying among students, faculty, staff, and community members.
E-mail is dead, long live Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Social networking sites are all the rage, and we should just go ahead and discard any of the old working models ... or so the prognosticators of teen communication culture would have us believe. While it is true that the trends are pointing away from "traditional" methods of reaching prospective students, it doesn't mean that your educational institution should completely forsake the old reliables: direct mail and e-mail.