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There's a Reason We Call Them Institutions: Working in Higher Education Without Going Crazy

There's a Reason We Call Them Institutions: Working in Higher Education Without Going Crazy

I’ve consulted with lots of institutions of higher education. Each was convinced that they were a unique snowflake, and that their challenges could not possibly be understood by any outsider. In fact, I’ve found there’s remarkable similarity across many (though of course not all) campus teams as they strategize, design, develop, and maintain their web presence.

Five Dysfunctions of Higher Ed:
- Diffuse Authority
- Audience Ambiguity
- Content Sprawl
- Team Turnover: The Revolving Door & The Lifers
- Insufficient Training

For each we’ll talk about what the dysfunction is and what strategies you might use to mitigate its impact.

John Eckman

July 26, 2019

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  3. Five Dysfunctions of Higher Ed 1. Diffuse Authority 2. Audience

    Ambiguity 3. Content Sprawl 4. Team Turnover 5. Insufficient Training https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universidad_de_Mor%C3%B3n
  4. #1: Diffuse Authority - Identify your spheres of control, influence,

    and concern - Try to identify stakeholders and roles - Build coalitions of the willing - formal and informal - Document & share real goals - Shape recommendations based in data - Do great work & promote it https://www.etsy.com/listing/269967357/serenity-prayer-non-religious-printable
  5. People go to the website because they can't wait for

    the next alumni magazine, right? What do you mean, you want a campus map? One of our students made one as a CS class project back in '01! You can click to zoom and everything! https://xkcd.com/773/
  6. #2: Audience Ambiguity • Force priorities: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Quaternary,

    etc. •Prioritize audiences and activities • Eliminate the “front door” pattern • Document, brainstorm, strategize. • Provide clear pathways for alternate audiences https://news.delta.com/delta-introduces-enhanced-boarding-process-atlanta
  7. #3: Content Sprawl • Set restrictions on spinning up new

    sites & supporting them • In site refreshes, redesigns, or migrations, prune. • Content strategy driven by documented goals and analytics. • Archive / decomission old sites & content http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/archives/2541632.html
  8. #4: Team Turnover - Document best practices - Do lots

    of training: brown bag lunches, knowledge sharing, etc. - Form working groups - Share successes - Pair lifers with newbies - Credentialize / Professionalize - Don't be afraid to push for ownership by those who have the right skills
  9. #5: Insufficient Training • Insist on professional training budgets •

    Leverage communities of practice (WP Campus!) • Keep your own skills up to date and encourage the same in your colleagues • Don't be afraid to push for more authority based on more training & expertise https://aquilacommercial.com/el-arroyo-gallery-post/el-arroyo-sign-3242014/