Wednesday, October 24, 2007

HighEdWebDev - A Few Thoughts - Part 1

I just got back from the HighEdWebDev conference in Rochester, NY.

Here are some of my thoughts on some bigger picture issues....

Buzzword of the conference: Social Networking

I wasn't too impressed with social networking as something that we need to get into the middle of. Yes, I think that it's important for university's to be aware of the social networks growing up related to campus, simply to be cognizant of what students and others are saying. However, I don't think there's any reason for Web Services, or any other organization on campus, to get too involved in managing or providing or integrating social networks.

Content Management

Content management remains a big issue. The ad hoc round table that Pat and I hosted was the most well attended of the round tables at the conference.

My main take away was that, because we've had experience with a WCMS before, we have developed a very strong process for evaluating a WCMS. This is something that most of the campuses we talked with have NOT done. They are (as we were) basically stumbling in the dark. They know they need a WCMS, but they don't exactly know how they will use it.

In our round table, we emphasized two things from our experience that we felt we vital in selecting a product that would actually work:

  1. Understand you business processes, no matter how undocumented or dysfunctional they may be.
    • You have to select a product that is going to work with your existing cultural, organizational structure and business processes.
    • You dramatically increase the chance of failure if you are forced to change your organization or radically alter your business processes in order to make a WCMS "work".
  2. Never, ever buy anything that you haven't taken the time and effort to learn yourself.
    • We required vendors to provide us with a sandbox, and we took the time to actually implement templates and content elements in order to build a real live site using our templates and business processes. We then offered a training/demo of the products to the campus community.
    • From that process, we learned things that no vendor demo or series of vendor demos could teach us.
More thoughts to come on issues such a identity management and using your web presence to compete for new students.

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