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

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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.

Diffuse Authority
Audience Ambiguity
Site Proliferation & Content Accumulation
Team Turnover: The Revolving Door & The Lifers
Training Insufficiency
For each we’ll talk about what the dysfunction is and what strategies you might use to mitigate its impact.

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

  1. 1. There’s a Reason We Call Them Institutions: Working in Higher Ed Without Going Crazy WPCampus 2019 Portland, OR John Eckman @jeckman
  2. 2. Disclaimers: I am NOT a medical professional or trained therapist It is not my intent to make fun of or stigmatize people working through real mental health issues.
  3. 3. Five Dysfunctions of Higher Ed 1. Diffuse Authority 2. Audience Ambiguity 3. Content Sprawl 4. Team Turnover 5. Insufficient Training
  4. 4. #1: Diffuse Authority
  5. 5. 71-62_Five_Ways_Companies_Organize #1: Diffuse Authority
  6. 6. #1: Diffuse Authority #1: Diffuse Authority
  7. 7. #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
  8. 8. #2: Audience Ambiguity Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash
  9. 9.
  10. 10. 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!
  11. 11. #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
  12. 12. #3: Content Sprawl Photo by Terence Starkey on Unsplash
  13. 13. Hoarding is NOT a Content Strategy
  14. 14. #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
  15. 15. #4: Team Turnover street-796192313f9c
  16. 16.
  17. 17. #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
  18. 18. #5: Insufficient Training Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
  19. 19. #5: Insufficient Training
  20. 20. #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
  21. 21. John Eckman • @jeckman • #wpcampus Q & A