UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

If Not Too Large, Are University Web Teams Poor Communicators?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 Aug 2009

I recently posed the question “Are University Web Teams Too Large?“. The context to this question was a suspicion that the UK HE sector is lagging behind smaller US colleges in exploiting the potential of various Web 2.0 services. And maybe organisations with well-established IT Service departments try to develop services in-house because of the relatively large Web team and Web developers.

A response to this assertion would be to argue the diversity of services which University Web teams are engaged in. But do Web teams take the time to communicate within their institutions and inform their user communities of the work they are engaged in? And do they work effectively by sharing their approaches with their peers in other institutions, and learn from approaches taken in other higher educational institutions?

This was an issue raised last year by Mike Nolan on the Edge Hill University Web team blog on a post on “Blogging web teams” in which he pointed out that  “Blogging web teams are rare. I suspect you could count them on one hand“.

In the blog post Mike provided a whole series of reasons why Web teams should be making use of blogs including:

  • Communicating what you’re doing.
  • Personal Development.
  • Community Engagement.
  • Practice what you preach.
  • Networking with peers.

Those suggestions, which I’d endorse, were made before the economic crisis began to seriously affect the higher educational sector. But in a recent issues of the Times Higher Education (6 August 209) I read  a news item which states that “The University of Wolverhampton is to cut about 250 jobs – about 11% of its total staff“.

So to Mike’s list of reasons why Web teams should be blogging I’d add:

  • To ensure that University policy makers are aware of the importance of the activities of the Web team to the institution.

And if you still argue that you haven’t got time to blog, be warned – you may find yourself with more time on your hands than you bargained for! At least the Web Team for the Electronics and Computer Science department at the University of Southampton seem to have got the message – they set up a Web team blog at the start of August with a simple and clear remit: “This blog is aimed at people doing similar jobs to ours, and to members of our school so they can see a bit of what we do“.

One Response to “If Not Too Large, Are University Web Teams Poor Communicators?”

  1. Christopher Gutteridge said

    Deciding what to blog is actually very easy.

    If we spent ages looking for a solution via google and nobody had a useful blog post about it, that’s a clear cue. If someone in UK academia is helped by us, then it directly improves the reputation of my school and university.

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