Category Archives: marketing

Redesigned Our IT Website

I thought I should give a recap of our departmental website redesign project. Many of you have responsibility for a website or at least content on a website. For some this is natural but for many it is difficult to maintain. If like my job, you are responsible for a website that is the portal to services needed by your constituents then it needs to be an effective site for navigating to the desired answer. Our IT website was basically created from a general university design back when we implemented a new CMS solution. It was not terrible but it was not thought out either with respect to usability. But who has the time or interest to tackle such a problem. Inevitably I did have to tackle this, so at the beginning of the year I posed the question to our CIO listserv if anyone could suggest good Higher Education IT Websites. Got some good feedback and gravitated to the IT website of the University of Chicago. I like their quick access icons and organization based on function rather then role.


GFU Website

We borrowed some of the design features from the UC site and began working with our Marketing department to design a new IT website theme. We use Cascade Server from Hannon Hill so we needed to translate our ideas and let them give us a prototype. With a basic design and goals for the various navigation strategies we involved many of our IT staff in translating our current website to the new design. Of course we came up with some new pages but mostly it was a redefinition of the purpose and style for conveying the same information. Of course we had some superstars who really helped us organize it. All this leads to a pilot site that you try to get everyone to update and validate.But at some point you have to say launch and once you get close it is probably better to launch. Mistakes on the production website that your department has taken project ownership of is a good motivator to make sure it is ready for the launch. I know that was a very general recap of a process many go through but I can say that it appears our site is a great improvement over the past. We offer quick tabs (icons) for the most requested services. We have functional service areas and then we keep a running sidebar menu for a little of both.

BTW – checkout our video about IT Services on the Home Page of our Website

These MOOCs are Shaking Things Up

The MOOC debate is not going away. Offering free online courses whether Massive or not is part of the Higher Ed landscape. Early on we tried to dissect why these elite institutions were participating in the MOOC phenomenon. Of course it was about research and goodwill but I always leaned to control and marketing. How better to deal with this emerging validated course delivery model then to help define it. Reminds me a bit of the various UNIX or open source software initiatives that always had the support of the key industry players only to insure that the initiatives never gained any momentum. I do still believe that these MOOCs are defining the baseline for a online course which helps to keep the lower tier of online courses from establishing any quality validation. But the “cat is out of the bag”, online or especially blended learning is a viable alternative to traditional classroom course delivery. Now we see how one might adapt a MOOC to fit into our traditional academic structure.

Today I read about Colorado State University’s new Online Campus is accepting a successfully completed Udacity Computer Science Course for credit. And edX is offering to validate a MOOC course with a proctored final exam via Pearson’s VUE Services. In fact hasn’t Pearson positioned themselves well with this growing dependency on online learning.

No, the MOOC debate continues. At a minimum I see all of us needing to offer free online courses as a marketing tool. The other article today “MOOCs’ Little Brother” by Steve Kolowich at Inside HigherED outlines an example of a small institution opening up some seats for free to expand their reach. I have been pushing this in my own institution for a while, asking our academic leaders to consider what would be a good seeker course to introduce our institution to prospective students. I may even offer my “Information Services” course I’ve taught for our School of Business as a MOOC or at least CUOOC, “Check Us Out Online Course”.

Addendum 9/7/12: A second major MOOC provider signs deal to hold exams at physical testing centers, potentially elevating the credibility of certificates.

Good article by Kevin Carey in the Chronicle, Into the Future with MOOC’s, More focus on how the MOOC explosion will accelerate the breakup of the college credit monopoly.

Let Freedom Ring

I was recently interviewed by OurBlook with questions about the future of Education. They asked me to comment because of issues I have brought up concerning the iPad’s possible affect on Education. Their questions helped me better encapsulate this change in computing that is upon us. I do think that technology such as the iPhone on the low end and Netbook on the high end pointed our tech industry toward a more accessible computing solution for all. That may be the iPad but I do believe the iPad will at least open the door.

Manipulating American’s massive consumer engine to maximize profits is all that matters to the major international businesses. Automobiles, pharmaceuticals and yes personal computers are heavily marketed and we know we over buy but that may be changing for PCs. Not because we see the light but rather because the supplier’s profit engine has shifted to distribution and advertising. What a shame we have pushed these complicated computing devices into the consumer mainstream. Why should my parents have to worry about viruses and spy-ware. That’s why I am excited about this new generation of internet access devices led by the iPad. Our eyes will be opened and the masses will be allowed to participate. That will definitely have some influence on education.

We will offer the iPad as a choice for our laptop program

If you have followed my blog or George Fox University you know about our laptop program where in recent years we have given out an Apple MacBook to all incoming freshman. The purpose for the program was for marketing, standardization and convenience. The issue for us is the changing landscape of educational computing and the value dilution of a laptop for a traditional undergraduate. George Fox University happens to find itself at the crossroads for both of these issues.

We had been hoping that the iPad would be the perfect transition technology, but I address some of the shortcomings of the iPad that prevented us from offering the iPad in place of the MacBook next year. However, in looking for a way to offer an option to the MacBook we have decided to offer the iPad as an alternative choice. I think this will be a very interesting opportunity that will first be marked by the percentage who select the iPad and second by the success we find in utilizing and supporting it. Now we will make sure the iPad offering is as complete as possible and we won’t be able to give any guarantees that the iPad equally replaces the MacBook. In fact the smarter value choice would be for the MacBook, but what will the students choose?

There will be many reasons why students may choose an iPad and it will typically break down into those who already have their laptop of choice or those who actually believe that the iPad is the more functional computing device for them to be a successful student. How the numbers work out will be interesting, but no matter what I think we will see many iPads, iPhones and iTouches throughout the undergraduate population. We will be deliberate in tying to integrate these mobile devices into our Teaching & Learning strategies, but in most cases we will just be observing whether the iPad satisfies the technology needs for undergraduate higher education. Of course the rapid availability and our adoption of E-Textbooks will strongly influence the value of the iPad. Stay tuned.

We did – Press Release

Apple, Adobe, lets deal with this Flash Problem on the iPad

Just need to get this lack of Flash support on the iPad out on my Blog before the big game. Actually lack of Java is a concern as well. But lets focus on Flash, I have been fielding a lot of comments, questions and concerns about why the iPad may not be ready for Higher Ed prime time. The concern that appears to carry the most weight is the lack of support for Flash video content. Omitting Flash on the iPhone is one thing but leaving Flash off the iPad is more of a problem for Higher Ed. A significant justification for recommending the iPad for our University would have to be for the value of Web interaction during the learning process. Use of the iPad as an eBook reader will drive itself. An iPad having rich educational iPhone OS apps are probably more valuable on an true mobile device. But as much as we may dislike the underlying problems that Flash brings to our computers, Flash is a part many academic Web experiences. So my first call to Apple is to find a way to allow at least the well behaving Flash apps on the iPad Safari. And I also call Adobe to take serious the need to cleanup CPU inefficiencies of Flash. Don’t just wait for HTML5 to solve the problem.

Go Colts

Apple’s Marketing Strategy

This post is to applaud Apple’s marketing strategy. They have truly parlayed the art of competitive silence into the most effect marketing strategy a company could ever hope for. The iPhone set the stage for this and carrier agreements somewhat justifies it. Pretending that the silence is for strategic protection is brilliant. I love the Apple employees who do actually buy into this completely, kind of an oath of operation. But the result is an immense amount of free advertising based on anticipation. Who had the greatest impact at the CES last week? The company that was not even there. Aren’t we all anxious about what Apple might announce on Jan. 26th or 27th?

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