in content development

Tying Up Loose Ends: On the way out

As I’ve alluded to, but haven’t discussed until now publicly I’m leaving my job and headed to a new one in a week or so.

I’m proud that we implemented the college’s first CMS ever and we’re on the cusp of another CMS project later this year just for admissions. Financial aid, admissions and scholarship applications are all online and as a result, it’s contributing to increased traffic to the web site. The news archive and additions of podcasts and video have also been great. It’s the best looking site in the state and once it gets to Phase 2 later this year, it’ll be even better. It went a lot faster than I expected it to honestly.

I will say that every institution is different, but I’ve enjoyed the opportunity and the challenges that come with working at a two-year institution. There are a host of very specific issues that come from this environment that don’t necessarily have a lot of discussion. Most of these come from the inherent difficulties in working in understaffed environments where there are considerations coming from all sides, split positions where the roles aren’t clearly delineated and a lack of desire by those in power to alter those roles because it would require an entire reorganization of personnel resources.

This isn’t just a community college problem. Some colleges have gotten in front of this and others have failed miserably or ignore it completely. Just slapping a title on someone and expecting them to fulfill a role related to new media or technology isn’t enough. There need to be institutional resources devoted to reworking college marketing and recruiting areas to be integrated with new media. Some schools have counselors devoted to it and I’m sure they can speak to their roles and the importance/benefits of their existence, but I think in the not-too-near future, we’ll have entire New Media marketing offices at colleges at are somewhere at the intersection of admissions and pr/marketing.

I have no idea where that rant came from, but I feel like we’re just beginning to scratch the surface on the discussions of where these new technologies can help offices and people behind the scenes accomplish these goals more dynamically and effectively. I’m not moving to a place where this has been fleshed out much better, so that’s not an indictment on where I came from – at all – as much as it’s a discussion about what we need to be airing out and discussing as a web developer community. Technology is a great thing and while it can be fun and dandy to discuss all of the wonderous ways we can reach out to new people out there, none of it matters unless there are people on the ground floor trained to figure out what all of it means.

Trained is the operative world. So many people are just Level 1 web consumers. They use the web because they have to. They haven’t embraced web technology as a way to truly improve their lives and as a result, it makes them unable to understand what innovations and improvements exist.

On the flip side, there are people who have ‘taken it too far’ and want to be constantly integrated and connected in every way possible. I think that’s an institutional decision if you want admissions counselors twittering to students, IMing and talking to them constantly. I think that’s a pretty big waste of time, but I’m not entirely convinced of the benefits of myspace and facebook in demonstrable ways short of the collection of friends as trading cards.

The ascent of new media professionals in all areas – not just higher ed, but in business and medicine – will provide us with a much broader arena in which to discuss ways that all of these startups can create actual value, rather than just buzz in Silicon Valley and fairy tales of IPOs and billion-dollar valuations from their founders.

With that, I’ll be offline for a little bit. When I come back, I’m going to start to contribute more regularly with my observations/ideas/thoughts. Or at least, that’s the plan…