Tuesday, March 17, 2009

academic web pages and student recruitment

Given the uncertainties about enrollment at colleges in general and my institution specifically, there's a movement afoot at our campus to get faculty to update their web pages. Our admissions office knows that prospective students browse our website intensively to help decide whether or not they want to enroll. They don't simply gloss over the top level pages, either. They drill down deep into departmental and faculty pages to get a sense of what's going on here. The idea is that if faculty express more about the interesting kinds of things that they are doing, the more attractive the institution will be to incoming students.

I think this is a great idea.

There are a couple approaches that faculty can take to address this. They can view their website as a kind of brochure that they update once a semester or so with details about their teaching and research.

Or they can actually do some of teaching and research through the web medium, posting syllabi, research data, photos, blogs, etc. More and more faculty are doing this, though in some cases its behind the password wall of a CMS.

This movement to make our academic activities more visible on the web kind of breaks down the barrier between an external, recruitment focused web presence and a more internal academically focused one.

We've generally thought of the library website as mostly an internal tool, but indeed it must play a role in recruiting students as they explore our virtual presence.

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