University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Web forums / social features / student contribution areas

Hello

 

I work on the content provision and editorial area for a student portal at a university in the UK - Glamlife. Our portal has a lively and active classifieds board, and a presence on Facebook and Twitter (where we feed out stories, and respond to students if they comment / have queries), but that is pretty much the extent of our social provisions. Some modules in Blackboard will have their own, module-specific discussion boards, but our impression is that these are not necessarily highly used by students.

 

One of my objectives this year is to look into whether providing web forums (or some other social tools) for students is something worth doing. It's something that students mention in feedback every now and again (forums and chatrooms in particular), but as it's just one or two comments, we find it difficult to figure out whether this would be a well-used popular tool, or a small niche, if we do provide it. So, to begin with, I'm trying to find out whether any other universities offer successful / busy web forums, chat rooms, (internal) social networks for their enrolled students, and what the experiences have been.

 

If anyone would be happy to share any links, or provide some pointers, that would be much appreciated. You can also email me directly if you prefer to respond off-forum.

 

Kind regards

Robert Holbach

 

PS: If anyone would like to have a peek at our student portal (I know I often want to see what other internal websites & portals do and offer), our Walkthrough Guide offers a rough overview. It's awaiting some updates at the moment though. The home page of the site sits behind a login, of course.

Tags: chatrooms, forums, internal, social, student, voice

Views: 114

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

At our small affiliate university, we focus on using external social media sites for student conversations, based on the 'be where people already are' approach. Facebook Groups are our key conversational spaces, and are very active.

Our affiliating institution, Western University, uses Sakai as their LMS, and forums are available within courses and project sites. My experience with these focused forums is that they can be an OK place to assemble an informal FAQ or carry on brief support threads, but that they are not likely to take off as a space for student engagement outside of class assignments.

In addition to my role as a web developer at Brescia, I am also a student at Athabasca University. As a fully online institution, it has an active social media space called the Athabasca Landing (https://landing.athabascau.ca/) built on the open source ELGG platform (http://elgg.org/). From my perspective as a student it seems to be a well-used space -- though I'd like to hear comments from any of the site maintainers, if they are here!

I also understand CUNY is using WordPress and BuddyPress for the Academic Commons, an active social media community at  http://commons.gc.cuny.edu/

My overall impression from this is that University forums may work best when used by organizations that are either fully virtual or physically very dispersed, as CUNY is.

Hello


Thanks for your response! It's very useful to have somoe links to look at and an insight into the different experiences and perspectives at the universities you  mention.

 

I've heard of elgg before, and campusgroups, which looks similar. Both seem quite capable tools, but I've stumbled across some fairly quiet / unused elgg and campusgroups spaces, so I suspect it takes quite a bit of thinking and effort to get them to be popular and heavily used on campus, and sustained effort to keep them that way.

 

Our university currently has three main campuses and an outpost with sports fields, but will merge with another university shortly, having 5 main campuses after that, dispersed quite widely through the region. Another merger might be on the cards in the long run, with an institution that has another four campuses - although they're resisting for now. So, geographic dispersal is already an issue. So far, it's been not much of a problem, as each campus is home to only one faculty (and each batch of students is much more loyal to their campus & faculty than the institution as a whole), but after the upcoming merger, who knows?

 

Facebook Groups over here have largely died. There are public profiles / fan pages, but those are basically one-to-many broadcasters. The "groups" functionality in Facebook has deteriorated rapidly a few years ago (when Facebook revamped Groups) and never recovered - I think there is one organisation on campus that still uses a group, and quite sparingly at that. So there is not much many-to-many communication going on - or at least, nothing that is focused primarily on students of our University.

 

One of the things I do ponder about is whether Google Groups could be a feasible solution - our university has Google Apps, so presumably Google Groups and Google Plus could be switched on relatively easily (students are disabled from using those at the moment - only email, calendar and drive are switched on). However, G+ seems not to have really caught on in the world out there, and Google Groups feels very awkward and unnatural to use. (Google are great at getting functionalities to work, but far too often they get user interfaces spectacularly wrong, and things don't really connect together, or do so in unexpected ways)

 

Whichever solution is applied (if any), I suspect the biggest issue is the question of how to make them popular in the first place. When I report to tptb about all of this, that question will become at least as much of a focus as the different systemss, tools and philosophies that could be used.

RSS

Elsewhere

Latest Activity

Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Eastern Michigan University College of Education's website is now mobile optimized! Get out your mobile device and check it out: www.emich.edu/coe "
yesterday
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Don't miss out on today's webcast: How to Handle the Google Mobilegeddon happening at 11 am PDT with our friends at Converge Consulting! Learn about the impact of Google's recent mobile-friendly update, tips to keep your…"
Thursday
Profile IconUniversity of Victoria and Ewa Zennermann joined University Web Developers
Wednesday
Colleen Brennan-Barry posted a discussion

HighEdWeb Invites Nominations for Board of Directors

The Higher Education Web Professionals Association Board of Directors is the governing body of the Association, working to create and manage policy, coordinate business issues, and manage the growth and prosperity of HighEdWeb. The Board meets monthly to discuss updates and issues, and works to lead various Association initiatives year-round.There are several open Director spots, due to growth and natural term expiration, and so HighEdWeb is now inviting nominations. Nominations (of yourself or…See More
May 20
Beth Hastings posted a discussion

Web Designer opening - Columbia, Missouri

Job SummaryThe Web Designer position works closely with various college departments to create and maintain a college website that is marketing focused and content driven. This individual is a talented and creative graphic designer with strong background in designing modern and innovative web pages. The ability to implement the designs into working web pages using front-end development skills in HTML5 and CSS3 is key.Essential FunctionsDesign visually-appealing, innovative web pages and graphics…See More
May 20
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"New blog post from Jim Heiney of Lock Haven University: The Perils and Perks of Outside Consultants "
May 20
Matt Herzberger replied to Doug Thompson's discussion Transitioning course catalog from old-school InDesign/PDF to web-based system...
"More than anything I would suggest focusing on workflow and how you can manage the process similar to that of the offline pdf creation process. So might want to do a proof of concept with wordpress to see if you can pull it off and then also looked…"
May 20
Doug Thompson posted a discussion

Transitioning course catalog from old-school InDesign/PDF to web-based system...

So, the "powers that be" here are looking into various catalog systems...for next year.In the meantime, we're now working on our (hopefully last) old-school InDesign/PDF catalog, and I got to thinking...maybe it would be a good thing to do some sort of web-based static page (to keep it simple, for now) catalog this time around, to make the transition next year to whatever catalog system the "powers that be" decide upon an easier one.We have a Wordpress instance and then we have our regular…See More
May 19
Edward Terry posted a discussion

Web Designer - Austin, TX

I have this open only for a day or so. Please let me know if I can answer any questions.http://www5.austincc.edu/ehire/posting/online_version.php?job_num=1410053See More
May 18
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Join us on Thursday, May 28 at 11 am PT when Becky Vardaman and Robyn Anderson from Converge Consulting and our very own Rich Paul discuss the impact of Google's recent mobile-friendly update. Register now!"
May 15
Ronna Johnston added a discussion to the group Mobile
Thumbnail

Conference Mobile App

We are hosting a large conference in 2016 and looking for a simple mobile app to use, we don't have time to build one in house. Just something with venue info and sessions as a base. Does anyone have suggestions? Thanks much!Ronna JohnstonUniversity of Northern ColoradoSee More
May 14
Brent Schneider joined DNI's group
Thumbnail

Cascade Server CMS

For folks who use (or are interested in) Hannon Hill's Cascade Server CMS productSee More
May 14
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"New article featured in Career College Central about course catalogs by Lance Merker: "Going Mobile: Five Steps to a Mobile-Friendly Course Catalog"  "
May 14
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"A BIG OmniUpdate welcome to Iowa Western Community College!"
May 13
Jeff Rauschert replied to Katie Ryan Lambert's discussion Website Redesign - Change Management & Communications
"Katie, we are in the same boat as you. We will be changing to a site that focuses more on prospective students, moving non-related content to SharePoint. We have similar concerns but are going in with a plan of cutting our number of content authors…"
May 13
Profile IconJeff Rauschert and Steve Kellman joined University Web Developers
May 13
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Rogue websites can cause all kinds of problems for your higher ed website, but how do you stop them for good? Check out these steps in today's blog post "Taming the Beast: Rogue Websites in Higher Ed" Taming the Beast: Rogue…"
May 12
BlueNorma joined Lynn Zawie's group
Thumbnail

OmniUpdate

Share your experiences using OmniUpdate CMS
May 7
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Congratulations to University of Michigan School of Public Health for going live in OU Campus v10 with design by Michigan Creative! sph.umich.edu  "
May 7
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Today's blog post sums up the Higher Ed Live Special Edition broadcast, “The Catalog to End All Catalogs,” with Nathan Gerber from Utah Valley University and Dawn Truelsen from Fresno State. Get the scoop! "
May 5

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic

About

© 2015   Created by Mark Greenfield.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service