University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Understanding what "academic freedom" actually means, what are some valid arguments to show that this may not extend to university owned and maintained websites.

We've tried to allow faculty to maintain an "academic" website in the past. The designs were not up to par, the content 4-6 years out of date. We (Marketing/IT) have created a template for them to use, which compliments our main website design.

Many faculty feel that we've overstepped boundaries, claiming they have are not able to be creative enough, claiming violation of academic freedom.

Thoughts?

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If they are personal pages for the faculty and not meant to be a formal channel of communication between the faculty and their external audiences, I would give them the freedom to do whatever they want.

If the pages are tools of the university, then I would force them to use the template that you created.
I think I'm confused. Are they implying that not having design freedom on their faculty websites is a violation of academic freedom?
Exactly. Without restating the obvious, I understand that Academic Freedoms have nothing to do with this.

I guess my question is really, how do I argue that it's not? Anyone else run into a situation like this?
I'm not sure what office you're in, so it might be different. But here's some perspective I'd take.

1- I work in marketing. Protecting our university brand is my job. So keeping blogs uniform and according to our branding guidelines is my priority.

2- Usability. Faculty are great at what they do, but they can quickly make a mess out of a website. Cite web standards for usability as a valid reason to keep them uniform. If you have too, spin it as though they won't have to worry about all the hassle of usability if they use your template.

3- Workload. Relating to 2, you don't have the time to make sure all sites are up to par so far as usability and web standards if they are all different.

Sigh. What a sad conversation to have to have. :-/ Good luck!
Thanks for the reply....and yes, sad, since providing them templates was "their" idea initially.

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