University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Your experience with student blogs, wikis, and discussion boards in higher ed?

We're investigating the use of student blogs for admissions/recruiting. We're also looking the overall risk vs. benefit of allowing more open systems, maybe off of the main university site. Administration folk here have expressed trepidation about this idea of student-generated content.

1. Have you built an admissions blog or similar open publishing system that allowed student posts on public fora? If so, what is the URL(s)?

2. If you did create an admissions/recruiting blog with student-generated content, did you compensate your students in any way to write posts?

3. Have you allowed comments on posts? If yes, did only you allow other students to comment? or also allow public comments?

4. Blogging platform used?

(FYI: Saw post this on Twitter today about "worst case?" campus blogging scenario from @bradjward via @markgr:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/10/16/butler )

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These are many large questions that must be answered for each university determined by its culture and administration, but here is my take. Our university has had student blogs since 2004 and I've been managing them since 2007.

1. Our url is http://blogs.oc.edu

2. We do pay our students who blog.

3. Yes we allow comments- anyone can if they're using their real name and they're not spam.

4. Expression Engine- I would say this is not awesome for non-technical people.

Don't be afraid. Just set a frame work of expectations and guidelines for your bloggers and have fun with it.
Hey there! We went through the same things at our college, here's what we did:

1. We don't have an admissions blog, we do have an open blog for our student interns though. They are allowed to post anything and everything, at least 1 post a week is required for part of their internship credit. We are a music college, being able to intern at some of the high profile companies we work with is a big "selling point." http://www.blog.mcnallysmith.edu/internships

2. We don't compensate the students, it's part of their internship program.

3. We do allow comments, and have only had one problem up to date, which turned out to actually help everyone in the end. A member from the public found out one of out interns was working at the management company of one of her favorite artists, and she was unhappy with the communication of releases and other events. Our intern was the only person she could get to, so her and her fan club started attacking his blog postings, in the end the management company used this information to both put up contact information AND change their communication.

4. For this project we used Moveable Type. I liked the ability to have one admin on all the different blogs we have, and adding users to blogs is slick. I don't love their template editing process, it took me some time to learn the ins & outs of it.
1. We have http://fontbonneblogs.wordpress.com/ currently, but I am planning to install multi-user WP on our domain and host this on our own servers very soon (probably blog.fontbonne.edu). We are also going to be implementing WordPress as a tool for our admissions department to communicate with high school & community college counselors (so we'll have something like counselors.fontbonne.edu), hopefully soon.

2. Students write our blogs (they are wide ranging in topic, but we do consider it an admissions tool) and we pay them $5 a post.

3. Yes, comments are allowed. Name and email are required. We don't get many comments at all, but I think that's because they're relatively new and we need to do a better job of promoting them (which is on my agenda).

4. WordPress. We currently use that as our tool for site news as well (but integrated enough that you wouldn't know it was separate from our CMS).

We also have a work study student who is paid to be the day to day admin of social media, including the blogs. I give overall strategy guidance but she is logging in and checking things more regularly. Between the two of us, I'm confident we'd find anything offensive and delete it quickly, but we haven't had any problems yet.

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