best of track: a class (year) site

came in a bit late. 2 guys from URochester. I can see why this did so well in the reviews: they have a good presentation style, maybe one of the best I’ve seen all week.

establish unity, provide communication, basic resource.

URL sent with admittance letter. content added as needed.

first done for class of ’05, started in their sophomore year (was then an incoming student site). that would’ve been 2002, I think. class of ’07 was launched 4 weeks before start of school (2003); ’08 got the early date like they described up front.

this is definitely aimed at the four-year process; I’ll be listening for things we can do in *our* environment, which is significantly less uniform.

calculation of “creative hours” which is a growing trend, but levels off now, because they know what they’re doing. 🙂

benefits, started by calculating site traffic. drawing people back by adding info gradually.

used Yahoo groups, then converted to an inhouse message board where students’ user ids were the same as email addresses. nice.

quotes from faculty/staff on the success of the project. parents said it reduced stress. downward trend in phone calls with questions, quote from orientation staff. heading off questions before they’re asked.

going thru look/feel of various years. 2nd one had a calendar as the centerpiece.

they did some work to sell on having a look/feel that’s different from the main templates, with the goal of differentiating from previous/next years.

all done with Dreamweaver/Fireworks/Photoshop. no dynamic stuff. student/volunteer webmaster in coordination with “dean of freshmen” (?!) also head of orientation.

asked us what we’d wanted to know before we got here. (51% of their students are out of state)

then added more staff, brought in admissions office. lots more content, communication opportunities, downloadable forms.

then added orientation system using college-wide login for filling out forms electronically.

q: why not just use a portal? (so much obsession with portals!) most of their staff is focused on getting content. followup question: keeping it going after the start of school?

had to use school colors for the ’08 site.

(ugh. this is interesting on its own merits, but only vaguely related to our environment. and that spot inbetween my thumb & first finger is starting to ache. weird stuff with using the trackpad, I think.)

they upgraded to CSS2, but forced people to upgrade browsers. said nobody had problems, but I just don’t see any reason why they should’ve.

more technical & content improvements the next year. more connections between depts. moved to PHP/mySQL. selling the university…used article about the class site in promotional materials for prospective students.

class site hand-off…their goal is not for an incoming students site, but for a site that’s connected to the actual class. they hand it off on Sept. 1 to Student Activities. they get to keep the site until the very last person in the class *dies*. jesus christ on a crutch.

ew, he just quoted back the idea that gets slammed in “conference presentation judo”: — which I used to some extent as my guide for my presentation.

some wireframes of what they’re looking at for next year. quick facts, live weather, rss (! “we don’t touch it, it changes daily, we like that”), hot topics (from the message board).

q: who gave signoff on showing weather? wow, weather is a big deal here.

q: what about transfer students? a lot of info works for them, but they also can use the orientation site. (I’m not thrilled with their answer.)

q: what does your site look like now? (to one of the students) not too bad.

I’m finding the discussions related to non-standard students, not just transfers, but 5-year (engineering majors).

q: what about content policing? no administrators moderating. these two guys moderated. followup: student life questions, who answered? some other year students, but they gave some misinformation.

my q: were students informed of policy? yes, and it’s their basic acceptible use policy.

q: how did you find problem messages? he was just there all the time.

I’ll need to think about how/whether any of this has an application to us.