Report: Managing Web Content in Higher Education Needs Strategy, ResourcesIn this week's installment of the grass is always greener, we bring you a report about information and content management in higher education. Some may envision that academia breeds a certain caliber of organization and structure that the enterprise can only wish for.

Well, anyone who works in education, either administratively or in the classroom, knows that it could use a little more strategy and fewer bureaucracies when it comes to organization and management.

Enter Eduserv, a non-profit IT services provider based in the UK, who recently published findings from its Investigation into the Management of Web Content in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).  

Good News: They Have the Tools

Among the 34 respondents from 103 universities, there were indicators that higher education is well prepared to manage their content. Results show that:

  • 85% of institutions use a Content Management System (CMS)
  • 43% have systems for publishing content to style, content and branding guidelines
  • Most institutions have in-house provision for video material (73%), audio (69%) and online social networking (41%)

Bad News: No Strategy, Little Resources

The findings also suggest a discrepancy between what Higher Education has and what they do with it.

They (senior management) know, for instance, that their institutional web presence is more important and prominent than it was five years ago, yet neither funding nor expectations set out for the web team seemed to match. As well, only 44% of institutions have a web strategy; half of those with a strategy had implemented it during the year.

Having a strategy or awareness of one is only part of the puzzle. Staffing and resources is another. 63% of university web teams said that they do not have enough resource and strategy to keep up with technological changes and only 20% were confident that these would become available.

Considering that most HEI web teams are small (approximately one to four people) and require a mix of technical and managerial skills, it's not uncommon that they tend to sit between IT and marketing, or are partly or fully in one of these departments. This can lead to confusion about what web teams actually do and can leave IT struggling to meet other needs within the organization.

Because these results also mirror the life and times of those in the enterprise, actions recommended are quite similar, as well. Working with the web requires many skills and an effective institutional web manager needs an "all-rounded skillset to navigate the worlds of digital media, ‘old school’ university culture, business and marketing". Yet, hiring well-rounded managers doesn't enable administrators to wipe their hands clean of having to know anything about how to manage web content and strategy.

The Future of WCM in Higher Education

The future of web management in HE is likely to be characterised by the rise of greater, richer media content and a shift towards user-led, personalised websites.

With that comes the need for everyone, from senior management to professors, to have a basic understanding of these components so that institutional websites and infrastructure can be managed, effectively marketing their value to prospective students and families.