Posted on August 20, 2014 by

UM-Flint Video Guide – #1: An Intro

YouTube Preview Image

Video killed the radio star, and 35 years after the Buggle’s music video debut, the “moving picture” still reigns as King of Media. YouTube alone attracts over 800 million unique visitors each month; in fact, more video is uploaded to the popular internet streaming service in a month’s time than any of the three major U.S. television networks created in 60 years. If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably considering jumping into the vast ocean of video production to benefit your department or organization—but before you dive in, it’s important to know how to swim!

There are a few crucial steps you need to take before even picking up a recording device. Don’t get me wrong: you are fully capable of planning, capturing, and producing quality video—but have you thought about the time investment or budget? In some cases, if your budget allows it and there are affordable options available to you, it is in your best interest to seek out a professional for any important multimedia projects. However, if you’re planning to shoot a series of short testimonials or personal stories that require quick turn-around (pre-production to completion), then it may be the right decision to pick up a new skill.

The good news is that I am here to show you the basics of getting quality video on all types of budgets. The bad news is I can’t stop you from getting addicted to the “could have technologies” and “next big thing” that the video world has to offer.  For the most part, though, we’ll stick to the basics in this series.

Before we get started, you should know a little bit about me. I started making videos in 2010 as a production assistant for another higher ed department. As my skills improved, I started testing the waters for corporate commercials, public television shows, wedding highlights and dvds, and even theatre trailers. Funny enough, this was the first major video I worked on:

YouTube Preview Image

While I’ve worked solo or with small teams of three or fewer people for most of my production work, I’ve also played various roles for huge production teams aiming for success at film festivals. These days, I am the one-woman production team for University Relations here at the University of Michigan-Flint—and I love it!

It’s my hope that the advice and instruction I provide in this series of blogs will help eliminate any fears you have of creating quality videos for your department or organization. Feel free to ask any questions by leaving a comment or emailing me at kalexis@umflint.edu. Together, with our cameras, we can capture what it really means to be a part of the UM-Flint community.

Leave a Comment
Posted on July 29, 2014 by

Drupal Open Sessions, August – December 2014

Drupal open sessions will begin being offered again in mid-August. These sessions are a great resource for technical and content assistance with your website, as well as new Drupal user training. There is no need to register, and you are welcome to drop in at any time during a session (however, we ask that new users arrive at the beginning of the session for training).

Below are the dates for Drupal open sessions which have been scheduled through December 2014.

Sessions to be held in 431 French Hall:

  • Tuesday, August 12, 2014 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Thursday, August 21, 2014 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Wednesday, September 03, 2014 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Friday, September 19, 2014 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
  • Tuesday, September 30, 2014 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2014 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Monday, October 27, 2014 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
  • Thursday, November 13, 2014 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
  • Wednesday, December 17, 2014 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Leave a Comment
Posted on June 25, 2014 by

Summer Drupal Help

As we move into summer, we know that schedules and demands vary. We won’t be holding regularly scheduled Open Drupal Sessions in the summer months, but a list of fall semester dates will be shared with you all in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, we’re happy to help you with your websites and Drupal questions. If you would like to set up a time to work one-on-one, we welcome you to contact us directly.

For technical Drupal help and Drupal training:

Tim Todd
Information Technology Services
titodd@umflint.edu

For help with website content, including site structure and organization:

Alaina Wiens
University Relations
alainag@umflint.edu

Leave a Comment
Posted on June 19, 2014 by

Content and Kipple

The Failures in Our Success

In the crazy rush to overhaul the University website before our contract with our previous CMS-provider expired, a lot of talk was made about content and organization. Unfortunately, that crazy rush left little time to really elaborate on or help out departments with those two things. Instead, people were given a crash course in a brand new CMS and presented with bare bones templates that were, for the most part, no more than a row of two to three columns to cram their previously formatted content into.

While the launch of the site was a success in meeting our initial objectives to bring the vast majority of the university’s content over to the new CMS and to get folks set up in Drupal, the lack of time to really explain and help people organize and present their content just wasn’t there. Because of that, and the departmental lack of time and staff to organize their own content, there are many sections of the site that are “broken” presentationally on mobile displays and, most importantly, inaccessible to people with visual and physical disabilities.

One of the big hurdles that people are facing when trying to get their content organized is grappling with the “device agnostic” internet that has evolved over the last five years. Most people, even if they themselves primarily access the web on their mobile device, cannot grasp thinking of their own content as a fluid jumble of words and bits when they sit down to put it into their own site. That 2005 web is still seared into the unconscious, where a website is a static thing and this bit of information is over here and this bit is over here and we have a gallery and a Java widget and a Flash banner and maybe a GIF of a giant button that animates when we hover over it. The website was always going to be viewed one way on one type of screen and blind people didn’t exist.

“So why is everything broken on my phone?”

Well, there’s a litany of factors: it could be the device, or the browser, or the CMS, or the designer being too naive about how the mass migration of content from a monolithic, bureaucratic institution will mesh with his ideas, or the front-end and back-end developers infighting about how best to do something in a CMS they didn’t have time to understand, resulting in an unscalable mess of code that is the binary equivalent of the world’s most nerve-wracking game of Jenga, orit could be that the content had more thought put into how it was positioned and looked on a desktop rather than what it was saying.

But why do people focus on the presentation of the content rather than the content itself? Well, because for a lot of people, everything is of equal importance so everything has to be given the same weight. If not then there appears to be bias. There’s an oft-repeated, but never cited, quote on the internet that goes: “If everything is important then nothing is important”. Heavy repetition can make this advice seem trite, but it is pointedly appropriate in so many cases and this is one of those.

To Kipple or Not to Kipple

When people approach their content on the web as if it is static, content can lose its purpose. It becomes non-content. It becomeskipple, a term the author Philip K. Dick coined for objects that have lost their stated purpose and now just take up space. And in an era where content needs to pour from one container into another like water without losing it’s meaning, thinking of your site in static terms can make your content into kipple.

[T]he First Law of Kipple, “Kipple drives out nonkipple.”
—from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick

But how does our content become kipple and how do we avoid it?

1. Don’t save text as images

If you save your event announcement as an image file and post it to your website it isn’t an announcement. There’s no words for a search engine to crawl, there’s nothing for a screen-reader to read out to the visually impaired person using it, the words in the image become unreadable to people accessing your page from their phone. Essentially, you posted nothing of use to anyone on your site. But you do get to scratch it off of your to-do list.

2. Use real headings, not fake ones

If you make some text bold so that it looks like a heading, it isn’t a heading. It’s text, but it doesn’t convey any structure. In fact, it makes your document lose structure because, most of the time, headings don’t have punctuation, which means you really have an awkward, run-on sentence (at least to screen-readers and web crawlers).

Most of the time, the culprit here is Microsoft Word. When you copy and paste text from a word-processing program into the Drupal WYSIWYG editor, some of that copied content’s style will make it over visually, but it’s structure becomes lost. And if you use the paste-as-plain-text shortcut (CTRL+ALT+V [Windows]/CTRL++V [Mac]), you’ll find your heading and paragraph have been combined into a single paragraph with a break (soft-return) following where the heading/bold text had originally ended.

For reasons that are too complicated to go into here, headings are stripped from pasted text in Drupal and a plain text paragraph is left instead. So you’ll need to manually add your headings back in anyway.

Using real headings helps users understand the order of your content and it’s good for SEO.

3. Tables are for data NOT layout

Tables can offer flexible, but limited layout control, which is why people used them for laying out entire websites back in the late ’90s and early ’00s. The problem, however, with using tables for layout is that your content loses all semantic value, meaning, like the fake heading, your content isn’t what you say it is. Tables are for tabular data so anythingthat goes into them is now tabular data. And semantic value matters more than ever in an age where information is distributed in unpredictable ways and means. Make your content mean what it says.

4. Avoid duplicate content and pages

Duplicating content can lead to confusion when trying to navigate your site. If your reasoning is that the information is important then it’s better to think more about your contents’ organization and structure (as well as your site’s navigation menu), rather than litter it across many pages. The exceptions to this are your department’s name and contact info, because users might not all be following the same path to wind up on a page of your site.

5. Your main content shouldn’t go in a sidebar

The main content of your page should go into the main column (the big one). Sidebars are for addendum information, sidenotes, if you will. If you don’t have any content in your sidebar then you don’t need to fill it with something. Try to make your pages as lean and as focused as you can. Don’t give a visitor more than they need because you’re only cluttering things up.

6. Not every page needs a social widget

Try to only have one social feed on your site and keep it to your home page. Social feeds drag down a site’s performance quite a bit because they’re tapping into external services. Remember that each piece of content that has to be downloaded is not just using up a visitor’s time but also potentially costing them monetarily. A lot of phone and internet plans have a data cap on them and the heavier your page is the more you are costing your visitors.

7. Your homepage is saying everything and nothing at the same time

Speaking of the social feed, it is primarily a marketing and information tool. This is how people should think of their homepage. This is the place where you market yourself. It’s where a department can say who they are, what they offer, and then (most importantly!) assist visitors in getting to the information that they really want to get to.

A homepage is really not thee page. Most people do not want the content that is on a homepage, because what they really want is only the information that matters to them and a homepage is more like a cross-breed between a movie trailer/teaser and a directory. But remember, people shouldn’t have to visit your homepage to get to the information they want. When people want to get to Point C, don’t make them go to Points A and B first.

8. The Left-Hand Sidebar

Try to keep the left sidebar lean. If you want to put content into the it then try to keep that content to a minimum. Only a couple of widgets, beside the department menu, were designed with the intention of fitting into it due to its narrowness and placement: the info-sidebar and blurb widgets.

Each column is meant to handle a certain type of content or widget

Each column is meant to handle a certain type of content or widget

News and social feeds do not have optimal space in this column to display in any appealing or functional way. The same goes for videos, images, tables, and external services that use an iframe (such as a Google calendar or a Flash-/Java-based chat widget). And when using the info-sidebar in this column, try to keep the information to a minimum as well, focusing only on the content that should be at the forefront of your website: i.e., your department’s contact information, hours, and address.

One of the main reasons for this is that, when the site breaks down to mobile, the content in the left sidebar will be first in the document order flow (following the hero/header area). If you put too much infor or too many widgets in the left sidebar then that’s more stuff that people have to scroll through to get to the main content of your page.

Because the left sidebar is first in the document order, putting too much content into it will be a very unfriendly experience on mobile. Visitors may wind up scrolling up several screens just to get to the main content.

Because the left sidebar is first in the document order, putting too much content into it will be a very unfriendly experience on mobile. Visitors may wind up scrolling up several screens just to get to the main content.

Rather than thinking of the page’s layout horizontally, left to right, think about it vertically with the left sidebar on top, then the main column, and then the right sidebar at the end. So if you were to think of it as one complete document, the left sidebar is the table of contents and attribution area (your name, your address, etc.), the main column is your thesis or article, and the right sidebar is a footer where you would put citations and addendums or notes.

Think of your website's layout vertically instead of horizontal

Think of your website’s layout vertically instead of horizontal

9. Tabs and Accordions

Lots of folks seem to be very confused about when and how to use tabs and accordions. Here’s a brief breakdown:

Tabs

The purpose of tabs is to permit users to view a group of related data one at a time, which in turn allows you to modularize this group of information in a compacted manner, saving valuable screen real estate and allowing easier user-access to the content they specifically desire. Think of tabs as sub-navigation that falls under one menu link. For example:

Services we offer

⌊ [ Printing ] [ Brochure Design ] [ Lamination ]

Services we offer is the broad field name while PrintingBrochure Design, and Lamination are the categories that fall under that field name.

Accordions

Like tabs, this is all about presenting information in a compact, screen-saving manner. However, with accordions, content is identical in the type of information it is presenting.

In tabs, the content that falls under Printing could be very different and displayed in a manner that is not repeated in Brochure Design. Printing could have a list of printing costs inside of a small data table, while Brochure Design is an unordered list of design options or methods.

On the other hand, in accordions, all content that falls under a link heading should be presented in exactly the same way. The best example is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. Each accordion link heading could be a question and the content inside would be the answer.

Here’s some other things to keep in mind when deciding between tabs or accordions: It is a bad idea to place too much content into an accordion because then the user has to scroll down to click the next accordion link if they want to see that content, just to have it expand up and then scroll back up in order to view it.

The short rule: Tabs = similar types of content Accordions = the same types of content

Leave a Comment
Posted on June 6, 2014 by

Looking for Student Voices

The UM-Flint story cannot be told without student voices. Through the Students@UM-Flint blog, the university Instagram account, and@UMFlintStudents Twitter account, students can share their own, personal UM-Flint experiences with the world.

Until now, only Students@UM-Flint bloggers had access to @UMFlintStudents on Twitter or the university’s Instagram account. Now we’re excited to expand the opportunity to students all across campus.

Do you know the perfect student for these outlets? Are you a student who’s ready to share your UM-Flint story in your own words, strengthen your written voice, and build your resume? Blog contributors are added by semester, and we choose new students to run our Twitter and Instagram accounts as often as weekly.

Apply to Blog, Tweet, or Instagram

To apply as a student contributor, current students should email alainag@umflint.edu with your answers to the following questions:

  • Why do you want to add your voice to the UM-Flint student space?
  • Would you prefer to contribute to the Students@UM-Flint blog, tweet for @UMFlintStudents, or run Instagram for a week?
  • What clubs/groups are you involved in on campus?
  • What is your major/year?
  • Where can we find you online already? (Please share public accounts.)

If you’d like to learn more or have questions about the program, please contact Alaina Wiens at the email address above, or by phone at (810) 424-5446.

Leave a Comment
Posted on March 25, 2014 by

Mobile Killed the PDF Star

PDFs are a wonderful thing.

These little file gems are great for sharing information. Our email inboxes are full of PDFs promoting campus events. For a period there in the new millennium, the humble PDF was a transformative way to stylishly communicate information.

And then along came the mobile device revolution. Mobile killed the PDF star.

The venerable PDF has been officially knocked from its perch as the go-to format for posting information to a web page. With people looking at the UM-Flint website on a wide variety of devices, PDFs are just simply not adaptable to the brave new mobile world.

So what’s a PDF to do?

PDFs are still great for use in print, but don’t even think about loading one onto umflint.edu. The very people you are trying to share information with won’t be able to read it on a smartphone at all. Even worse, your PDF information will not show up in search. And one more thing….

If you want anything promoted on the umflint.edu homepage, it’s just not going to happen if you want us to link to a PDF. Harsh, I know, but as my parents use to say, “It’s for your own good.” And most importantly, for the good of all our mobile device users.

Leave a Comment
Posted on January 30, 2014 by

FormAssembly Training 101 and 201

FormAssembly is an easy-to-use form creation tool that makes data collection easy, and is available to UM-Flint faculty and staff. FormAssembly forms integrate with your Drupal website and may be able to do more than you realize. To help you use FormAssembly to its potential, ITS has scheduled beginner and intermediate training sessions. Both sessions will be held on February 24, 2014.

FormAssembly 101

Monday, February 24, 1 – 2:30 p.m., 3153 WSW
In FormAssembly 101 we will cover the basics of creating a form, including:

  • Creating a new form
  • Adding different types of questions
  • Form Sections
  • Modifying form options
  • Publishing forms
  • Reviewing form responses

Register for FormAssembly 101 at https://www.umflint.edu/its/formassembly-101

FormAssembly 201

Monday, February 24, 2:30 – 4 p.m., 3153 WSW
In FormAssembly 201, we will cover more advanced topics, including:

  • Advanced form options
  • Form field validation
  • Conditional Questions
  • Calculated Fields
  • Pre-filling form fields
  • Using authentication with forms
  • Sharing forms

Register for FormAssembly 201 at https://www.umflint.edu/its/formassembly-201

With questions or for more information, please contact Tim Todd at titodd@umflint.edu.

Leave a Comment
Posted on January 15, 2014 by

Drupal Open Sessions, January-May 2014

If your New Year’s resolution included getting your unit’s website in better shape, we’re here to help! Below are the dates for Drupal open sessions which have been scheduled through May 2014.

Sessions to be held in 431 French Hall:

  • Wednesday, January 15, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 23, 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Tuesday, January 28, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Monday, February 3, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Friday, February 14, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 18, 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Friday, February 28, 9 – 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, March 4, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 12, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 20, 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Monday, March 24, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Friday, April 4, 9 – 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, April 8, 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 24, 1 – 3 p.m.
  • Monday, April 28, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 6, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 7, 2 – 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 15, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Friday, May 23, 9 – 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, May 27, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Leave a Comment
Posted on December 16, 2013 by

Simple Changes to Make Big Improvements to Your Drupal Website

UM-Flint’s Offices of University Relations and ITS are still developing a full-fledged, fully operational Web/Drupal/Content guide. Until that’s ready, you can get some broad, foundational content strategy basics via our first iteration (of many) of a Web Content Guide.

Some specific best practices have surfaced since the launch of the new, Drupal-powered umflint.edu on October 1. Reference this list of “good ways to do things” to help give our users a consistent, quality experience throughout the UM-Flint website:

Drupal Tips and Recommendations:

Use headings and rework content that does not currently use headings

Few things will enhance the readability and overall logic of your site like the correct and diligent use of headings. Here’s a brief overview of how you can begin making headway with headings.

Don’t use widgets or typographic structuring that is not suitable to the context of the content because you “like the way it looks.”

Structuring content in unsuitable ways to satisfy subjective aesthetics is like telling your content to lie to the audience. Examples of this practice:

  • Putting a list into a blockquote because there’s a pretty blue box on it. There’s a quotation mark ornament in the upper left any time you use this feature. How does that fit in with the list? Is the list quoted from an external source?
  • Putting anything that is not tabular data into a table. Menus, editorial images, adverts, etc., should not go into tables.
  • The photo gallery is for archival images only. Please do not use it to create a faculty profile page or a product catalogue.

The following widgets were not structured to fit into the main body column. Using them there will create structural issues as your site scales down to mobile.

Put basic office location and department contact information on your homepage

One of the most commonly cited reasons for going to any department’s website is simply to find its location on campus. Make it easy for students, faculty, fellow staff, and others to find this basic info with a (righthand column) sidebar info block, like Graduate Programs’ homepage. It is also a good idea to make urls and email addresses live links within your info block. This can be especially handy for mobile users.

Favor quality, consistent photos over less-than-quality, inconsistent graphics

Show users who we really are and what this place really looks like. Don’t obscure the university behind some graphic interpretation of it. Keep it real! For example, a reusable media block featuring a photo of facilities workers and text explaining how housing residents can contact them would be better than a dated-looking graphic of a “can-do button” (sorry, housing!).

Main column images should be 600 pixels wide by 400 pixels tall (and less than 2MB)

No matter what size image you upload into Drupal, when you insert it into a page’s main column, it should be set at 600 pixels wide. To ensure all pictures used on the site look good on high-resolution displays, while ensuring page load times remain fast (esp. on mobile), it’s a good idea to compress original image files (such as those downloaded from MediaBin) using sites like JPEGmini and TinyPNG.

Default to using page layouts that have 3 columns (2-7-3)

Having a third column encourages units to actually develop and maintain sidebar content (such as testimonials). But even if you don’t have content for your third column, there’s a very strong reason to use the three-column layout anyway: readability. By shortening the line-length of the main column, we reduce the eyeball fatigue that occurs when one must read a long, long horizontal line of text. Experiment on yourself; you’ll notice a difference.

Use Drupal’s faculty/staff profile widget 

It seems every department has their own way of presenting faculty and/or staff profiles. But there is only one right way, and it just so happens to be easiest and best looking way to do it. Don’t recreate (busted) wheels. If you need more space than is allotted by the faculty/staff profile widget, use media blocks on a faculty/staff listing page that take the user to a page you’ve created to be devoted to that faculty member’s full bio, vitae, etc.

If you don’t have a page on your website that can be linked to, you are not ready to send that email/tweet

Your email to campus, your Facebook post, tweet, even your flyer with the contorted logo will be more effective if it contains a link to a webpage with relevant information that can be shared.

In conversation, when someone is interested in, say, the event you just mentioned, they say, “send me a link.” They never say, “forward that email with the attached jpeg flyer so I can download it and then open it to see when, where, and what it’s all about. I might print copies and mail them to all my friends who might also be interested in attending.” Not gonna happen. It makes being an audience member hard work—and an active, empowered advocate of your message/event nearly impossible.

Making and sharing webpages is about effective communication. It’s about conversation. It’s about consideration. It is not about web design, HTML, or “technical stuff.” If you can write an email, you can make a page in Drupal. Make the page! Share the link! Your audience will thank you.

_________________________

That’s all for now! Keep checking the University Relations blog and the evolving Web Content Guide for updates.

Leave a Comment
Posted on December 13, 2013 by

Team Effort Offers Glimpse of UM-Flint’s Content Future

With Drupal as UM-Flint’s new content management system, opportunities to implement new strategies for getting the right content in front of the right audience at the right time are now possible. In time, we will formalize processes—such as consistent naming and tagging of various types of content—making strategies like cross-unit content sharing even simpler and more effective.

Why Would Departments Want to Share Content?

A recent example requiring the collaboration of three UM-Flint units (University Outreach, University Relations, and the Office of the Registrar) proves the power of reusable (“shareable”) content.

Location. Location. Location. (Timing. Timing. Timing.)

Every semester, students have to sign up for classes through the Office of the Registrar. Every semester, the the Office of the Registrar assigns designated sign-up periods based on credit hours students have completed—with those closer to completing their degrees getting first dibs. Every semester, University Relations prominently promotes these seniority-based “early registration” dates on the university’s homepage. In terms of mission-critical actions the institution needs its students to take, it doesn’t get more fundamental than getting them to sign up for classes.

Just as University Relations was preparing to post this vital information in the feature area of the homepage, linking to the Registrar’s webpage containing all of the relevant details, we were contacted by University Outreach with a related request.

Homepage billboard reading "Register for Winter Semester Classes" is highlighted

A reminder to register for classes is content relevant to all UM-Flint students.

“Shared Context” Calls for Shared Content

In recent years, University Outreach has done great work in collaboration with faculty across academic units to develop discipline-specific “civic engagement” courses. Civic engagement has long been the hallmark of UM-Flint’s approach to learning, emphasizing the application of classroom knowledge to address real-world issues in Flint and beyond. Employers and graduate schools continue to cite this kind of practical, firsthand experience as something they most desire—and something UM-Flint is known to deliver.

Part of University Outreach’s recent work in this area has been to build structure and standardization around UM-Flint’s engaged learning tradition. Working with the Provost and the Office of the Registrar, certain courses are now officially designated as “civic engagement” (CE) classes. University Relations has been charged with helping to promote greater understanding of and enrollment in these CE classes.

Lighted shopping mall display featuring UM-Flint's civic engagement courses

Lighted shopping mall display featuring UM-Flint’s civic engagement courses

University Outreach had this awareness push in mind when they contacted University Relations about developing a homepage feature to encourage students to look for “CE” courses when they sign up for classes next semester. Great idea! But there was a problem. The limited space on the homepage for such announcements had already been spoken for: by the Office of the Registrar. Naturally, they needed to remind all students to sign up for all the classes they would need for next semester—CE or not.

A Win Win Win Situation

Drupal enabled University Outreach to create a “reusable media block” that briefly explains the relevance of civic engagement courses, and encourages users to learn more by following the block’s associated link to Outreach’s CE info page. This media block is now a major part of the University Outreach homepage:

University Outreach's reusable media block in main column of their homepage.

University Outreach’s reusable media block in main column of their homepage.

But by making the media block “reusable,” it was then possible for the Office of the Registrar to add that same media block to the sidebar of its page of key “sign up for classes this semester” information—the page linked to straight from the university homepage:

Outreach's reusable CE media block on Registrar's class sign-up page

Outreach’s reusable CE media block on Registrar’s class sign-up page

Every student who needed information about when and how to sign up for next semester’s classes (which is ALL of next semester’s students) were exposed to this reminder about signing up for CE classes at the very moment they were thinking about (and taking actions related to) signing up for classes. With Outreach’s media block in place on the Registrar’s page, University Relations was better able to seamlessly connect and communicate “signing up for classes” with “signing up for CE classes.”

The image in this FaceBook post is one used in all CE promotions, but now the context (class sign-up time) and the associated click (to the Registrar’s class sign-up info page) were fused so that the likelihood of students actually taking the desired action was significantly heightened.

UM-Flint Facebook post featuring civic engagement courses

UM-Flint Facebook post featuring civic engagement courses

In the end, the Office of Registrar got what it needed: a homepage feature prompting students to sign up for classes. University Outreach got what it needed: a reminder about signing up for CE classes seen by the target audience at the moment they are taking the very action called for. And University Relations achieved some of its goals: furthering UM-Flint’s reputation in the area of engaged learning, getting units to think more strategically about content, and fostering greater collaboration across units to achieve these and other goals.

 

Leave a Comment