Academic Staff Using University Website Profile Page for Academic Digital Branding

Academic Staff Using University Website Profile Page for Academic Digital Branding

Emmanuel Mogaji (University of Greenwich, UK)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4930-8.ch003
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Abstract

The growing interest in the internet and other digital technologies transforming the practice of education has led to the emergence of novel uses of new media for engaging with stakeholders. This study explored the web profile academic staff in Nigerian universities to understand how academic staff are using the platform to position their academic brand in this digital age. The ALARA model of information search was adopted taking on a qualitative approach in understanding how information are presented and accessed on websites. The analysis revealed that academic staff are not taking ownership and responsibility for their pages, and they are making little effort to develop their academic brand in this digital age. This study contributes to knowledge of academic branding with implications for university administrators working on creating a platform for academics branding. This study also contributes to the literature on the general guidelines on usability evaluations of websites to improve staff profile webpages.
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Introduction

The growing interest in the Internet and other digital technologies, transforming the practice of education has led to the emergence of novel uses of new media for engaging with stakeholders (Ndofirepi, et al., 2020; Farinloye, et al., 2020a). Higher Education Institutions are now to communicate their corporate and individual brand values as a means of improving their image with stakeholders (Nguyen, et al., 2019). Websites and social media have become a unique media for brands to communicate these values (Gökerik, et al., 2018). Prospective students, researchers, and partners often consider the website as a source of information (Mogaji, 2016b), more so it can be updated regularly, it is accessible to a global audience, and content can be well detailed and easily updated.

While Universities may own the websites, Academic staffs are entitled to a webpage on the websites to showcase their profile, highlight their achievements, publication records and experiences. Academic Staff are experiencing lateral pressure to engage in self-promotional practices, highlighting more reasons to be visible and showcase one’s impact through quantifiable metrics (Gandini, 2016; Mogaji, 2019a). This aligns with the concept of personal branding, which is useful and influential in the processes of “going up” promotion and tenure (Johnson & Eulanda, 2017), it is becoming a crucial promotional device for the pursuit of self-realisation (Gandini, 2016). Having a personal brand distinguishes the staff and enhances their reputation. Personal branding recognises the conscious and unconscious decisions that are being made (Kalia, et al., 2017), which affect the reputation of the academic staff and the likelihood of engaging in any collaboration or partnership.

Personal branding is becoming an essential concept for academic staff, and they are using their webpage to build their reputation, raise awareness about research activities and engage in media activities. (Wayne & Mogaji, 2020). Despite the enormous possibilities of the Internet and websites around their world, there appeared to be a limitation with African universities as they engage with the Internet. While analyzing webpages of the University in South Africa, Samkin & Schneider (2014) found that a few websites did not present academic profiles, or only minimal information such as name, job title and contact details were provided. Mogaji et al. (2020) also found that Universities in Africa are not providing enough information for their prospective students about the programs they intend to study, this further raised concerns about the amount of information the academic staff are willing to provide about themselves. It raises concerns about the visibility of the University and its academic staff. There are many researchers and prospective students who may want to study and collaborate with the academic staff, but if their academic brad is not visible enough, they could be losing the opportunities.

With this background, this chapter aims to explore academic branding of academic Staff in Africa, with a specific focus on Nigeria. The study aims to understand how academic Staff in Nigeria are branding themselves and positioning themselves through their University profile webpage. The study adopts the ALARA Model of Information Search on website (Mogaji, 2019c), a novel methodology, which brings together case study research, stakeholder roleplay and netnography to analyses content of academic profile webpages from Top Nigerian Universities. Although the study solely focused on Nigeria which has got the most significant educational system in Africa with 174 Universities (Olaleye, et al., 2020; Farinloye, et al., 2020b), it is anticipated that this study will contribute to the ongoing research on understanding and marketing higher education in Africa, Academic branding and position. The study offers practical recommendations for improving University reputation through academic digital branding, which is relevant for University managers, Academic Staff, Information Technology and Marketing Team.

The next section of the chapter explores relevant literature on academic branding, digital branding and information search on the website. The methodology for the study is subsequently presented, followed by the result and its discussion. To conclude, a summary, highlighting the study’s contributions, limitations and ideas for future research, is discussed.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Academic Profile Webpage: A webpage on a University website which presents a biography, publications records and achievements of the academic staff.

Academic Staff: University staff employed in a University to teach, do research, and conduct community engagement.

Branding: The promotion of a product or company utilizing advertising and distinctive design.

Website: A set of related web pages located under a single domain name.

University: A high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees and academic research is done.

Profile: A short article describing a person or organization.

ALARA: A model that explores the availability, location, accessibility, relatability, and actionability of information.

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