A Preliminary Look at the Development on Websites of Higher Education Institutions

A Preliminary Look at the Development on Websites of Higher Education Institutions

Harrison Hao Yang (State University of New York at Oswego, USA), Na Yao (Shanghai Normal University, China) and Pinde Chen (South China Normal University, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-762-3.ch022
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Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of websites of higher education institutions. It then discusses the impact of emergent Web 2.0 technologies and social media on the online communication and society, and presents a study focusing on trends and issues of the development on websites of higher education institutions. The results of the study in this chapter indicates that under the influence of Web 2.0 and social media, websites of higher education institutions have been developed on: building a strong sense of community via embedding social networking tools, endorsing open education via sharing multimedia resources, and enriching users’ experience via offering self-service. The study also indicates that in order to develop effective websites, authenticity and digital citizenship should be considered and managed by administrators and technologists of higher education institutions.
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Introduction To Websites Of Higher Education Institutions

Over the years university administrators have developed a number of ways to involve students in campus life. One such mechanism many colleges and universities have historically utilized is a printed booklet containing photographs and information about incoming students, in order to help students learn about their peers and identify potential friends as they navigate in a new environment (Wandel, 2007).

The rapid technological change and proliferating information resources are lineaments of our contemporary society. Probably the most exciting and significant innovation in education in recent years is the widespread computer-based technology integrating in teaching and learning. Particularly, the World Wide Web is radically redefining how people obtain information and the way people teach and learn. Apparently, more and more educators and students have access to abundant information, and the amount of that information is growing at a staggering speed (Yang, 2008). Cooper and Burns stated, “The Internet and more specifically websites at college and universities have become thoroughly integrated into the admissions process” (p. 203). According to Carnegie Communications, the Internet is ‘‘considered the single most important tool in the college search process’’ (Klein, 2005, p. 37). As McKenzie (1997) noted, “Web sites - properly constructed - are information systems. They efficiently structure content to provide visitors with knowledge and insight. They deliver ‘the goods’…a good school Web site helps people find educationally worthwhile information with a minimum of wasted time and wandering” (p.26).

Since 1998, colleges have placed increasing emphasis on restructuring their websites so they are attractive and relevant to prospective students’ wants and needs (Tucciarone, 2009). Hoover (2006) found that seventy- nine percent of enrollment managers at private research universities indicated ‘‘their top priorities included integrating the Web into marketing efforts.’’ According to Stoner (2004), a college’s website is rated as one of the top sources of information during the college-search process. Cooper and Burns (2007) stated, “Websites for colleges and universities have become the primary means for students to obtain information in the college search process” (p. 203). Prospective and current students utilize college websites because of their convenience and speed. A college’s website, offering a wide range of information is the portal to students’ interactive search, providing a means of communication, access to tools such as databases and directories, and targeted information (Middleton, McConnell, and Davidson 1999). As Rozelle and Landis (2002) indicated that a college’s website was associated with perceptions of having gotten more realistic information about the university; perhaps most important, it had been available 24 /7, offering greater flexibility.

Over a considerable period of time, a typical university website of higher education institutions usually includes: about the university/college, academics, admissions, student life, news and events, athletics, etc. Prospective and current students, faculty and staff, parents, visitors, community and business, and alumni can focus on the university based upon their interests.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Social media: A group of Internet-based applications specifically focus on social interaction and on building the community.

Higher Education Institution Website: The website for the institution awarding academic degrees or professional certifications, such as universities, colleges, seminaries, institutes of technology, etc.

Digital Citizenship: The norms of behavior with regard to the use of “digital” tools, such as computers or mobile phones, along with access to these devices.

Authenticity: It refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, and intentions.

Open Education: Teaching and learning in which knowledge, ideas, resources, aspects of teaching methodology, or infrastructure are shared freely over the internet.

Sense of Community: The concept is related to membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection.

Web 2.0: Web services and applications emphasize on interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration.

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