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A Reminder of Why

I teach a class in the fall called Online Publishing I. This class focuses on using various types technology to create and publish online — from blogging to image capturing to editing video on an iPhone and all points in between.

The following is a Twitter conversation I recently had with a former student. It’s a gentle reminder of why I do what I do — and a reminder of how we all have the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of our students.

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It had been a while since I walked across UCA at night. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

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You back for good?

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No sir! I wish. Just tonight and maybe next weekend. Where are you now? I see you dressing sharp on Insty all the time.

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Still at UCA. Doing what I do. Dressing pretty… :) If you show up next weekend on Friday, give me a yell.

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It’ll be next Friday my man, if not all weekend. I’ll do it!! Your class is helping me a ton at my new job. You are the man!!

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What’s the new gig?

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Sports editor/social media director at the newspaper back home. The money isn’t the best but it’s more than I’ve ever made.

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Awesome. Proud of you.

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All you man!! I knew how to work with web pages and that sold them.

The Trouble With Personal Branding

We talk a lot about the importance of branding at this university. We’ve introduced a style guide and created a whole new website dedicated to logos, colors and more. This website–the Communications Toolkit–is meant to be just that–a toolkit that provides a starting point to build your website, print piece and more. A starting point that makes it easy to adhere to a university brand.

I’ve been asked things like:

Can I remove the box from the logo?

or

Can I use the new University seal even though it’s only for official use?

I’ve even been told:

I don’t like the logo.

Guess what? The logo doesn’t care whether you like it or not.

What’s important to note is that we all realize the logo is the logo. It symbolizes this University. It is part of our brand.

I just finished reading a great piece from Tim Nekritz called The trouble with personal branding. Tim is director of web communication and associate director of public affairs at SUNY Oswego. In this piece, he talks about personal brand vs. institutional brand. One of the things that stuck with me was this:

Often departments will contact us to say they’ve hired an art student to “redesign their page” (we have a CMS and an aim for a common look and experience across oswego.edu), and ask how they get started. Besides training, we tell them to start with content. An awkward silence tends to follow. Signing up an art student to “make a website pop” without a content strategy is like repainting a restaurant without giving any thought to what’s on the menu. I don’t go to a restaurant because of its design, I go because I want a good meal.

Content is king.

I repeat.

Content is king.

 

He continues:

I also feel like the “any art student can build a professional website” is demeaning to the industry. I wouldn’t tell the art department to just hire an English major to teach their courses because he must be good with words. This isn’t a dig against art students but a statement: Web communication is about subject matter and knowing how to tell your story, not merely making pretty pictures.

By using the tools provided in our Communications Toolkit, we want to help you be immediately recognized as “UCA” and help you tell your story—your UCA story.

The Ultimate Events Calendar

Today, I noticed Pippin Williamson from Pippin’s Plugins was tweeting about an events calendar plugin for WordPress that he’s working on. Since we have a few of Pippin’s plugins in our arsenal and find his work to be top-notch, I joined in on the conversation.

140 characters aren’t enough. Here are my thoughts on what we need for a WordPress events calendar plugin.

Since we run WordPress in a networked environment, here’s how I envision it working…

  1. Central location of an events calendar (WP site) at uca.edu/calendar (Currently running Helios calendar).
  2. Multiple calendar categories like our current calendar.
  3. Multiple views – traditional calendar as well as a list view.
  4. The ability to add a person in the author role (I think) and have them only see specific categories.
    • This will allow us to have a category that no one but the calendar admin can see and let them tag calendar posts to appear on the university home page. It will also keep a person in the biology department from accidentally tagging an event and it appearing on the Music department’s calendar.
    • As for restricting categories, from an admin point of view, I like the simplicity of the Restrict Categories plugin and the fact it allows you to restrict access based on the user role AND username. The problem with it – and others – is that it doesn’t support custom post types or taxonomies.
  5. Multisite capable so that a shortcode and/or widget can be used to display calendar categories on other sites. For example:
    • College of Fine Arts and Communication can use a shortcode to show events specific to the college as well as events from each departments (Art, Music, Theatre, etc.)
    • At the same time, the Music department would display only music events on their site.
  6. Recurring events.
  7. Start Time, End Time or All Day event option.
  8. Event location.
    • Google maps integration would be nice.
    • The ability to choose from a predetermined location list as well as add a new location. Having this also be something that could tie into a multisite shortcode would allow us to list all events in specific locations regardless of the college or department having the event.
  9. TBD