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The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Webinar April 2019

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Webinar hosted by GatherContent on Thursday 11 April 2019 addressing higher education websites, web estates and digital content creation and management. Sets out evolution of complex digital environments, the resultant risks and a framework for managing and resolving complexity.

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The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Webinar April 2019

  1. 1. The State of Higher Education Digital Environments April 2019Paul Bradley
  2. 2. AGENDA April 2019 1. What are higher education digital environments? 2. Why should we understand their state or condition? 3. What can we do about what we find?
  3. 3. The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Worldwide 21,320 Oceania 70 Asia 9,750 Europe 2,500 North America 5,000 Latin America 2,750 Africa 1,250 3 Number of Post-Secondary/Higher Education Institutions Worldwide
  4. 4. Asia 56% Oceania 69% Europe 85% North America 88% Latin America 68% Africa 37% 4 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Proportion of Population with Internet Access Worldwide 2018
  5. 5. • University faculties and departments enjoy operational, financial and administrative autonomy • This pattern of behaviour was and is replicated in building websites and carrying out digital marketing and communications activities 5 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Individual Institutions Are Complex Digital Ecosystems ed.ac.uk one three four two five mcmaster.ca one three four two five 1,700 ± sub-sites 800 ± sub-sites University of Edinburgh McMaster University
  6. 6. • Universities or departments within universities started to go ‘digital’ from 1992 onwards • Mainly, but not exclusively, computer science or IT initiated projects • Developed, operated and managed independently 6 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments How Did We Create Such Complexity? University of York Institut national de physique nucléaire et de physique des particules University of Illinois at Urbana– Champaign
  7. 7. • From IT web projects/experiments to marketing and communications channel • From externally-facing web pages to ecosystems of intranets, LMSs, CRM and internal/external websites • To digital environments 7 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Evolution from Data Repository to Communications Channels 1990-2000s 1990s-2000s 2019
  8. 8. • Added other non-text content over time • At first on-site, increasingly held off-site • Expanded beyond websites to mobile only content/interactions 8 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Digital Content has Overflowed the Internal Structures images audio social media video mobile apps
  9. 9. • Higher education content creation largely autonomous • Varying approaches to policy setting and governance • Institution-specific oversight and enforcement of brand, style and content tone/voice 9 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Technological Exuberance Has Been Matched by Content Decentralisation Student, Sports and other groups Faculty Marketing & Communications Marketing and Communications Main website & CMS Faculty website & own CMS Social Media Podcasts Social Media YouTube Videos
  10. 10. • Reasonable assertion that most higher education digital environments operate as if they were driven by agile methodologies, but without the focus on delivering value to end users 10 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Stumbled Into Agile Content Development Without Formal Methodology Approach Content Ideas Plan Create Publish Measure
  11. 11. 11 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments The Sum of All the Foregoing Has Led Us to Where We Are Now Infrastructure Content management Content presentation Caching CDNs Databases Database Managers Load Balancers Media Servers Network Storage Web Servers Comment Systems Web Analytics Captchas CRM Development Tools Content Editors JavaScript Frameworks Live Chat Marketing Automation Payment Processing Mobile Frameworks Tag Managers Web Frameworks SEO Add-ins Widgets
  12. 12. • In the migration from ITS to Marketing and Communications IT has held onto infrastructure • Complex inter-relationship of hardware and software • Emphasis on security, risk mitigation and stability 12 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Need to Understand the Layers to Improve Our Solutions To The Issues Web Servers Web Server OSes Performance Managers CDNs
  13. 13. • Content Management Systems have simplified storing, formatting and presenting content • Expanding scope of CMSs to digital marketing platforms has increased complexity • Environment is made more complex by development and JavaScript frameworks 13 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Development Efforts Focus on The Middle Layer Frameworks CMSs JS Frameworks
  14. 14. 14 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments The Top Layer Defines the User Experience And Whether It All Appears To Work • User experience layer is now a mix of ‘customer experience’, marketing, interaction and analytics: Marketing Technology • Increasing use of Chatbots layered on top of existing JavaScript tags • Marketing and communications largely controls this layer’s configuration Tag Managers Ad Networks Analytics Widgets Chatbots Marketing Platforms Performance Verification
  15. 15. • Main websites recognise that higher education has been ‘marketised’ • Institutions ‘compete’ for students • Students need help making choices • Main websites also try to address other audiences and their ‘tasks’ • Current students • Alumni • Faculty • Staff • Media • Research Partners • Industry Partners • Corporate Services • Faculty/Department/Research Centres • Publicise research • Publicise staff • Recruit post-graduate students 15 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Why Are We Building All These Websites?
  16. 16. • Largely qualitative and descriptive to this point • Let’s put some context and numbers around the case we’ve set out 16 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Let’s Put Numbers On the Descriptions How complex have we made these digital environments? Marketisation Governance Technology
  17. 17. AGENDA April 2019 1. What are higher education digital environments? 2. Why should we understand their state or condition? 3. What can we do about what we find?
  18. 18. UK higher education homepage images 18 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments On The Surface That Technology Stack Produces Similar Looking Websites Canadian higher education homepage images
  19. 19. 19 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments And These Websites Try To Say A Lot on Their Homepages 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 100 500 900 1,300 1,700 2,100 2,500 2,900 3,300 3,700 4,100 4,500 4,900 5,300 NumberofSiteswithWordCount Number of Words on Home Page for Main .ac.uk Domain UK Universities: Website Homepage Word Count Distribution 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 100 400 700 1,000 1,300 1,600 1,900 2,200 2,500 2,800 3,100 3,400 3,700 4,000 4,300 NumberofSiteswithWordCount Number of Words on Home Page for Main .edu Domain US 4-year Universities: Website Home page Word Count 90% Mean 1,020 90% Mean 1,104
  20. 20. 20 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments How big and how complex are higher education digital environments? 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 10,000 100,000 500,000 2,000,000 UK | Universities: Estimated Number of Web Pages by Quartile 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 100,000 500,000 1,000,000 12,000,000 US | 4-year Universities: Estimated Number of Web Pages by Quartile
  21. 21. 21 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Words, images and lots of PDFs 2 5 273 1,466 - 200 400 600 800 1,000 1,200 1,400 1,600 Video Audio Content-rendering Image Number of files found per thousand web pages Contentcategories US and UK webpage embedded content type occurence per 1,000 pages n=316 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 20,000 100,000 250,000 500,000 8,000,000 US | 4-year Universities: Estimated Number of PDF Files 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 10,000 25,000 50,000 100,000 UK | Universities: Estimated Number of PDF Files 249 6 3 1 161 7 2 0 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 PDF Documents Presentations Spreadsheets Number of Links to Content Files per 1,000 Web Pages ContentCategories US and UK Universities : Number of Links to Content Files per 1,000 Webpages UK Universities US Universities
  22. 22. 22 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments On A Number of Measures HEI Websites Stack Up Well Versus Others 0.00 2.00 4.00 6.00 8.00 10.00 12.00 14.00 16.00 University Websites Football Club Websites Complexity(Links/WebPage) Page Complexity : Number of Links/Page 3.26 2.69 0.00 5.00 10.00 15.00 20.00 25.00 30.00 35.00 40.00 45.00 University Websites Football Club Websites NumberofBrokenLinks/100pages Number of Broken Links per 100 pages 6.93 1.93 0.00 5.00 10.00 15.00 20.00 25.00 30.00 University Websites Football Club Websites NumberofBrokenLinks/100Pages Number of Broken Resources per 100 pages 0.69 0.85 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 0 to 5 6 to 10 11 to 15 16 to 20 21 to 25 26 to 30 31 to 35 Distribution of Number of Broken Links per 100 web Pages
  23. 23. 23 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments We’ve Incrementally Built Ourselves Complex Digital Ecosystems
  24. 24. 24 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments PWC Risk Profile for UK Universities - 2018
  25. 25. 25 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Typical Website/Digital Environment Risk Identification Typical Risks Description Business Continuity Site ownership unclear or unknown. In the event of operational issues the site may go out of service with an unknown time to repair or restore. Content Quality With autonomous content creation and editing, content may not adhere to institutional accessibility and usability policies or adhere to editorial guidelines leading to reputational risk. Cost Inefficiencies Decentralised decision making increases the likelihood of website development, design, hosting arrangements being duplicated and thus less cost effective. Impediments to Strategic Objectives Most institutions are seeking to enhanced the user experience for their primary audiences and to ensure UX decision are fully data informed. Complex digital environments can compromise meeting these types of strategic objectives. Information Security Complexity can lead to uncertainty regarding website hosting arrangements and technical environments introducing risks of information loss or unauthorised network access. Privacy Legislation Compliance Widespread cookie, third-party JavaScript and forms use across digital environment makes GDPR and other privacy compliance more difficult. User Experience Inconsistent application of information architecture, accessibility and design guidelines degrades the overall user experience, decreases end-user task completion and increases user attrition. Website Publishing Controls In the absence of appropriate workflow controls inaccurate and out-of-date information may be published potentially placing UK institutions in breach of legislative or regulatory requirements: CMA or website accessibility.
  26. 26. 3 Main Risk Categories 26 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Complexity Elevates Risk • Financial • Legal and Regulatory • Security 75 85 95
  27. 27. Financial Risk Components • Content Quality • Broken links • image tagging • Performance • Page loading speed • Social Media • Social media networks used • Number of independent accounts • User Experience • Mobile friendly 27 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Financial Risks – Lose Revenue or Incur Unnecessary Costs 75
  28. 28. Legal and Regulatory Risk Components • Website Accessibility • Information Architecture • WCAG2.1 compliance • Page structure • Privacy • GDPR compliance • Cookie Use • 3rd party JavaScript • Information Disclosure • CMA compliance • Legal, privacy and copyright statements 28 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Legal & Regulatory Risks – Exposed To Legal or Other Sanctions 85
  29. 29. Security Risk Components • Connection Security • HTTPS implementation • Certificate control • Access Security • Server signatures • CMS access and control 29 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Security Risks – Universities are Attractive Sites to Attack 95
  30. 30. AGENDA April 2019 1. What are higher education digital environments? 2. Why should we understand their state or condition? 3. What can we do about what we find?
  31. 31. Working hypothesis • At this point established that digital ecosystems are messy • This increases risk and real costs to an institution • Reduces effectiveness of marketing and communications 31 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments We’ve Identified The Issues. What Are The Solutions?
  32. 32. Four Components to Managing Complex Digital Environments 32 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Four Building Blocks Agile Development Digital Governance Integrated Content Policies Monitor, Measure + Analyse
  33. 33. Agile Development Approach • “continuous improvement through incremental change based on creating value for end users” • Apply this approach to technical development exercises • Apply to implementing marketing technology • Apply to adding digital content 33 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Agile Development
  34. 34. Infrastructure Content management Content presentation Caching CDNs Databases Database Managers Load Balancers Media Servers Network Storage Web Servers Comment Systems Web Analytics Captchas CRM Development Tools Content Editors JavaScript Frameworks Live Chat Marketing Automation Payment Processing Mobile Frameworks Tag Managers Web Frameworks SEO Add-ins Widgets AG I L E D EV ELOPM ENT The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Agile Development
  35. 35. Digital Governance • “is a framework to establish roles, accountability and decision-making authority for an institution’s digital presence: internal and external websites, mobile applications, social networks and any other digital channels.” • Often summarised as: ‘who decides, who decides’ • In the higher education setting digital governance is particularly important because (a) activities are decentralised (b) faculty have can have authority without accountability 35 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Digital Governance Authority AccountabilityRoles
  36. 36. Infrastructure Content management Content presentation Caching CDNs Databases Database Managers Load Balancers Media Servers Network Storage Web Servers Comment Systems Web Analytics Captchas CRM Development Tools Content Editors JavaScript Frameworks Live Chat Marketing Automation Payment Processing Mobile Frameworks Tag Managers Web Frameworks SEO Add-ins Widgets AG I L E D EV ELOPM ENT D I G I TA L G OV ERNA NC E The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Agile + Digital Governance
  37. 37. Integrated Content Policies • Higher education websites are continuously updated with text, images, file links, audio links and links to content on social media • For content to work for its intended audiences content editors need “rules” about producing effective content • Content policies can be implemented and enforced manually, through workflow solutions or via integrated services such as GatherContent. 37 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Integrated Content Policies
  38. 38. Infrastructure Content management Content presentation Caching CDNs Databases Database Managers Load Balancers Media Servers Network Storage Web Servers Comment Systems Web Analytics Captchas CRM Development Tools Content Editors JavaScript Frameworks Live Chat Marketing Automation Payment Processing Mobile Frameworks Tag Managers Web Frameworks SEO Add-ins Widgets AG I L E D EV ELOPM ENT D I G I TA L G OV ERNA NC E INTEGRATEDCONTENTPOLICIES The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Agile + Digital Governance + Content Policies
  39. 39. Monitor, Measure and Analyse • Install and implement Google Analytics to understand on page activity and end user behaviour • Monitor overall digital environments to find and eliminate barriers to user experience, performance etc. • Identify success measures and analyse and report these in ways your audience can understand 39 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Monitor, Measure and Analyse
  40. 40. Infrastructure Content management Content presentation Caching CDNs Databases Database Managers Load Balancers Media Servers Network Storage Web Servers Comment Systems Web Analytics Captchas CRM Development Tools Content Editors JavaScript Frameworks Live Chat Marketing Automation Payment Processing Mobile Frameworks Tag Managers Web Frameworks SEO Add-ins Widgets AG I L E D EV ELOPM ENT D I G I TA L G OV ERNA NC E INTEGRATEDCONTENTPOLICIES MONITOR,MEASUREANDANALYSE The State of Higher Education Digital Environments Agile + Digital Governance + Content Policy + Monitoring
  41. 41. Paul Bradley Email: paul.bradley@eqafy.com Twitter: @OnCoFo Blog: Show Me The Data Website: eQAfy.com LinkedIn: Paul Bradley Phone: +1 416 464 9771 | +44 20 3290 3575 The State of Higher Education Digital Environments

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