Ag Communication Web Services

Tech info, tips & tricks


Sharing Our Goals

There are a number of principles and processes that will guide Web Services in 2012. One of the most critical is our commitment to working openly.

The Info Anarchy wiki defines working openly as "A method of doing work in ways that let all people see the process and freely share in the results." That's certainly more easily said than done, but Web Services will be doing everything we can to make sure we work in the open and invite your participation at as many points in our process as possible.

We will start now with an outline of Web Services' responsibilities and goals. We are a very small sub-department (a party of 1 right now), so the information below comes directly from my responsibility review as leader of Web Services. Please feel free to provide feedback on these responsibilities and goals and to hold our feet to the fire, if you think Web Services is failing to meet these expectations.

Responsibility #1: Provide organizational leadership to support and train staff on content creation on websites, blogs, social media and other platforms.

When I first started at NDSU, this responsibility focused on websites and content management systems. While our Ag Content Management System remains a major Web Services responsibility,  it's critical that we recognize an effective web presence must go beyond just a website. That's why we will be broadening our support and training to include creating content on multiple platforms; blogs, social media, and new media (like YouTube, podcasts).

The major goal under this responsibility is to implement 10 collaborative topic area sites using real-time content creation.The idea of collaborative topic area sites is to bring together experts from across our organization to collaborate on unique and creative content in a number of platforms. That content, whether it is a YouTube video, a blog post, a presentation on Slideshare or another type of content, will be available on the platform it was created on and through a central website. We have tried this approach with mixed results on the CattleDocs site. Web Services will work to provide the leadership, support and training to get more of these collaborative sites up and running.

Responsibility #2: Lead workplace learning on mobile and online technologies for Agriculture and University Extension.

The use of the term "workplace learning" in this responsibility is intentional. Web Services has spent a lot of time on formal training over the past 3 years, sometimes at the expense of the other elements of workplace learning. Jane Hart's writing about workplace learning on her C4LPT blog has been a great influence over the past 6 months. It has become clear that, in our approach to online and mobile technologies, Web Services needs to move beyond formal training and acknowledge the important role of informal and social learning on the workplace. We began to do just that with our Twitter Cohorts, which attempted to immerse participants in Twitter over a 4-week period, making them a part of a small community of learners and encouraging them to tap into the power of the broader Twitter community.

We have put too much emphasis on the use of online and mobile technologies as a way of pushing the same messages to new users (or to the same users in a new way). Our organization's use of social media is based in a broadcast mentality. I think we need to break out of that mentality. We need to focus less on leveraging online networks to achieve our goals and focus more on participating in online networks in a way that brings value to the network. We can start by finding the value of online networks for ourselves. This year Web Services will be encouraging you to build an online personal learning network. Getting connected for workplace learning will help you understand the value of online networks and help you learn how to provide value back to the network.

Our goals under this responsibility relate directly to online personal learning and comfort with social networks:

  • Increase use of online personal learning networks for workplace learning by 25%.
  • Increase number of employees 20 or more work-related online connections by 20%.
  • Increase comfort with social media among 20% of staff.

Responsibility #3: Lead strategic thinking for mobile and online technologies.

This one is much easier said than done. We will do our best to stay ahead of the curve on online and mobile technologies, identify the tools and services that might aid our organization and work to implement innovative solutions.

The major goal under this responsibility is to identify and promote 3 projects that use mobile or online technologies in innovative ways. In the past year, our Winter Survival Kit and Disaster Recovery Log smartphone apps would have been good examples of the kind of project we are looking for, as would the Extension Works the Food System curation page. If you have a project in mind that might lend itself to the use of online or mobile technology, please contact us. We'd love to hear about it.

So, now that you have some idea where we are headed, I hope you are ready to travel with us, to help us navigate and to take a turn at the wheel. Please add you comments below.


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Author: Julie

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