Campus Change Agent: Building a Campus Web Community Where There is None

Campus Change Agent: Build a Campus Web Community Where There is None
Matt Herzberger, Director of Web Communications, Florida International University

Matt Herzberger sees his job as “building better web” on Florida International University’s campus. But with the web constantly changing, and the politica in higher ed, how do you get there?

Make connections and have an “open source ethos,” says Matt. Share what you’ve learned and ask for assistance — both on and off campus, within and without the higher ed community.

Protip: Visit go.fiu.edu/f04 for Matt’s google doc that maintains a comprehensive list of higher ed web blogs.

Starting from Scratch?
First things first: get a lay of the land and get a sense of who’s doing what on the web. You’ll need that information to inform your next steps.

Approach: Solo or Team?
If you’re an army of one, check out HigherEdSolo.com, a new resource aimed at all of those armies of one in higher ed. Also, enlist your vendors as teammates; use their knowledge to help advance your cause. And don’t forget your oncampus resources. Now that you’ve gotten the lay of the land, start getting the right people in the room and fostering dialouge.
If you’re part of a team, establish code repositories and share code. Create demo days, in which team members share knowledge. Meet with your team weekly and make sure there’s an agenda before you do! Be sure to cross-train and share responsibility among your teammates. And perhaps most importantly, try to form a positive team culture. Matt has “turntable fm Thursday” in which the whole team jointly DJs music. Headphones are off and music is played across the office; this one, small act has increased communication between co-workers and fostered collaboration.

Policies and Governance
Matt spent two and a half years getting a web policy going on campus; it was launched within the past few weeks. This isn’t an easy process, so do what you can to make it easier. When creating or revising policies, make it collaborative — include the people who will be affected by it (or at least some of them) to provide feedback and insight.
This will help when creating web governance, too. This is where you formalize the grassroots progress you’ve been making. It’s where you outline how you’ll manage above and beneath you in the hierarchy, and how you’ll manufacture a culture change.

Making connections
Crucial to becoming an agent of change is to build trust and make connections. First, you’ll need to bridge the gaps between you and those with whom you have friction. Work hard to find common ground and mend fences — it will pay off for both people/departments in the long run.
Another opportunity to build trust and make connections is by offering professional development. You know a lot about your field – share your knowledge with people on campus. Ask what they’d like to learn more about, and tailor your presentations to their needs — and make those presentations engaging and worthwhile.

In the end, you get out what you put in. You can achieve unified outcomes, whether that’s a centralized use of software, unified branding, or something else. So start putting in the work!