October 09, 2007
In recent years, many higher education institutions started to use technology to open the doors of higher education to the public. Last week, the University of California at Berkeley launched a YouTube channel that will make 86 courses available online this academic year. But what makes their effort especially notable is that they are also using the site to promote the University and its mission.
Higher education institutions are finding it increasingly difficult to get positive information to the public about the great services and research that occurs on campus every day. The mainstream media tends to only cover the controversies and scandals at higher education institutions. Those negative stories have a huge impact on how the public views higher education institutions and ultimately those views are expressed to elected officials, who control the institution's purse strings.
That is why it is so critical that higher education institutions find alternative ways to distribute positive stories about their institutions. But just putting press releases online or releasing canned promotional videos will not be enough to effectively distribute messages. The information must be packaged with something that provides a real value to the web site's visitor. The UC Berkeley YouTube channel does this well because it provides a service that will attract visitors to the site and keep them coming back for more.
Any higher education institution can identify some sort of service it provides that will attract an audience. The key is to capture the audience and then incorporate positive news about your institution into that service. This will be one of the main strategies that higher education institutions use to communicate positive messages to the public in the 21st century.