Accessing info on university websites

Through CSHE, Harris and Jones offer some strategies in Creating Effective Website for University Teaching: An Educational Framework. Foremost, decisions about website construction also involved the institution. For instance, consistency in website design is important to maintain. That is, core elements and location of information is important to ensure students can easily navigate important info.

This applies to information on the institutions, faculty and department websites. Distant students complain that information on programs, procedures, resources and contacts are hard to find at times.

As well, access to information is mostly relegated to enrolled students and staff, subverting the idea of open access. One main reason is copyright issues of uploaded works by other authors or the protection of intellectual properties of university staff. Another reason is “in large part to technical legacies and established patterns of practice”.

However, accessible and easily found information is important for a number of reasons. First, prospective or current students can gain information important to the progression of their programs (requirements, forms), and can make informed decisions about course, instructor and advisor selection. Also, sharing such info within the institution helps with course-wide planning and interdisciplinary efforts.

Also, better infomration would help promote the university to the public. Additionally, sharing resources with the public increases knowledge transfer as well as increases collaboration with other institutions. Besides, isn’t education paid by the public? Shouldn’t knowledge be a common good?

Overall, better designed websites at universities can provide increased benefits to students, staff and the public.

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