From practical study diaries to student-friendly recipes for a slap-up chilli, there's endless scope to what sort of content universities can publish on a blog. The blog has become an essential part of a university's marketing programme for its immediacy, ease of use and wide-reaching impact. Blogs provide an effective way for staff to discuss topics with students (and vice versa); students to post first-hand reactions to course content; and universities to provide a practical and realistic picture of what it’s really like to study on a specific course.
Blogs let universities engage with all online visitors: whether they're prospects, prospects' parents, enroled students or alumni. They help establish an authority and strengthen a university's brand while increasing search engine results and driving more website traffic. Read on for an outline of the different approaches universities can take to blogging, with some key examples thrown in.
University of Surrey offers a varied range of blogs covering an array of topics
Blogging encourages students to take ownership of their writing, become better observers of what others have written, and develop a better understanding of audience. Blogging requires students to convey complex ideas in a structured and logical way, and can significantly improve essay writing skills. It helps students learn to develop a sense of their own tone of voice: a personal one, rather than the formal, academic tone reserved for essays. Redrafting encourages self reflection and valuable editing and condensing skills, while the use of a content management system provides useful digital skills for all students, regardless of their discipline.
Blogging isn’t only useful for students studying subjects related to writing. For students whose course is more practical and less literary, writing a blog provides valuable practice in verbalising their thoughts and getting arguments down on paper. From the university's perspective, blog which demonstrates student engagement and enjoyment will be greatly beneficial for the institution's brand. See University of Edinburgh’s blog for their Graduate School of Engineering as an example.
Encouraging staff members to blog is a good way of circulating handy information and making the academic process more transparent. University of Sussex's English Language and Linguistics blog keeps students, faculty and other visitors abrest of upcoming events, projects which members of the department are working on and what students and alumni are up to. University of Oxford’s arts blog is run by its media team and explores arts, humanities, culture and plenty of related subjects, while Cambridge Judge Business School's admissions blog is written by none other than Conrad Chua, Head of MBA Admissions and Marketing.
University of Portsmouth’s Graphic Design BA and MA blog
Just like any blog, university blogs seem to work best when they cover a specific subject: such as a certain department, school or even a particular degree programme. Universities can use course-specific blogs to showcase individual pieces or a portfolio of student’s work: see University of Portsmouth’s Graphic Design BA and MA blog; and Goldsmith’s Goldfish blog, which shares the writing of students enroled on the Creative and Life Writing MA. Blogs focusing on a university's location can also be a good resource to provide more information to international students relocating from abroad.
The above examples are public blogs, discoverable by anyone online. They provide visitors concrete examples of the work students produce and a first-hand account of what it’s like to study a specific course at that university – which make them valuable ways to attract prospects. Universities can also create private blogs for posts that are best kept among staff and students. With these, staff can post bulletins, recommended readings or general essay feedback. Meanwhile, students could respond to set readings; keep a diary to log their progress on the course or a particular module; or simply discuss the course with peers and staff alike. These sorts of blogs can encourage collaboration and allow all students to contribute to discussions, including those less likely to speak up in class.
Other ways to blog
University blogs don’t have to be limited to specific courses, or even study. University of Exeter’s students’ blog publishes student-friendly recipes and first-hand accounts of interrailing during the summer break. Many universities run careers blogs with practical advice and case studies, while Cardiff University’s disability and dyslexia blog is a good example of a one which provides valuable guidance and reference information for students.
Are you a student with experience in blogging? Or perhaps a staff member who contributes to a university blog? Leave a comment below to join the discussion or tweet us @fullfabric.
The development and maintenance of an in-house system is a complex and time-consuming task. Full Fabric lets you turn your full attention to maximizing growth and performance.