Google to Students: We Want to Host Your Email

This week, Google launched a survey asking college students what they think about their campus email system, and what it is about Gmail that they like better. “At many campuses over 20% of the student body already forwards their student email to Gmail,” claims Google on its site. In my experience, at least anecdotally, that figures sounds about right, and may even be a little conservative.

The survey seem to be part of push behind the new Google Apps Education Edition, a free suite of email, calendaring, and publishing tools for universities. “You can select any combination of our available tools and services and customize them with your school’s logo, color scheme and content,” says Google (users of Google’s free University Search service may have reason to doubt that last bit).

I don’t know. Is Google trying to make our lives as IT professionals happier and easier, or are they trying to wangle us all out of a job? I mean, if we turn over our email systems, student portals, library databases, content management systems, and search services over to Google, how long will it be before our universitys’ homepages reside at And if they can do all this so much better than us (while making a profit to boot), is that such a bad thing?

The student email survey is online here. (Hey, there’s a typo on the survey page. “Google Apps Edition Edition?” Looks like we Web editors are still in demand. Let’s hope Google Docs has a grammar checker.)

Conference Committee

HighEdWebDev 2007: Program Expanding!

HighEdWebDev 2007 logoThis year’s HighEdWebDev conference program will feature five — count ’em, five! — tracks, packing the Rochester Clarion Riverside to the rafters with even more great content and more variety in sessions and panels presented.

Based on feedback from past conference attendees, our new fifth track will focus on professional development and marketing. The remaining four tracks will address content, design, management, and technology.

Our corporate partners will also be on hand to present information about their products and services. Pre- and post-conference workshops offer a chance to get some in-depth instruction on a specific topic. And last but not least, our poster session is the perfect way for attendees to learn a little bit about a lot of things in a short period of time.

The Call for Proposals for HighEdWebDev 2007 is open. Share your experiences with your fellow higher education Web professionals, and submit your abstract today. Deadline for submissions is May 31.

Conference Committee

Building a Better Wikipedia?

Wikipedia, the hugely popular and incredibly useful open-source encyclopedia and darling of the Web 2.0 evolution, has fallen upon some rocky seas as of late.

A prolific contributor who claimed to have multiple Ph.D.s and a tenured position at a private university was in fact a 24-year-old college dropout. A blogger revealed that Microsoft Corp. offered to pay him to “fix” Wikipedia entries about the company. And according to Wikipedia, at least for a few days earlier this month, the comedian Sinbad was dead of a heart attack. In response to concerns over inaccuracies, professors in Middlebury College’s history department this semester voted to ban students from citing Wikipedia in papers and exams.

Now along comes a rival encyclopedia that hopes to address some of Wikipedia’s shortcomings. Citizendium launched its beta site today. Unlike Wikipedia, contributors must identify themselves by name, and articles will be subjected to what the site calls “gentle expert oversight.”

Will these two changes create a better resource? Will moving away from the “anyone can edit” spirit of Wikipedia increase its reliability or only limit its scope? Will the new Citizendium have articles on the String Cheese Incident or New Zoo Revue, and if not is that a bad thing? And if “information wants to be free,” what role should sites like Wikipedia and Citizendium play in higher education?

Conference Committee

Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

This very cool video has been YouTubed around quite a bit in the last couple months. (Did I just use “YouTube” as a verb? Yes, I guess I did.)

It was created by a professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, and what he’s calling the final version was just posted last week. Show it to your faculty, your administrators, your boss, if you find yourself needing to explain just what this “Web 2.0 stuff” is all about.



HighEdWeb Board Nominations

Higher Education Web Professionals Association is now accepting nominations for its first elected Board of Directors.

We’re looking for dedicated people who will shape this new organization for the future and be advocates for the web profession in higher education.

You can nominate yourself or another web professional. To learn more, please visit

You’re also welcome to contact any member of the Board Nomination Committee:

Conference Committee
Board Nominations Committee

Happy Daylight Savings Time!

Thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, we’ll all be springing forward three weeks earlier than usual this year. Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday, and companies have been scrambling to make sure their systems and various IT gadgets and devices are ready for the unexpected time warp. Jeffrey Hammond, senior analyst at Forrester Research, estimates the daylight saving time switch will cost the average company $50,000 in time and labor expenses, an admittedly conservative estimate. How does your college or university compare?

Of course the irony is that the reason we are saving all this daylight in the first place is to save money by conserving energy. But nobody really knows if it works. In a recent Time magazine article, Michael Downing, Tufts University professor and author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, says: “Congress has been studying this for 100 years and has yet to come up with reliable energy savings.

The article goes on:

Daylight saving does affect people’s habits: studies from the last DST extension in 1986 show that we shop, head outside, play sports, fire up the barbecue, and drive more often once daylight saving kicks in. … But many of these activities, especially increased leisure driving, offset any environmental gains from the energy savings.

So if Congress just sighs a giant “nevermind” on Daylight Savings Time, we may find ourselves re-patching all over again in a couple years.

Conference Committee

2007 HighEdWebDev Conference

HighEdWebDev logo The theme for this year’s conference is “Collaborate Participate Innovate.” We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Rochester this year for what promises to be another great conference full of learning, collaboration, networking, and good old-fashioned fun. (Hey, maybe that can next year’s theme! “HighEdWebDev 2008: Good Old-Fashioned Fun.”) Conference attendees do more than listen to presentations from our enormously informative presenters: we all learn from each other in a truly collaborative environment. But if you’d like to become one of those enormously informative presenters, we invite you to submit a proposal to our program committee. You can propose an hour-long presentation, a half-hour showcase, or a poster session. The Call for Proposals is open until May 31. See you in Rochester!

-lori Conference Committee