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Session 1029 Reaching Our Staff: Penn State's eNews
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Session 1029 Reaching Our Staff: Penn State's eNews

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NETC 2008 Session that looked at the over 24 year history of the College of Ag Sciences at Penn State IT group's computer newsletter to college staff.

NETC 2008 Session that looked at the over 24 year history of the College of Ag Sciences at Penn State IT group's computer newsletter to college staff.

Published in: Technology, Education

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  • 1. Vince Verbeke Penn State University http://it.cas.psu.edu/
  • 2.
    • Don’t be Afraid of Lots of Content
    • Keep to a Schedule
    • “ Web 1.0” Tech reaches 80 %
    • Add “Web 2.0” for Geeky 20 %
    • Add a “Comics” Section
  • 3.
    • History and Background
    • Generating Content
    • Delivering eNews
    • Reader Survey Results
    • Does a Traditional Newsletter still “Fit” ?
  • 4.
    • Started in 1984 as “ Computer News ”
    • January 1985 Issue
      • Beth Raney was hired
      • Hardware Prices
      • New technology described ... 5 Mb Hard Drives
    • Bit ‘n Bytes from Sept 1986
  • 5.
    • AgIS Computer Weekly, Issue 1 , 3/17/87
    • Delivered via VAX and DECmail
    • Headings used:
      • Information to Share
      • Action Required
      • CSA program accomplishments
      • Tricky bits
      • Network procedures
  • 6.
    • Moved to the web in the 1990’s
    • Issues averaged 4 articles
    • Issue 580 on Sept 1998
    • Reboot in Sept 2003 ; Went to #1
  • 7.
    • IT Staff always self-edited
    • 2003 through 2006, extra layer of “real” editors
    • Good – Better Copy
    • Less Good – Time required
  • 8.
    • 2006, Beth Raney joined eXtension
    • Editor Vince - “other duties as assigned”
    • Started with Issue # 48 in Feb 2006
    • Now at Issue #93 in Apr 2008
    • IT staff self edits again ... shush
    • Send pre-release out in advance to eNews team (group of eight)
  • 9.
    • Need items like ...
      • College News
      • IT Project Updates, Tech Alerts
      • How do I articles and Tips
    • Easier today to gather info ...
      • Email newsletters and RSS Feeds
      • Bloggers and Podcasts
      • Twitter and FriendFeed
  • 10.
    • Sept 1998: PSU and Year 2000 Problem
    • May 2001: Here Comes Mac OS X
    • Sept 2003 Welcome to ICT eNews
    • Jan 2004: Microsoft Office 2003 Plans
    • April 2004: How to Stop Obscene E-mail?
    • March 2005: Technology Alerts Page Added
    • May 2005: What is Phishing?
    • May 2006: “Net neutrality" explained
    • June 2007: TechieTalk Club
  • 11. Year Issues Articles Ave # per Issue 2004 17 90 5 2005 19 95 5 2006 13 103 8 2007 26 231 9 2008 9 131 14
  • 12.  
  • 13.  
  • 14.
    • Through Jan 24, 2008 issues were compiled and edited in Microsoft Word
    • Uploaded with Dreamweaver and old school HTML template , with tables
    • Page uploaded & reviewed internally before adding to official page and announcement email sent
  • 15.
    • RSS Feed added with Issue 74 in July 07
    • XML manually coded through Issue 77
    • Time consuming
    • Articles weren’t full feeds
    • No formatting
    • No links
  • 16.
    • Enter “my buddy” John Dorner
    • Why NOT Full Feeds?
    • Why NO Links?
    • Why Why Why?
    • ListGarden RSS Feed Generator
  • 17.
    • Open source. Download from: http://www.softwaregarden.com/products/listgarden/
    • Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
    • No knowledge of XML or the RSS data format required
    • In Windows, ListGarden is available as a single executable file
    • Feature List
  • 18.
    • Move to Content Management System in Jan 2008
    • Taken 2 months to get kinks worked out
    • Several new ‘gotchas’
    • RedDot Steps
    • Putting it all together
    • Online Demo (hopefully) & ListGarden
  • 19.
    • Seven questions, Used SurveyMonkey
    • 99 respondents
    • First question “ Do you find eNews useful? ” Yes – 96, No – 3
    • Survey Results and Survey Comments
  • 20.
    • “ I prefer the web site vs. the RSS Feed. The web site format is easier to read and easier to use. The web site is simple in layout but looks nice. There isn't a lot of graphics or static stuff on the page that your mind & eyes have to sort through . ”
  • 21.
    • One person said “ Perhaps talk in plainer English...make it as simple as possible....without having to be a computer whiz to understand articles. ”
    • “ I like this newsletter because it is NOT overly technical and I understand it! ”
  • 22.
    • “ I find eNews very useful in the county office. I use eNews as a guide to remind staff of alerts, upcoming changes, what's new, etc. ”
    • “ I would like to have a few more TIPS or shortcuts to do things in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or Outlook. I'm sure there are many "neat" things can be done that unless you stumble across it, would never know. ”
  • 23.
    • “ I like the idea of eNews from the college, you have two problems. One, you have to inform a very wide audience with technical skills ranging from novice to expert . Two, there is no clear mission or purpose to the eNews letter - it's just a loose hodgepodge of whatever might seem useful or interesting at the time. I think It would be better if you stick to CAS news only. ”
  • 24.
    • “ The eNews letter frequently mentions PSU news that is already out there in another format. Often, important announcements, such as cautions about a new quickly spreading virus, are one and even two days late in terms of its useful lifespan. These kinds of newsletters are difficult. They need to be targeted to a specific audience and have a specific mission to be useful . ”
  • 25.
    • CAS News : News for our primary audience, current CAS staff. Articles could be training announcements or a tip that CAS staff will need to read.
    • Action Item : Articles for our primary audience. Focus on software or other needed updates.
    • How Do I... Highlight How To documents or an article that gives the reader a general tip.
    • Tech Spotlight : Focus on new technology. For our core audience but others may find them of interest.
    • All Interest : Items of a general nature.
  • 26.
    • Yes, old schools news has its place
    • Needs presented in appealing fashion
    • More comments like this in past six months. “ I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you do.  Your articles for the IT eNews are much appreciated.  ”
  • 27.  
  • 28.
    • Web “Sitings”
      • Started pre-Google
      • Lists of useful sites and link
    • Lighter Side & Interesting Links
      • Started in March 2006
      • Comics section of eNews
      • ‘ Borrowed’ idea from http://www.wxpnews.com/
  • 29.
    • “ Although not all the articles relate to me, the articles I do read are relevant and useful.
    • I must admit though, I love the Lighter Side and Interesting Links.   ”
  • 30.  
  • 31.
    • I heard they went through "scramble", "heat", "disassemble", and "spear" before they found one that wouldn't scare people. "Beam" sounds so peaceful and sunny.
    •  
    • -Ensign Travis Mayweather of Enterprise