The University of Alabama has created a web professionals community similar to the Go Web team that we are currently putting together. They have good buyin – 78 members from 30 departments. They have a decentralized structure similar to us, so face many of the same challenges.
Their goal is to help the university by helping its people, which is very similar to the goals of our own campus group. They went through several phases to get where they are now — first as a blog, then as a purely social group, and then as a group that meets to talk about issues and have topical presentations.
A few thoughts from what they are doing:
- Use Slack and Listserv lists to stay in constant communication
- Their central web team acts as a steering committee, but does not seek to dominate communications for force the group to follow their own agenda
- Start small and scale up
- Group meetings to watch webinars or streaming conferences is a great way of both learning new ideas, saving money by pooling costs, and participating as a group
- Encourage meetings which are centered around members sharing success stories. Don’t just focus on technical conversations.
- Webex presentations of vendors demonstrating a product are great ways of stimulating campus-wide discussion on a platform
- Actively look for academic licensing opportunities. They are leveraging BitBucket’s academic license to allow for private repos
- When planning a presentation, try to begin planning 3 months in advance. Have a backup in case the primary speaker has to cancel. Roundtables often make for good backups as well.
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