The “Virtual Face” of Institutions: What Do Home Pages Reveal About Higher Education?

Abstract

This research investigated the use of home pages by 40 higher education institutions, of which ten each were Doctoral/Research, Master’s, Baccalaureate, and Community Colleges. The institutions were also grouped by region and were drawn from 40 different states. Using an instrument based on criteria for evaluating web sites (Gurak 2001), the descriptive study answered three research questions. (1) How are higher education institutions using their home pages? (2) How well do these home pages perform? (3) What does higher education’s “virtual face” say about higher education in general? Findings indicate that institutions use their home pages for students and for functionality; and, while many home pages were well-designed, a minority were messy, required users to hunt for important services, and were difficult for the inexperienced user. The findings indicated that higher education’s “virtual face” may indeed be functional for insiders, but it was confusing to users who are new to higher education or the web.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Chronicle of Higher Education. (2008). 2007–08 Almanac, 54(1), p. 8. Retrieved February 5, 2008, from http://chronicle.com/weekly/almanac/2007/nation/0100801.htm

  2. Coombs, N. (2002). Electronic ramp to success: Designing campus web pages for users with disabilities. Educause Quarterly, 25(2), 45–51.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Eduventures. (2007). Optimizing school web sites as a marketing and recruitment tool (part II). Boston, MA: Author.

  4. Green, K. C. (2002). Campus portals make progress; technology budgets suffer significant cuts. Retrieved February 25, 2005, from http://www.campuscomputing.net/summaries/2002/index.html

  5. Green, K. C. (2003). Campus Computing 2003. Encino, CA: Campus Computing Project.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Green, K. C. (2004). Tech budgets get some relief; cautious support for open source applications. Retrieved October 16, 2007, from http://www.campuscomputing.net/sites/www.campuscomputing.net/files/2004-CCP.pdf

  7. Green, K. C. (2005). Growing concern about campus IT security; slow progress on IT disaster recovery planning. Retrieved October 16, 2007, from http://www.campuscomputing.net/sites/www.campuscomputing.net/files/2005-CCP.pdf

  8. Green, K. C. (2006). Wireless networks reach half of college classrooms; IT security incidents decline this past year. Retrieved October 16, 2007, from http://www.campuscomputing.net/sites/www.campuscomputing.net/files/2006-CCP.pdf

  9. Gurak, L. P. (2001). Cyberliteracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Majchrzak, A. (1984). Methods for policy research. New York, NY: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Parker, J. (1997, November). Partnering to create a university web site. Paper presented at CAUSE97, Orlando, FL.

  12. St. Sauver, J. (2003, Fall). Selected elements of the 2003 university home page study. Retrieved October 8, 2007, from http://cc.uoregon.edu/cnews/fall2003/webstudy.html

  13. St. Sauver, J. (2004a, Winter). More selected elements of the 2003 university home page study. Retrieved October 8, 2007, from http://cc.uoregon.edu/cnews/winter2004/webstudy2.html

  14. St. Sauver, J. (2004b, Spring). More selected elements of the 2003 university home page study. Retrieved October 8, 2007, from http://cc.uoregon.edu/cnews/spring2004/webstudy2.html

  15. Strauss, H. (2002a). The right train at the right station. Educause Review, 37(3), 30–36.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Strauss, H. (2002b). All about web portals. In R. N. Katz, and Associates (Ed.), Web Portals and Higher Education (pp. 33–40). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Katrina A. Meyer.

Additional information

Katrina Meyer is an Associate Professor of Higher and Adult Education at The University of Memphis. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Washington, and her research interests include online learning and virtual universities.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Meyer, K.A. The “Virtual Face” of Institutions: What Do Home Pages Reveal About Higher Education?. Innov High Educ 33, 141–157 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-008-9071-2

Download citation

Key words

  • higher education institutions
  • home pages
  • online services