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Employer Offers, Library Offers, and the Monthly Traffic Rankings

Colleges' Employers Offers

This sectorwide report was prompted by the anecdotal opinion mentioned by Ann Hodgson, Professor of Post Compulsory Education at University College London, that Employers Offers on College websites are poorly presented.

The data does not disprove Prof. Hodgson's anecdotal opinion but, comparing the Employer Offer to one of the worst Offers on College websites, the Library Offer, it is far above average for the 457 websites tested. Sixty College websites passed all the 5-point Employer Offer test in comparison to only five for the Library Offer test.

Your LRC Staff!College Library Offers

We found this image on the Library section of a College VLE and will leave the particular LRC Staff anonymous. Would you really want to find out who they are? Here at Havering College we all made a point of popping over to the Library and renewing our library books.

It is very easy to dwell on how appallingly bad the sectorwide Library Offer is. The numbers are shocking: 200 College websites do not have a Menu Item for their Library and this total excludes the 43 Specialist, Remote and Adult Education Colleges that do not offer an academic library. Many of these 200 College websites embed the Library into a Facilities menu item effectively demoting the Library Offer to equal status with the Gym and Canteen.

I fully appreciate that almost all users of the Library Service are current students and staff, and that the Intranet and VLE are their primary digital communications platforms, but this then prompts the question, why are Colleges so insular? When such a critically important feature of the overall offer is not featured prominently as evidence of pedagogic and andragogic expertise, it encourages the suspicion that Colleges are just not aware of public (potential students, their families, past students, stakeholders and the Government's) needs. And what about the development of the wider community and alumni offer? An academic library is such a fantastic resource which, for a small annual fee e.g. Birkbeck College's Offer, is a great way to substantially increase both the total of high-value local stakeholders, and their overall level of engagement.

Of those 214 that have a Library Menu Item, some hidden so deep that they are almost impossible to find, here is the outcome of the simple 5-point test: 

Library Offer
Operational Quality
College Website
0 57
1 Star 32
2 Stars 43
3 Stars 47
4 Stars 30
5 Stars 5

Anyway, enough of the negative, the actual value in us reviewing your websites is to find examples of best practice and to emulate them on our website. Here are just a couple of the best initiatives by Librarians and their Website Operations colleagues:

West Suffolk College's dedicated subdomain is absolutely outstanding. The coding and the design have both got a lot to be desired but that said the content is better than anything we've seen anywhere else. The Subject Guides are awesome and would be the highlight of the offer if it was not for the incredibly user-centred Schedule an appointment with a librarian and Learning Mentor (HE). I am not too proud to admit that this has inspired a whole new level to our student engagement strategy which I hadn't thought possible before seeing it in action here.

Blackpool & The Flyde College's dedicated subdomain is an off the shelf 'reading lists management system'. It is very good but then the content slightly lets the offer down. [Back to grumpy alert] For example, this is the reading list for Website Design & Development (CMP465) (2017-2018) and, unfortunately, most of the list is made up of duplicated texts, and the subject is also rather redundant with the current Website CRMs and associated templates emphasising website operational development over design.

The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) produced a report in 2017 on Further Education Library Services that missed mentioning the online Library Offer in its Recommendations & Next Steps section. I'll make a point of sending them a copy of this email.

1 August 2018 Snapshot Website Traffic Rankings

All change at the top with Heart of Worcestershire College hitting top spot for the first time. Also of note is Coleg Sir Gâr which reached 8th place, its highest position since this Alexa traffic ranking reporting began. A very well done to both of their Marketing Teams.

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