Rant about faculty webpages.

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes



How can someone claim to be “with it” technologically when their webpages were last updated a YEAR ago? These are modern times. And your webpage is your public face. Do it right.

First, if you are in a technological discipline (computer science, ed tech, etc.) and you do NOT have a web page, that gives a bad impression. Shame on you. I know several people who do not maintain webpages, at least partly because they DON’T KNOW HOW. Someone looking for information on you can’t tell why you have no web presence, only that you don’t have one.

Second, understand that you will be judged by what you do and do not put on your webpages. You need not bare your soul, but also make sure you don’t look so clinical that you appear boring (unless of course, you really ARE boring in which case it is an honest reflection).

OK. So I did a little experiment (just now)…..

I took a look at a CS department of an online university. I won’t identify which one; the important thing here is that these values are representative – understand that the results are far from unique.

Results of Survey on Approachability and Currency of Faculty Information

Faculty: 16, combination of research & teaching faculty, combination of faculty with and without PhDs.

Gender balanced? NO

Pictures of the individual on the faculty page?

  • yes=13;
  • no=3

Link to website on faculty page:

  • yes=2; (note: one of the two was not in English, which is the language of instruction of the university)
  • no=14

Could I find a homepage through Google? yes=5; no=11

  • one was a 12 year old webpage on the university site (complete with vintage photo)
  • one was a private business page
  • one was a forwarding page from another university whose destination was unreadable
  • the other two were pages from the individuals’ previous institutions
  • several others had zoominfo or linkedin pages but these did not provide any information that was not already on the staff page.

When was the staff page last updated (by term) ?

  • Fall 2006 = 7
  • Jan 2007=2
  • Spring/Summer 2007=2
  • Fall 2007=4
  • Dec 2007=1

Date of most recent publication, as listed in staff page:

  • none=5 (note that some faculty are teaching faculty and have no research/publication requirement, so this is not necessarily bad)
  • 2002=1
  • 2005=1
  • 2006=5
  • 2007=4

Does the faculty page or website list any personal information? (this includes ouside interests, humour, anything that might provide a human connection for students)

  • yes=5;
  • no=11

What is my point?

First impressions are made online.

As a student and as a fellow researcher, I use staff and outside home pages to get to know people. In the early stages of research, contact, or if my only contact with these people is likely to happen online, the webpage is all there is, folks. It is important.

In the 21st century, it is how reputations and credentials are established. For faculty in online institutions, it may be the ONLY way that anyone gets to know them.

Your web presence tells me if you care about your public and professional image; if you like to share knowledge; if you are approachable. From the perspective of a student (perhaps one disaffected by traditional uncaring institutions), it gives me a sense for whether or not I will be able to count on you for help and support if I take a course from you.

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