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University Web site reflects a vibrant community

American University (AU) wanted to bring its Web site into the 21st century. Visitors to the site viewed it as little more than a bulletin board and phone book, resulting in a negative impact on recruiting new students.

University officials decided to transform the site to incorporate the social networking features that consumers have come to expect. They wanted to bring the voices of students, faculty and staff to the forefront, to better reflect the AU community.

The university chose CommonSpot Web content management from PaperThin for the new site. Key to that decision was the software’s ability to augment basic Web 2.0 applications to meet the university’s needs. The solution provided the Web foundation, out-of-the-box features and application development framework (ADF) that would make building the new community Web site possible, PaperThin reports. The ADF enabled American University to develop custom applications, as well as to leverage and augment open source applications.

Among the features chosen to help enliven the site are:

  • AUPedia--a wiki-style information tool;
  • AU Profiles--student, faculty and staff profiles;
  • AU Multimedia--media can be presented on virtually any Web page or incorporated into applications; and
  • AU Calendar--an event calendar.

“As with all things on the Internet today, sharing is essential,” says David Swartz, American University CIO. “Whether between students and friends, faculty and staff, or all of our schools and colleges, the new site utilizes CommonSpot to foster content sharing across the AU community. The solution makes site management, and creating and sharing Web content much easier, which is essential to the successful launch of our new Web site, and in bringing the entire campus together as a community.”

PaperThin reports that since the new Web site was launched March 30, students, faculty and staff convene there to create and share university-driven, user-generated content in a way that showcases what it’s actually like to be part of the American University community.

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