Investing in Online Scholarly Presence

In today’s fast-paced world where the Internet is the go-to research tool and information on any topic is just a click or tap away, one’s own digital presence is more important than ever. The College of Arts & Letters recognizes this, and starting this month, will offer all its graduate students and faculty a new kind of web hosting support.

The College signed a contract with Reclaim Hosting to provide its graduate students and faculty with a full commercial web hosting package and domains that they control in order to build online spaces for professional portfolios, digital projects, and more. The College of Arts & Letters is the first at MSU to offer this type of service.

“We’ve been working with our faculty and graduate students to think strategically about how best to build community around their scholarship by making sure their work is accessible to a broad public,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “This is really just an extension of the land-grant mission to make knowledge accessible. But it’s also an opportunity to think strategically about how our work is presented and received so that it has the broadest impact possible.

“What we realized early on is that students and faculty need a domain of their own, an online space they control to curate and present their work in ways that are consistent with the values and commitments of their research. Reclaim Hosting made it possible for us to offer all of our graduate students and faculty, whoever wants it, just such a place to create a dynamic online presence designed to ensure their work is more widely read and potentially more widely cited.”

 

Service Offered for Free

The College is offering graduate students and faculty this service for free for the duration of their careers with the College. For graduate students, the College also will offer this service for a year following graduation to assist them in the placement process. Then if they choose to continue with the service a year following graduation, Reclaim Hosting will move them to paid hosting. Likewise, faculty too can move their service or transition to paid hosting.

“This will make it possible for any graduate student who recognizes the importance of having a web presence to afford it. This resource will give our students a leg up on the competition when it comes to placement,” said Scott Schopieray, Assistant Dean of Technology and Innovation. “As for faculty, a lot of them recognize that it’s important to have a web presence, but don’t know where to start. This provides a nice entry point for them.”

The College of Arts & Letters previously offered web hosting services, but with limited functionality. 

“We weren’t providing 21st century web hosting,” Schopieray said. “All they could use was basic html. They couldn’t use databases, scripting, or install open-source products, none of that.”

For those graduate students and faculty interested in the Reclaim Hosting service, they should complete and submit the online form. They then will be given a brand-standard template for free. And as long as they don’t modify the template, the College will support it and provide new versions of the template as it’s updated.

“The hosting service is pretty easy to use once they get their head around it,” Schopieray said. “We will help them learn to build their sites in a way where it makes sense to them so they will remember what they are doing, and they can use any open source platform for content management based on what they are comfortable with.”

Workshops Available

Throughout the year, workshops will be offered (two per month) to serve as an introduction to the web hosting service and to help graduate students and faculty prepare a robust and curated web presence that will enhance their reputation as scholars and advance the mission of the College and University.

The workshops cover:  

  • Setting up a Reclaim Hosting account
  • Developing a basic online presence
  • Planning your path to leadership in your field
  • Downloading academic profile information
  • Advanced Wordpress use and hosting, including plugins and themes for Wordpress
  • Communication strategies and using social media to promote your work

So far, three workshops have been held with more than 90 faculty and graduate students attending. Online training materials also are being developed for people unable to attend the workshops. 

The College of Arts & Letters has partnered with leadership from the College of Natural Science, College of EducationLyman Briggs College, the HUB for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, the Graduate School, and MSU's Academic Advancement Network on this endeavor.  

Communications Toolkit for Academics

In addition, the MSU Communications and Brand Strategy has created the Communications Toolkit for Academics, a step-by-step how to effectively tell a faculty story, as well as provide guidance and tips on topics such as blogs, op-eds, social media, and more.  Included is a monthly calendar of upcoming events, remembrances, or themes that can be tied-in to faculty's research or interests.

Communications workshops are available in throughout the academic semesters.  For a list of available worshop dates being offered and to register, please visit: cabs.msu.edu/communications-toolkit-for-academics/communications-workshop