Last week was one of mixed emotions as Hannah left the team (and the University) to move onto pastures new after three years here. We're all really happy that she's moved on to a more senior role elsewhere, but were very sad to see her go. It's clear that the wide variety of jobs she's undertaken whilst here, as well as her proactive attitude has really stood her in good stead for the future. No doubt, one lasting project she completed whilst here was the corporate video - a truly fantastic piece of work which has had an impact far surpassing our objectives for it. She said herself, it was the best work she has ever done and it will be really hard for us to top.

Bruno the Bull - the Beds SU sports masot
One job she did set the ball rolling on before leaving was the new SportBeds website which has gone live this week. Although still in it's infancy, the plan is for this to grow into a central place for everything sport related at Bedfordshire. We have the buy in of the sports academics, the Student Union, and those responsible for our various sports clubs and will be closely monitoring the impact both on recruitment and team sign ups.

The University of Bath plays
host to the IWMW 2013
Things move at such a fast pace here that I almost missed the fact I have now been in this role for a full year (meaning this blog is now a year old as well!) It's easy to get caught up in all of the jobs (and emails) coming our way and not realise just what we have achieved in such a short period of time. There's still the wide variety of new projects coming up (as well as at least one more awards ceremony) so there will definitely be no shortage of content to keep this blog going for another year!

My next blog post will focus on the Institutional Web Managers Workshop 2013 (taking place this year in Bath). I'm looking forward to networking, learning new things and also taking part in some therapy sessions with people in the same boat as me at other universities! Last year's event in Edinburgh was great so I've got high hopes.

Right! Time to get back to my Staff conference presentation using my new favourite presentation tool Prezi...
Last week we gave some attention to the course pages on our website. The decision was made when we launched over a year and a half ago to display two years worth of courses and that we would manage these pages via an XML feed. This feed basically takes a selection of the course information held within our SITS database which is relevant to Marketing our courses (Title, description, duration etc.). It is then sent to the website to update on a nightly basis and ensures consistency across all publications - this is also where our Prospectuses take their copy from.

One bit of work which was necessary, was replacing all of the descriptions held within SITS with more marketing focused copy. This is where we asked our Faculty Marketing Assistants for help and they do a great job of liaising with the relevant academic and pulling out the key selling points for each course.

It's very important have a system in place for checking the copy, adding more Marketing related content that the feed cannot provide (e.g. images, videos and links) and also for switching over the years of courses on display. The latter of which we have just completed.

On Tuesday we switched our website from displaying 2012/13 and 2013/14 courses to displaying 2013/14 and 2014/15. This is the second year we have done this and the process was extremely simple thanks to all of the hard work we did last year. I'm also pleased to have a set date for this change to happen on our site annually so that all departments can work together to make sure the content is of the highest quality possible once we hit the switch! It is also very important that this fits correctly into our application cycle - so, job done for another year!

As this is (quite rightly) one of our most accessed sections we'll definitely be looking at continuing to develop our course pages yet further in the near future. The planning of this is all important, along with the buy in from other departments who are essentially supplying us with data!

PS. You may also have noticed that we've tweaked the style of our blog templates (including this one) to be more in keeping with our website -  I'm particularly pleased with how they now display on mobile!
One of the key features of our current Vice Chancellor's tenure so far is his unwavering focus on the student experience, and, as we approach the end of the standard academic year, it seems only fitting that the efforts, commitment and achievements of staff and students alike are recognised at our innagural Vice Chancellor's Student Experience Awards.

Which means that tomorrow night (Friday 7 June), set against an amazing backdrop provided by our Putteridge Bury campus, lecturers, support staff, senior managers and students will gather to find out whether they are the proud winner of one of the awards, which range from Inspirational Teaching and Team of the Year, to Best Collaborative Project and the big one, Student of the Year.

Naturally this has required a fair bit of input from us in the marketing and events teams! Graeme and I were asked to produce nomination videos for each of the categories, which was a great opportunity to go and meet the people that have nominated this year's winners and hear about what these (often unsung) people have been up to. These kinds of videos are definitely one of my favourite parts of this job because it reminds me what this University can do for people - and how the 'transforming lives' motto is actually achieved, in most cases, by the encouragement of a single tutor or the dedication of an individual student.

What's more, this project meant our new team member Graeme had the opportunity to flex his After Effects muscles to produce a really nice set of motion graphics which complement the printed materials and the physical awards perfectly. Check out a tiny teaser clip of his work below:

The awards are just another example of the exponential growth of the use of video across the University, and this project has provoked some discussion amongst the team about the best techniques for this kind of video - it has certainly given us both the chance to hone our interviewing and prompting skills to ensure we have soundbites from nominators that really capture the essence of the awards ceremony, and the University's values.

With this kind of project, you have to achieve a balance between graphics, music, and interview to ensure that the tone is in keeping with the rest of the occasion - it's as much about understanding emotion as it is technical production. Having been given a maximum length for each of the 15 videos, there were a few that we just couldn't edit down because the content was so good - and I think the skill here is knowing when to break the rules to really hit the mark. After all, we all know that our deserving winners won't mind sitting for a few extra minutes before they hit the dancefloor (and the bar!) once they have seen the incredibly touching things their colleagues and students have said about them.
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