We who are employed by higher education, in lesser roles, or roles that have no clear progression path, are all feeling increasingly insecure in our employment. With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about how else I can earn a living, or at least have something to do to fill time, should I ‘need to’. I also have the dream of working from a laptop, while drinking cocktails by the pool. Of course, we all do…
So, I got to thinking – where do I see most need in education, that isn’t really being adequately covered by someone else?
What I am asked MOST about by my ex students, or fellow but less techy academics, is where to get a website that does what they need. Not just a standard blog with a comments block, but a decent website, with good functionality. Hence: Netfarms.eu.
Many graduates ask me about digital portfolio provision, and though there are all sorts of free and paid solutions out there (think Carbonmade or Portfoliobox), you’re not actually learning anything transferrable with your website build. OK, some people may not be too bothered by that, but for many of us, developing our skills is the top priority in everything we do. So I thought by using WordPress in a supportive community environment, you’re not only developing your web persona, but you’re also learning about CMS (Content Management Systems) and how they work, what they do and how they do it. This is a huge area of relevance to many modern jobs. SEO, social, content, voice, analytics, design, demographics, marketing – they’re all connected to the web presence context. Just using consumer orientated online apps isn’t enough – people need to delve deeper. If you don’t delve deeper, someone else will get that next job, not you.
Same with academics, who are generally used to either not being provided for in their requirements, or using some off the shelf solution which helps them at the time but is not scalable (that is, cannot be developed for further functionality, purpose or just ‘grow’). So they get stuck with dead end websites and non-developed web skills. Netfarms can help them too – with anything like events booking, research sharing, conference mini-sites, and all the necessary functions that go with all that.
Why is it free? Well, it needs to be. The landscape dictates that it is. People need to build confidence with a thing before they might be ready to part with money. There’s also the thinking that when you need something extra fancy, and you’ve already had good support, you’ll be inclined to stay n pay, not go away.
I’m keen to see where this will go. After all, web dev IS the new RocknRoll, so the ride at least will be exciting and fun.
(Note – we’re live Beta currently, so new early adopters get the bonus of being super testers as well as receiving top support for what they need.)