Strategic Direction for Home 4 Content
To Home 4 editors:
Thank you for participating in the final Home 4 content copyediting before the August 3 production lockdown. I want to provide some direction as to what is in scope at this point of the process.
Here are the guidelines I’ve used thus far, and not always accomplished. Your recommendations welcome.
- Page titles are finalized
- All main content is in the third person (Voices are quotes)
- The heading levels are meaningful: h2-h4 should be used exclusively
- All summaries (under page titles): 8-10 words
- Index pages: 50-60 words in 3 paragraphs for main content; 50 words in 3 paragraphs for quotes
- Inside (level 3) main content
Everything in the More section will appear in the right column upon launch.
- Impressions: Phyllis is currently identifying these galleries
- In focus: maximum of 3-5 items
- Related stories: categories and tags from Bates Views
- Voices of experience: Jay B. is currently identifying these quotes
Overall Content Approach
We are entrusted with presenting the essence of Bates to the world through text and images. One of the greatest challenges is that different people see Bates in different ways. We want to capture the personality of Bates in a way that rings truely and deeply for all of our visitors. If we simply segment our audience by role or by age, we risk the danger of underestimating the aspirations of the whole Bates person.
Instead, the most powerful organizing principles presented in Home 4 — especially the Explore > Connect > Transform pathway — are intended to resonate across ages and roles, and that is the essence of our approach toward education for the whole person. To learn, we all venture out into the unknown (beyond boundaries), connect with new people and ideas, and change ourselves.
The Bates education is a challenging process, and we must not think that our future students or faculty would be scared off by such a challenge. Countless companies that market transformation-making make it clear that you’ll be pushed to your limit. Here at Bates, that means pushing your body, mind, and spirit to achieve mastery in deep skills, for the most meaningful reasons. We shouldn’t avoid that reality to increase our appeal. It is actually our highest-common demoninator.
President Hansen wrote in her Baccalaureate speech that a key to the Bates education is to recognize and seek those things which seem conradictory. The challenge to move beyond either/or thinking to accept the uncomfortable notion of the uncertain means we must put ourselves in many different shoes to provide an authentic glimpse into the Bates experience.
Another dichotomy to transcend is the intellectual versus visceral. Participants have asked us to show the campus as a place where great learning and growing occurs, but that need not mean thoughtless appreciation of the moment. On the other hand, the life of the mind is also not all chalkboards and text books, although both are core to mastery of skills and facts.
We can do both; we can show how the moment of learning both stimulates the mind and the senses … from inside the person, and in connection with others. This is a subjective rather than objective moment. How can we take, for instance, imagery that observes people doing things and contextualize it with the interior voice, the visceral excitement.
Sometimes those moments are physical in nature: research in the field, teamwork on the field. But often these are more contemplative moments. How do we get inside them? How do we bring out the first-person stories of those moments? If we tell them from outside, we create an extra layer of distance. This is, I believe, the appeal of user-created content: the perceived authenticity of first-person experience.
So, I recommend that we model this behavior. That we recognize that we, ourselves, are learners and teachers, and that learning is a hot, burning experience, rather than a cool, distant one. If we seek the organizing principles that make meaning of Bates experiences, we can share them with others.
Here’s an exercise to consider. Think back to the most memorable, significant moment over the past year. What did it feel like? What were you thinking? What did you learn? Now, ask yourself: how can I help Bates faculty and students tell that kind of story? Awards and grants are important, but it is important to remember that they are a recognition of the process, not the process itself.
Let’s do our best to capture this experience in Home 4, and in 4.1, 4.2, and the future versions as we fine-tune our own understanding and insights.