How can Microformats help Higher Education

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In my paper, my research focused on an assessment technique and possible application of Microformats on a higher education home page. What I don’t think I included in that report was a really good reason why you would apply the formats to your entire site or if the current formats are good enough. There are many   making the case out there that cover the ‘why’ with my favourite being that you can make your web site or web application your API. That line of thought is what I applied when UW Events was built.

How does that work in higher education specifically? In higher education there are many issues that make a universal application or Microformats fairly difficult. But higher education web sites have so many consistent patterns in content and design along with a general attitude of openness that there is a huge opportunity that could be realized through the application of current and future Microformats.

Using the following diagram you can apply a couple use cases.

mf in higher ed

One of the use cases that initially comes to mind is the student that is trying to figure out what courses are offered at what school and where those schools are:

  • geo and hatom can give a student an idea of the location and the latest news coming out of the school
  • a new format for course information (lets call it hCourse for now) can help a student compare courses across different schools
  • hReview can mix in prof rating and/or course rating web sites that use hReview to mark up their ratings and a student can get a better picture of things.

Another would be a prof trying to determine where to spend their next sabbatical without knowing much about the smaller schools in a particular area:

  • the geo information can accurately place the schools
  • hatom would give them quick access to the latest news
  • a format for course information (hcourse) can help them connect with new colleague with similar interests
  • hreview can reveal a hidden quality a smaller institution might have

A third scenario might be a person that is looking for a good resource on a story or book. Usually that information is being sent to the typical media outlets.

  • hatom identifies the news so it can be easily found through searches
  • geo can tie that information to a particular area

This is just off the top of my head, I could probably go on for a while about how easier to find and more accurate content could enhance the experience for people that are looking for information. I can think of some political barriers to this but thankfully it doesn’t require a top down decision to apply it. In the spirit of higher education, application of Microformats can be done on a grass roots effort without any decisions needing to be made ;)

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