Review of Wonkhe year 2

by Mark Leach on February 4, 2013

This time last year on Wonkhe’s first birthday, I had a brief look back at the first year in operation. Another year has passed and so as we celebrate our second birthday, it feels right to have another review of the year gone by.

Readers

As I said last year, the positive feedback I get about the site wherever I go in higher education is overwhelming. Colleagues from across the sector and further afield respond very well to our take on things, and also the brand which over two years has certainly made a dent in to the collective consciousness of UK higher education.

As you might expect, the overwhelming proportion of visitors to the site are in the UK, but there is a slowly growing readership in the US, Canada, Australia and Ireland.

The site’s logs reveal just who is actually reading – and they report hits from virtually every higher education institution as well as notable bodies in policy making and politics. But there have to be winners, so here are the top 10 locations (that are readably identifiable) from which people read Wonkhe between the 1st Feb 2012 and 1st Feb 2013.

  1. University of Glamorgan
  2. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
  3. University of Manchester
  4. Universities UK
  5. University of Warwick
  6. Oxford University
  7. National Union of Students
  8. University of Birmingham
  9. Manchester Metropolitan University
  10. Higher Education Funding Council for England

To the readers at BIS: your servers amusingly still report as being the now long-defunct Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Someone email an IT guy.

Content

As with visitors, content must also have winners so here are the top 5 most viewed posts in the same time period.

  1. Counter Revolution at the Gates – Poly Teak-Nicks 15th November 2011
  2. Employability – congratulations to the best and ‘worst’ performers – Andy Westwood 17th July 2011
  3. Strategies for student number control – Andrew Fisher 19th March 2011
  4. Five questions about students as partners – Rachel Wenstone 13th September 2011
  5. ‘Seriously deficient’: or Whither London Met? Or Where’s Willetts? – Andrew McGettigan August 31st 2012

The success of Counter Revolution at the Gates, matching similar success last year for this April Fools Day post shows how satire quickly bursts outside of wonksville and is passed around thousands of times among people that would not ordinarily visit Wonkhe. So these posts tend to do very well in any ranking.

Andy Westwood’s post about employability was fascinating to track. Long after an initial surge on day of publication, it was being tweeted, emailed around, linked to and discussed in many different forums. It showed how important his analysis was, particularly as no one else had articulated anything similar. It went as close to ‘viral’ as a sombre analysis of employability stats could do, which makes this wonk very happy indeed.

A key difference between this year’s list and last is that posts authored by myself do not even feature. I think that this reflects a) how my circumstances have changed in the last 12 months and my decreasing ability to write in the public domain but also b) how there is now an expanding set of contributors, which I think gives the site greater richness and a diversity of opinion that only improves Wonkhe.

I should also mention that CIPR was good enough to recognise the site in their 2013 Education Journalism Awards by giving me the Runner Up prize in the Online category for Fear the future campus warswhich was jolly nice of them. (The post was in 2011, but the awards recognise work from the previous academic year).

Technology

The email list has grown substantially over the last twelve months with an increasing trend for people to want blogs emailed directly to their inbox. If you haven’t been getting these, you can sign up in the left hand column. I promise you will never be spammed.

For anyone interested, Internet Explorer is winning the browser race with Chrome not far behind.

There is a long list of improvements and fixes I’d like to make to the site and its associated channels which I will get to very slowly. 99% of the time I have to give to the project invariably needs to be used for writing and editorial work. But I am happy to keep it a ‘work in progress’ as things seems to be ticking over under the hood as well as one might hope.

The future

You will have seen our recent calls to help out. The response to this has been very positive indeed with lots of people coming forward with ideas for posts and offers to help out in the editorial team. I am still deciding about the best route forward, but in the mean time I am starting to assemble an editorial team that can keep Wonkhe fresh and exciting. If you’d like to be a part of that, please get in touch with me.

As ever, I need to remind people that Wonkhe is pronounced ‘wonky’ (not WonkHE like GuildHE). And you are liable to be corrected if I hear it said incorrectly.

I hope you enjoy the next twelve months of Wonkhe.

Mark Leach

Founder and Editor in Chief, 4th February 2013.

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