Archive for higher education

Adventures in Livestreaming: Chapter 1

An occasional series in which I fumble my way the world of live-event coverage. I screw up so you don’t have to. 

My golden nugget of fried gold from HighEdWeb 2011 was this, courtesy of rockstar niceguy and caffeine connoiseur Seth O’Dell: If you are not livestreaming your events, you do not care about your community. All it takes is one person, one laptop, and one camera.

With those words ringing like a Buddhist sutra in my ears, I’ve set about trying to bring real-time event coverage to our campus this year. My immodest goal: make livestreaming of guest speakers, panels, and performances an expectation and not an exception. When someone hears that an event is *not* going to be livestreamed, I want them to be disappointed.

So far this year, I’ve livestreamed two events and have three more coming up. Each time I’m learning something new, something I think I’ll do differently the next time around. Let’s start at the beginning:

Livestreaming Rule #1:
The Cake Is A Lie (well, at least a fib)

Seth is an inspiration and a giant amongst mortals, but his “One person, one laptop, one camera” philosophy is akin to the coach in Bull Durham saying, “You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball.” He ain’t lying, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

The very first event I livestreamed did in fact involve one person (me), one laptop (and old MacBook Pro I use as a Safari test machine) and one camera (an even older Sony Handycam of the kind your dad took on vacation to Washington’s Crossing in 2002).

And it did in fact work. The event was a hastily convened ceremony for our YellowJackets a cappella ensemble who were being presented with a key to the city. It was in a huge room with bad acoustics and there was no podium mic or sound system. I just used the built-in mic on the camera to pick up the sound in the room. We ended up with 48 viewers for a webcast that was only promoted about a half an hour before it began with a homepage, Facebook, and Twitter posting.

So as a proof of concept, I’d call this one a success. With lots of research and several test runs, even a clueless neophyte like me was able to pull off a live webcast that did not crash and burn midway through. One-person-one-laptop-one-camera does work. However, both the person, the laptop, and the camera in this scenario left something to be desired. As a result, the final product did leave lots of room for improvement on both the technical quality side (especially audio), the skills side (especially me) and on the promotional side.

Things can only get better from here — stay tuned for our next exciting episode!


PS — for those interested, here are some of the specifics on the equipment used on this event.

EVENT: YellowJackets Key To the City

  • Platform: Livestream; used their Livestream Studio Web-based interface
  • Camera: Sony Handycam DCR-HC90 (don’t think they make ‘em anymore)
  • Mic: Camera built-in
  • Laptop: Macbook Pro (late 2006 model; this caused a last minute scramble to find a Firewire 800 to Firewire 400 adapter for the laptop’s older Firewire input)
  • Tripod

Post-HighEdWeb Resolutions

I played guitar on a stage in Austin, so HighEdWeb 2011 has already given me a moment to check off the old Life List. But as I settle back in to work on Monday, the strains of furry karaoke still ringing in my ears, there are three resolutions I take back with me to tackle before the next HighEdWeb conference in Milwaukee in 2012.

1.) Make live-campus event coverage a reality. And then make it an expectation. The first thing I did when I got back to Rochester was talk to my boss about Seth O’Dell’s red stapler-winning presentation on live-event coverage. And to my boss’s credit, he gets it, and agrees that we should be doing this. But the problem is one that Seth articulated: there is no one who’s job this is right now. Well now it’s my job. Or at least it’s my job to figure out whose job it is. Because as Seth said, “If you are not livestreaming your events, you don’t care about your community.” It is that important.

(Of course, the next logical question is, if you are streaming your guest speakers, why not livestream your classes? And that’s where the conversation gets really interesting.)

2.) Introduce some real project management up in here! Right now, my main project management tool is my inbox, and most of my deadlines are “as soon as possible” or “when you get a chance.” This is not good. Alana Riley’s session on leading successful projects was packed full of so many tools and resources. She almost made project management seem easy. Almost. ;-) Easy enough for me to give it a try, anyway.

3.) Stay positive and get out of my own way. This is a tough one. As I stare at the aforementioned inbox, I have 434 unread email messages from my week away in Austin. The post-heweb glow usually lasts about a week or so before I feel myself slowing sinking back under that weight. But as Dan Frommelt said in his presentation on project management by Attila the Hun, “You can laugh or you can cry. And one of these is dignified.” I usually am a pretty positive person around the office, I think. But I do allow myself to get  overwhelmed by events. This year, in an attempt to save my sanity, I resolve to say “no” more often (see Fran Zablocki’s post “It’s All Your Perfect Little Fault” because I can’t put it any better than this) and finally, to quote from Karlyn Morisette’s red-stapler winning session, I resolve to get out of my own way, and to not let the myriad little things distract me from the big, important things.

See you in Milwuakee — stay HighEdWeb, my friends (shout out to Mark Greenfield!)


“Blackboard is Not Awesome”

I have been using Blackboard as a student for about three weeks now, and I could not sum up the experience any better than one of my fellow classmates: “Blackboard is not awesome.”

Ain’t that the truth. Visually, the site leaves a lot to be desired: editable windows are tiny and aren’t expandable, icons hold little clue to the functionality hidden underneath, discussion threads are difficult to follow and are not searchable. And those are just the first three things I thought of.

More important though than the myriad design, navigation, and structural flaws of the Blackboard interface is a more fundamental issue: In this social networked world where students — and faculty — are used to systems that “just work” and that allow us to make connections with people who are important to some aspect of our lives, Blackboard doesn’t and can’t.

Moving from the world of Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and Foursquare to Blackboard feels like someone has slammed on the brakes in your brain. You can practically hear the “screeeeech!” followed by the “clunk … clunk … clunk” as you try to upload an assignment or find the one discussion thread you are supposed to respond to. And — crucially — the real life connections you make with your fellow students in the classroom have no presence here. All of that real connection and collaboration seems to happen elsewhere: in Facebook groups primarily but also on Skype and maybe soon a Google+ hangout (I know we are still in the “Google+ will change [FILL IN THE BLANK] as we know it!” phase of giddiness, but the Circles and Hangout features look sooooooo tempting to me right now.) How cool would it be as a student if your academic life online felt as connected as your social life?

There are other learning management systems (and isn’t that a horrible name — you will learn, but that learning shall be managed in this system!) that I am not familiar with that seem to be moving in this direction — namely Moodle. And I wonder how long a very un-social, not awesome tool like Blackboard will be tolerated in an increasingly and awesomely connected world.


Back to the Future: Lessons Learned on April Fools

April Fools homepageFor the third year now, our office has done an April Fools homepage. This year’s was simple: roll the homepage back to the first-ever homepage for the University, first published in 1996.

It was surprisingly simple to pull off as well, since the actual file was still (!) on the central Web server. All I did was update the links to the current URLs and add a wonderfully cheese-tastic animated “NEW!” gif and we were good to go.

Teasing my way through the code to make those few small changes turned out to be more difficult than it should have been for such a simple site. Under the hood of what is basically a header image, a list, and two paragraphs is a nest of nested tables, <center> tags, spacer gifs (remember those?) and all-around ridiculousness that just screamed, “man, what were we thinking!” Add to this behind-the-scenes nonsense the grainy top montage gif, the beveled borders and horizontal rules and you have a pretty good snapshot of the state of the Web 15 years ago. All that’s missing is a tiling background image and an “Under Construction” graphic.

This got me to thinking: what are we doing NOW that is brimming over with wrong? What will we look back on 15 years from now and say, “wow, that’s hilarious. What were we thinking? This is so 2011!”

  • Glossy buttons
  • Rounded corners
  • Tag clouds
  • jQuery content sliders in the top third
  • Square photos
  • “Hey, remember when you had to use a mouse to physically move a cursor over a link? Weren’t they made out of plastic or something?”
  • “It was like every site wanted you to create another account, another login, another password. It was a nightmare.”
  • “Man, you have no idea. The content management system was separate from the events calendar, which was separate from the online directory, which was separate from the catalog. It was insane.”
  • “What’s a content management system?”

Any others?

Facebook Class of 2015 Groups: Deja Vu All Over Again

For the third year in a row, a corporate entity — this year, RoomSurf — has established more than a hundred misleading Facebook groups designed to attract members of incoming freshman classes. The groups have no real affiliation with the universities they pretend to represent, though that is hard to tell by just looking at them.

Check out today’s New York Times for an overview on RoomSurf and the Class of 2015 Facebook groups.

Back in the day (and by that I mean 2008), Facebook groups were grassroots efforts started by people who actually shared a common interest in something. Our admissions office would allow groups for the newly admitted class to emerge from amongst the students themselves. That changed in the wake of these “Facebook-gate” shenanigans; our admissions office now creates official Facebook groups for our incoming classes.

Of course, if RoomSurf or any business has a product or service to promote on Facebook, they are perfectly free to do so. Students — like all sentient beings — are marketed to all the time. What is objectionable in this case is the disingenuousness of RoomSurf’s tactics. Call my hopelessly naive, but if their services are cool, useful, affordable, etc., then why not promote them with the honesty and authenticity that is supposed to exemplify social media, rather than stooping to what feels like a cynical con game?

So what to do in the wake of all this?

1.) Create your own Facebook groups for incoming students and create them early. Last year, our admissions staff created a Class of 2014 group after the URoomSurf group was already established and had attracted over a hundred members. It took a little while, but the official group eventually far outstripped the bogus one, with over one thousand members. This year, admissions created the Class of 2015 group in July, and it already has a nice head start on the RoomSurf group, with 145 members to their 28.

2.) Make your group is the “place to be” with lots of fun and valuable content and participation from your own student staff. This probably goes without saying, but as an authentic voice for your students your group should have a whole lot more to offer your incoming class than any RoomSurf group could. Make sure your group is monitored, questions and problems are addressed quickly and honestly, and students get a chance to interact with each other around some fun content only you can provide.

3.) Steer people to your group with posts on the bogus group’s site and posts on your main university fan page. No need to get angry here, tempting as that may be. Just a simple message like, “This group was not established by University staff or students. The group at [LINK TO YOUR GROUP] is maintained by University students and staff in the Admissions, Residential Life, and Student Life offices — come check us out!” should help to clear up confusion your incoming students may have as to which group does what.


A Video I Love and Why: The Holiday Card from Red River College

In answer to Tim Nekritz’s invitation to describe a Web video you love and why, may I humbly submit the 2007 holiday card from Red River College in Winnipeg, Canada. (I’m thinking Tim will appreciate the Canadian reference.)

Maybe it’s because the thought of a president’s holiday e-card hits a little close to home this time of year, but I just love this clip (points deducted for having comments disabled, though). And here’s why:

1) A president with a sense of humor about himself is a wonderful thing.
President Jeff Zabudsky is one game guy. In this Office parody, Zabudsky pulls an all-nighter to finish signing his 5,000 holiday cards. What ensues is a night of Red Bulls, Tim Hortons, and video games with students that I think many of us who work in higher ed can’t imagine our presidents participating in.

2) It’s sweet without a trace of smarm.
Maybe it’s because he’s Canadian, but Zabudsky just looks like a such a nice guy, a cool boss, and a caring president. And his version of the Office looks like it must be a fun place to work. Fun in not to be underestimated as a workplace virtue.

3) There are so many little touches that just hit.
Again, maybe this just hits too close to home, but every time I see the “this year we’re doing an e-card!” bit, I laugh out loud. Ditto when the president blows off his all-nighter to play Halo and shouts, “Who da President?!”

4) It’s homespun and that’s OK.
Sure, the secretary flubs her line a little. And there are a couple transitions that take a second too long. But less-than-polished production values does not equal unprofessional. This video was well-thought-out, mindful of its audience, and damn side better than most “e-cards” I’ve seen.


An Experiment in Being Human: Logo Tweets Must Die!

BeforeTo paraphrase Jon Stewart, “be an eff-ing person!”

He said it in relation to the GM executives who were closing decades-old car dealerships via form letter. But it really stuck with me and has become a kind of life mantra. If you’re unsure of what to say or how to react in a situation, just be an eff-ing person! Happily, this mantra also applies nicely to the world of social media, Twitter specifically. It is — after all — PEOPLE who are social, and it is — after all — PEOPLE who are writing and responding to all these tweets.

I’ve always understood what it meant for ME to be on Twitter, but after nearly two years of tweeting as the University of Rochester, I’ve never really had a firm grip on what it meant for the UNIVERSITY as an institution to tweet.

At first, I kinda liked the sense of anonymity. I mean, who am I to speak for the University anyway? And yet, here I was, speaking for the University in this admittedly limited way. Why should I pretend otherwise?

Twitter After
So I’m trying a bit of an experiment starting today: I’m pulling back the curtain behind the institutional Twitter account and being open about the fact that, yes — this is me. I’m just a woman who works in Wallis Hall and I am your “head twit.” As such, I’ll do my best to pass along interesting stories and useful information about the university, and to help you out whenever I can.

So no more logo! Starting today, the face of the @UofR twitter account will be this old mug (or my glasses at least. They loom large in my legend.) I’m thinking that over time — as new folks take on Twitter duties during events like our reunion weekend, for example — we’ll update the profile pic accordingly.

Ya know, just like a person would.


College Homepage March Madness: First Round, Part IV

Wow, I had no idea there were so many first-round games. :)

On to the last eight matchups; let’s see who’s homepage is the top seed, and who’s is at the bottom of the bracket.

Marquette v Washington
Kudos to Marquette for having a link to “Majors and Programs” right in their top navigation. However, that top navigation is locked inside graphic buttons. And the bottom two thirds of the page are very text-heavy, including one of the more wordy presentations of a  calendar I’ve seen. The U-Dub page also links to their departments from the homepage and also has lots of text-y news , but features a nice student-friendly photo essay up high as well.
Winner: Washington

Montana v New Mexico
Both homepages are oddly similar: they both have a very narrow photo near the top, with menus above and below. In both cases, the presentation feels a bit wimpy. I’ve never been to either campus, but I have to believe they must be gorgeous being, as they are, in Montana and New Mexico. New Mexico’s site though has an audience-focused navigation with the Future Students tab on top and easy links to Admissions. Montana’s site features a link to something called “Enrollment Management;” I have no idea what that is.
Winner: Montana

Clemson v Missouri
This is going to be a tough one as both sites are instantly impressive. Mizzou has the best of the rotating feature sliders I’ve seen yet, with clever art and headline writing. It also validates XHTML 1.0 Strict. Clemson presents lots of information while still feeling airy and graphically interesting. And I like the clever use of little factoids in the footer.
Winner: Clemson

West Virginia v Morgan State
Morgan State’s site has its issues, I think. Chief among them being that I found it a bit challenging to find what felt like the correct “front door” for the undergraduate admissions process. You’re also dropped into a login screen pretty quickly. West Virginia does have a link to Majors and Programs on the homepage, though it’s buried in the Quick Links dropdown. The West Virginia site also makes better use of photography, though neither site comes close to validating.
Winner: West Virginia

Duke v University of Arkansas Pine Bluff
Arkansas’ site has one of the more creatively presented rotating feature sliders, all with a student focus, plus a link to majors right in the Academics dropdown. But it’s also pretty densely packed with text that manages to take up a lot of space without actually explaining much. Duke recently underwent a redesign (I think) and it is definitely “on trend” — clean, WordPress-y, magazine-syle layout; top-image slider. Unfortunately, the Admissions site looks like it’s been left behind.
Winner: Duke

California v Louisville
Louisville’s site is lovely: simple photography and a pretty complete set of grid-based headings and links, followed by more details on news, events, and video. Plus — sing it with me! — a link to majors in right on the homepage. The Cal site is looking a little long in the tooth, I’m afraid. It presents less information in a more cramped package.
Winner: Louisville

Texas A&M v Utah State
The Texas A&M site has a rather squished looking slideshow at the top and some uninspiring news and events below. However, Utah State has three columns of links headed “Welcome,”  ”Information,” and “Featured Links.” Umm…
Winner: Texas A&M

Purdue v  Siena
Siena College continues the trend of simple columns of text links to great effect. Purdue also presents a ton of links, but in crammed dropdowns that are a little harder to scan. Both Purdue and Siena have a top rotating slider, but Siena’s is a little more polished. And Purdue has a link to a President’s Message and something called “Sustaining New Synergies.” Umm…
Winner: Siena

So that’s it for the first round! Next, we’ll see how the second round shakes out.


College Homepage March Madness: First Round, Part III

The race for the homepage championship marches madly on. The next round of first-round contests:

Syracuse v Vermont
Syracuse goes with the “big picture,” while Vermont tries to get two bites at the cherry with two photo features side-by-side with the result of a loss of impact for both. Syracuse is one of the longer pages I’ve seen, but it’s clean white-and-grey grid layout looks infinitely flexible. Vermont’s page seems a little land-locked, but Vermont mounts an impressive late-game run with its link to “Majors, Minors, and Graduate Programs” right on the homepage. Syracuse featured links to both “Academic Departments” and “Departments and Offices.” I think I know the difference, but that’s ‘cuz I work in higher ed.
Winner: Syracuse

Gonzaga v Florida State
Gonzaga is one of the more navigation-focused homepages I’ve seen. Beyond the narrow photo feature “banner” at the top, the rest of the page is given over to a neat and tidy grid of headings and links. One issue: two slightly different  ”Programs” links go off to different pages with different lists. Is there an Advertising major or isn’t there? Florida State on the other hand has precious little in the way of navigation — six links on a left-hand menu — and it doesn’t really work. A ton of stuff has been crammed into a “Key Links” dumping ground, and the large area of real estate given over to text stories about faculty and student honors is in my view wasted.
Winner: Gonzaga

Xavier v Minnesota
This was a close match. Right off the heals of Gonzaga, Minnesota presents a very similar top-photo-then-grid-of-links approach, and again it’s very effective and flexible. Both schools have a link to majors and minors right off their homepage, and Xavier’s top links are obviously aimed at prospective students with prime real estate given over to financial aid and campus visits. But I found Xavier’s Flash top-third feature slider is a little jarring; the features zip by pretty fast with no way to control them that I could find. And Xavier doesn’t come close to validating, where Minnesota falls just short (pesky ampersand!)
Winner: Minnesota

PIttsburgh v Oakland
I don’t mean to pick on Pitt, but my first thought when looking at their site is that it’s a pretty good microcosm of everything that is wrong with conventional higher ed homepages: tiny graphic buttons for links, text-y news sections heavy on the faculty awards, multiple postage stamp-sized photos. And riddle me this: I’m a 17-year-old in Erie; why exactly do I care about your chancellor’s speeches or your provost search? Oakland’s page has its issues — a clunky top feature slider and no real list of majors that I could find — but the focus is obviously on an external audience. I especially like the timely link to info for admitted students.
Winner: Oakland

Kentucky v East Tennessee
Kentucky’s is the first homepage with marketing intro text that I actually read. Must have been the combination of clean typography and honesty that drew me in. They also make heavy use of video on their homepage, and I’m not sure that works. I think video should be supplementary, not primary. It’s asking a lot of users to expect them to watch multiple videos when a simple scannable Web page would do. Over on East Tennessee State, I could not two, not three, but four different navigation schemes each competing for primacy.
Winner: Kentucky

Texas v Wake Forest
Texas and Wake Forest present an opportunity to compare two different approaches to presenting lots of information on a homepage: put some “up front” and let the user click through to see the rest (Texas) or just put it all up front to begin with (Wake Forest). With the first, you run the risk that the user never bothers with the “hidden” stuff; with the second you run the risk of creating a busy overloaded page. The Wake Forest site is not busy or overloaded.  It’s a lot cleaner and simpler to parse than the Texas site because it’s not trying to do too much at once.
Winner: Wake Forest

Cornell v Temple
Cornell’s homepage is a solid if conventional grid layout with lots of info wrapped up in a tidy presentation. The focus is a bit institutional for my taste, but the pages and navigation are remarkably consistent and the admissions process feels friendly. Over at Temple, the homepage is also fairly conventional but a bit less solid. The rotating feature slideshow doesn’t allow me to click through to any additional info if I were interested in learning more. And clicking through to the Admissions site on Temple, my first reaction is that the process looks scary.
Winner: Cornell

Wisconsin v Wofford
Ok, there is a lot going on on the Wofford homepge, but not any more than there is on the Ohio State homepage, for example. It’s just that nothing is given any space to breathe and so a similar amount of content is made to look dense and daunting instead of parsable and compelling. Wisconsin’s site is pretty standard higher ed fare, but the navigation is clean and atleast my eyeball can focus enough to find the links to the list of majors, housing, etc. And it validates to XHTML 1.0 Strict!
Winner: Wisconsin

One more set of first round match-ups to go. Will my alma mater Washington upset Marquette like it did on the court? Stay tuned…


College Homepage March Madness: First Round, Part II

Here’s my second batch of first-round picks in the NCAA bracket of homepages. Will the crazy run of upset wins continue? Let’s take it to the paint and find out!

Kansas v Lehigh
I suppose it would be folly to ask why the University of Kansas is called “KU?” No matter. The #1 seed does have a lot of great content on its homepage. I especially like the March Madness fan banners available for easy download. But the site suffers from a bout of “squished-itis” with lots of tiny photos and graphics competing for scarce breathing room.  The condition is even more pronounced over on the Lehigh site, with all the navigation text rendered as tiny graphic buttons. Lehigh’s site does not even try to validate to its declared HTML 4.01 DOCTYPE; KU does validate to XHTML 1.0 Transitional.
Winner: Kansas

UNLV v Northern Iowa
These two schools are pretty evenly matched. Both schools employ the rotating features in the top third — UNLV’s is a little more polished looking, but both a run too small to have much impact in my opinion (sensing a trend: maybe I just like big pictures). Northern Iowa has a very nice presentation of its majors right off its Academics page (both an alpha list and organized by interest area) but UNLV’s list is easily found and scanned, too. And both schools employ one of my pet peeves: links to both “Prospective Students” and “Admissions” on the homepage that take you to two different places. The UNI page is a lot friendlier though, with slightly cheesy but endearingly earnest videos from students acting as guides to different aspects of the process.
Winner: Northern Iowa

Michigan State v New Mexico State
Michigan State seems to be playing homage to Cornell with their homepage design, but doesn’t quite pull it off. There’s way too much text on the page; text that isn’t given enough room to stand on its own (that’s the key, I think. I’m not so much “text is bad” as I am “text needs space.”) New Mexico emphasizes the “big picture,” has a lot less in the way of news on its homepage, and a much simpler navigation structure.
Winner: New Mexico State

Maryland v Houston
My immediate impression when looking at the University of Maryland site is that they don’t seem to have prospective students in mind as their primary audience. As someone who knows nothing about the University of Maryland, I don’t even know what some of the features in their top feature slider are about. Maybe they have more meaning for an internal audience?  The features on Houston’s site are a mix of student and alumni profiles. The Houston site has a list of majors in its dropdown navigation, and it’s the first school I’ve seen so far with a list of required high school courses prominently featured on its Admissions page.
Winner: Houston

Tennessee v San Diego State
The UT site is very clean looking and consistent when clicking through several top-level pages. SDSU is a little less polished looking, with several small images competing for attention. Both schools’ Admissions sites commit some flagrant fouls. UT still prominently features a link to a 2009 open house event, and SDSU has a link on its Freshman page for those who seeking admission in Spring 2010 that returns a page with this message: “San Diego State University’s is not accepting first-time freshmen undergraduate applications for spring 2010.” Um, thanks.
Winner: Tennessee

Georgetown v Ohio
I don’t mean to be unkind, but I really hope there is a redesign effort afoot at Georgetown. The site is a blast from the past: a 750-pixel wide table with tiny tiny tiny rollover graphics as navigation buttons. The Admissions site manages to look both spare and complicated, with not much in the way of guidance, friendliness, or specifics. The Ohio site on the other hand does a great job I think at presenting a lot of information while still looking clean and streamlined. The top rotating features are both photo- and student-friendly. My one issue: The “Future Students” page is nice and succinct and direct, but most of the links take me off to another “Undergraduate Admissions” site that was obviously *not* included in whatever recent redesign process Ohio went through.
Winner: Ohio

Oklahoma State v Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech’s site is pretty sweet! It’s another example of a site that manages to pack a big punch in terms of sheer amount of content without feeling heavy and confused. They use a rotating feature area — which I think is the new “girls under trees” in terms of its ubiquity — but they make the smartest use of headlines and photos that I’ve seen. I actually clicked on a couple! Also nice: a list of degree programs is one of the main links off the homepage. Oklahoma embraces the “big picture” idea — which initially gives the homepage a clean, dramatic look — but their drop-down menus are crammed and confusing. I looked around for about seven minutes and never found a list of majors. And why does the freshman admissions page feature a story about the “Campaign for Oklahoma State” right at the top?
Winner: Georgia Tech

Ohio State v UC Santa Barbara
UCSB’s fixed width table optimized for 800×600 screen resolutions and its PDF summaries of its majors just did not stand a chance. Wow, Ohio State! Such a variety of content in such a smooth and multi-faceted presentation. Love love love the tag clouds for most popular sites by audience — gets me to the list of majors right away. Love the user-generated content, the image of the day, the simple and consistent top-level navigation.
Winner: Ohio State

So we’re now halfway through the first-round games and we’ve already seen some stunning upsets and some solid performances. More March Madness (Web Weirdness? DOCTYPE Dementia?) to come.