As I write this article, we are just a few days from The Hoot’s 3rd birthday (and if scheduling goes well, it will be the actual birthday when it goes live!) – arguably I am more excited than I am for my own birthday! I am probably more emotional about it this year, over previous years because it will be the last birthday of it I spend in the role I was in when we launched the site, as I come to the end of my term as Vice President Engagent in August, later this year.
The Hoot started off as a little site for the Association to share information on. By now it has graduated into a dynamic space ran by students for students, with thousands of OU students visiting the site for the latest info, news and inspiration. We have had students past and present, staff from the OU and the Association and external people with an interest in OU students write for us over the last 3 years. All of this to say, that I am very proud of how far it has just become all on its own, thanks to all of you, OU Students!
So Happy birthday to The Hoot and here is to many more years of success!
And now that memory lane…
The idea of The Hoot came for a very simple reason - nobody in 2018 wanted to read a PDF Magazine on screen, so our readership numbers for our quarterly edition had gone down.
It was very clear we needed change and it proved to be a great time to allow more student input into the Students Association magazine.
The PDF version was very limited in length to keep it readable, so the obvious choice fell on a magazine site where we could have as much content driven by students as readers could keep up with. Following Student Leadership Team discussions and approval, lots of workshops, design ideas and everything that goes into developing a website, the basis of The Hoot was created.
Of course, absolute credit to all the staff members who made it happen, particularly Heather Bloomer, then Digi Comms Officer - she co-lead the entire operation with me and somehow put up with my crazy ideas for like 6 months straight!
The name and the brand
You would think after all that work, launching the site would be very simple. We had a date pencilled in for the 8th of April in 2019 to launch the site. Except around 4 weeks before launch, we were still nameless and I sure felt like a first time parent trying to pick from names that seemed less and less appealing the closer we got to our due date!
For a quick storytime, the OU's mascot animal used to be an owl. As the launch date was fast approaching, I started all my meetings with staff members by having them brainstorm ideas, until in a meeting one of them started making owl sounds - thus having the name idea!
I will also let you all in on a sealed secret - if you watch the colour pallette of the site closely, it's all pastel colours.. and well, I will let you guess my favourite shade of any colour! 🙂
For the launch party (the pictures part of this article are the evidence it actually happened!), we got together with student reps and staff, cut a cake and I finally got to fulfil my desire to be allowed to press a big red button launching the site.
The top of the top
As we look back at The Hoot over the last 3 years, we have had an incredibly wide-range of content published. It wouldn't be a 'looking back' article if we didn't include some of our most popular and favourite articles. Besides the series like the Advent, the Association 50th birthday, the All about series or the weekly Presidential blog, we wanted to highlight some individual pieces that did really well for one reason or another:
- Starting in the fun category, if I could I would hyperlink ALL of our quizzes, because they're all fun. But if The Hoot and 'quiz' have to be in the same sentence, we have to mention our all-time-favourite 'Module codes' quiz!
- We have had countless articles from our amazing students sharing their tips for being a student or letting us in on their journey of working full-time whilst completing OU studies.
- We also have many timeless pieces from students for those new to the OU, help with getting your study space more hygge and also techniques for studying!
- And like a real throwback, here is our favourite lockdown poem from 2020.
This list could go on and on, until I have hyperlinked every published article (of which there are like 500+) because they are all my favourites, so to save me the job and you the confusedness all I will say is, I would encourage you to use this day to browse through some of the categories to find some more fo the hidden gems!
Who knows, maybe this article will encourage you to finally put pen to paper and submit your first article, but until then, make surre to have a slice of cake for us today because it's The Hoot's birthday! 🙂