Event Amplification at IWMW 2009
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 3 August 2009
This year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2009, is now over. Despite being the 13th in the series on annual events aimed at members of institutional Web management teams, the event was not unlucky! The largest event audience for an IWMW event (200 registered delegates) arrived at the University of Essex campus which began on Tuesday 28 July with the opening plenary talk on “Headlights on Dark Roads” given by Professor Derek Law. And despite a rail dispute on Thursday (the final day of the event) there was still a large audience for the final talk on “How the BBC make Web sites“, an entertaining session on the importance of developers by the two Mikes (Ellis and Nolan) and my closing summary.
Amplification of the IWMW 2009 Event
I’ll not attempt to summarise everything that took place at IWMW 2009 in this blog. However there were a number of issues which were raised during the event which will be worth exploring in future posts. But for now I thought I’d summarise three aspects of the event organisation (rather than the content) which I feel are particularly noteworthy.
The IWMW 2009 Blog
Last year we provided a Ning social network for use by the workshop participants. This year. inspired by the approaches taken at the Dev8D and Mashed Library Oop North events, we decided to set up a IWMW 2009 blog. The aim was to provide a less formal environment than the main event Web site, for both published information about the event and about the workshop participants, including their interests, recollections of previous IWMW events from those who have attended previous event and reasons why newcomers at the event have decided to travel to Essex in the last week of July. The blog proved very successful. We will be continuing to encourage some further posts to the blog before the participants disappear off for their summer holiday.
For the third year running we provided a live video stream of the plenary talks. I understand that there were about 50 people viewing the opening plenary talk. It will be interesting to see the viewing statistics for the second and third days.
In order to provide a richer experience for the remote audience we ensured that the slides for the plenary speakers who used PowerPoint were available on Slideshare (and note that many of the slideshows used in the parallel sessions are also available) .
In addition an official live blogger used the iwmwlive Twitter account to provide a running commentary of the plenary talks. Kirsty McGill, who provided the live blogging service, also used these notes as the basis of a summary of the talks which was posted to the blog shortly afterwards.
We made a conscious effort to treat the remote audience as ‘first class citizens’. As well as the technologies listed above, we also tried to ensure that everyone used a microphone so that the remote audience could hear not only the speakers, but also the session chair and any questions posed by the live audience.
As well as the official use of Twitter for recording plenary talks and an IWMW Twitter account for administrative use (I’m pleased the missing phone reported on Twitter was found) we also encouraged participants to use the #iwmw2009 tag when tweeting about the event.
Links with the US
Thus year, for the first time, we worked with Higher Ed Experts who provide professional development and social networking online opportunities to higher education professionals working in Web, marketing, PR and admissions offices in the USA. Two of the parallel sessions, Where’s the University? Building an institutional geolocation service by Janet McKnight and Sebastian Rahtz (Oxford University Computing Services) and Using Amazon Web Services by Mike Richwalsky (Allegheny College) had been pre-recorded in advance of IWMW 2009 and were provided as free Webinars on the Higher Ed Experts Web site.
Reflections on the Event Amplification
None of the aspects of IWMW 2009 I have described is significantly new. We have made use of wikis (at IWMW 2007) and social networks at previous events; the use of communication technologies to facilitate discussions during plenary talks dates back to IWMW 2005 when we made use of IRC (as you can see from the archive of the IRC discussions) and we have been video streaming the plenary talks since 2007.
In previous years use of these technologies to ‘amplify’ the ideas and thinking beyond the physical event and enhance the discussions and debate at the event has been experimental. This year we have attempted to provide this as a service. The local participants have expectations of reasonable levels of service for the food and accommodation at the event. But now we can expect remote participants to have similar expectations regarding access to the content and the discussions and debate.
Did we provide a satisfactory level of service? Please let us know.