Evaluation of UKOLN’s IWMW 2011 Event
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 9 August 2011
Feedback on IWMW 2011
UKOLN’s annual institutional Web management workshop, IWMW 2011, took place at the University 0f Reading on 25-26 July. This year’s event was reduced from three to two days since it was unclear how the economic downturn would affect bookings. The event attracted 163 bookings, which was only slightly down on last year’s attendance. The weather was great during the event, but what did the participants gain form their attendance at the event? We have analysed the responses provided on the online evaluation form and a summary is given below. Note that a more complete summary of the event feedback is available on the IWMW 2011 Web site.
IWMW 2011: Numerical Ratings
The workshop content at the event had an average overall score of 4.02 on a scale of 1 [poor] to 5 [excellent] from the 62 responses we received. This included 19 5s (excellent), 28 4s (very good), 13 3s (good), 2 2s (fair) and 0 1s (poor).
The workshop organisation did even better with an average overall score of 4.16, with 25 5s (excellent), 26 4s (very good), 7 3s (good), 4 2 (fair) and 0 1s (poor).
The highest ranked plenary speaker was Ranjit Sidu with an average score of 4.28, with 17 5s (excellent), 13 4s (very good), 5 3s (good), 1 2 (fair) and 0 1s (poor), followed by Martin Hamilton with an average overall score of 3.94, with 11 5s (excellent), 12 4s (very good), 9 3s (good), 2 2s (fair) and 0 1s (poor). The workshop conclusions, which included brief presentations from several of the workshop participants was also highly regarded with an average overall score of 3.91, with 12 5s (excellent), 17 4s (very good), 14 3s (good), 1 2s (fair) and 0 1s (poor).
It was interesting to observe that the overall score for the workshop content (4.02) was beaten by only one of the plenary speakers which I think indicates that the workshop in its entirety (including the parallel sessions, discussions, networking and social events) is valued more highly than the individual parts.
IWMW 2011: Overall Comments
The responses to the question “Please give your overall views on the workshop” included the following:
- I thought the programme was the most consistent and coherent of all the ones I have attended, and also probably the most relevant. Much as I’ve enjoyed forays into the unknown (eg FOAF/RDF) in previous years, this was a very practical and useful programme. It was good giving the DevCSI geeks some bigging up as it would appear that they can do useful things ;-)
The balance of plenaries and parallels worked for me and the timings were good.
The organisation was faultless as usual.
- Still a totally essential part of the HE web management calendar. Not only are the talks and sessions really useful and thought provoking, the networking element is so reassuring. It’s fab to discover that everyone is tacking the same issues.
- It is an essential part of my year and cannot imagine it not running, I thought that there was easily enough content for a 3 day conference. The topics covered were current and key issues that we are grappling with on a daily basis. I felt that the old model allowed a chance to build on the content in workshops and this year felt rushed..
- I’ve been to the IWMW twice now. On each occasion I found it an excellent opportunity to meet with the people working in same area as myself and learnt a huge amount. Coming from IWMW2011 I have new ideas for improving the way we work and communicate to managers and some great new contacts that should may lead to improving personal development of resources across institutions.
- This event is brilliant value for money, expecially compared to the eye-wateringly expensive events my colleagues in the Marketing department attend … . My institution benefits hugely from my attending every year, because we are a small HEI and can’t afford: (a) outside consultants to buy in expertise and new thinking, or (b) a big team to cover all the specialist areas related to the web. I especially value being able go the IWMW website to download presentations etc, when I get back.
IWMW 2011: Most Valuable Aspects
The responses to the question “State up to three aspects of the workshop which were most valuable” included the following:
- informative topics, especially on social media, open data, statistics analysis, SEO
use of social media: iwmw & iwmwlive twitter and iwmw11 blog are great tools and help in terms of connecting, catching up and following up.
networking with other university guys, getting to know their situations and problems, and how they deal with them.
- 1) Opportunity to share my own work and gain invaluable feedback and insight in my parallel session (which is why I haven’t voted on it’s quality!)
2) Opportunity to meet and connect with others in my field
3) Opportunity to hear from insightful and interesting speakers – Dave Raggett and Paul Walk were particular highlights for me.
- 1. The opening and closing sessions were really informative about the general state, direction and interesting developments of universities.
2. Parallel sessions were very useful.
3. Evening BBQ (social event) was great for meeting and getting to know people from other universities.
- Opportunity to network with other web teams
Ideas on how to best promote my teams good work
Real examples of best practice
- 1. The ‘Web cooperative’ session / workshop was really, really useful -lots of shared ideas, and a real toolkit I’m starting to implement already.
2. The ‘cookie finder’ presentation in the wrap-up: brilliant way to present easily-findable data, but resulting in a really great product for the end-user, eg up-to-date menus and ‘where to buy’ mapping.
IWMW 2011: Aspects Which Could be Improved
The responses to the question “State up to three aspects of the workshop which were disappointing or could be improved” included the following:
- I preferred the feel of the 3 day event so would like to see it return to that format. I know organisers were keen to take account of the current work / financial climate but for many people, given the location, the event was a 3-day one anyway and to a certain extent, cost is not a deciding factor as long as the event remains under £500 per person. I felt the catering was mediocre, especially the lunch – houmous & dips is not a very bright option with ~150 trying to get fed at once. Wireless access was an issue – this is a conference which will likely see in excess of 200 devices connected; the host institution MUST take account of this to ensure amplification and backchannel activity is as impactful as possible.
- 1. Not enough time to network – all had to be done on the evening of the conference dinner / BBQ. Please revert back to the 3 day setup for future IWMW’s
2. No hot water in the accommodation on the Wednesday morning
- It was a shame that there was nothing on KIS, perhaps in future events there could be sessions left empty to accommodate last minute issues? Alternatively some sort of bar camp-style sessions so that attendees can deliver short sessions themselves?
- Lecture theatre not designed for attendees with various laptops, tablets and so on – no where to put them but on your laps and lack of power outlets. Given the nature of the conference and the delegates attending then think that the sourcing of a venue which lends itself to these key aspects would be beneficial (increased comfort for delegates leaving them paying full attention to workshops).
- 1. A reliable Internet connection – there were attempts to interact and encouragement to tweet and, in the end, I had to rely on the 3G on my phone as the wifi just wasn’t stable another (it was stressful!)
2. It was stated that Universities are often years behind the private sector in terms of our activities but rather than just play catch-up, how about pushing some more leading edge ideas to get us to the front?
3. 2 hours without a drink is too long – dehydration = reduced capacity to concentrate
IWMW 2011: Additional Comments
The responses to the question “Please give any additional comments on the event including the administration, venue etc.” included the following:
- Would be good opportunity for attendees to engage in a “festival of blogging”, maybe showcasing things they get up to locally and want to show off. This might even just arise from a commitment to post comments on a series of round up blogposts? eg I pulled together a couple examples of campus maps http://blog.ouseful.info/2011/07/26/innovations-in-campus-mapping/ If folk contributed links to anything innovative they’re doing, with a brief explanation why its innovative, or as same ilk as something covered in the review, it would give Brian a batchload of “”free”" sector survey results for different themes?”
- I enjoyed the event overall and would happily attend again in a similar role – as facilitator, speaker, or similar. I am not sure I took away enough from the day to attend only to listen and take part in the workshops but, as I have already said, I am not really the core target audience for this event.
I thought the accommodation was excellent the first night but it was hard to overlook the lack of hot water on day two and that was a shame. I thought it was strange that there was no wifi in such modern halls although I was delighted to have access to proper broadband and this helped me keep up with work in the evenings. I was also able to liveblog thanks to Eduroam. I would have much preferred more comfortable seats in the theatre though – I arrived home with rather bruised knees from the seats in front! I really appreciated the availability of extension cords in the main theatre and thought that all of the amplifyers did a great job of managing the online and remote experience of IWMW.
- Can we get Tony Hirst to come next year? He is so great. His presentation (at the OU) on the perils of measuring social media was terrific.
- The (non-eduroam) wifi was useless, had to login a number of times and it kept dropping out. Paid for 3G data on the second day instead.
I was not impressed that there was no hot water in the Halls.
IWMW 2011: Comments on Topics Covered
The responses to the question “Please give your comments on the range of topics covered” included the following:
- Every year I wonder what could possibly be covered the next year but you seem to bring together a range of topics and speakers that interest the majority.
- The range of topics felt well balanced. Not all were high on my priority list, but the discussion around the event balances this very well.”social media (Nicola Osborne’s A7 session) I do not have a chance to attend this session, but her Prezi slides give a lot of information and tips on this topic which I could learn from.
- Linked data: Christopher and Dave have cleared up all the questions in my mind about this topic. I now have a better understanding on linked data, open data and RDF. Looking forward to practicals.
- All the plenary speakers were good, I got something out of all of them. I often find it hard to judge how relevant a speaker will be to my role / team (these day’s I’m primarily a designer) from the session title alone, but this year they all exceeded my expectations. There was nothing too techy that I couldn’t follow it, or at least see a practical application for.
- I think there was some tension between demand for technical/specific content and the very general. However the blend, especially depending on selected parallel sessions, was pretty good and interesting. I don’t feel I am the core target audience for this event though and attend many specialist events in my field so there were some sessions where I know I did not get as much value from the sessions as I could have.
The week before the event I wrote a post on The Web Management Community of Practice in which I described how the IWMW 2011 event would provide an opportunity for the Web Management community of practice to consider how it should develop in the future. A more complete summary of the event feedback is available on the IWMW 2011 Web site which indicates that there is a strong and thriving community who understand the benefits which can be gained from acting collaboratively, sharing experiences and avoiding reinvention of the wheel. A large number of those who responded felt that the event should revert to its three-day format, although a minority preferred the two-day format. Once we’ve had an opportunity to more fully reflect on the feedback we have received we will start to make out plans for IWMW 2012.
I should conclude by saying that at the end of the event myself and Marieke Guy gave out thanks to the speakers, facilitators, session chairs, events team and the local support provided by the University of Reading. It would be appropriate in this post to give thanks to the participants and especially those who took time to complete the evaluation form.