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The Future: Competition or Collaboration?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15 Jun 2015

The Changing Political and Economic Environment

Master classes at IWMW 2015I suspect that many readers of this blog with, like me, have been very disappointed at the General Election results. The Government is now determined to continue its austerity measures and impose further cuts on public services, including education.

What will the implications be in higher education and, in particular, those involved in the provisions of digital services?

A recent post on the Times Higher Education, Winners and losers in Hefce funding allocations, highlighted the competitive environment we are now working in with the article highlighting the winners (King’s College London) and losers (the University of Manchester) in the REF-based distribution of £1.6bn research funding.

Web Management in a Changing Political and Economic Environment

How will the competitive environment affect those working in support services, such as those with responsibilities for the provision of IT, digital and library services?

Perhaps we will see enforced changes to our well-established culture of sharing and learning from one’s peers. Will it not be inevitable that the ‘winners’ will wish to maintain their completive edge and not share details of how they achieved their successes, unless such sharing is used for marketing purposes?

I fear that we are moving in this direction. I also fear that the focus on individual high-ranking institutions will ultimately reduce the effectiveness and impact of higher education across the UK – competition, in my view, may be fine in sports but is inappropriate in education and other public services.

Perhaps we will see the start of a decline in sharing our experiences and helping buy antibiotics in uk those who have similar responsibilities in other institutions?

A Future Based on Collaboration and Sharing?

I’m pleased to describe how this is not (yet!) happening at the IWMW 2015 event. In fact the opposite is happening with a series of half-day master classes, four being organised by members of institutional web teams and three by commercial organisations, being held for the first time since the IWMW event was launched 19 years ago.

Two of the master classes will provide opportunities to learn from the challenges being faced by web teams based at Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Bradford. Two other master classes will provide an opportunity to learn about how agile working practices are being applied at the universities of Bath and Edinburgh. The final three master classes provide perspective from companies who work with the higher education community: Headscape, Terminal Four and Precedent.

I hope that this year’s innovation in the content and structure of the IWMW event demonstrates that there will continue to be a role to play in collaboration and sharing; that those with experience and expertise will continue to share their approaches and that such approaches help to raise the standard and quality of the digital services provides across the UK higher education sector, to the benefit of all.

I hope that this approach is valued across the sector. And note that the deadline for booking for IWMW 2015 is approaching!


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Guest Post: A Revolution in the Exchange of Courses Information

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Jun 2015

The IWMW 2015 event is only six weeks away! In today’s guest post, the latest in a series of posts about the IWMW 2015 event Jayne Rowley introduces the workshop session which Jayne and Alan Paull will be facilitating at the event.


A Revolution in the Exchange of Courses Information

IWMW 2015: exchange of courses informationFor many years now data in the Higher Education sector has flowed between Higher Education Institutions and sector organisations using standardised, system-to-system data exchange methods.  Common examples include HESA data returns, UCAS application data and Key Information Set data.  However, the vast majority of Universities and Colleges in the UK still supply course marketing information in a traditional manner.  Your staff have to re-key the course marketing information from your prospectus or web content management system into bespoke online forms provided by aggregating organisations.  These forms usually ask for slightly different types and items of data, requiring your staff to massage the information, so that it fits a proprietary format.  Research shows that on average each University or College receives about a dozen or so requests for course marketing data each year, which multiplies the different formats and therefore the resources needed to supply it.

With the spread of the HE sector’s course marketing information standard, a revolution in the exchange of courses information is happening.  This revolution will have profound beneficial effects on how you supply courses information in the future, it will improve the timeliness and quality of the information, and help learners to make better learning opportunity choices.

Changes to Postgraduate Course Data Management and Supply

Prospects is becoming the first aggregator of postgraduate course marketing information to use the new data exchange standard, with the development and launch of Course Exchange.  Funded and governed by HEFCE through Jisc, this will deliver national implementation of the XCRI-CAP British and European standard for course information, beginning with an approved postgraduate taught course vocabulary.

The benefits of Course Exchange:

  • It enables you to supply standardised taught postgraduate course information via an xml feed.
  • The data will be used by aggregators on multiple websites and platforms.
  • The service includes Course Check – a validator that will ensure your data meets the required standards.
  • It significantly reduces the burden of work for data administrators, saving an average sized University and College around £18,000 a year in resource costs for re-keying alone.
  • It gives postgraduate marketing and admissions departments full control over the dissemination of their course marketing information.
  • It makes the process of sharing course information quicker and easier.

About the Author

jayne rowleyCurrently Business Services Director of HECSU/Graduate Prospects, Jayne Rowley is responsible for the provision of a suite of shared services to the HE sector supporting the work of Higher Education Institutions in postgraduate study, careers, employability, degree verification and work experience. Prospects is becoming the first aggregator of postgraduate course data with the development and launch of Course Exchange. Funded and governed by HEFCE through Jisc, this will deliver national implementation of the XCRI-CAP British and European standard for course information, beginning with an approved postgraduate taught course vocabulary.


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Guest Post: The Challenge Is Institutional: Merging Customer Needs With New Operating Realities

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 Jun 2015

On Tuesday 28 July 2015 Mike McConnell will give a plenary talk on “The Challenge Is Institutional: Merging Customer Needs With New Operating Realities” at the IWMW 2015 event. The talk will describe a case study of a consultation exercise at the University of Aberdeen to define a digital vision for the institution. In this guest post Mike summarises the key aspects of the consultation process.


iwmw 2015: mike mcconnellFollowing last year’s IWMW event I wrote a post for Brian’s UK Web Focus blog wherein I noted that “digital goes beyond web and marketing; it is about institutions, how they are structured and how they respond to change”.

As I write the University of Aberdeen is concluding a significant consultancy engagement with the consultants Precedent/KPMG, conducted over 16 weeks. This consultation was commissioned by the University in order to help it define its digital vision and any associated changes required to deliver that vision. My presentation at IWMW 2015 will discuss the project and give further detail on the outcomes.

The consultation was conducted in three phases – Discovery, Vision and Planning.

1. Discovery

This phase involved an audit of the University’s existing digital activity and strategic aims; a review of competitors (direct and aspirational), and a comprehensive engagement with key stakeholders throughout the University. Over 100 staff were interviewed. Outcomes included a map of the customer experience landscape and an articulation of the current state of business processes/sub-processes.

2. Vision

This phase involved the consultants working with the University to identify strategic opportunities and prioritise three key areas for transformation; research the viability of these with staff affected (over 80 staff were involved); identify customer needs and develop a digitally-enabled Target Operating Model1 for the institution.

3. Planning

This phase produced high level plans with options and recommendations: 9 outline business cases including identifiable risks, issues and dependences; costs and timelines; ROI and benefits realisation timescales, as well as detailed customer journey maps for the three key areas and an implementation plan.

The project board is currently considering the outcomes and recommendations in the final report, prior to wider dissemination. Many of the recommendations were anticipated but others were not, and some are extremely radical. Nearly all imply significant changes to the University’s systems, processes and staffing.

In my earlier post I noted that I hoped the exercise would ‘provide us with a digital vision that is broad in scope and world class in its ambition’. I believe that the exercise has delivered on these aims. It will be interesting to see how the University reacts to it.


About the Author

mike mcconnellMike McConnell is responsible for Web & Corporate Systems at the University of Aberdeen. He manages developers responsible for digital, web and corporate applications development.

Mike’s main duties are:

  • Institutional digital strategy
  • Web applications development
  • Supporting and developing the institutional corporate systems (MIS) environment including Finance, HR, Admissions and Student Record systems
  • Supporting and developing the institutional SharePoint and CRM environments

Prior to his current role, Mike worked in Educational Development and before that was a researcher in Information Management.

If you are interested in digital transformation, web usability, social media and user experience, especially in higher education, feel free to contact Mike using the contact details given below.

Contact details


Footnote

1 A Target Operating Model, as defined by Precedent/KPMG, “describes the strategy & services provided based on clear design principles; describes the processes to follow and the responsibilities for process steps; describes how the service will be governed and managed; provides details on the number, capabilities & grouping of people required; provides details on the technology & data to be used in support of services, and describes the locations where people will be based“.


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Guest Post: Making Usability Testing Agile

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Jun 2015

At this year’s IWMW 2015 event Neil Allison, the User Experience Manager at the University of Edinburgh will facilitate a half-day master class on “Usability Testing in an Agile Development Process“.

In this guest post Neil summarises the approaches taken at the University of Edinburgh to agile usability testing. Note that this post was originally posted on LinkedIn.


Making Usability Testing Agile

Usability testing in an agile development process

Spaces are still available for the half-day workshop on
“Usability testing in an agile development process”

I’ve been running regular usability testing observation sessions as part of an agile project we’re running at the University of Edinburgh to enhance the new Content Management System we’re delivering, and to bring the development team closer to the end user.

Fitting usability testing into an agile process is quite challenging (we operate 9 day iterations spanning 3 weeks at a time) as time is always tight, but the methodology I’ve put together is working really well.

At the end of 2014, I ran an open invite session for web publishers, developers and project managers from around the University, to give colleagues an insight into how we’re doing this, and to allow them to participate in the process.

In this post (based on a something I wrote for our team blog), I’m basically writing up what I said so that readers can get a good idea of how I fit regular usability testing into a very tight development schedule.

Original post on the University of Edinburgh Website Programme blog

24 staff from around the University joined the CMS development team to watch 3 usability tests and contribute prioritised issues to address.

I’ve included links to the slides and am happy to help anyone who wants to try it for themselves. It’s pretty easy and the resources I use are freely available.

What we’re trying to achieve

The first thing to be clear about is that this isn’t about agile development. It’s about achieving regular, rapid, inclusive usability testing that results in measurable improvements, and with minimal overheads. So it will work for you regardless of any development methodology you’re following.

I’ve run a usability testing training course for years and had over 600 colleagues around the University attend. As Steve Krug says, “It’s not rocket science” and I think most leave my training seeing just how easy it is to get insight into the effectiveness of their website or application. Many go on to put the training into practice.

Usability testing training session overview and participant feedback

But there are challenges, and I overhauled this training a couple of years ago to cover what happens after you’ve done a few tests and identified what you feel you need to do to improve.

The challenges staff have raised with me (and I’ve encountered myself at times):

  • Getting the go ahead to use your time on usability testing
  • Getting colleagues to take on board what you uncover
  • Getting fixes to problems implemented

And challenges such as these aren’t just faced by people like you and me. Usability and user experience professionals the world over encounter blockers such as these every day.

Caroline Jarrett and Steve Krug presented research on the topic: Why usability problems go unfixed

I have additional challenges playing the role of UX Lead for the development of the new University CMS, the main one being that this is not a formally recognised role within Information Services and there are no formal usability-related processes in their approach to software development. But on the plus side, this has given me scope to experiment and innovate and it’s helped drive me to where we are now and the approach that we take.

Our process

I’m going to say right now that there’s nothing particularly innovative going on here, and that I didn’t invent any of it – I’m just standing on the shoulders of giants. Mainly Steve Krug, with a bit of help from David Travis.

The majority of what is covered below (minus a few tweaks) is from Steve’s fantastic book: Rocket Surgery Made Easy. After running sessions for a few months, I also discovered the Gov.UK user research blog which highlighted that they’re just a bit further down the same road I’ve taken us.

Have you had your recommended dose of research? – Gov.UK user research blog post

What we do:

  1. Get the right people in a room
  2. Watch a small number of short sessions with users doing something
  3. Prioritise the issues we see
  4. Collaboratively consolidate their priority lists
  5. Agree actions for usability issues
  6. Repeat every few weeks

Who are the right people? Basically everyone with a stake in the development. No exceptions. Our time is so tight that I’ve negotiated within the team to ensure that at least one representative from each area of activity is present. Ideally the whole team would be present to observe but it’s not an ideal world. So this means I always have at least: a project manager, a developer, a service manager, and a training and support representative. Sometimes I manage to get a more senior stakeholder in the room for at least some of the time too. So a minimum of 4 colleagues see what I see, and sometimes we’ve had 9 or 10.

What do we watch? We watch real CMS users undertaking tasks in usability testing sessions that I facilitate. The focus for the session is agreed a week or two in advance so that I can plan scenarios and make sure we have a representative environment to work in, and also so that the team can focus my attention to whatever they feel is most appropriate. Typically this is an area which is causing concern or an area where we’re about to begin adding new features.

How many participants? In the presentation I use the graph from Jakob Nielsen’s famous article, “Why you only need to test with 5 users” but what I actually said was “As many as you can fit into the time you have (so probably not very many)”. In practice for us, with 3 hours allotted for this activity, we watch 3 participants for about 20-30 minutes each which leaves us with enough time to discuss at the end.

Jakob Nielsen: “Why you only need to test with 5 users”

How do we prioritise? We all make our own notes, and at the end of each participant’s session, we each fill in a form independently that logs the top 3 issues we observed. So at the end of the session we have each filled in a form with 9 blank spaces. We may have written down the same 3 issues for all 3 participants, but not usually.

The CMS development team discuss the issues they’ve noted during the usability testing session.

How do we consolidate? In the early months we just did this through an open discussion, but I found it quite hard to keep the discussion on track and therefore on time. Time ran on and people needed to leave so getting real consensus was difficult. And then I remembered David Travis’ usability issue prioritisation flowchart and more recently we’ve been using this. This has helped keep the post-test conversation to about 30 minutes and provided greater transparency about how we prioritise.

And so out of this, we have a list of prioritised issues that we assign to members of the team to action. The action might be:

  • Get this prioritised for upcoming development (because the solution is “obvious”).
  • Make changes to our training and support processes.
  • Add to challenges for future prototyping of new interfaces and processes for additional testing (because we don’t have consensus on how to improve the situation, or the best solution would be costly to implement so we want to be assured it’s right before we commit the development time).

Benefits of this approach

For the development team:

  • We get closer to our CMS users – and immediately see the impact of our efforts
  • We gain shared insight & experience
  • We confirm ownership of the priority issues
    • What to fix immediately
    • What to do better next time we’re developing in that part of the system
    • What we thought was a problem that turns out to be something we can live with

For me:

  • The process keeps set up and organisation of session to a minimum
  • No report writing – just a single wiki page logging what we did and a table of priority issues and actions
  • Doing this regularly moves the culture of the team on, emphasising CMS usability on the development agenda

What we need to do better

I have two challenges that I continue to work on:

  1. How do we minimise usability issues making it in to the system in the first place?
  2. How do I get more of the right people in the room, more often and for longer?

How do we minimise usability issues making it in to the system in the first place?

This is tricky because we’re working in Drupal, an open source CMS. This means our developers rarely create stuff from scratch. They’re drawing on a community of developers’ existing work which means the cheapest solution is to just take it as it is. We have inconsistencies in presentation, labelling and functionality which need to be prioritised to be addressed. This of course gets us back to why I’m doing this testing in the first place.

Developer time is so tight, it’s difficult sometimes to find the space to discuss just how we’d like something to work to the level of detail we’d all like. Ideally I would work with developers to understand what was cost effective to work on and what we should probably leave as is before I went off to prototype and conduct early usability testing. But this can’t always happen and I have to work with what I receive from developers as a first pass. However, going back to why we’re doing this testing, the more our developers see real users interacting with the product, the more likely they are to make better decisions independently (not that our developers don’t make a lot of good decisions of course!) and we get more (more) right first time.

How do I get more of the right people in the room, more often and for longer?

As I mentioned earlier, we have agreed a minimal attendance from the team but the benefit of this process comes from everyone seeing the same thing with their own eyes, and discussing it together. Everyone on the team agrees it’s a very worthwhile initiative but unfortunately we all have other pressures and commitments. We continue to discuss and evolve our wider working practices and I hope that this activity can further enhance the perception of value in usability research on the project.

What are you waiting for? Try it yourself!

So there you have it. Not that hard at all, particularly if you just take on the same materials and processes I have. The benefits are cumulative I think. With every month that you get stakeholders back together to watch users the greater the momentum behind the user focus grows.

We use Steve Krug’s form to log 3 issues for each participant, to be discussed and prioritised at the end of the session.

Have a look at my slides and drop me a line if you have any questions. All the resources and further reading are in the slides, but essentially all you need is:

You can download my slides from Slideshare if you want to dig a bit deeper.

Sessions slides on Slideshare.com

After the event – the feedback

Colleagues from across the University that came along to our open session were incredibly positive both on the day and after it in comments on the session wiki page.

I think the session worked in 3 different ways:

  • Users of our current CMS got a preview of how they’ll undertake key tasks in the future. We were open about where we’re up to, including the flaws we still need to deal with.
  • Members of our web management community got to highlight issues they saw in the new system, and contribute to an open and democratic means of prioritising the severity of issues.
  • Developers, project managers and website owners gained some experience of a way to approach usability testing that is efficient, inclusive and more likely to result in improvements being made.

A few snippets from the feedback I received:

“…[the session] gave me a few good ideas to use when user testing my own websites, particularly the flowchart for prioritising issues and the instructions for usability test observers… [I] will be trying these out in February when testing a website we’re developing… I also enjoyed collaborating with other university staff.”

“…[the session] highlighted the importance and difficulties of user testing someone ‘live’. I noticed that myself and other participants began focusing on aspects of the design which we thought should be improved regardless of whether those aspects actually caused the participant any issues. So I took away from it the realisation that a bit of focus and discipline in observation is needed…”

“It was good to see users in action and how the new university website is shaping up. It was an interesting insight into user testing and definitely gave me ideas for our own user testing. I think the prioritisation flowchart was really useful and I think I will use this myself in the future. Another thing to mention, is that it was good to see other staff from the university and collaborate.

“Overall, excellent… The slides …and notes I took will help myself and colleagues greatly as we undertake user experience sessions in the coming weeks… The session was extremely useful and provided valuable insight and guidance on how to run UX sessions that provide measurable results.”


About the Author

Neil AllisonNeil Allison is UX Manager at the University of Edinburgh Website Programme. Here he steers the evolution of the University website’s information architecture and the user experience of the corporate content management system. He also oversees the provision of training and support to the University’s web publishing community.

The University of Edinburgh is a large, research-led institution and a member of the Russell Group. The student body totals almost 34,000 with over 11,000 engaged in postgraduate study, supported by  over 12,000 staff.

The University Website Programme began life as a project team in 2006, becoming established as a Programme two years later. Its function is to manage the corporate content management system (used by over 1000 staff in around 90 business units), promote and support best practice in website management and to facilitate the ongoing enhancement of the site in areas of cross-institutional collaboration. The primary focus at present is the development of a new CMS (using Drupal) and the migration of websites, users and processes to the new platform.  This transition will be completed by the end of 2015.

Contact details


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Guest Post: eduWeb: American version of a Higher Education Marketing Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Jun 2015

About this Guest Post

This year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2015, takes place at Edge Hill University on 27-29 July. At the same time the eduWeb 2015 conference is taking place in Chicago.

In this guest post guest post Shelley Wetzel, partner & director of the eduWeb Digital Summit describes the history of the eduWeb event which, this year, is celebrating its tenth anniversary – and has just been named as one of the Top 5 Higher Education Marketing Conferences to attend in the US.

Over the years I have observed from afar the eduWeb event and back on February 2009 asked “What Can We Learn From The eduWeb Conference?“. Earlier this year I revisited the question in a post which asked “What Can IWMW Learn From Higher Education Web Events in the US?“. I’m very pleased that Shelley agreed to my request to provide some further background information about the eduWeb conference.

In her guest post Shelley highlights some challenges which web managers in US higher educational institutions are facing and comments:

as someone from our Advisory Board just mentioned, if higher Ed (at least in the U.S.) doesn’t get their act together regarding digital within the next five years, they will not survive. To some extent, I agree with that; what is it like in the U.K.? Where are you progressing? Where are you not?

I’d be interested in comments from members of institutional Web teams based in the UK on Shelley’s perspectives.


eduWeb: American version of a Higher Education Marketing Conference

eduweb 2015Back in late 1995, I was driving with a friend near my home in Rockville, Maryland (about 45 minutes north of Washington, D.C.) and he asked me if I had heard of Netscape. I had replied “no” and asked what it was; he went to tell me about this fascinating Internet browser that I just had to look at. That was the beginning of my Internet education and career.

As I was self-employed at the time, with my own marketing agency, designing and creating marketing collateral for various clients in the metropolitan Washington, DC area and a few overseas, I was intrigued by the Internet and decided to teach myself HTML code. I loved that the designing part of it was easier than print since I didn’t have to worry about bleeds, inks, press runs, etc, and this white screen was an open canvas that could display my imagination, per client’s requests. I then started designing and coding websites.

This led to a full-time job as the first Webmaster at Salisbury State University on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, about half hour from several beaches in the area. I thrived in the position for eight years, having moved from Webmaster to Director of Web Development and from reporting to the Dir. of PR (no marketing office at the institution) to the CIO. I was and still am a marketing person, but I also understood the technical side of this new platform, of which during those eight years and probably until about 2008, was all about your website. Social media was just starting with Twitter and I had already left my position in 2005 to start the eduWeb Conference.

While working at Salisbury University (name change around 2000), I saw and learned about “both sides of the fence” regarding an institution’s digital presence but also saw the power games going on that reduced, if not destroyed, the interest and engagement on and off campus to develop the institution’s brand through a whole new environment.

With that background, I saw a need to develop a conference and trade show for higher education that focused on marketing and technical for the administrative side of higher education. I researched and found a partner to join me in this effort and we launched the 1st eduWeb Conference in 2005 in downtown Baltimore. We grew each year until the recession hit, but still we have done well, changing program tracks to reflect the needs of higher education and their interests, bringing on guest track authors for the program, allowing them to create and market their content and recommend speakers. As the conference grew, so did my partner’s and I need to reflect higher education more as we both had worked in the field but we’re farther away from working in it on a day-by-day basis.

Adding a social media team, along with photographer and videographer, the on-site staff grew to 10 and our highest attendance year was 500! We were thrilled and knew we had to keep up with our competition to provide the best experience possible, beyond just the programming. Over the years, we have added pre- and post-conference workshops and last year, a new event, the Master Class. It’s an intense, one-day event, after the conference, on just one topic and with no more than 35 people, to keep it intimate and one-on-one between faculty and “students.”

Our 10 year Anniversary is this year and we’re celebrating in Chicago, at the same dates as your event (IWMW 2015), otherwise, I’d be coming over to visit you and Brian visiting us.

Even at 10 years old, the goal and philosophy are still the same: to bring marketing, communications, advancement, enrollment management/admissions, student affairs, alumni, and more to learn about their strategic digital needs and for anyone within the IT field of digital to do the same, BUT to learn from each other, network and take back to our campus an excitement and encouragement to work well with “both sides of the fence/department” for the best of the institution. That is your ultimate client – not your boss or the president. And even after 10 years, I still see the struggles of power, budget, enough employees and professional development within higher education to stall creativity and bring the best of digital to accomplish your goals and meet the needs of a external population that is almost all digital; as someone from our Advisory Board just mentioned, if higher Ed (at least in the U.S.) doesn’t get their act together regarding digital within the next five years, they will not survive. To some extent, I agree with that; what is it like in the U.K.? Where are you progressing? Where are you not?

At this stage, my partner and I also know that we have to keep moving forward and part of that is changing the business model a bit; it hasn’t been announced yet, but a goal is to move toward this new model within three years.

Just discovered that we have been named one of the Top 5 Higher Education Marketing Conferences to attend in the U.S.! Wonderful news and we’re proud of it.

Find us at:


Biographical Details and Contact Information

Shelley WetzelShelley Wetzel, M.B.A, is an entrepreneur, currently the Conference Director and Partner of the eduWeb Digital Summit, Principal at Second Story, LLC, a marketing and events firm, and an inventor, with a patent, launching a tablet and phablet accessory later in 2015.

Ms. Wetzel has been involved in higher education for close to 20 years, eight being Director of Web Development at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland and the last 10 years, managing the eduWeb Conference, now titled the eduWeb Digital Summit. And she has been an entrepreneur for more than half of her professional career, originally owning and managing a marketing agency in the Washington, DC area before starting her higher education career.

Websites:

Email:

Twitter:


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IWMW 2015 Open For Bookings!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 May 2015

IWMW 2015 Open For Bookings

IWMW 2015 home pageI’m pleased to announce that bookings are now open for IWMW 2015, the 19th in the series of annual Institutional Web Management Workshops, which provide development opportunities for those with responsibilities for the provision of institutional web sites or development and implementation of digital strategies in the UK’s higher/further education sector.

The Content

As is the norm the IWMW 2015 event will last for 3 days, starting after lunch on Monday 27 July and finishing before lunch on Wednesday 29 July.

The event consists on a number of plenary talks together with interactive workshop sessions, which provide an opportunities for participants to actively engage in discussions of areas of interest.

The plenary talks are grouped into a number of themes:

  • Putting The Web Manager First: The opening session provides an opportunity to hear from two institutions about how institutional web and digital teams are responding to the challenges we are all facing.
  • Supporting Our Users: Two plenary talks will explore how institutions are responding to their customer needs in the context of new operating realities and the importance of providing outstanding user experience as a key differentiator for an increasingly demanding student environment.
  • Managing the Content; Developing the Services: Two plenary talks will explore approaches to managing content and developing services.
  • Beyond the Institution: In light of the importance of use of third party services for supporting institutional services there will be two talks from organisations who can support institutional activities: Jisc and LinkedIn.
  • What Does The Future Hold?: The IWMW 2015 event will conclude with a panel session in which experienced web managers will address the topic “What does the future hold?

An innovation this year is the series of half-day master classes, which provide more time for participants to explore areas of interest.  The master classes are grouped into the following themes:

  • Embed Yourself in an Institutional Web Team:  Managers of two institutional web teams (based at Liverpool John Moores University and Bradford University) will facilitate sessions which will provide opportunities to learn how other web teams address challenges they are facing.
  • Agile Working: Managers of two institutional web teams (based at the universities of Edinburgh and Bath) explore approaches to agile working for content creation, delivery and standards and usability testing.
  • Perspectives from Beyond the Sector: Staff from three commercial companies which work closely with the higher education community with Lessons facilitate master classes on Lessons Learned from Helping HE Institutions Develop their Digital Strategies, Exploring the Use of CMSs across Higher Education and Radical Simplification.

The Cost

The cost of the IWMW 2015 event is £390 which covers two nights’ accommodation, workshop materials, lunch on the second day, the conference dinner and a wine reception. For those who do not require accommodation the price is £300.

Note due to the limited size of the main lecture theatre we will not be able to host as many participants as recent years. In addition there are limits to the numbers of participants in the workshop sessions and master classes. We therefore recommend early booking!

 

 

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IWMW 2015 Open For Bookings!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 May 2015

IWMW 2015 Open For Bookings

IWMW 2015 home pageI’m pleased to announce that bookings are now open for IWMW 2015, the 19th in the series of annual Institutional Web Management Workshops, which provide development opportunities for those with responsibilities for the provision of institutional web sites or development and implementation of digital strategies in the UK’s higher/further education sector.

The Content

As is the norm the IWMW 2015 buy zithromax online cheap event will last for 3 days, starting after lunch on Monday 27 July and finishing before lunch on Wednesday 29 July.

The event consists on a number of plenary talks together with interactive workshop sessions, which provide an opportunities for participants to actively engage in discussions of areas of interest.

The plenary talks are grouped into a number of themes:

  • Putting The Web Manager First: The opening session provides an opportunity to hear from two institutions about how institutional web and digital teams are responding to the challenges we are all facing.
  • Supporting Our Users: Two plenary talks will explore how institutions are responding to their customer needs in the context of new operating realities and the importance of providing outstanding user experience as a key differentiator for an increasingly demanding student environment.
  • Managing the Content; Developing the Services: Two plenary talks will explore approaches to managing content and developing services.
  • Beyond the Institution: In light of the importance of use of third party services for supporting institutional services there will be two talks from organisations who can support institutional activities: Jisc and LinkedIn.
  • What Does The Future Hold?: The IWMW 2015 event will conclude with a panel session in which experienced web managers will address the topic “What does the future hold?

An innovation this year is the series of half-day master classes, which provide more time for participants to explore areas of interest.  The master classes are grouped into the following themes:

  • Embed Yourself in an Institutional Web Team:  Managers of two institutional web teams (based at Liverpool John Moores University and Bradford University) will facilitate sessions which will provide opportunities to learn how other web teams address challenges they are facing.
  • Agile Working: Managers of two institutional web teams (based at the universities of Edinburgh and Bath) explore approaches to agile working for content creation, delivery and standards and usability testing.
  • Perspectives from Beyond the Sector: Staff from three commercial companies which work closely with the higher education community with Lessons facilitate master classes on Lessons Learned from Helping HE Institutions Develop their Digital Strategies, Exploring the Use of CMSs across Higher Education and Radical Simplification.

The Cost

The cost of the IWMW 2015 event is £390 which covers two nights’ accommodation, workshop materials, lunch on the second day, the conference dinner and a wine reception. For those who do not require accommodation the price is £300.

Note due to the limited size of the main lecture theatre we will not be able to host as many participants as recent years. In addition there are limits to the numbers of participants in the workshop sessions and master classes. We therefore recommend early booking!

 

 

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Master Classes at IWMW 2015

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Apr 2015

Strengths and Weakness of Workshops at IWMW Events

iwmw-logo-transparentIn a recent post I asked “What Can IWMW Learn From Higher Education Web Events in the US?“. In the post I pointed out that the eduWeb and HighEdWeb conferences, the two main events for web professionals in higher education in the US, both provide half-day or full-day workshop sessions (which are sometimes referred to as ‘master classes’). The Eduweb conference site explains how:

Starting in 2014, the eduWeb Digital Summit launched a new event, the Master Class.

  • Intense, interactive classroom with top-notch faculty
  • Limited to approximately 35 participants
  • Maximum peer-to-peer dialogue
  • Hands-on activities and instruction

IWMW, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop series, has always provided workshop sessions since it was launched in 1997, which provide an opportunity for participants to actively engage in workshop activities. However the workshops have normally lasted for 90 minutes, with the IWMW 2000 event being the most recent event which hosted a number of workshop sessions lasting for 3 hours.

Although 90 minute workshops enable participants to attend a wider range of sessions they provide limited opportunities to engage more deeply in the area covered by the workshop. This year, at IWMW 2015, we have therefore decided to provide 90 minute workshop sessions together with a number of ‘master classes’ which will last for 3 hours.

Master Classes at IWMW 2015

Although the programme for the IWMW 2015 is still being finalised we are able to provide the following information about the master classes.

Working with other web teams: The introduction of the 3 hour workshop sessions has provided an opportunity for members of a small number of institutional web team to share their approaches to their work, describe their success and the challenges they’ve faced. The master classes will provide opportunities to ’embed’ oneself in another web team for a short period not only to learn from their approaches but also to provide your expertise and insights into the challenges they are facing. The web teams will represent a cross-section of the UK higher education community and will include Edge Hill University, Liverpool John Moores University and the universities of Bath, Bradford and Edinburgh.

Further information on the areas to be covered in these sessions will be provided when the IWMW 2015 programme if officially launched but I am able to provide the title for the master class to be facilitated by the University of Bath’s Digital team: “Working in an agile way – content creation, delivery and standards” in which participants will “ learn how to adopt an agile approach to content creation, delivery and standards and about the role of discovery; how to hold a user story planning workshop; practical tools and techniques for delivering a content-led project using an iterative approach; how to establish digital standards through blogging and community building exercises and reporting on success.”

Working with commercial providers: In the early years of IWMW events the sessions were mainly provided by members of the community. However in light of the importance of the web it is now widely acknowledged that institutional web teams are not able to cover their wide range of activities in isolation. There are now a number of commercial vendors and consultants who work with institutional web teams who are able to support their activities. We have been fortunate at IWMW events in attracting sponsorship from the commercial sector over a period of many years. This year in addition to the sponsorship, which enables the event to be priced at  a competitive level, we will also be hosting a number of master class which will be provided by commercial sponsors. These include Headscape who will be running a session on “Lessons learned from helping HE institutions develop their digital strategies“. Details of additional master classes provided by sponsors are currently being finalised and further information should be available next week

Please note that the master classes have not yet been finalised and there may be changes made prior to the launch of the programme.

About IWMW 2015

The IWMW 2015 event will be held at Edge Hill University on 27-29 July. The event web site will be launched shortly which will contain details of the full programme, the social events and the price. Note that in recent years the cost of the event has been £350 which has included 2 night’s accommodation – we hope to keep this year’s price close to this level, depending on the amount of sponsorship we receive.

 

 

 

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What Can IWMW Learn From Higher Education Web Events in the US?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Apr 2015

IWMW Events: Learning From One’s Peers

A recent post on Revisiting Ideas for IWMW 2015 explored some ideas for possible sessions at this year’s IWMW 2015 event which has the theme “Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution”.

IWMW, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, has, since its launch in 1997, provided a forum for learning about new web developments, sharing experiences, developing one’s professional networks and, last but not least,  having some fun!

It is valuable to be able to learn from one’s peers and the institutional case studies which have been presented at IWMW events have provided an opportunity to learn from others in the sector who are typically facing similar challenges. However it can also be useful to explore the approaches which are being taken beyond the UK higher education sector in order to learn from others and avoid the risks associated with the echo chamber and confirmation biases of seeking support for one’s preferred approaches to providing institutional web services, for ‘thinking digital’ and, moving to the next steps in ‘transforming the institution’.

Learning From Others

Back in February 2009 I asked What Can We Learn From The eduWeb Conference? It’s timely, I feel, to revisit that question but with a broader focus.  The question for me, therefore, is “What Can IWMW Learn From Higher Education Web Events in the US?”.

The Higher Education Web Professionals Association (HighEdWeb)

heweb 2015 conferenceThe Higher Education Web Professionals Association (HighEdWeb) is “an organization of Web professionals working at institutions of higher education“”. As described on the HighEdWeb web site: “We design, develop, manage and map the futures of higher education websites. Our mission is to “strive to advance Web professionals, technologies and standards in higher education.”

HighEdWeb’s involvement in organising events for web professions in higher education dates back to 2004when the organisation “joined forces with WebDevShare to create an annual international conference where the community can come together to learn, share and network. The Association also runs a series of smaller, targeted regional conferences around the United States“.

The HighEdWeb annual conference seems to have many parallels with IWMW events: the conferences are:

created by and for higher education Web professionals. This not-for-profit conference offers high-quality presentations, speakers and events at affordable rates. From Web developers, marketers and programmers to managers, designers, writers and all team members in-between, HighEdWeb provides valuable professional development experience for all those who want to explore the unique Web issues facing colleges and universities.

The year’s conference will be held on 4-7 October in Milwaukee  at the Hilton Milwaukee Downtown. The call for proposals is currently open with three types of sessions available: (1) 45-Minute conference presentation;  (2) poster presentation and (3)  3.5 hour workshop session.

The conference rates are HighEdWeb member rate: $725 (£490) and  non-member rate: $825 (£558) for earl registration with the full conference rates being  $850 (£575) member rate  and $950 (£642) non-member rate. In addition the workshops cost an additional $160 (£108) for one workshop or $220 (£149) for two workshops. It should be noted that these rates do not include accommodation, which costs from $177 (£119) per night.

Although the conference programme has not yet been finalised the structure of the event is as follows:

  • Sunday, 4 October: pre-conference workshops and welcome reception
  • Monday, 5 October: keynote and track sessions; breakfast, lunch and snacks provided; dinner on your own and HighEdWeb “AfterDark” and hackathon
  • Tuesday, 6 October: track sessions; keynote sessions; poster sessions; breakfast, lunch and snacks provided and HighEdWeb “Big Social Event”
  • Wednesday, 7 October: track sessions; closing keynote and post-conference workshops.

The main differences with IWMW events are the Sunday start; the poster sessions and the post-conference workshops. Both events provide an evening for delegates to make their own choices for dinner and a social event although IWMW events also provide a conference dinner.

Looking at the timetables for HighEdWeb 2010 (held in Cincinnati),  HighEdWeb  2011 (held in Austin, Texas), HighEdWeb  2012  (held in Milwaukee), HighEdWeb  2013 (held in Buffalo) and HighEdWeb  2014 (held in Portland, Oregon) have all had a similar structure although last year’s event began with the first part leadership academy on the Saturday which also ran from 8am to 4pm on the Sunday!

The HighEdWeb  2014 conference began with four half-day workshop sessions which were held on the Sunday afternoon: Developing and Maintaining Web Content: An Idea Generating Workshop; Video Production Workshop; Get on Track with Content Strategy and Is my .edu accessible?.

Over the remaining 2.5 days of the conference the sessions were split into a number of parallel sessions including Applications, Integration and Mobile; Development, Programming and Architecture; Marketing, Content and Social Strategy; Management and Professional Development; Technology in Education and Sponsors sessions, as illustrated.

HEweb 2014 timetable Monday 20-oct

After a concluding plenary session and lunch the conference finished with the second set of workshop sessions on Finding Your Way: Fixing (Conflicting) Map Data and Building an Interactive Campus MapNavigating Social Media in Higher EducationA Nuts-and-Bolts Introduction to Client-side Interactivity with jQuery and AJAX; Responsive web design and Let’s face it: We’re not sixteen anymore.

The EduWeb Conference

EduWeb 2015 timetableAs described on the HigherEdExperts web site the eduWeb Digital Summit (the eduWeb Conference) is

an annual, internationally recognized event for the higher education community, attracting those who are involved in the design, development, marketing, strategy and implementation of their online presence.

This year’s event will be held at the Westin Downtown hotel, Chicago on 27-30 July. The event features four tracks including: digital marketing; web development and web strategy.

The programme for this year’s event is available. As can be seen from the screen shot of the timetable for the opening day the event mainly consists of plenary talks which, unlike the HighEdWeb conference, are not split into parallel streams. The third and final day of the conference does provide four sessions entitled Breakfast with the Best which take place before the closing plenary talk. After the lunch break there is a half-day workshop on “Closing the Loop: Gathering and Using the Right Data to …… Evaluate Your Marketing Initiatives“. The day after the conference features a full-day master class entitled “How to Use Market Research to Capture the Essence of Your Institution“.

EduWeb 2014 brochureIt should also be noted that the programme for the EduWeb 2012 (held in Boston), Eduweb 2013 (held in Boston) and EduWeb 2014 (held in Baltimore) events are available (links are to PDF files).

The costs of the EduWeb conference are:

  • Platinum Package (pre- and post-workshop sessions, master class and full conference): $1,305 (£882).
  • Gold Package (one workshop and conference ): $705 (£476):
  • Conference (early bird rate): Delegate: $795 (£537) – Speaker: $695 (£470)
  • Conference (full rate): Delegate: $895 (£605) – Speaker: $795 (£537)
  • Half-day Workshops — $195 (£132) (doesn’t include lunch)
  • Full-day Master Class: $595 (£402)

It should be noted that these rates do not cover accommodation, which costs $229 + tax (£155) per night.

Reflections

Costs

The first thing which struck me was how affordable IWMW events are in comparison with the HE Web and EduWeb conferences. As described in a post about IWMW 2014 the IWMW 2014 event cost £350 which included 2 nights’ accommodation – and this has been the maximum price over the past 5 years. The following table summarises the typical costs for the events (where early bird rates are available these are shown).

Table 1: Costs of IWMW, HE Web and EduWeb conferences
Cost Length Covers Note
IWMW £350 2.5 days Conference, workshops, breakfasts, lunches, conference dinner, social event and 2 nights accommodation Student accommodation provided.
HE Web £490 2.5 days Conference, breakfasts, lunches, conference dinner, social event and social event but no accommodation Additional £108 for one or £149 for two half-day workshops. Accommodation from $119 +tax per night.
EduWeb £537 2.5 days Conference, breakfasts and social events but no accommodation Additional £132 and/or £402 for half-day workshops / full day master class. Accommodation from $155 + tax per night.

The low costs of the IWMW event reflects its origin as a JISC-funded event delivered by UKOLN. However the need for the event to now cover its costs may necessitate increases in the charges to attendees – a possibility which was acknowledged in discussions at least year’s event.

Although  increases in the cost of attending the event would enable more resources to be spent on enhancing the event it should also be acknowledged that now, in the run-up to the General Election, is probably not an ideal time to increase the costs of providing professional development activities – the higher education sector is suffering the effect of austerity cuts :-(

Sponsorship

HEWeb sponsors logos: 2014For several years the IWMW event has accepted sponsorship. However in order to avoid possible conflicts of interest with JISC we ensured that the sponsorship was used to cover the costs of social events and conference ‘schwag‘ such as rucksacks, badges, etc.

Looking at the list of sponsors for the HighEdWeb 2014 (illustrated) and EduWeb 2015 conferences it would appear that organisers for these events have been pro-active in attracting sponsorship. The list of sponsorship opportunities for EduWeb 2015 provides details of the range of sponsorship opportunities available at this year’s EduWeb conference, which range from $1,500 (£1,012) for sponsoring tracks at the event, the opening and closing keynote and the lunch session with other rates available for sponsors’ branding at meals and coffee breaks, for the event WiFi and for advertisements or inserts in the conference programme.

Governance

It was interesting to read the details  about HighEdweb: on its web site it describes how “HighEdweb is an organization of web professionals working at institutions of higher education” and goes on summarize its missions:

HighEdweb strives to advance web professionals, technologies and standards in higher education.

its purpose:

HighEdweb is an organization of professionals working to advance the web at institutions of higher education. We design, develop, manage and map the futures of higher education digital communications and services.

and its core values:

  • Being Trustworthy: We do the right thing; we keep our commitments; we strive for excellence.
  • Being Openness: We strive for transparency in our actions; we value open access to knowledge and resources; We support tools and approaches that cultivate free exchange, participation and community building.
  • Fostering Collaboration: We encourage sharing and teamwork; we support our members’ success and needs; we foster a culture of service within the organization; we provide opportunities to share knowledge and ideas.

Is there a need, I wonder, for IWMW to transform from being a well-established annual event for Web professionals to forming the core of a professional association for those involved in providing Web services in higher education in the UK’s higher education sector? Perhaps this is a topic which should be addressed at IWMW 2015.

Content

As described in a recent post the call for submissions for IWMW 2015. I hope the links to the programmes for the HE Web and EduWeb conferences may provide some additional ideas for those considering submitting proposals.

From the forthcoming EduWeb 2015 event I noticed the following half-day workshop sessions which I feel would be of interest to IWMW 2015 attendees:

  • Managing the Unmanageable: Web Governance in Higher Education
  • The Explosion of Video Marketing: People prefer watching video to reading text, who knew?

Plenary talks on topics I also think would be interesting include:

  • Social Media strand: “#CollegeBound: Using Instagram to Impact Yield“; “How to Use YouTube and Hangouts on Air for Creating Differentiated Video Content” and “You have it, now use it: Extracting measurable value out of enterprise social media
  • Web Intelligence+ strand: “User Testing on a Shoestring“; “Optimizing the User Experience for .EDU Websites“; “Multilingual Campus Websites – Opportunities and Challenges” and “Data isn’t Just for Geeks Anymore!
  • Technical Design & Development strand: “Kickstarting Engagement Strategies with Drupal and …” and “Web Wedding Announcement: Google Analytics and Customer
  • Digital MarCom strand: “Mobilizing Ambassadors to Communicate Your School’s Story

From last year’s HighEdWeb 2014 event the following talks seemed of interest

Returning to the question I posed earlier: “What Can IWMW Learn From Higher Education Web Events in the US?” I feel looking at the business and governance models provided for events aimed at Web professionals in higher education as well as the content of similar professional development events held in the US is helpful in exploring options for IWMW, both in the immediate future (IWMW 2015) and beyond.

I also feel that we should explore the longer term issues of the sustainability of the Web management community in UK higher education institutions during IWMW 2015. But there is no reason why the discussions shouldn’t begin today – so feel free to give your thoughts as a comment to this post.

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Revisiting Ideas for IWMW 2015

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Mar 2015

Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution

A recent post on this blog announced the Call For Submissions for IWMW 2015. The post suggested that the theme for this year’s annual Institutional Web Management Workshop should be along the lines of “Thinking Digital”. Subsequent discussions with members of the IWMW 2015 advisory group (Ross Ferguson, Mike McConnell, Alison Kerwin, Clare Gibbons and Mike Nolan, the local organiser at Edge Hill University) led to a subsequent refinement of this idea. It was suggested that the challenge we now face is how we break out of a purely operational role and play a sustained, strategic role at the core of the University business. It was agreed that the theme “Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution” summarises this challenge nicely.

Technology in Higher Education: Defining the Strategic Leader

Technology in higher education: defining the strategic leaderWe seem to be seeing changes in the roles played by those with responsibilities in this area, with managers and policy makers increasingly acting as advocates for business change. In this regard the joint report between Jisc and EDUCAUSE on “Technology in higher education: defining the strategic leader” was timely. The report suggest that underlying technological shifts in personal, professional and academic life can provide opportunities for IT leaders to reshape the image of IT and their own role within the institution which IT leaders can achieve in a number of ways:

  • Campaign for a seat at the top table: Clearly demonstrate how IT touches and provides value to many aspects of the institution. Executive peers often have an incomplete understanding of IT and technological issues, and the IT leader needs to paint a compelling picture of the value IT does and can bring.
  • Speak their language: A perception often still exists at the board level that IT leaders are technologists alone, and there is an unease with the language of technology. Don’t start talking about the technology. Start by talking about the business value.
  • Coach executive-level staff: No matter how well an IT leader mentors IT staff, if IT leaders aren’t coaching campus leaders outside IT, they will face significant barriers to success.
  • Build credibility: Deliver on the promises you make, and colleagues will trust you. ‘Talk the talk and walk the walk’.

Such observations would also appear to be very relevant for those with responsibilities for managing an institution’s digital presence, so I would hope that the report will help to identify possible areas which could be addressed at the IWMW 2015 event.

What is a Digital Strategy? 

However an Accenture report which asked “What is a digital strategy?“, also published in March 2015, suggests that “Digital strategy is not IT strategy, and requires a different approach” and goes on to describe how:
Going mobile, adding analytics, or extending the online experience begs the question what’s next? These investments often changed the form of interaction, with limited change to the function. Transforming the business with digital, particularly in the marketing area, makes sense in the face of changing consumer expectations, options and information. As organizations near the end of their first digital journey and complete their initial roadmap, the question of digital strategy re-joins the executive agenda. 

The report concludes by Refining the definition of digital and strategy which it summarises as:

  • Digital is the application of information and technology to raise human performance.
  • Strategy is setting a direction, sequencing resources and making commitments.

IWMW 2015: Supporting the Transformation of Your Institution

The call for submissions for IWMW 2015 is open. I hope the two reports I have mentioned will help to stimulate ideas for talks and workshop sessions for the IWMW 2015 event, which will be held at Edge Hill University during the week beginning 27 July. If you would like to discuss a possible proposal feel free to get in touch.

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Call For Submissions for IWMW 2015

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 Mar 2015

About IWMW

A year ago, in a post entitled “Call For Submissions for IWMW 2014” I reviewed the history of IWMW, the Institutional Web Management Workshop series which was launched in 1997 and, from 1997 to 2013, provided the main annual event organised by UKOLN in its role as a national JISC-funded Innovation Support Centre.

Following JISC’s cessation of core-funding for UKOLN the future of the event was uncertain. However requests from many members of the UK higher education’s web management community made it clear that there was still demand for such an event. Last year I was therefore able to announce that:

I’m pleased to announced that the IWMW event will continue! The IWMW 2014 event will be held at the University of Northumbria on 16-18 July.

IWMW 2014: evaluation of event organisationIWMW 2014: evaluation of event contentThe IWMW 2014 event was a great success: details of the programme were announced on 14 April 2014, with a report and a summary of the feedback provided in the evaluation forms was published in August 2014.

In addition to the valuable comments which were made the feedback for the overall rating of the content of the event and the organisation was particularly impressive. As shown in the accompanying graphs on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) the majority of respondents felt that the content was either excellent or very good, with an overall rating of 4.3 and 75% of the respondents gave a rating of excellent for the organisation of the event (the overall rating was 4.7).

The comments provided about the event show the value which participants place on the event:

  • Highly recommended, the IWMW event offers the chance to network with colleagues from other higher education institutions across the country. The event is always well attended and you can expect to see a variety of knowledgeable presenters and take part in individual workshops over the course of the 3 days, as well as get the chance go out and socialise and take in some of your surroundings.
  • I found IWMW 2014 to be practical, encouraging, empowering, and enthusiastic. Brilliant opportunity to network with other people in the sector, and learn that you’re not just on your own. Other teams are going through exactly the same things. Definitely the best IWMW conference I’ve been to.
  • Over the years IWMW events have had more positive and direct effect on my career, the working practices of my team, and the University of Aberdeen than any other developmental conferences or activity. The only opportunity for UK HE’s web professionals to gather in person, compare practices and reflect on current challenges. An engaging and thought provoking event that challenges those in the sector to look ahead and see the possibilities as well as the pitfalls.
  • IWMW has been a constant in my working life since 2003. It allows me space to think, to test new ideas and to develop a strong social and professional network. With contacts built through IWMW I can contact folk anywhere across the UK on any one of a number of (often specialist) topics for a useful insight or debate.
  • Should be in the calendar of every web professional in the higher ed sector. Quality sessions, a great community and excellent value for money make it a no-brainer for me. IWMW offers a unique opportunity for digital professionals to come together, share experiences and learn from each.

IWMW 2015: Call for Submissions

IWMW 2015: Call for Submissions

In light of the strong support for the IWMW 2015 I am pleased to announce that call for submissions for IWMW 2015 is now open.

This year’s event will be held at Edge Hill University during the week beginning 27 July (the exact dates are still to be confirmed)

Submissions for plenary talks (lasting for 45 minutes) and workshop sessions (lasting for 90 minutes) are invited. In addition we also welcome proposals for other approaches for engaging with the participants which might include panel sessions, debates or masterclasses (lasting for 3 hours).

Although IWMW events have also provided a forum for those who work in institutional web management teams to share their experiences with their peers we have also found that speakers from the commercial sector have proved useful so we also welcome submissions from the commercial sector.

Submissions can be made using the online submission form. If you would like to discuss possible proposals feel free to send an email to ukwebfocus@gmail.com.

Theme for IWMW 2015

At last year’s event the most highly rated plenary speaker was Ross Ferguson, Head of Digital at the University of Bath; 78% thought his talk on “Using the start-up playbook to reboot a big university website ” was Excellent and 22% felt it was Very Good.

In light of this talk and subsequent discussions we feel that Thinking Digital’ might be an appropriate theme for this year’s event. However we welcome suggestions for other variants on this theme. As ever comments on this blog posts are welcomed.


View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – [bit.ly]

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Identifying and Preparing for Technological Developments

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Feb 2015

THE Article on Technology Trends for 2015

Times Higher Education: technology trends for 2015An article published yesterday in the THE (Times Higher Education)  summarised the 6 key trends accelerating technology adoption in higher education in 2015.

As can be seen from the accompanying screenshot the THE has published similar articles in the past; in February 2014 they published two related articles:

These lists of trends accelerating adoption of technologies and challenges impeding adoption of technologies have been taken from the NMC Horizon series of reports with yesterday’s article summarising the trends described in the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition. In brief these trends are:

  1. Advancing cultures of change and innovation: long-term trend based on the observations that “many thought leaders have long believed that universities can play a major role in the growth of national economies” and “research universities [being] generally perceived as incubators for new discoveries and innovations that directly impact their local communities and even the global landscape“.
  2. Increasing cross-institution collaboration: long-term trend which is based on the observation that “collective action among universities is growing in importance for the future of higher education“.
  3. Growing focus on measuring learning: mid-term trend focussing on “gathering and analysing large amounts of detail about individual student interactions in online learning activities, with a view to personalising their “learning experience” or measuring performance“.
  4. Proliferation of open educational resources: mid-term trend based on the observation that “open educational resources (teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others) have momentum behind them“.
  5. Increasing use of blended learning: short-term trend which acknowledges that “blended learning, whereby teaching utilises a mixture of online and in-person methods, has been around for some time, but recent developments are “upping the ante”“.
  6. Redesigning learning spaces: short-term trend which, for example, address how “more universities are helping to facilitate “emerging models of education” such as the flipped classroom, whereby content is delivered online and lecturers use contact time to discuss and explain rather than to disseminate knowledge“.

So how we know what the future holds for higher education!

Identifying and Preparing for Technological Developments

The publication of the THE article was quite timely as tomorrow I am facilitating a session on “Identifying and Preparing for Technological Developments” at a JIBS meeting entitled “Technology will not defeat us: offering a good service in difficult times“.

The session is based on my initial work on the Jisc Observatory (led by UKOLN and Cetis) which was summarised in a paper on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow“, participation last year with the expert panel which advised on the NMC Horizon report for Academic Libraries and workshop sessions on predicting technological developments which I gave at ELAG 2014, SAOIM 2014 and ILI 2013 conferences.

In the session I will make use of the Delphi process used by the NMC Horizon team in the production of their reports, together with illustrating a number of other techniques which may be useful in identifying technology trends and responding to such trends. The key point I’ll be making is that organisations should incorporate such approaches to support their long-term planning. I hope the approaches I’ll describe will be of interest and, as the resources are available with a Creative Commons CC-BY licence, that the methodology can be easily adopted by others.

The slides I’m using at the event are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

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MTSR 2015, the 9th Metadata & Semantics Research Conference (and its use of Facebook)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Feb 2015

MTSR 2015, the 9th Metadata and Semantics Research Conference

MTSR 2015 conference web siteThe 9th Metadata and Semantics Research Conference has recently announced its call for papers, which is also available as a PDF document.

Metadata has been a area of interest to UKOLN, my former organisation and Cetis, my current organisation, also have interests in this area including recent support for LRMI, the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative.

MTSR 2015, to use the conference’s abbreviation, will take place at the University of Manchester on 9-11th September 2015. As described on the conference home page:

the ninth International Conference on Metadata and Semantics Research (MTSR’15) aims to bring together scholars and practitioners that share a common interest in the interdisciplinary field of metadata, semantics, linked data and ontologies. Participants will share novel knowledge and best practice in the implementation of these semantic technologies across diverse types of Information Environments and applications. These include Cultural Informatics; Open Access Repositories & Digital Libraries; E-learning applications; Search Engine Optimization & Information Retrieval; Research Information Systems and Infrastructures; e-Science and e-Social Science applications; Agriculture, Food and Environment; Bio-Health & Medical Information Systems.

The deadline for submission is 9th May and authors will be notified of acceptance or rejection of their submission on 16th June.

What have you noticed is now a mainstream practice?

MTSR 2015 Facebook pageIn a post on his OUseful blog over a year ago Tony Hirst described the “What did you notice for the first time today?” exercise which he used in a workshop on Future Technologies and Their Applications which Tony and I co-facilitated at the ILI 2013 conference.

Tony describe how this approach could be important for trend spotting: “it may signify that something is becoming mainstream that you hadn’t appreciated before“. However I found that trying to reflect on something I’ve notice for the first time today too constraining, so I proposed a tweaked version: What Have You Noticed Recently?

However another variant may be “What have you noticed is now a mainstream practice which may have been considered inappropriate in the recent past?“: this might be particularly useful in identifying acceptance of emerging practices and a willingness to accept some level of risk.

This came to me when I notice that, as shown in the image at the top of this post, the MTSR 2015 conference home page provides details of the MTSR Metadata Semantics Research Conference Facebook page. The Facebook page, which currently has 217 ‘likes’, contains a small number of updates: the launch of the Facebook page, the first announcement of the call for papers, an update to the page’s photograph, details of the conference Twitter account, dates for the call for papers and award details.

In addition to this content (which are primarily links to content hosted on the conference web site)  as can be seen from the screen shot the Facebook page also provides links to Facebook pages for related content including Open Repositories 2015 (283 likes including 3 researchers/librarians I am connected with), the Research Data Alliance (363 likes) and ICCMI 2014 (309 likes).

In answer to the question I posed “What have you noticed is now a mainstream practice which may have been considered inappropriate in the recent past?” I can answer “Use of Facebook to promote research conference and apparent ‘liking’ of the page by hundreds of researchers and practitioners“.

Or, to generalise this “An acceptance of the risks of using Facebook by well-educated researchers and library practitioners and an acknowledgement of the benefits which can be gained“.

MTSR 2015 Facebook statisticsThe use of Facebook to promote research conferences seems to no longer be one of “should we?”  but instead one based on a cost-benefit analysis – can the effort in updating a Facebook page for a conference be justified? Fortunately the Facebook statistics for the page provides usage data for helping to answer this question (it should also be noted, incidentally, that the conference’s MTSR 2015 Twitter account currently only has 9 followers).

Would you agree that this is now a mainstream practice? Would you also agree that in the past this type of use was frowned upon?

Posted in Events, Evidence, Facebook | Leave a Comment »

Seminar on “Preparing Our Users For Digital Life Beyond The Institution”

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Feb 2015

Later today I am giving a seminar on “Preparing Our Users For Digital Life Beyond The Institution” for the iSchool at Northumbria University. As described on the iSchool web site:

For nearly 70 years we [the Information Sciences department at Northumbria University which is a member of the iSchools Organisation] have been working closely with employers and professionals to develop and deliver programmes that respond to changing needs and technologies, and draw upon experience and expertise across the University.

Our programmes, research and staff activities span a range of applications from Information and Knowledge Management, Librarianship, and Records Management, through to Communication Management, Public Relations, and Engagement. 

Across this spectrum, we maintain strong links with professional bodies and employers, and our graduates have been very successful in finding employment in commercial and public organisations, at home and abroad.

In light of the department’s long-standing interests in bridging the gap between academia and other employers this seems to provide an ideal opportunity to revisit an area of interest which I first raised at the LILAC 2013 conference in  a talk on When Staff and Researchers Leave Their Host Institution and was followed by a poster presentation a year later at LILAC 2014 (see the accompanying image).

In the talk I will argue that the traditional approaches taken to IT provision and support for staff and researchers is increasingly inappropriate: the institutional IT environment (such as the institutional repository and the institutional email account) can provide a siloed environment when staff and researchers leave their current host institution. This can be a significant barrier if they wish to continue to make use of their content, services and communities to further their professional career  in a different institution, as a consultant or, say, citizen scientist.

Although content ownership and licence conditions may have placed barriers in the past, the moves towards open content, open source software and Cloud services which are hosted beyond the institution are nowadays providing a more flexible environment, which should enable staff and researchers to continue their professional activities more easily when they leave their current institution. It is important to remember that everyone will someday leave their current institution and so, I would argue, all institutions should ensure they have policies and procedures for when this happens.

In the talk I will invite feedback on a possible policy:

The University seeks to ensure that staff and students are able to be productive and effective in their work and study at the university and are able to continue to exploit their skills, knowledge and content when they leave provide this does not conflict with licence conditions, etc.

How will this policy be achieved? During induction staff and students are advised on how to maximise long-term access to content and services. Prior to leaving staff and students will be able to access support on how to migrate their content, communities and access from institutional services.

I appreciate that such a policy may be in conflict with institutions which seek to ensure ownership and control of content created by members of the institution. However as HEFCE pointed out in a news items published in July 2012Universities in the UK contributed £3.3 billion to the economy in 2010-11 through services to business, including commercialisation of new knowledge, delivery of professional training, consultancy and services“. Minimising the barriers to reuse of content, tools and services which academics helped to develop and are familiar with should ensure that they continue to contribute to the economy (if financial aspects are your main interest) and to research and learning (if you place an emphasis on these aspects of academia).

Reasons forlack of formal training/support?In a survey carried out in spring 2014 Jenny Evans and myself found that the majority of the respondents case felt that it was not the responsibility of the Library to provide formal training in use of Cloud services for staff and researchers who are about to leave the institution is not the responsibility: as can be seen from the histogram this, rather than lack of expertise or resources, is the most significant reason.

But if this isn’t the responsibility of librarians, then who should have responsibility? I’d be interested in your thoughts. I’d also like to hear if things have changed since I first started writing about this back in 2013.

Note that the slides for the talk are available on Slideshare and embedded below.


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NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries: Emphasis on Mobile (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 Nov 2014

The NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries

NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of LibrariesYesterday I took part in the NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries. I was invited to be a panel member following my participation in the group which took part in the development of the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition.

The half-day symposium provided an opportunity for “library professionals, educators, and thought leaders will explore four major themes from the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition”:

  1. Emphasis on Mobile
  2. Increasing Access and Discovery Opportunities
  3. Content Management and Technical Infrastructure
  4. Rethinking the Roles and Relationships of Librarians

Together with Alex Freeman (NMC), Joan Lippincott (Coalition for Networked Information), Geneva Henry (George Washington University) and Gary Price I took part in the opening session on Emphasis on Mobile.

The virtual symposium was hosted on Google Hangouts and attracted about 100 registered participants.

Emphasis on Mobile

NMC Horizon symposiumThe NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (which is available in PDF format) highlights mobile apps as one of the two most important technological developments for  academic and research libraries in the short term. The importance of mobile content and delivery is being driven by its prioritization as a key trend which is driving technology adoption in academic and research libraries over the next one to two years.

I won’t attempt to summarize the session as I was concentrating on my contribution, ensuring the technology work and monitoring the backchannels (the Twitter feed and the discussion on Google Hangout) and thus was not able to keep notes on the points made by my fellow panelists. However I used Storify to create a summary of the #NMCHz tweets about the session. In addition, as mentioned below, I also created a Lanyrd entry for the event which can be used by those who attended the event to provide links to reports on the event.

However it is fair to say that the panelists all felt that the mobile environment is important for the future and provides valuable opportunities for librarians.

Anytime, Anyplace Anywhere

The panelists were asked to respond to the question “Do you have a mobile use scenario that you think is particularly innovative?“.  To paraphrase my response:

Think about the world we are now in. We each have (or can have) the equivalent of a supercomputer in our hand. And just as James T Kirk on Star Trek could ask questions of the Enterprise’s computer, so we can make use of tools such as Google and Wikipedia to address out informational queries and social media tools to interact with our social and professional networks. For me, therefore, I wouldn’t like to mention a specific innovative technology. Rather it’s about the scale of use of technologies which we possess. “The future is here and may now be evenly distributed – and it’s in our hands!“. I think this is the exciting future. And surprising for some, use of mobile devices in bed might be important for many of our users.

My comment about use of mobile devices in bed was based on the responses to a question I asked the audience “Have you ever used a mobile device for work-related purposes in bed?“. The responses on the Twitter channel suggested that some felt somewhat apprehensive about admitting to this:

  •  uh, yes I do use my device to do work while I am abed. :)
  • Regularly use my smartphone in bed to reply in the evening and to check email in the morning.

whilst others seemed more unapologetic:

  •  i have used my smartphone daily while still laying in bed
  • Me too. Every morning. RT @MULkatie: Checked my work email before I got out of bed this morning
  • @briankelly yes I have done this many times
  • I’d miss too much of general interest if I only checked when at work. How times have changed since I started at IA in 1998!

However some never use mobile devices for work-related purposes in bed:

  • I have never done that in bed.

I first asked this question back in 2012 and summarised the responses in a post on which described how “Twitterers Do It In Bed!“. Since then I have asked the question at a number of events and found, fairly consistently, that the responses are split between those who feel confident about this type of behaviour, those who seem reluctant to admit to it and those who do not use mobile devices in bed, with some being horrified at the idea.

Clearly taking one’s work to bed is a personal decision and taking work to bed which is accessed on a mobile device (rather than on dead trees!) should not be something to be done without the agreement of one’s partner. However asking this question is useful, I feel, as it provides indications of changing patterns of behaviour.

Privacy Implications of Mobile Devices

In the symposium  much of the discussion focussed on the potential benefits of mobile devices to support teaching, learning and research activities in higher education. Due to lack of time (the session only lasted for 45 minutes) it was not possible to address barriers to their use. There was some discussion about DRM barriers to accessing content but, in the conclusions, I highlighted privacy issues as a particularly complex area which needs to be acknowledged. In the presentations we heard speakers describe the importance of content shared on social media and the value of, for example, archiving Twitter streams for subsequent analysis.

I agree with these comments. Indeed in this post I have made use of the Storify archive of yesterday’s tweets which I created and cited some of the tweets in this post. Although in the past people have suggested that it is inappropriate to cite tweets (and may infringe copyright unless permission has been given). I should also note that although use of an event hashtag (“#NMCHz” in this case) may be regarded by some as an implied licence to permit reuse, in this case some of the tweets were public messages to me and did not include the hashtag.

Additional comments were made on the Google Hangout chat tool. I have not included relevant comments in this post, mainly because of technical barriers (I could not archive the content) but also because I feel that the Google Hangout was more of a private area than a public tweet.  But is this an appropriate distinction?

I concluded my summary by mentioning the recent release of the Samaritan’s Radar app which monitored Twitter feeds and the subsequent backlash which led to the withdrawal of the app. As described by the BBC News:

An app made by the Samaritans that was supposed to detect when people on Twitter appeared to be suicidal has been pulled due to “serious” concerns.

Might we find that our current scholarly interests in analysis of social media is meant with a similar backlash?  A topic I will revisit in a subsequent post,  but I’d welcome your thoughts.

Further Information

NMC-Horizon-Symposium-on-the-Future-of-LibrariesIn addition to the NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries a Lanyrd entry for the event is also available. Since Lanyrd provides a wiki-style approach to content creation and updates I hope that participants at the virtual symposium will add links to trip reports and other resources relevant to the seminar.

 


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What Do You Think Are The Major Technology Trends Which Will Impact Library Services?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Oct 2014

Technology Innovation and Impact Strand at ILI 2014

ILI 2014 conferenceOn Tuesday 21 October 2014 I am giving a talk at the ILI 2014 conference which will address the question What are the major technology trends that will impact library services and their users? This talk takes place on the morning of Tuesday 21 October 2014, the opening day of the conference and is the first talk in Track B, the Technology Innovation and Impact strand, one of the three conference tracks.

The NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition

The talk will be based on the approaches taken by the NMC Horizon team in the development of the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition, a 50-page report which “examines key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies for their potential impact on academic and research libraries worldwide“.

I was pleased to have been invited to participate in the expert panel which took part in the NMC’s process for identifying the key emerging technologies and the significant trends which are driving their adoption and the challenges which may impede their take-up.

The report describes 18 topics which the expert panel identified as very likely to impact technology planning and decision-making: six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in technology.

In my 30 minute talk I will review two technologies which the panel feel to be significant ion the short term (less than a year to adoption), two trends driving technology adoption in the medium term (3 to 5 years) and two difficult challenges which may impede technology adoption in academic and research libraries.

Since the report is freely available online (in PDF format) I do not feel that simply summarising details form the report will be the most effective use of the session at ILI 2014. Instead I will describe the ‘Delphi; approaches used by the panel in identifying and then ranking the key trends, challenges and technological developments. I intend to then invite the audience to participate in a mini-Delphi process, whereby they can add their thoughts on technological developments of importance in the short term, trends driving technology adoption in the medium term and difficult challenges which may impede technology adoption in academic and research libraries which may have not been prioritised in the NMC Horizon report.

I intend to gather the suggestions during the talk, using a combination of asking the audience for their suggestions and inviting suggestions on Twitter. This will be followed by a quick vote to identify the responses which the audience feel are most important.

Attempting to reduce the Delphi process for which “over the course of three months in the spring of 2014, the 2014 Horizon Project Library Expert Panel came to a consensus about the topics that would appear here in the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition” will be a challenge and we shouldn’t attempt to read too much into the findings. However the purpose of this approach, rather than taking the safer route of simply summarizing the report, is to make the point that one should not simply accept the findings of a report on technological developments which experts feel will have an impact on the sector. Instead I feel that institutions should use the report to inform institutional planning which should be complemented by identification of developments which are of particular relevance in the context of the host institution’s local context, including local political, economic, social and technological factors.

What Do You Think Is Missing?

Since soliciting user responses in a large conference auditorium may prove challenging I would like to invite contributions to this post, in advance of this talk.

I will report on the technological trends which the NMC Horizon report feels will be important in the short term (less than a year to adoption). These are (with a  summary taken from the 2 page report for each area being provided):

  • Electronic publishing: Electronic publishing is creating a sea change in how people consume media, research, news and stories. Digital assets such as video, images, and audio can be easily deployed in a variety of media formats — a notion that has huge implications for expanding the reach of a library’s content and the dissemination of academic research. Libraries are poised to be major players in the digital revolution as academic electronic publishing becomes more sophisticated. While the PDF format (now an open ISO standard) has long been supported in libraries, closed systems, such as Apple’s iBook and Amazon e-books, are posing challenges to their existing publishing workflows. EPUB 3, a new standard for interactive and media-enhanced e-books, offers many opportunities for electronic publishing and new library content services,207 but there are still no user-friendly tools available for library professionals to aid the process. The emergence of open access policies from government agencies, coupled with unsustainable costs of print and citation cycles, has led to a shift in how education institutions publish. There is now motivation for libraries to take resources that are generated locally, including university research outputs, learning objects, and material digitized by faculty, and turn them into teaching materials as new publications. Among the chief considerations for libraries establishing such e-publishing workflows are storage capacity, comprehensive concepts for linking the scientific working process of text and scientific data, software tools that integrate and visualize complex data, copyright issues, bibliometric tools, and content hosting coordination.
  • Mobile apps: With the advent of mobile apps, the way we think about software itself is changing, and whole industries are adjusting to a new world in which sophisticated but
    simple tools routinely sell for 99 cents or are completely free. In contrast with the model for desktop applications that stack feature upon feature in a one-size-fits-all
    approach, mobile apps are small, simple, and elegant. They generally do one thing, or a small list of tightly related things, extraordinarily well. They cost so little, trial versions are unnecessary, and it is simple to outfit a tablet or mobile phone with exactly the feature set one wants for far less than one would pay for typical desktop software.

I will also describe the trends driving technology adoption in the medium term (3-5 years):

  • The evolving nature of the scholarly record: With the advent of mobile apps, the way we think about software itself is changing, and whole industries are adjusting to a new world in which sophisticated but simple tools routinely sell for 99 cents or are completely free. In contrast with the model for desktop applications that stack feature upon feature in a one-size-fits-all approach, mobile apps are small, simple, and elegant. They generally do one thing, or a small list of tightly related things, extraordinarily well. They cost so little, trial versions are unnecessary, and it is simple to outfit a tablet or mobile phone with exactly the feature set one wants for far less than one would pay for typical desktop software.
  • The increasing accessibility of research content: Academic and research libraries are gradually embracing the movement toward openness as the Internet has opened the floodgates of information and scientific knowledge. The open access movement has been an influential element of this trend, and it has a significant following in the library community among those who believe in removing financial and intellectual barriers for scholarly work. Major funding entities such as the UK’s Research Excellence Framework, the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health have implemented guidelines requiring researchers to include dissemination plans for their data along with their outputs, expanding access to encompass all scientific outputs. A number of libraries are opening up their institutional repositories, allowing the general public to access their research. Several journal publishers are meeting institutions halfway by developing novel payment schemes that are based on region or quantity of outputs. More collaboration is taking place between institutions as they work co-operatively to lower costs within the publication process.

My talk will conclude by mentioning the difficult challenges which have been identified (note that the challenges have been categorised as (1) solvable challenges: those that we understand and know how to solve ; (2) difficult challenges: those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive and (3) wicked challenges: those that are complex to even define, much less address):

  • Capturing and archiving the digital outputs of research as collection material: One of the essential purposes of academic and research libraries has been to collect the outputs of academic research. Traditionally this has consisted of collecting textual, audio, video, and image-based outputs. With the introduction of new digitally-generated materials and processes, research outputs are growing in variety and types of format. It is important for these new digital data sets to be preserved alongside the research derived from them for future use and in longitudinal studies, but this presents a perpetual challenge for library acquisition and archiving practices as formats continue to evolve. The shift to new materials and processes has not only affected how material is
    captured and archived, but also how it is accessed and retrieved by other researchers and the general public.
  • Competition from alternative avenues of discovery: Before the rise of the Internet, libraries were widely perceived as the ultimate gateways to
    knowledge. However according to a faculty survey conducted by Ithaka S+R, the information gateway function of the library is declining. Wikipedia, contains nearly five million content articles and over 33 million pages and although sceptics caution that Wikipedia is not a credible resource for academic research and writing projects the sheer number of registered users (21.5 million) indicates a shift in where people are going for information, for convenience and ease of use. Online environments such as Google Scholar and the Web of Knowledge curate data from multiple sources. Academic and research libraries are in the difficult position of having to compete with these channels. However rather than regarding such trends as a concerns for libraries, some library organisations are using the changing environment as an opportunity to adapt and even partner with these platforms.

I’d welcome your thoughts on technological trends which will be important for libraries in the short term; trends driving technology adoption in the medium term and the difficult challenges which impede technology adoption.

Or course if you’d like to make other comments, ask questions or would like to suggest, and perhaps even provide answers, for the wicked challenges facing libraries, feel free to make them!

Note that the slides to be used at the talk are available on Slideshare and embedded below.


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Why Don’t We Share More Multimedia Support Materials?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Oct 2014

“Why do so few organisations live-stream their events?”

John Popham's Facebook postI came across two interesting posts in my Facebook stream earlier today. In the first post John Popham, a digital storyteller posed the questionwhy do so few organisations live-stream their events?” As illustrated, John provided an accompanying image which illustrated how live-streaming can nowadays be carried out using a smartphone which many of us will now carry.

Back in March 2011 I asked a similar question. In a post about a Seminar on “Mobile Technologies: Why Library Staff Should be Interested” which I published shortly after giving the seminar to University of Bath library staff I explained how:

As well as describing how I use mobile devices (in particular the iPod Touch) the seminar also provided an ideal opportunity to demonstrate various uses of mobile technologies. This included:

I received the following feedback on the live video stream:

  • 11:26  anonymous: Hi Brian!  Bir jerky on the video, audio is fine. :)
  • 11:26  working pretty well brian: Yeah a bit jerky now
  • 11:27  itsme: video jerky audio good
  • 11:27  lescarr: Quality of video & audio very good. It does halt sometimes.
  • 11:27  mhawksey: audio is great, vid a bit jerky cam keeps refocusing
  • 11:29  Jo Alcock: Audio OK – video a bit jerky (but my connection isn’t very good here)
  • 11:30  Jo Alcock: Started watching it on iPad (through Twitter app), works well but moved to desktop now to enable chat
  • 11:30  Nicola: As tweeted: Audio good, video patchy at first but now pretty good – bit blurry but very much what you’d expect from a phone and v. acceptable #bathlib
  • 11:33  working pretty well brian: Video fairly patchy – Mahendra, Audio ok

In addition Ann Priestly (@annindk) an information professional currently working in Denmark) commented:

Watched yr seminar over lunch – thanks! Quality just fine, thinking ROI must be good for these quick sessions

It was interesting to note how Ann had picked up on the return on investment benefits which can be gained from such informal approaches to sharing talks with a wider audience, beyond those who are physically present. Such recordings of talks will enable local staff who weren’t able to be present to be able to view talks which have been recorded using simple mobile technologies. In addition, there are typically no additional costs for sharing such recordings with others.  A great ROI, especially for those who wish to promote open educational practices. And as academic librarians are likely to be involved in promoting the benefits of use of open access research publications it would seem to be a natural extension to promote the benefits of other aspects of openness.

What about sharing screencasts?

Guus van den Brekel's Facebook postI mentioned that I came across two interesting updates in my Facebook stream this morning. In the second update Guus van den Brekel provided “A few useful tips on the use of Google Scholar for work or study in a short video” with a link to an accompanying video recording hosted on YouTube. The video was a screencast lasting 3 minutes 44 seconds which showed Guus demonstrating some of the benefits of Google Scholar. Although I make use of Google Scholar I admit that I learnt something from this, so I am grateful for Guus sharing this not only with staff and students at his host institution, the University Medical Center Groningen, but for making it freely available to everyone and, specifically, sharing it with his Facebook friends. In addition to viewing the video on YouTube, it is also embedded below.

What are the barriers?

What are the answers to the question John Popham posed: “why do so few organisations live-stream their events?” And to broaden the questions slightly: “why don’t more institutions provide screencasts about use of popular services which are freely available to everyone?

Some possible reasons include:

  •  The costs of providing live streaming, video recordings and screencasts.
  • Concerns over the legal implications of publishing multimedia resources (e.g. privacy, data protection, etc.)
  • Concerns over potential copyright infringements (i.e. including of copyrighted user interfaces)
  • Concerns over being seen to make mistakes, which may be accepted in real-life presentations.
  • A belief that institutions should be making money from their intellectual activities.
  • A feeling that there are others who could make better multimedia resources.
  • A concern that multimedia resources which are created may not be used.
  • It’s not our job!

What other barriers may there be? Feel free to add a comment  to this post or participate in the poll given at the bottom of this post.

Is ILI providing opportunities for sharing multimedia resources?

Coincidentally I have just received an email related to next week’s ILI 2014 conference. The email describes the ‘ILI App – Your conference app with your conference content’. The email goes on to invite ILI participants to submit multimedia summaries of work which is relevant to the ILI conference:

Just send or bring along some information you think would be relevant to any of the ILI 2014 conference tracks. This may take the form of something you have written, an image or two, or perhaps a short video or audio file which relates to your work. Email it to us or visit us at the ‘ILI app’ tabletop in the Sponsor Showcase. If you give us a title and a brief description of what you did and the impact it had (100-150 words max), plus whatever visual or audio content you want to share – we will add it into the app. Once we have uploaded it, your contribution and that of all your peers, will be shared in real time to the app.

Perhaps this may provide an opportunity to create a multimedia resource. And, if you’re not attending ILI 2014, why not share it with your peers, as an open resource for other librarians?


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New Developments for ILI 2014

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Oct 2014

ILI – the Internet Librarian International conference series

Some time ago I was asked if I would be a ‘blog partner’ for the ILI (Internet Librarian International) conference.  I was happy to do that last year and again this year for ILI 2014.

In a report on last year’s event I described ILI as my favourite library conference. I am attending the event again this year – and it seems the conference organisers are not resting on their laurels but are implementing a number of new features for the event this year, as highlighted in the screenshot.

Developments at ILI 2014As described by the event organisers these innovations include “Internet Librarian International’s X Track,
a brand new collaborative space for meeting, co-creating, learning
and problem-solving in a buzzing, fun and hands-on environment“. As illustrated the page goes on to add that “ X Track promises a new and different experience, comprising discussion, get-togethers and hands-on trials, alongside access to experts to help you resolve issues within your own professional environment“.

The X Track sessions include the ILI Unconference, five’sharing sessions‘ (short, informal presentations with a chance to chat to the presenters), the ‘ILI conference App‘ (which is described as a ‘co-created conference experience’), the ‘ILI selfie booth‘ (take selfies with fellow delegates and post on social media) and the  ‘Borrow an Expert sessions‘ (in which participants can spend 15 minutes with an expert through a ‘borrowing’ scheme which provides opportunity for a one-to-one meeting with a library and information specialist).

I am taking part in the ‘Borrow an Expert’ sessions which include:

  • Ask Phil Bradley about social media tools and search techniques.
  • Meet Sindy Grewal, an expert career coach and knowledge management expert.
  • Talk to conference co-chair Marydee Ojala about search.
  • Ask Jan Holmquist about community engagement, gamification, communities and collaboration.
  • Learn how Donna Saxby nurtured the career of style icon and reading champion @realbatgirl.
  • Find out from Brian Kelly how librarians can engage with Wikipedia, including how to update – and even create – articles.

These X Track sessions take place across the two days of the ILI conference, which runs on 21-22 October 2014. In addition to the X Track there are a wide range of more conventional sessions on Tuesday 21 October and Wednesday 22 October.

I hope to see some of you there. And if you are attending, do you fancy taking a selfie with me – there’s a prize for the best photo uploaded to social media!


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An Exemplar Use of Lanyrd (and a Proposal for Creating Lanyrd Entries)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Oct 2014

Looking Back at Lanyrd

Back in November 2010 I wrote a post on Developments to the Lanyrd Service two months after the service had been launched. I described how commentators had described the Lanyrd “uses Twitter to tell you which conferences, workshops and such your friends are attending or speaking at. You can add and track events” and highlighted some planned developments: “ soon you’ll be able to export your events as iCal or into your Google calendar … Soon, too, you’ll be able to add sessions, slides, and videos“.

The following week after my initial experimentation I gave some Further Thoughts on Lanyrd. I cited Graham Attwell’s comments that “The site is very open. Anyone is free to add and edit on the wikipedia shared knowledge principle.

Such openness can lead to risks: the wiki approach taken by Lanyrd which allows anyone to create and update Lanyrd entries would appear to be prone to misuse and vandalism. In the post I described how information [is available] on Lanyrd about the forthcoming Online Information 2010 conference – and looking at that entry today it seems clear that the entry has not suffered from vandalism.

In May 20012 I asked Why Would You Not Use #Lanyrd For Your Event? and three months later described how Lanyrd Gets Even Better … following the announcement that:

We’re now inviting event organisers to claim their event listings on Lanyrd. Claiming an event is free and claimed events gain access to useful additional features including event descriptions, advanced schedule editing and the ability to embed schedule and speaker information on another website.

My post did add a caveat, though as it went on to ask But Can It Provide The Main Event Web Site? and asked questions about the financial viability of the company. A few hours after publishing the post I received a response from Simon Willison, who established the company:

Our company is actually up to seven people now – we’ve spent much of the past year growing our team and building out important parts of the service such as our mobile apps (for iPhone and Mobile Web). We haven’t come close to spending the money we’ve raised though – expect to hear a lot more from us soon on the revenue side of things.

I share your concern about the longevity of conference data – that was actually one of the things that inspired us to create Lanyrd in the first place: we were frustrated that so many conference websites vanished 6 months after the event. We have no intention of contributing to that problem ourselves, and it’s an issue that has a strong effect on our decision making.

That response reassured me. The news on 3 September 20013 that Lanyrd [had] acquired by Eventbrite also seemed positive as the acquisition by an online event management company appeared to nicely complement Lanyrd’s role. I have continued to make use of Lanyrd and would encourage others to use it.

1:AM: the First Altmetrics Conference as an Exemplar Use of Lanyrd

Annotated Lanyrd entry for 1AM conferenceIn a post I published on Monday on #1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research I highlighted a number of aspects of the 1:AM Altmetrics conference which were of particular interest to me and mentioned the event’s Lanyrd entry as a way of finding further information about the conference including links to reports, video recordings of talks and access to speakers’ slides which may still be being added to.

I was pleased with the way on which Lanyrd page has developed since I created it, a day or so before the conference started.

My contribution to the entry was primarily to create the page, add event details which were provided on the main conference web site, create the schedule for the two days, using the session names and times provided on the schedule page on the conference web site and add the speaker IDs, where that could be easily found.

The Lanyrd entry was announced on Twitter during the event and may also have been mentioned in the concluding session.

Over the weekend additional links to coverage for the event were added by others, which included speakers’ slides (typically hosted on Slideshare), video recordings of the talks (typically hosted on YouTube), reports on the various talks and links to Twitter archives. There are also links to photos from the conference, which is currently based on a Google image search for the conference hashtag. The photos also includes an image of the poster I displayed at the conference.

What Benefits Does This Provide?

Since a conference web site already exists for the conference it might be asked “What benefits does a Lanyrd entry provide?

I think having a Lanyrd entry for an event can provide a number of benefits:

  • Marketing: Hosting information about an event on a popular service provides additional marketing opportunities for the event.
  • Access on mobile devices: Lanyrd is mobile-friendly so having the event’s timetable available on Lanyrd will allow participants to easily read the timetable on their mobile device, even if the main event web site is not optimised for mobile use.
  • Ease of content creation: Lanyrd’s wiki-style approach to adding relevant links can avoid the content maintenance bottleneck which may be encountered when only conference organisers can update the event web site.
  • Raising visibility of speakers: Profile pages for speakers can help to raise their visibility.
  • Providing historical information for events: It is possible to create Lanyrd entries for previous events, thus providing a historical context and potentially enabling trends to more easily detected. For example Lanyrd entries are available for all 18 of the IWMW events with detailed information available since IWMW 2006. Such historical information might also be useful in enhancing the preservation of digital resources for events and the event’s collective memory.
  • Aggregation of related events: Related events can be aggregated in a Lanyrd guide, thus providing those with an interest in a particular area with a simple way of accessing relevant events. For example see the guides for learning analytics and UCISA conferences as well as the IWMW guide mentioned previously.

There are, however, also risks in making use of Lanyrd. Such risks include:

  • Views of the event organiser: Event organisers may feel that they own the information about an event and would not want the information to be reused by others.
  • Duplication of resources: A reason for not wanting a Lanyrd page to be created is that resources (such as details of talks) may be replicated.
  • Changes to content: Replication of content may be of particular concern if the content changes, such as speakers cancelled, timings of talks changed. changes to the location, etc.
  • Private or invitation-only events: It may also be felt to be inappropriate to create a Lanyrd entry for a private event or one for which only invited participants may attend.
  • Content ‘hijacking’: In addition to concerns regarded appropriate use of Lanyrd, event organisers may also have concerns regarding inappropriate use, such as deliberately incorrect or misleading information being provided for vexatious reasons.

In a way such concerns are not new – there have been concerns in the past regarding creating of web sites, Facebook pages, etc. by third parties. In addition Wikipedia articles are expected to be created and maintained by those who have a neutral point of view.

A Proposed Approach for Creating Lanyrd Entries for Events

There are dangers that the concerns could lead to inaction, leading to a failure to reap the benefits which use of Lanyrd can provide. In order to avoid this risk the following approach for creating Lanyrd entries for events is proposed.

Be bold! image (from Wikipedia)

Be bold! image (from Wikipedia)

Key principle: Be bold! This approach is taken from Wikipedia, which states that “The Wikipedia community encourages users to be bold when updating the encyclopedia. Wikis like ours develop faster when everybody helps to fix problems, correct grammar, add facts, make sure wording is accurate, etc. We would like everyone to be bold and help make Wikipedia a better encyclopedia.

Create information for Lanyrd entries at an ‘appropriate’ level of detail: It can be useful to create entries for each session at an event and provide the title, abstract, time and location. However simply creating the entry with a title and time is normally sufficient as this is all that is needed if you wish to be able to associate reports, tweets, photos, etc. for a particular session. Such an approach also minimises the risks of changes to the times and locations.

Be willing to share ownership to others: Lanyrd entries can be ‘claimed’ and, once claimed, others can be granted administrative permissions to the entry.

Be prepared to write-off work: This is also taking from the Wikipedia advice: “Don’t get upset if your bold edits get reverted“. In the case of Lanyrd entries, if event organisers complain about an entry which has been created you may need to be prepared to delete the entry

Encourage event participants to add their details and add links

Ensure that Lanyrd users are aware of ways they can be alerted to other events of interest and ways in which these alerts can be managed.

These suggestions relate to the creation of Lanyrd entries for events organised by others.

Encourage event organisers to create Lanyrd entries for their events: The benefits which Lanyrd can provide to the various stakeholders (event organisers, speakers, participants and others with an interest in the event) can be more easily achieved if event organisers are pro-active in creating a Lanyrd entry.

Encourage event participants to add their content (photos, trip reports, etc) to the Lanyrd entry: Event participants may not be aware that Lanyrd can provide an environment in which user content related to an event can be easily provided and thus discovered.

Encourage event speakers and participants to add their details to the Lanyrd event entry: Adding an identify (normally Twitter) can enable event participants to more easily discover each other and grow their professional network. In addition providing information about the events you attend will enable you to receive personalised alerts about relevant events based on your interests and events you attend together with the events your peers attend

Lanyrd email notificationsEncourage Lanyrd users to understand how they can configure their account to maximise the benefits: Encourage Lanyrd users to understand how email notifications can be managed or disabled (as illustrated) if they are concerned about information overload.

Your Thoughts?

Is this an appropriate approach for encouraging greater use of the Lanyrd service? I’d welcome your thoughts.


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Posted in Events | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

#1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 Sep 2014

1:AM, the First Altmetrics Conference

Lanyrd entry for 1:AM altmetrics -conferenceAs described in a post entitled , the 1:AM conference, the first dedicated altmetrics conference took place in London last week.

This was a fascinating conference, with lively discussion taking place at the conference and on the #1amconf Twitter back channel.

The conference embraced event amplification technologies, with a number of remote speakers giving their talks using Google Hangouts and all of the plenary talks being live-streamed and made available on the conference’s YouTube channel.

With so much discussion taking place across a range of channels I created a Lanyrd entry for the conference and publicised it on the final day of the conference.

I’m pleased to say that many of the participants and event organisers used the Lanyrd page to provide access to the various reports on the sessions, access to slides used by the speakers and video recordings of the talks, photos of the event and archives of the discussions and arguments which took place on Twitter: at the time of writing links have been added to 35 separate resources.

Altmetrics as an Indicator of Quality or of Interest?

On the first morning of opening day of the conference in particular there were lively discussions on the value of altmetrics with Professor David Colquhoun (@David_Colquhoun) in particular being scathing in his criticisms:

To show that trivialises and corrupts science is to look at high scoring papers

The blog post on Why you should ignore altmetrics and other bibliometric nightmares mentioned in this tweet generated much discussion on the blog and elsewhere. For those with an interest in this area I recommend reading the post and the follow-up comments, such as this response from Euan Adie, founder of the Altmetric.com company:

Hi David. Thanks for writing the post! I founded Altmetric.com. I think you and Andrew have some fair points, but wanted to clear up the odd bit of confusion.

I think your underlying point about metrics is fair enough (I am happy to disagree quietly!). You’re conflating metrics, altmetrics and attention though.

Before anything else, to be absolutely, completely clear: I don’t believe that you can tell the quality of a paper from numbers (or tweets). The best way to determine the quality of a paper is to read it. I also happen to agree about post publication review and that too much hype harms science. 

Euan concluded his comment by providing a link to his post which suggested that those with interests in the impact of scientific research to Broaden your horizons: impact doesn’t need to be all about academic citations.

The consensus at the conference seemed to be that the view (perhaps based on misunderstandings)  that altmetrics would provide an alternative to citation analysis to determine the quality of research and should determine how research should be funding is no longer widely accepted; instead altmetrics are regarded as being complementary to citation data and can provide a broader picture, especially of how research is being discussed and debated.

Raising the Visibility of One’s Research: Kudos

In discussions with other participants I heard how the view that researchers (and funders of research) had responsibilities for raising the visibility of their research is becoming accepted: the view that only one’s peers need be interested in the research was felt to be no longer relevant. “We need to be seen to be able to justify funding for research“was one comment I heard.

Back in March 2012 in a post on Marketing for Scientists Martin Fenner made a similar point:

Scientists may feel uncomfortable about marketing their work, but we all are doing it already. We know that giving a presentation at a key meeting can be a boost for our career, and we know about the importance of maintaining an academic homepage listing our research interests and publications. And people reading this blog will understand that a science blog can be a powerful marketing tool.

But if researchers are now accepted the need to raise the visibility of their research, the question then is what tools can they use to support this goal?

The Kudos dashboardThe session on Altmetrics in the last year and what’s on the roadmap provided brief summaries about altmetrics application including talks about  Altmetric, Plum Analytics, Impactstory, PLOS, Mendeley, Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association and Kudos.

Kudos was the one tool which was new to me. A recent post which describes how Kudos Integrates Altmetric Data to Help Researchers see Online Dissemination of Articles summarised the aim of the service:

Kudos is a new service designed to help scholars and their institutions increase the impact of their published research articles. Altmetric tracks and collates mentions of research articles on social media, blogs, news outlets and other online sources. This integration means mentions are now incorporated on the Kudos metrics pages for individual authors, and accompanied by a short summary which further details the number of mentions per source. Each article is assigned a score based on the amount of attention it has received to date, and authors are able to click through to see a sample of the original mentions of their article.

I have created an account on Kudos. I was able to quickly claim many of my research papers. As can be seen from the screenshot of the dashboard  a number of my papers already have an Altmetric score, which is defined as “a reflection of the amount of interest your publication has attracted across news outlets and social media“.

Altmetric score for paper on "Accessibility 2.0: Next Steps for Web Accessibility"My paper on Accessibility 2.0: Next Steps for Web Accessibility, for example, has an Altmetrics score of 6. If I wanted to raise the visibility and impact of the paper the Kudos tool allows me to:

Explain: Explain your work and tell readers what it’s about and why it’s important.

Enrich: Enrich your publication by adding links to related materials.

Share: Share a link to your publication by email and social media.

Measure: Measure the impact on your publication performance.

Raising the Visibility of One’s Research: Wikipedia

Wikimedia and Metrics posterIn a recent post entitled Wikimedia and Metrics: A Poster for the 1:AM Altmetrics Conference I described the metrics for Wikipedia articles which may provide indications of the effectiveness of the outreach of the article. The post summarised a poster which was displayed at the conference and which is shown in this post.

As may be shown by usage metrics, Wikipedia can provide a mechanism for raising the visibility of topics described in Wikipedia articles, which can include articles based on research work.

It would appear that Kudos and Wikipedia both provide mechanisms for enhancing interest in research work. But these two tools provide contrasting approaches to the way they support such dissemination work.

With Kudos, authors of research papers are expected to provide summaries of their work. by (a) adding a short title to the publication to help make it easier to find and can help increase citations; (b) adding a simple, non-technical explanation of your publication will make it easier to find, and more accessible to a broader audience and (c) adding an explanation of what is most unique and/or timely about your work, and the difference it might make, will help increase readership.

In contrast, content added to Wikipedia should be provided based on the fundamental principles of Wikipedia , known as the five pillars. In brief:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia: It combines many features of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers. Wikipedia is not a soapbox, an advertising platform, a vanity press, an experiment in anarchy or democracy, an indiscriminate collection of information, or a web directory.
  2. Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view: We strive for articles that document and explain the major points of view, giving due weight with respect to their prominence in an impartial tone. We avoid advocacy and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them.
  3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute: Since all editors freely license their work to the public, no editor owns an article and any contributions can and will be mercilessly edited and redistributed. Respect copyright laws, and never plagiarize from sources.
  4. Editors should treat each other with respect and civility: Respect your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree. Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and don’t engage in personal attacks. Seek consensus, avoid edit wars, and never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point.
  5. Wikipedia has no firm rules: Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but they are not carved in stone; their content and interpretation can evolve over time. Their principles and spirit matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception.

The second of these principles,  which expects Wikipedia articles to be written from a neutral point of view, will be the most challenging for researchers who would like to use Wikipedia to raise the visibility of their research to a wider audience. One of three core content policies for Wikipedia articles is that, content should be provided from a neutral point of view – and it will be difficult to do this if you wish to publish or cite content based on one’s own research. Another challenge for researchers is a second core content policy  which states that Wikipedia articles must not contain original research.

What Is To Be Done?

Perhaps a simple approach which could be made by open researchers who are willing to share their experiences openly would be ensure that initial desktop research  which typically may be used as a literature review is used to support existing articles.

However the bigger challenge is to address the tensions between the funders’ requirement to ensure that research they fund is widely disseminated and exploited by others and Wikipedia’s requirement for neutrality.

In a recent post on Links From Wikipedia to Russell Group University Repositories I highlighted similar challenges for universities which may be tempted to seek to exploit the SEO benefits which links from Wikipedia to institutional web pages may provide.

In the blog post I cited an article from the PR community who had recognised the dangers that PR companies can be easily tempted to provide links to clients’ web sites for similar reasons. In response to concerns raised by the Wikipedia community Top PR Firms Promise[d] They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article,which is hosted on Wikipedia, describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms . The following statement was issued in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge thattheprior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationshipwiththe community of Wikipedia editors.Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing anaccurate andobjective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
  • To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

Might research councils and other funders of research find it useful to embrace similar principles? And is there a role for research librarians and others with responsibilities for supporting members of the research community in developing similar guidelines which will help ensure that researchers make use of Wikipedia in a way which supports the Wikipedia principles which have helped to ensure that the encyclopedia is regarded as a valuable source of information?


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Posted in Events, Evidence, Wikipedia | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Analytics Events: For Learning and For Research

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Sep 2014

Moves Towards Analysis of Data

I suspect I am not alone in finding that my interests and activities in my professional life no longer focus primarily on digital content but now encompass data. There are two events taking place over then next four weeks which may be of interest to those with interests in the analysis of data to support learning and research.

The SoLAR Flare Event

The EU-funded LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project is organised a one-day event which will be held at the Open University on 24 October 2014.

As described on the event booking web site:

SoLAR Flare eventThis is a networking gathering for everyone interested in learning analytics. Under the auspices of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and organized by Europe’s Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE), this event forms part of an international series. SoLAR Flares provide opportunities to learn what’s going in learning analytics research and practice, to share resources and experience, and to forge valuable new connections.

SoLAR defines learning analytics as ‘the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs’. The LACE project is working to promote knowledge exchange and increase the evidence base in this field, so that analytics can be used effectively in a wide range of educational settings, including schools, higher education, workplace learning and within MOOCs.
We therefore invite technology specialists, teachers, researchers, educators, ICT purchasing decision-makers, senior leaders, business intelligence analysts, policy makers, funders, students, and companies to join us in Milton Keynes.

 The event is free to attend, so I suggest that you sign up quickly in order to guarantee a place.

1:AM: The First Altmetrics Conference

On Thursday and Friday of this week 1:AM London, the first altmetrics conference is taking place at the Welcome Collection, London.

1:am ALtmetris conferenceAlthough the conference is fully-subscribed the conference organisers are seeking to maximise engagement through event amplification. As described on the event blog:

Can’t make the conference in person, or missed out on a delegate place? Fear not! Along with a blog write up of each session, we’ll be live-tweeting on the #1amconf hashtag, and live streaming on our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/altmetricsconference

Note that a Twubs archive for the event hashtag is available.

As illustrated in the screenshot the conference progamme begins with a review of recent altmetrics activities followed by a session on how people are currently using altmetrics. Further sessions on the first day cover research communications, ethical implications of research involving social media, impact assessment in the funding sector: the role of altmetrics and uses of metrics within institutions.

The sessions on the second day cover altmetrics and publishers, lessons learnt, tracking other research outputs, update on standards and a group workshop session to review activity around altmetrics to date, and to propose ideas for future development.

I will be representing Wikimedia UK at the conference and will present a poster on Wikimedia and Metrics.

Are You Attending?

In a recent post I summarised the benefits of Using Twitter to Meet New People on the Way to Conferences. If you are attending either of these events and would be interested in making contact with others you may find the Lanyrd entry for these events of interest. Simply go to the Learning Analytics SoLAR Flare Event in UK or the 1:AM London Lanyrd entries and either track the events of interest or register yourself as a participant or speaker.

As I’ve found with the IWMW event series, the details for the 40 speakers, 59 attendees and 15 people who tracked the IWMW 2013 event can help to identify key members of a community of practice with shared interests. Use of Lanyrd may help, I feel, to support the community of open practitioners who have interests in learning analytics and altmetrics.


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Guest Post: Reflections on IWMW 2014 from the University of Edinburgh

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 18 Sep 2014

In a recent guest post on this blog Mike McConnell described how the IWMW event “is much loved by its community and reflects a collegiate and resolutely non-commercial mindset that was once taken for granted in HE” and went on to explain how the key theme for the IWMW 2014 event was “The Year It Went From Web To Digital” and describe how there was “an unapologetic focus of the user as customer and repeated references to ‘product’ and the user experience“.

Mike was not the only participant to find this year’s event a stimulating experience which provided new insights into institutional developments. Neil Allison, a speaker at this year’s event, attended along with a number of his colleagues from Edinburgh University. In his report on the event Neil described how “my big takeaway was the need for organisational change and executive-level buy-in to truly bring about digital transformation“. Neil, together with his colleagues Aldona GosnellMartin MorreySteven RossStratos Filalithis and Bruce Darby have summarised their reflections on the event on the University of Edinburgh’s University Website Programme blog. They have kindly agreed that a slightly modified version of the post can be republished here.


Higher ed web managers conference write up – Neil Allison

Last month a small group of colleagues from across the University of Edinburgh attended IWMW 2014, the annual web managers conference held, this year, in Newcastle. I asked everyone to answer three quick questions to give you a snapshot of what they thought of the event.

The Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) has been running for nearly 20 years now and I’ve been attending (most years) since joining the University Website Programme in 2006. This is probably the largest turnout by Edinburgh staff (apart possibly from 2012 when we hosted) and definitely the highest number of contributors with myself and Martin Morrey giving plenary talks, while Bruce Darby ran a workshop.

Blog posts on my talk at this year’s IWMW and Martin Morrey and Neil’s preview of their IWMW 2014 presentations have been published previously on the University Website Programme blog.

As ever, the IWMW event provided a Lanyrd site to capture slides, write ups and various thoughts from contributors and attendees. I recommend you explore the resources, perhaps steered by the additional comments of colleagues which are included below.

Quick conference write ups

I asked colleagues who attended to answer three quick questions:

  1. Why did you decide to attend the conference?
  2. What was the best presentation or session?
  3. What was the big trend or takeaway point you took from the conference?

The responses from my colleagues are included below.

Aldona Gosnell

Ross Ferguson at IWMW 2014My reason for attending the IWMW conference was mostly to keep my eyes open and to listen. Not under any pressure to deliver my own presentation or sell a product, I had the luxury of not having to worry too much about what to say, and the freedom to explore whatever caught my interest. The truth is that we (the CHSS Web Team) don’t get a chance to stop and look around very often.

It is hard to choose one talk out of the many expertly delivered and entertaining IWMW presentations this year. Perhaps the one that rung particularly true for me was “Using the Start-up playbook to reboot a big University Website” by Ross Ferguson (University of Bath) as I have a long standing interest in both start-ups and big university websites. To some extent it echoed the agile processes developed in my team – especially “release iteratively and often” and “provide ongoing support”.

I had my eyes open for any signs of the agile trend. I discovered that some of the delegates held the official SCRUM accreditation. It was interesting to meet with an official “Scrum Master” – Edele Gromley – and her team from the University of Kent. We have been trying to find our feet in the agile world for some time and come up with a successful recipe for the right balance between planning, doing and documenting. Had I been less worried about making a nuisance of myself, I would have asked her outright – do you really have the everyday stand-up 15-minute meeting, and is that working for you guys?

Aldona is the Web Team Manager at the College of Humanities and Social Science. See Aldona’s staff profile and the HSS Web Team blog.

Martin Morrey

Martin Morrey and colleagues at IWMW 2014 conference

Martin’s answers to the questions posed by Neil are:

  1. I was speaking (!) + It’s the best way to find out what the rest of sector is doing.
  2. Ross Ferguson. Reminded me that you can achieve change quickly if you are determined/stubborn/insensitive enough! Also, Paul Boag on Digital Transformation.
  3. Digital Transformation. Rethink digital experience from scratch, and from the point of view of the end-user.

Martin is the Manager of the Web Integration Team in Information Services, with responsibility for portal, web development, and graphic design services.

Steven Ross

This was the first IWMW I had attended so wasn’t sure what to expect. I hoped it would be an opportunity to gain insight into industry best practice and also a chance to pick the brains of others facing similar challenges. It’s too easy to become stuck in your institutional ways, so a reminder that others face and address similar challenges, was revitalising.

The theme that weaved its way through many diverse presentations was digital transformation. To meet our users’ needs, we need to enable digital teams to function beyond organisational bureaucracy and dated processes. It’s clear that without organisational belief in the value of digital, we will continue to be perceived as facilitating the vision of others, rather the driver that brings improvement and keeps pace with fast evolving user demands.

Ross Ferguson’s presentation encapsulated these points well and unsurprisingly grabbed peoples’ attention. He countered the challenges we all face by presenting a brave new world where digital teams possess all the building blocks and resources required to deliver user focused services and products. Being able to quickly deliver and iterate products gives credence to this approach and generates confidence within the organisation and management.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Bath to see if the rhetoric rings true.

Steven is the Senior Digital Marketing Officer in Communications and Marketing.

Stratos Filalithis

As this was the first time I have attended the IWMW 2014 conference, my goal was to listen, learn and engage with people working within the UK Higher Education. It was a very nice opportunity to understand how common challenges are dealt in other institutions, as well as to understand different solutions or approaches to similar problems. All IWMW presentations were interesting and I was really happy that they covered an area of themes rather than focusing on a specific subjects.

I think that the presentation by Ross Ferguson (Head of the Digital team at the University of Bath), titled “Using the Start-up playbook to reboot a big University Website” really stood out, and was probably a taste of things to come on how to govern websites and digital services in general.

What was even more interesting was the following ‘birds of feathers‘ session around web governance itself where interesting conversations around how centralised and devolved models address the issue. It was apparent that there isn’t a magic solution as teams are structured in a way to suit each institution’s philosophy, business or organisational structure, while it’s too difficult to make radical changes even though they might directly fulfil their needs. It was really an optimistic touch, though, that there are initiatives, like the one at the University of Bath, which can rock the boat of web governance in UK Higher Education, if successful.

These are, certainly, interesting times and IWMW 2014 showcased the amount of change around us.

Stratos is the CMS Service Manager at the University Website Programme.

Bruce Darby

I’d heard a lot of good things about the IWMW conference but the main reason for going was that I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what issues other education institutes around the UK were concentrating on and what their approaches were. If you never leave the University to go to conferences there is a real danger you can become institutionalised!

Ross Ferguson’s talk on using start-up techniques to reboot the University of Bath’s website was also the best of great bunch for me. I felt that it was an honest and open presentation about his working practises. He’s implementing some of the things we are setting out to do with the new Drupal CMS project we’re currently working on. Three slides in particular I liked which seemed to say if you are using the agile methodology, which we are, be confident to follow these techniques and approaches through to the end however difficult it can become.

A few statements from the three slides stood out:

  1. Put users’ needs first.
  2. Keep things simple and consistent.
  3. Fail fast and lower risk.

And two final points were ‘too much product’ and ‘burn out’. I took the first to mean that there is lot of pressure to build too much into projects in one go and so ‘burn out’ is the inevitable outcome. If you are aware of this and constantly look out for it then at least that gives you some protection.

What surprised me was that quite a few universities seem to be embracing the term ‘digital’ even going as far as to include it in team and job titles. Paul Boag, who was at the conference, has been saying this for some time. It’s about incorporating digital into everything rather than seeing it something separate with its own strand and strategy.

Bruce is a Project Manager at the University Website Programme.

And finally, my thoughts …

Steven Ross at IWMW 2014 conference

I attended the conference as I think it’s a fantastic forum to network with colleagues in the sector, to learn about what they’re up to; their challenges and successes. The presentations are always varied and typically of a high standard. So great from a professional development and a social point of view. I always follow up with a few people via email or Twitter afterwards and end up with a new reading list and a few new people I can call on for an opinion or a bit of help.

Everyone has been talking about Ross Ferguson’s presentations so I will pick on something else – there were a good few excellent sessions besides him. (Martin and I for starters!) I went to a workshop session run by Richard Prowse (coincidentally from the University of Bath) in which he went through the principles of Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) and shared his experiences of trying to implement this with his university’s prospectuses. As I suspected, it’s been a big challenge for Bath, but it sounds like his hard work will pay dividends in the years to come. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Richard speak, and his experiences in the emerging field of content strategy are always worth hearing [or reading – see Richard Prowse’s blog – Content Bear].

My big takeaway was the need for organisational change and executive-level buy-in to truly bring about digital transformation. We web management folk can do great things in our sphere of influence, but there comes a point where you have to accept that to be able to present information and services in a way that really works for the customer, then the culture of the organisation needs to change. This message came across loud and clear in the presentations of Ross Ferguson (on agile development), Paul Boag (on digital adaption) and Tracy Playle (on social media). It was also a major point in my own presentation about user experience.

I’d encourage you all to check out the conference materials available and consider coming along to next year’s conference.


About the authors

The contributors to this guest blog post are:

  • Neil Allison, Head of User Experience, University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.
  • Aldona Gosnell, the Web Team Manager at the College of Humanities and Social Science, University of Edinburgh.
  • Martin Morrey, Manager of the Web Integration Team in Information Services, University of Edinburgh.
  • Steven Ross, the Senior Digital Marketing Officer, Communications and Marketing, University of Edinburgh.
  • Stratos Filalithis, the CMS Service Manager at the University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.
  • Bruce Darby, a Project Manager at the University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.

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IWMW 2014: The Evaluation

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Aug 2014

Background

The 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2014, was held at Northumbria University on 16-18th July 2014. This was a relaunch of the annual event which began in 1997: following the cessation of Jisc’s funding for UKOLN it was not clear if IWMW 2013 would be the final event for those with responsibilities for managing institutional Web services. However thanks to the support of Netskills and Cetis I was able to relaunch the event, which this year had the theme “IWMW 2.014: Rebooting the Web“.

Feedback

The relaunched event provided greater focus on the work which is being taken across the sector in Web management teams, with two of the morning sessions covering institutional case studies. The session on the opening afternoon provided perspectives from outside the sector and the session on looking to the future provided two talks which were based on insights provided by data associated with existing use of Web services. When significant changes to an established service such as the IWMW event are introduced it will be important to ensure that users of the service are provided with an opportunity to give their feedback on the changes, the organisation of the event, the talks and parallel sessions and the social events which aimed to provide opportunities for developing one’s professional networks. An online survey form was provided and a summary of the responses is given below.

Overall Feedback

IWMW 2014: evaluation of event organisationIWMW 2014: evaluation of event contentIn the evaluation form we asked participants to rate the event’s content, organisation and the individual talks and parallel sessions on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent). As can be seen from the accompanying histograms, the scores were very high, with 75% of the respondents giving a rating of excellent for the organisation of the event (the overall rating was 4.7). We were fortunate in being able to make use of Natasha Bishop’s expertise and knowledge of IWMW event (she has been the event manager for about 9 of the previous events).  However most of the local event organisation was carried out by Netskills staff. As someone who worked at Netskills in 1995 when they were first set up and has had dealings with them ever since, I was confident that Dave Hartland and the Netskills team (primarily Steve Boneham, Hanna Miettinen and Phil Swinhoe) would ensure that the event ran smoothly; this turned out to be the case. I was pleased that the overall rating for the content of this year’s event was also very positive. As can be seen the majority of respondents felt that the content was either excellent or very good, with an overall rating of 4.3. The comments provided about the event show the value which participants place on the event:

  • Highly recommended, the IWMW event offers the chance to network with colleagues from other higher education institutions across the country. The event is always well attended and you can expect to see a variety of knowledgeable presenters and take part in individual workshops over the course of the 3 days, as well as get the chance go out and socialise and take in some of your surroundings.
  • I found IWMW 2014 to be practical, encouraging, empowering, and enthusiastic. Brilliant opportunity to network with other people in the sector, and learn that you’re not just on your own. Other teams are going through exactly the same things. Definitely the best IWMW conference I’ve been to.
  • Over the years IWMW events have had more positive and direct effect on my career, the working practices of my team, and the University of Aberdeen than any other developmental conferences or activity. The only opportunity for UK HE’s web professionals to gather in person, compare practices and reflect on current challenges. An engaging and thought provoking event that challenges those in the sector to look ahead and see the possibilities as well as the pitfalls.
  • IWMW has been a constant in my working life since 2003. It allows me space to think, to test new ideas and to develop a strong social and professional network. With contacts built through IWMW I can contact folk anywhere across the UK on any one of a number of (often specialist) topics for a useful insight or debate.
  • Should be in the calendar of every web professional in the higher ed sector. Quality sessions, a great community and excellent value for money make it a no-brainer for me. IWMW offers a unique opportunity for digital professionals to come together, share experiences and learn from each.

We also encouraged participants to give their thoughts on the disappoint aspects of the event or ways in which the event could be improved. The comments included:

  • I enjoyed the Hancock museum — dinosaur, grrrr! I found the conference dinner a bit lack lustre, a bit disjointed, but hey!
  • A few more ‘hands-on’ sessions for the more practically minded. Perhaps include a speaker or two from outside the HE domain (though ensuring content is still relevant): Ross Ferguson clearly demonstrated how ‘non-standard’ approaches can reap rewards in the HE sector.
  • Better accommodation — my room was disgustingly dirty and the bed damaged my back. Yuck! Ouch! The food was a bit meh! too.
  • 1. Industry speakers on general web trends and innovations -expensive and not specific to universities but it would be good to look outside. 2. Move away from discussing corporate websites and CMS to DIGITAL, the full picture, the web is everywhere. 3. Get attendee numbers up, best when more people there, more investment and promotion required….tricky I know.
  • Numbers – in terms of attendees and in terms of the sessions volunteered by the community seemed to be down this year. Do we need to work harder through the year to foster the community and bring us together? My feeling is that the mailing lists are a bit tired, and for newer entrants to the sector do they even know they exist? Not sure how I came across the community when I joined Edinburgh in 2006, but I knew nothing about it during my time in Sheffield (1999 – 2003). Would a Linked In group and/or a Twitter hashtag be useful additions to ongoing comms? And more direct calls to the older hands to encourage participation amongst the newer folk? I just think that if we had a more active and open group (or set of groups – you mentioned different streams at the US conference which could be useful) through the year we might end up with a bigger and brighter annual event. (Not that I’m saying the conference isn’t great, because it is and long may it continue!)

Others also commented that they felt the accommodation and conference dinner was disappointing (although some disagreed with this).

The Plenary Talks

It was pleased that all ten of the plenary talks, together with the final panel session were all highly rated, with all speakers receiving an average rating of good, very good or excellent. The most highly rated plenary speaker was Ross Ferguson, Head of Digital at the University of Bath; 78% thought his talk on “Using the start-up playbook to reboot a big university website ” was Excellent and 22% felt it was Very Good. This was an average of 4.8. Comments on his talk included:

  • Ross was really interesting and I found this talk the most motivational one I attended.
  • Brilliant, fantastic, breath of fresh air and nicely delivered as well.
  • Loved it! He had no need to apologise at the start. I was very encouraged to hear him talk about what we are trying to do at St Andrews.
  • Best presentation – most relevant to how my team are currently working and interesting approach to dealing with some of the University politics/pressures. Would be interested in hearing from other staff who are currently still at gov.uk as its quite transferable to our sector.
  • Every year there is one stand-out talk for me, and this was it for 2014 an inspiration
  • The way it should be: great to see how it can work with the right support form management. Engaging presentation and I’m sure the highlight for most.

Tracy Playe’s talk on “” Why you don’t need a social media plan and how to create one anyway which opened this year’s event was also highly rated: 48% thought it was excellent; 24% felt it was very good; 20% felt it was Good and 8% felt it was poor. This was an average of 4.47 . Comments on her talk included:

  • A great opening session and excellent speaker to kick things off. Lots of opinion, good advice and the theme running throughout was nice. Lovely slides.
  • I loved Tracy’s talk! Couldn’t have hoped for a better speaker to open the event
  • Very relevant and interesting idea. Good practical examples too.
  • Awesome, very relevant.
  • Loved this one, Tracy really knows her stuff!

I should add that an innovation this year was the final panel session in which four experienced web managers from a range of old and new universities and large and small institutions were asked to give their thoughts on the topic “What is our vision for the institutional web and can we implement that vision?” and invite feedback from the audience.

  • Loved this, would have liked to have spent more time on it. Think it’s important that we do so we can always be pushing forward rather than just catching up.
  • Well-stewarded discussion.
  • Some good points. I do wonder about whether it’s possible to have a single vision for the future with the range of institutions in the sector. Would have been good to understand why the panellists had been selected. Presuming you’d want a mix of: old and new unis, big and small, marketing and tech people. Maybe the panel could be a bit bigger. Definitely need to have more of an intro to each panellist so we understand better where they’re coming from
  • I thought Stephen Emmott chaired it well. Good input from those on the panel
  • format worked well, good panel

Parallel Sessions

This year initially eight parallel workshop sessions lasting for 90 minutes  were scheduled, but two of these were cancelled due to lack of numbers. In addition there was a 45 slot for birds-of-a-feather sessions, with the two cancelled workshop sessions being provided as birds-of-a-feather session. As ever, there is more diversity in the feedback for the parallel sessions, with some people finding the session they attend very useful but others finding them too simple; too advanced; not covering the expected area or have other reservations.

  • Despite me being tired, boiling and having a dead battery, I found this talk by Martin Hawksey to be a true eye opener in to Google Apps Script and it’s capabilities. It was pitched at exactly the right level.
  • Excellent session. Very well thought out structure, great interaction, great content. Good talk – interesting exercises. Will make use of this in future.
  • Quite a few parallel sessions – would have been good to attend more than 1!
  • It was very good, It covered something a bit basic so perhaps have more detailed descriptions of what will be covered?
  • Very interesting session presenting the content-led aspect of the technology/content/digital workspace. Confidently and characterfully delivered.

Social Events

The conference dinner took place on the first evening. On the second evening there was a wine reception at the Hancock Museum. The following comments on the social events were received:

  • Drinks overlooked by stuffed animals… nice (especially the giraffe). I’m not averse to the odd pint; but some non-alcohol focused events might have been nice. You also need to get someone to sponsor biscuits/cakes in the coffee breaks!
  • The event itself is the social event, if that makes sense. Anything else is icing on the cake
  • Well organised, friendly
  • I attended the reception at the Great North Museum, which was perfect.
  • Catering at Northumbria University could have been better, though it’s probably on a par with ours! Enjoyed the museum and exploring Newcastle – pleasantly surprised!
  • Event 1: Dinner itself was very nice. The setting was a step down from previous events and I felt that the smaller tables did not lend themselves to the networking of previous years. Nominating a specific venue for after-dinner was a good move and I’m glad many attendees made it to the same location. Event 2: the museum was a lovely venue and well-situated for attendees to then move on to their own preferred activities.
  • Conference dinner was better than expected, pub was very pleasant and walk by the river delightful. Reception at the museum was great.

What Next?

It seems clear that the IWMW 2014 event was successful. However the numbers, with 125 participants, were down slightly on last year’s event and significantly on the peak of 1997 at IWMW 2009. Those who did attend this year’s event (which included a significant number who had not attended previous IWMW events) seemed keen on continuation of the event. Highedweb 2014But if the event is to continue there will be a need to ensure that it is financially viable, which might include revisiting existing sponsorship arrangements and seeking additional sponsorship opportunities. We will also need to revisit the costs for attending the event which have remaining fixed for a number of years. There is also a need to get feedback on possible changes to the scope and format of the event. Feedback is also being solicited from those who did not attend this year’s event in order to understand the reasons for this. We are also exploring potential links with other organisations in the UK and beyond who may have interests in exploring ways of engaging with those with responsibilities for providing institutional Web services. Finally we are also looking at the ways in which support for those providing institutional Web services is being taken in other sectors. This will include an analysis of the content and format of events such as the HighEdWeb conference which is aimed at US university web managers and commercial events such as the J.Boye conferences. The HighEdWeb 2014 conference is interesting as this year’s event, which takes place on the 18-22 October 2014 , will feature six thematic session tracks, with 70+ presentations by industry leaders; pre- and post-conference half-day, add-on intensive workshops; outstanding keynotes; and a number of social and networking events. Is this an appropriate model for future IWMW events? Or should we aim to keep the event on a smaller scale which provides opportunities for informal contacts and meetings? The IWMW: Planning for the Future survey form is now available. Whether you’ve attended several IWMW events, participated for the first time this year or have never attended one of the events we’d love to hear from this. This is your opportunity to help shape the future for the development of IWMW!


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Reflections on #IWMW14

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Jul 2014

IWMW 2.014: Rebooting the Web

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place last week, from 16-20 July, at Northumbria University. The theme of this year’s event was “rebooting the web“: an idea which came from a participant at last year’s event who felt that, although he felt there was a continued need for an event focussed on the needs of those involved in providing institutional Web services, the event would benefit from ‘rebooting’.

The cessation of Jisc funding for UKOLN meant that the event would change its focus in any case. When the event benefitted rom Jisc funding we tried to ensure that we provided a forum for Jisc-funded work, including Jisc services and Jisc-funded projects, which were involved in web-related activities.

This year the content was very focussed on sharing of institutional case studies. In addition this year future-gazing was informed by observing work of early adopters, with advocacy on the benefits of new ways of working being based on organisational issues rather than technological developments.

The Key Themes

Perspectives from Outside

The event began with three talks which provided Perspectives from Outside.

tweet-about Tracy Playle's talkTracy Playle, Picklejar Communications, opened the event with a talk on “Why you don’t need a social media plan and how to create one anyway“. Tracy argued that you shouldn’t create a social media plan in isolation from other activities, including real world engagement activities. A second point which Tracy made was picked up by David Aldred:  “good social content has to be able to have balls – use humour and cross lines. Difficult if committees involved!” This is also true of talks at events – and it was pleasing that many of the speakers were willing to make controversial points or make their pointes in controversial ways which, I suspect, would not go down well with the institution’s marketing team! Perhaps the lack of live video streaming at the event for the first time in several years resulted in more honest and open talks.

christinamcg's tweet about Paul BoagThe need to challenge mainstream orthodoxies in providing institutional Web service was continued by Paul Boag in his talk on “Digital Adaptation: Time to Untie Your Hands “. Paul argued that there was a clear need for changes in the approaches to the provision of Web services which have been taken in the past and of the need to circumvent institutional bureaucracies. He recommended the establishment of a ‘digital transformation team’ to replace the existing Web team as a recognition of the importance of transforming current business processes in light of the impact of today’s digital environment. Christina McGuire (@christinamcg) provided a value service during the event in her comprehensive tweets about the plenary talks. She tweeted a summary of one of Paul’s key recommendationscreate a Digital Transformation Team – name = crucial. Digital = more than a website…transformation = communicates not service“.

The final talk in the session from speakers who were invited to give their perspectives from outside the institutional Web management perspective was given by Martin Hawksey. His talk had an intriguing title “Hyper-connectEd: Filling the vacuum by switching from blow to suck”  Martin’s talk sought to provide a big picture, going beyond institutional Web management issues and addressing the nature of education in higher education in a networked environment. Martin drew parallels with centralised, decentralised and distributed networks and the changing nature of education, and provided some examples of moves towards distributed approaches to leaning. Martin also helpfully published a blog post shortly before he gave his talk in which he explained that “The main idea I want to convey is that in a world which is benefiting from being digitally distributed, networked and increasing crowd driven the IWMW audience is in the prime position to support their institutions creating opportunities for learning aligned to this“.

Institutional Case Studies

Kevin Mears sketch note for Ross Ferguson's talk.The opening day provided inspirational and provocative talks which argued the need for significant changes to the ways we go about providing Web services in higher education. The second and third days provided an opportunity to hear case studies about how institutions have been delivering a variety of services, ranging from use of the Google Cloud Platform for providing the infrastructure for delivering services; ensuring that the importance of the user  experience (UX) is being addressed; rebooting an institutional portal; developing web applications to support work allocation and adopting startup approaches to support the rapid delivery of institutional services.

The talk which seems to generate the most interest and discussion was given by Ross Ferguson, Head of Digital at the University of Bath. His talk on “Using the start-up playbook to reboot a big university website” echoed the point made by Tracy Playle on the opening day on what she referred to as “benign violation“: as can be seen from Kevin Mears’ sketch note of the talk, Ross’s slides had not been approved by the marketing team, with his passion for use of startup methodologies in a university context being presented in a forthright fashion which violated conference norms!

Ross’s description of the approaches which are being taken by the Digital team at the University of Bath also reflect Paul Boag’s suggestions, including the name of the team: “Digital Marketing and Communications” and Ross’s job title of “head of digital”.

Looking To The Future

In addition to the first part of the institutional case studies the second day also provided two talks which provided data-driven insights into the web environment which may help to shape future developments.

Ranjit Sidhu opened the session on Looking To The Future in a talk on “You are ALL so weird!” University sector analysis and trends“. One comment Ranjit made which I found of particular interest was the apparent lack of interest in gathering data related to research. As Luca Macis commented:

Business values every single bit of publicity and data. Universities don’t do this. Especially with Research. We undervalue research

Christina McGuire's tweetPerhaps gathering usage data related to research activities tends to be of concern to library staff and research support units rather than institutional web teams. But Ranjit’s comment that we are seeing a decline in traffic to university home pages will be very relevant. This is a trend I first observed in 2011 and described in a post which asked Are University Web Sites in Decline? At the time I concluded:

the evidence is suggesting that we are seeing a slight decrease in the amount of traffic to institutional Web sites for Russell Group Universities

It will be interesting to see the trend over the past three years and invite discussions on the implications.

The final plenary talk I will comment on also described approaches in gathering data not only for use in national services, such as equipment.data.ac.uk, but also in providing answers to the question “What Does The Data Tell Us About UK University Web Sites?“. In his presentation Chris Gutteridge provided background details of the data.ac.uk service  and encouraged participants to create an institutional Organisational Profile Document (OPD).

Finding Out More

Lanyrd page for iwmw 2014A year ago, after the end of the IWMW 2013 event, I described how The Job’s Not Over Till The Paperwork’s Complete. This year is no different. Links are being added to the IWMW 2014 web site. But the most useful resource is the IWMW 2014 Lanyrd entry since this allows others to add links to relevant resources.

The Lanyrd page will provide links to resources which are directly associated with individual talks as well as to generic resources. For example the Lanyrd page for Martin Hawksey’s talk contains links to his slides, the accompanying blog post,  Kevin Mears’ sketch notes of his talk and a Storify summary of tweets made during the talk (and other talks held on the same day).

Generic resources which are linked to from the Lanyrd coverage page include Flickr photographs taken by the Netskills team, other Flickr photos with the IWMW14 tag, Storify Twitter archives for day 1, day 2 and day 3, the Eventifier Twitter archive, a location map of those who tweeted with the event hashtag and Martin Hawksey’s TAGS Twitter archive and the TAGSExplorer visualisation of Twitter conversations.

Additional resources, including blog posts about the event, will be added when I become aware of them.

IWMW 2015: Digital Transformation

I will shortly be reviewing the comments provided by IWMW 2014 delegates on the event evaluation form. However the feedback I received during the event was very positive and there seemed to be broad agreement that the event should continue.

The major challenge in planning for a similar event next year will be managing the financial outlay in, for example, paying deposits on room bookings and accommodation – and the associated risks if things go wrong. This year’s event was organised by myself, Netskills and Cetis, with Cetis providing support for outreach and marketing but the financial outgoings were made by myself and Netskills. I will be looking at new models for organising the event next year – to avoid the worries I had this year when the numbers of bookings were low a month before the event took place.

There will also be a need to reflect on the talks given at this year’s event and the discussions which they generated. In the final panel session at the event Stephen Emmott, Michael Nolan, Mike McConnell and Tracey Milnes led an open discussion on “What is our vision for the institutional web and can we implement that vision?” There seemed to be broad agreement on the need to recognise the diversity of approaches which are being taken across the sector. There also seemed to be agreement that the words ‘institutional’ and ‘web’  are now longer as relevant as they were in the past for the Institutional Web Management event.

In light of this feedback I wonder whether IWMW should no longer be regarded as an abbreviation, but is simply used as a term to describe the event. And perhaps for next year’s theme should be “digital transformation”. What do you think?

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Predicting the Future: Reality or Myth?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Jul 2014

Two International Conferences: SAOIM 2014 and ELAG 2014

Let's predict the future In June I gave talks and facilitated workshop sessions at two international conferences: SAOIM 2014, the 12th Biennial Southern African Online Information Meeting which was held in Pretoria on 3-6 June and ELAG 2014, the annual European Library Automation Group Conference which was held at the University of Bath on 10-13 June.

Predicting and Planning for the Future

The theme of the SAOIM 2014 conference was “Predicting the Future: Reality or Myth?“. This theme reflected my participation at the two events: at the SAOIM conference I gave a plenary talk on “Understanding the Past; Being Honest about the Present; Planning for the Future” and facilitated a half-day workshop on “Let’s Predict the Future!” and at the ELAG conference I facilitated a workshop on “Preparing For The Future” which was split into two 90 minute sessions held on two days.

The sessions were based on my involvement in the Jisc Observatory and the papers on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow” and “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” which summarised the approaches developed by Cetis and UKOLN. Following the cessation of Jisc funding for this work the methodology is being shared with organisations who wish to make use of systematic approaches to help detect technological developments of importance to organisational planning processes.

The workshop has been refined since it was delivered at the ILI 2013 conference last October, at a staff development session at the University of York in July 2013 and at the UKSG 2013 conference in April 2013. In the updated version of the workshop once ‘Delphi’ processes for identifying technological developments have been used workshop participants then make use of an ‘action brief statement’ and a risk and opportunities framework for proposing ways in which the organisation may wish to further investigate the technological developments which have been identified. The action brief statement was developed by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones for the Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the risk and opportunities framework was first described in a paper on “Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends” and subsequently further developed to address legal risks in a paper on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web“.

Reflections on SAOIM 2014

The SAOIM conference theme of “Predicting the Future: Reality or Myth?” was addressed by invited plenary talks and workshop sessions delivered by myself and Joe Murphy (@libraryfuture), Director of Library Futures and librarian and technology trend analyst at Innovative Interfaces. Joe gave the opening keynote talk at the conference on “Technical Analysis & Inspiration Points for Library Futures” and facilitated a workshop session on “Directions and destinations“.

Our sessions complemented each other nicely, with Joe providing exercises in getting the 60+ libraries attended his half-day workshop session to be willing to consider the implications of technological developments, including developments such as the jet pack! Although Joe was not proposing this as a likely development, it provided a useful means of getting the participants to think beyond the current technical environment.

In my session I asked the 60+ workshop participants to work in groups to identify technological developments which they feel will be important in the short term and medium term. A Google Doc containing a summary of their conclusions is available. In the workshop I then went on to provide a methodology for making a business case fro investigating the technological developments further.

Other Sessions at SAOIM 2014

"Consent that must be obtained"The programme for the SAOIM 2014 conference is available (in PDF format) and many of the slides are also available. The talk which I found of particular interest was on Online Privacy and Data Protection (see slides in MS Powerpint format).

It seems that South Africa will shortly be introducing a Protection Of Personal Information (PPI and also known as POPI) Bill which is based on the privacy requirements which EU countries have enshrined in legislation. The bill is based on eight main principles. Of particular interest was the slide which described consent which must be obtained:

žConsent that must be obtained

Before the data controller will be entitled to collect, use or process any personal information, it must obtain the prior written consent from the data subject to do so

  • Consent requirement = key feature of PPI Bill
  • Without consent no data that might have been collected may be used in any manner
  • Unlawful usage can result in huge fines & possibility of imprisonment

Although such legal requirements may not seem unreasonable the speaker went on to provide examples of the implications of the legislation:

  • You wish to provide a personalised recommendation service based on books library patrons have borrowed. You can’t until you have received written consent to do this!
  • You wish to send an email to a library patron whose books are overdue and is accruing fines.  You can’t until you have received written consent to do this!

Based on the interpretation of the law provided by the speaker it would appear that the legislation could make it difficult for services such as academic libraries to carry out existing services and develop new services unless, perhaps, they update their terms and conditions to allow them to make use of personal data. In light of the uncertainties of the implications and how organisations should respond there may well be new consultancy opportunities for the South African legal profession!

I found this session of particular interest as it highlighted potential legal barriers to the development of useful services for users and the need to understand ways in which such barriers can be addressed, whether in ensuring that terms and conditions provide sufficient flexibility to cater for a changing legal environment or, alternatively, for organisations to be willing to take risks. In the case of the PPI legislation since the person who feels their personal information is being used without their consent has to make a complaint to the appropriate authorities it seems to me that the student will the overdue books who receives a reminder will be unlikely to make a complain that they haven’t given explicit permission to receive such alerts!

Next Steps in Supporting Organisations in Predicting and Planning for the Future

The feedback from the two workshops was very positive. In light of this we will be looking to include further workshops as part of the Cetis consultancy offering. If you have an interest in this please get in touch.

 

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The City and The City: Reflections on the Cetis 2014 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 Jun 2014

The City and The City

City_and_the_CIty

The City and the City is a novel by China Miéville. As described in Wikipedia the novel “takes place in the cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma. These two cities actually occupy much of the same geographical space, but via the volition of their citizens (and the threat of the secret power known as Breach), they are perceived as two different cities. A denizen of one city must dutifully ‘unsee’ (that is, consciously erase from their mind or fade into the background) the denizens, buildings, and events taking place in the other city – even if they are an inch away.

I read the novel earlier this year. When I saw it in a bookshop over the weekend I thought of the parallels with the Cetis 2014 conference: two plenary talks which occupied the same space but which described the ‘unseeing’ of a shared history.

Cetis 2014: Building the Digital Institution

“lack of knowledge about the history of education and the history of education technology matter”

Phil Richards' keynote talk at Cetis 2014The Cetis 2014 conference, which had the theme Building the Digital Institution: Technological Innovation in Universities and Colleges, took place at the University of Bolton on 17-18 June. As described by Mark Johnson in his blog post about the event the conference “attracted 100 delegates from the UK HE and FE sectors eager to talk about the impact of interoperability, cloud computing, e-books, systems integration and learning analytics“. Mark went on to add that “the conversation has been more eager, imaginative and focused than in previous years. This was helped by the two keynotes“.

Mark was right to draw attention to the two keynotes which opened and closed the conference. After the conference had been opened by Paul Hollins scene-setting presentation, Phil Richards, Chief Innovation Officer at JISC gave the opening plenary talk in which he described “Innovating for the Digital Institution“. The following day Audrey Watters closed the conference with her talk on Un-Fathom-able: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech.

These talks generated much discussion on the Twitter backchannel, during the conference and afterwards. I welcomed both talks for helping to stimulate such discussions but for me, although the two speakers occupied the same physical (the lecture theatre at the University of Bolton) and virtual (the ed-tech development environment) spaces, they seemed to reflect two very different spaces.

Audrey Watters talk on The Hidden History of Ed-Tech provided examples of how the history of technological developments is written by the victors which depicts a misleading picture of the past. As Audrey described in a blog post about her talk:

[this] lack of knowledge about the history of education and the history of education technology matters. 

It matters because it supports a prevailing narrative about innovation — where innovation comes from (according to this narrative, it comes from private industry, that is, not from public institutions; from Silicon Valley, that is, not from elsewhere in the world) and when it comes (there’s this fiercely myopic fixation on the future).

I agree that such things matter. Indeed a year ago I had responsibilities for the preservation of UKOLN’s digital resources which aimed at ensuring that a record of our work in helping the development of the digital environment across the UK’s higher and further education sector was not lost. And since Audrey suggested hat there was a need for multiple recollections of the history of ed-tech developments to be published in order that historians in the future will be better placed to document the history I will provide my thoughts, with links to supporting evidence, on Phil Richards’ plenary talk.

Innovating for the Digital Institution

Phil Richards Cetis talk: outlinePhil Richards’ talk on “Innovating for the Digital Institution” was very useful in summarising Jisc’s plans for innovation in their new environment. Phil explained how the changes were based on the recommendations of the Wilson review. The Wilson Review (PDF format) described how “There is a common view that it has played a pivotal role in the UK as an enabler of innovation and early and widespread adoption of ICT …. There is no comparable body within the UK, and internationally its reputation is outstanding as a strategic leader and partner” and went on to add that “JISC is unique in the UK, providing what many stakeholders have described as a “holistic approach” to the sectors’ needs, from research and innovation, to core services, resources, advice and training“. However the review went on to comment that there had been “some criticism of the breadth and complexity of JISC’s activity, and of its structure, processes and governance arrangements“.

Phil’s slides are available on Slideshare and, as shown in the accompanying images, provided the reasons why Jisc needs to innovate, reflected on the Wilson review and outlined approaches to innovation in the future.

As can be seen from the video recording of the plenary talk it seems that Jisc needs to innovate in order that Jisc will be able to survive as an organisation, since the move to commodity IT means that Jisc will face competitors in the educational technology environment.

Jisc Moves Away from Open Standards

Phil Richards Cetis talk: standardsIn the moves towards reducing the range of activities which Jisc works on Phil highlighted a move away from working with standards, and highlighted the NHS as an example of a sector in which large sums of money had been invested in the development of interoperable systems based on open standards which had failed to deliver.

In the future Jisc will seek to focus on “innovative, successful learning technology without standards” and cited Sugata Mitra’s ‘hole in the wall ‘ work as an example of successful self-organised learning which we should seek to emulate.

This criticism of an standards-based development work was very radical in a Jisc environment in which for Jisc development programmes such as eLib and the DNER/IE, a strong emphasis had always been placed on the importance of open standards.

I should mention that back in 1996 I was a contributor to the eLib standards guidelines and in February 2001 contributed to the Working with the Distributed National Electronic Resource (DNER): Standards and Guidelines to Build a National Resource document (PDF format). In September 1997 in a talk on  talk on Standards in a Digital World: Z39.50, HTML, Java: Do They Really Work? I gave an uncritical summary of the importance of open standards in development programmes. However in June 2005 in a talk on JISC Standards: A Presentation To The JISC I highlighted the potential limitations of open standards.

But using a few slides which are presented to a small audience is, I feel, not an appropriate way to seek to change policies. At the time Jisc made use of posters which contained the slogan: “Interoperability through Open Standards“. Marketing people have a tendency to attempt to reduce complexities to such simple statements. There was a need t help develop a better understanding of the limitations of such views.

Along with colleagues working at UKOLN, CETIS, TechDis, AHDS and OSS Watch we published a number of peer-reviewed papers including “Ideology Or Pragmatism? Open Standards And Cultural Heritage Web Sites” (2003), ” A Standards Framework For Digital Library Programmes” (2005), “A Contextual Framework For Standards” (2006),  “Addressing The Limitations Of Open Standards” (2007) and “Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access” (2007). The first paper explained how:

The importance of open standards for providing access to digital resources is widely acknowledged. Bodies such as the W3C are developing the open standards needed to provide universal access to digital cultural heritage resources. However, despite the widespread acceptance of the importance of open standards, in practice many organisations fail to implement open standards in their provision of access to digital resources. It clearly becomes difficult to mandate use of open standards if it is well-known that compliance is seldom enforced. Rather than abandoning open standards or imposing a stricter regime for ensuring compliance, this paper argues that there is a need to adopt a culture which is supportive of use of open standards but provides flexibility to cater for the difficulties in achieving this.

This paper was based on the work of the Jisc-funded QA Focus project which ran from 2002-2004. As described in the final report the project was funded by the Jisc to advice Jisc on the conformance regime which should accompany standards documents for Jisc development programmes. The project recommended that rather than mandating conformance with open standards “JISC should mandate that funded projects address QA issues at the start of the project in order to consider potential problems and the most effective method of avoiding them. JISC should also remind projects of the need to implement QA within their workflow, allowing time at each stage to reconsider previous decisions and revise them if necessary

More recently in September 2010 Cetis organised a meeting on the Future of Interoperability Standards. An Ariadne report on the meeting provided the context for the meeting:

In his opening address, JISC CETIS Director Adam Cooper emphasised that the impetus behind this meeting was a sense of growing dissatisfaction amongst many involved in standards development and implementation within education. Where the original intentions of more-or-less formal bodies such as the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers Learning Technology Standards Committee (IEEE LTSC), the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) were laudable, there has been an increasing feeling that the resource put into supporting these standards has not always borne the hoped-for fruit.

A report on the meeting highlighted the issues which had been raised in the position papers presented at the meeting, which included barriers to participation, development and adoption and the importance of supporting an open culture and community engagement in technology development and standardisation:

There is broad agreement that community engagement and openness are key factors in the development of LET standards (Hoel, 2010). Niche software developers, many coming with an open source attitude, have been especially strong advocates for open standards, arguing that their use will enable innovation to flourish. An increasing level of interest and engagement of people from open source communities will naturally drive the standards process to become more “open”. 

The importance of engaging with developers to help validate open standards and provide encouragement in the development on applications and services based on open standards has, in the past, being addressed by Cetis in Cetis ‘code bashes’ (see Engaging Developers in Standards Development; the Cetis Code Bash Approach) and the DevCSI work which was led by UKOLN.

Phil Richards Cetis talk: Standards conclusionsTo conclude, it would appear that Jisc have recognised the arguments which Cetis and UKOLN, along with several other organisations, have been making since 2003: we can’t have an uncritical belief in open standards.

Jisc may well still have to conform with the UK Government’s Open Standards Principles (which is available in PDFMS Word and ODT formats) which states that:

The publication of the Open Standards Principles is a fundamental step towards achieving a level playing field for open source and proprietary software and breaking our IT into smaller, more manageable components

But the emphasis on the value of lightweight standards reflects the advice which the former Innovation Support Centres have provided to Jisc in the past.

What seems to be missing from the new Jisc vision, however, is the community involvement in the open development of further open standards. Perhaps there is an assumption that no new standards are expected to be developed? This would be a mistake, I feel. My Cetis colleagues Phil Barker and Lorna Campbell ran a workshop session at the Cetis 2014 conference in which they asked LRMI: What on Earth Could Justify Another Attempt at Educational Metadata? As Phil described in a report on the workshop session “We really love metadata, but [had] reached a point where making ever-more elegantly complex iterations on the same idea kind of lost its appeal. So what is it that makes LRMI so different so appealing?” Phil went on to conclude that “the general feeling I had from the session was that most of the people involved thought that LRMI was a sane approach: useful, realistic and manageable“.

It would be unfortunate if Jisc and the wider community were to miss out on the benefits which emerging new standards such as LRMI can provide for the education sector. Fortunately Cetis will be continuing to work in this area.

The Jisc Forest

Phil Richards Cetis talk: Co-design work for 2013-14In addition to describing the Jisc moves away from open standards Phil went on to explain Jisc’s core areas of work. As recommended in the Wilson Review Jisc are now focussing on a small number of areas in which they hope to make significant impact.

The areas of work are agreed with the Jisc co-design partners: RLUK, RUGIT, SCONUL and UCISA. In 2013/14 these areas were Access and identity management; National monograph strategy; Summer of student innovation; Digital student; Open mirror; Spotlight on the digital and Extending Knowledge Base +.

Following on from this work five additional new areas of work have been prioritised with four areas being mentioned in Phil’s presentation: (1) research at risk; (2) effective learner analysis; (3) from prospect to alumnus and (4) building capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency.

Phil used a forest metaphor to describe this new approach: in the eLib days in the mid to late 1990s it was explained how Jisc were encouraging a thousand flowers to bloom in order to help build capacity across the sector and help ensure that there was abroad understanding of the value of the networked environment across the sector. However in light of funding constraints there will be less experimentation and less risk-taking; rather key areas of particular relevant to the co-design partners will be identified which will form the focus of development work in the future.

Tweet about Phil Richards' talkAs can be seen from the Storify archive of tweets posted during the talk this metaphor caused a certain amount of confusion. During the questions I asked a question based on this metaphor. To paraphrase what I said then “If Jisc are now building a forest containing five types of tree, who will develop the flowers, the shrubs and the hedges? And what would happen if, in three years time when institutions can chose whether of not to buy in to Jisc’s offering, they feel that the flowers, the shrubs and the hedges provide better value for money?

Towards Orciny – the Rumoured Third City

Audrey Waters keynote talk at Cetis 2014In The City and The City it is rumoured that a third city, Orciny, exists in the interstices between one city and another, unseen by occupants of both which has a hidden history. Is there a edu-tech city to be found beyond the forested Jiscdom?

I personally do not feel that the Jisc vision as described by Phil Richards will provide a environment in which those involved in ed-tech will feel at home. For me the future needs to be based on listening and engagement. As Mark Johnson put itwe should hope that the critical debate about those technologies, their implementation and development serves to give us permission to ask the questions about education that urgently need to be asked“. Those who wish to be involved in the discussion and in facilitating the discussion must not hide behind statements such as “people above my pay grade make the key decisions“.

This vision of the future is not based on a proclamation that “We are the UK’s expert on digital technologies for education and research” but on facilitation and support: the experts, I feel, are embedded across the sector and don’t work for a single organisation.

But I think it is also inevitable that the edu-tech future will be more fragmented. In the past the broad Jisc family could provide a leadership role across a wide range of areas. But the refocussing of work will mean the missing void is likely to be filled by a range of service providers, advisory bodies and consultants. I feel that Cetis will have an important role to play in that space. I hope that this will involve continuing to work with institutions, other bodies across the sector and with Jisc itself – but without buying in to the Jisc vision of the future!

As I said earlier I enjoyed the two keynote talks at the Cetis 2014 conference which did succeed in stimulating discussion and debate. If you didn’t attend the conference video recordings of the plenary talks and the accompanying slides are embedded below and are also available form YouTube and Slideshare. I’d welcome your thoughts on these contrasting talks.

Phil Richard’s plenary talk on Innovating for the Digital Institution

Video recording (on YouTube):

Slides for Phil Richards’ plenary talk (on Slideshare)

Audrey Watters’ plenary talk on Un-Fathom-able: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech

Video recording (on YouTube)

Slides for Audrey Watters’ plenary talk (on Slideshare)


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Update on Plans for #IWMW14

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27 Jun 2014

IWMW 2014: Update on the Programme

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop takes place in Newcastle on 16-18 July. The workshop fee is only £350, which includes 2 nights accommodation.The public announcement that the IWMW 2014 event would be held, under changed management, was made on this blog on 20 January 2014. The following month the IWMW 2014 Web site was launched and the call for proposals was made. On 14 April 2014 the IWMW 2014 programme was announced. This was followed by a series of guest blog posts on Planning work: How can technology help the Workload Allocation process?Wake Up and Face the Digital RealityBuilding Cost-effective, Flexible and Scalable Education Resources using Google Cloud PlatformI Do UX – Do You? and Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again in which speakers at this year’s event have introduced their talks.

Since the event takes place in less than three weeks’ time, on 16-18 July, it is timely to provide a further update on plans for the event.

Beyond the Plenary Talks

Although the plenary talks will provide a shared context for all participants at the event, an important aspect of the event are the workshop sessions, in which all participants should have the opportunity to participate actively, share institutional and personal experiences and concerns and engage in discussions and, perhaps even disagreements and arguments.

In this respect the IWMW event has many parallels with the Cetis conference.  As described in Mark Johnson’s report on the recent Cetis 2014 conference:

The #cetis14 conference at the University of Bolton has been a great success. Although run on a self-funding basis for the first time (and consequently using the facilities of its home institution for the first time), it still attracted 100 delegates from the UK HE and FE sectors eager to talk about the impact of interoperability, cloud computing, e-books, systems integration and learning analytics. If anything, the conversation has been more eager, imaginative and focused than in previous year. [my emphasis]

Mark’s blog post was entitled #cetis14: Granting permission to ask questions about education. It may seem strange to talk about “granting permission to ask questions about education” in our context but as Mark explained we do seem to be moving to an environment in which important policy decisions about the future of education and the role of technology in supporting teaching and learning and research activities across the sector are being made in a top-down fashion with broader discussions being marginalised:

 I thought, the value of JISC projects was that they gave participants permission to think about education, in circumstances where this would otherwise have been impossible. It was this business of ‘asking questions about education’ which seemed curiously absent from the vision of the ‘new JISC’: it seemed that the new JISC vision is to think about keeping JISC going, not thinking about education. When explicitly asked about who in JISC was asking the ‘big questions’, the response given was “people above my pay grade”.

In contrast to the changes in the Jisc environment, the IWMW 2014 event will adopt similar approaches to those taken at the Cetis 2014 conference: we will encourage participants to ask “big questions” and engage in conversations about the role of the Web in supporting institutional activities.

Facilitating the Discussions, the Sharing and the Community-Building

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Is content king? Should events ensure that their main focus should be on hosting proven quality speakers and ensuring the the event organisation runs smoothly?

These are, of course, important. But at IWMW events we have felt that “communications, rather than content, is king“.We will be providing a number of workshop sessions which are designed to facilitate communications. But in addition to the formal sessions at the event we will also be providing a number of social events which provide opportunities for informal networking opportunities and discussions.

On the evening of the first day, Wednesday 16 July, the workshop dinner will be held in the Great Hall of the Sutherland Building at Northumbria University. The following day a drinks reception will be held at the Great North Museum (Hancock). As can be seen from the accompanying image (taken from the Wikipedia entry for the Great North Museum: Hancock)  we should be able to see the T Rex in the Dinosaur hall. Or perhaps participants will wish to visit the Elephant display.

While we are having nibbles and drinking wine at the reception we might wish to consider some of the big questions. These might include: “Are we a dinosaur in today’s dynamic web environment?” or “Are we a white elephant?” These are questions which might be worth reflecting on from time to time. But perhaps more pertinently are questions such as “What role does the web professional have in today’s web environment?” “How relevant are Cloud services for delivering mission-critical services?” (a question, incidentally, which was addressed at the Cetis 2014 conference)? and “How do we engage our user communities in the development of new services?

We will not grant participants permission to ask such questions: rather we expect participants to raise these and other challenging question!

In brief, we will aim to provide high quality content with high quality organisation. But we will also provide a high quality experience for participants which will be based on the opportunities to interact with one’s and engage in discussions and debate.

I hope to see you at Northumbria University in a few week’s time. But if you are intended to attend the event please book quickly as the official closing date is just a week away- Friday 4 July!

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Guest Post: Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 17 Jun 2014

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop takes place in Newcastle on 16-18 July. The workshop fee is only £350, which includes 2 nights accommodation.The IWMW 2014 event is rapidly approaching- this year the annual event for university Web managers will take place at Northumbria University on 16-18 July. So if you haven’t book your place yet, do so quickly!

In the latest guest post from speakers at the event Martin Morrey, Web Integration Manager at the University of Edinburgh provides the background to his plenary talk on Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again.

Martin’s talk will open the third and final day of the IWMW 2014 event.


Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again

IWMW 2014 programme, with Martin Morrey's talk highlighted

IWMW 2014 programme, with Martin Morrey’s talk highlighted

Apologies to all for the late arrival of this blog post, but I’ve just spent three of the most intense weeks of my working life helping to upgrade the University of Edinburgh’s web portal, MyEd.

Reflecting on this experience has taken me back a masterclass delivered by the intranet usability guru Gerry McGovern, which I attended in 2008. At one point during the day, Gerry started talking about portals …

“For years, I’ve been going around asking people what a portal is, and I still don’t really know. The best definition I’ve come up with is: ‘A portal is like a website….except it takes five times longer to develop.‘”

Not for the first time that day, this was a cue for much hilarity.  For a long time afterwards, I was the smug website guy, pitying the lot of the poor, self-deluding, portal people in the office across the corridor.

Gradually though, I became more and more intrigued by the challenge of making a better portal.  Eventually I made the fatal mistake of commenting on the University’s portal here and there, and lo-and-behold in late 2011 I was put in charge of it.

Web portals were a concept that was born, and to a large extent abandoned again, in the mid-noughties.   However, in the education sector it seems to have hung around, presumably because it does actually deliver some value.

So what is a portal?  Is it just a list of useful links, or a personalised information hub, or a completely customisable experience?  In our case it is a bit of all of these things. What it should be though, is an experience centred on the needs and priorities of the end-user, which actually makes their life easier, as well as supporting the process needs of the institution.

The University of Edinburgh’s portal system was established in the noughties with great investment and fanfare, but later-on other IT priorities took over. So, ironically, a system that was meant to be dynamic, flexible and focussed,  ended up feeling static, out-of-date, and cluttered.

Improving our portal from there has been a slow process. Portal systems have integrations-with and dependencies-on a whole range of other information systems. When we upgrade our portal, updating and testing all these integrations is a real headache.   We are working on a better way of doing this, but in the meantime, we just have to live with it.

Just like a website, a portal needs really active monitoring and management, if it is to continue to meet everyone’s needs effectively.  Unlike a website however, tools like Google Analytics don’t give you the information you need to do this off-the-shelf. The first I thing I did with MyEd, was to find a way to get meaningful analytics on the usage of its content.

Our analytics revealed that mobile users seemed to prefer the clunky, desktop-optimised interface of our web portal, over the trendy native-app that had been rolled-out just the year before. We didn’t have the resources to get the best out of both, so since then we have focussed our mobile effort on developing a mobile-friendly skin for the portal.

My team has used its portal analytics, the results of user surveys, and student input, to inform the design of new layouts and interfaces for our portal.  I’ll be presenting the full story of this process, and some of the initial outcomes, at IWMW 2014 in my plenary Rebooting MyEd – Making the Portal Relevant Again.


About the author

Martin MorreyMartin Morrey is the manager of the Web Integration Team at the University of Edinburgh, with responsibility for portal, wiki, web hosting and web development services.  He has been working with the web for 18 years, and the mobile web for 14 years (remember WAP?).

He presented at EDUCAUSE last year on “Adding Analytics to the University Portal”.

Formerly an e-learning specialist and software entrepreneur, he won a SMART award in 2000 to develop a mobile-learning system and was co-founder of Intrallect Ltd.

 

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Planning for the Future: A Keynote Talk at the SAOIM 2014 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Jun 2014

SAOIM 2014

Futures sidebarI’m pleased to have been invited to give a plenary talk at the SAOIM (Southern African Online Information Meeting) 2014 conference. The conference takes place in Pretoria on 4-5th June, with workshops being held on 3rd and 6th June.

I will be giving the opening talk on the second day of the conference. The title of my talk is “Understanding the Past; Being Honest about the Present; Planning for the Future“. In addition to this talk I will also be facilitating a half-day workshop on “Let’s Predict the Future!” on 3rd June.

Understanding the Past; Being Honest about the Present; Planning for the Future

The talk and the accompanying workshop are based on my involvement with the JISC Observatory and the accompanying papers on “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” and “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow“. The former of these papers was presented to Norwegian librarians at the EMTACL 2012 conference and the latter to (primarily) British librarians at the Umbrella 2013 conference. I am pleased to have this opportunity to disseminate this work with librarians from southern Africa.

Towards the end of the talk I mention one development which was highlighted in the NMC Horizon Report, Higher Education 2014 edition as having a deployment horizon of one year or less: the Flipped Classroom. As described in Wikipedia:

Flip teaching or a flipped classroom is a form of blended learning in which students learn new content online by watching video lectures, usually at home, and what used to be homework (assigned problems) is now done in class with teachers offering more personalized guidance and interaction with students, instead of lecturing. This is also known as backwards classroom, flipped classroom, reverse teaching, and the Thayer Method.

We might describe flipped professional development as a form of blended learning by which professionals learn new skills by viewing resources in advance and being able to reflect on the ideas and discuss them with their peers  so that the session itself can address issues in more depth. I am therefore happy to announce that the slides I will use are available on Slideshare and are embedded at the bottom of this blog post. Comments on the slides are welcome!


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Higher Education Web Survey

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 May 2014

TerminalFour’s Long-standing Support for IWMW

Terminal Four survey formFor several years TerminalFour has been a sponsor of IWMW, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop. This year is no different. As described on TerminalFour’s Web site:

TERMINALFOUR is once again a sponsor of one of the UK’s premier events for institutional web management teams – IWMW. The event takes place at Northumbria University on the 16-18th of July 2014.

IWMW has grown into a unique forum to share best practice, hear about new developments and discuss their relevance with peers. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Rebooting the Web’. The conference will explore what ‘reboot’ means for web teams. 

Higher Education Web Survey

In return for the financial support for the event I am happy to highlight TerminalFour’s current Higher Education Web Survey. As described by Laura Murphy, Head of Client Relations and Support:

If you work in a web, content, marketing, communications or senior management position in higher education I would be delighted if you could please take 5 minutes to complete our Higher Education Web Survey. You will be automatically entered into a draw to win €/$/£100 Amazon voucher for your troubles and will be among the first to receive a detailed report of the findings of this survey.  We’d also appreciate if you would share the survey – http://surveysandforms.com/e517uy93-67ufh69

If you are a customer of TerminalFour I am sure they would welcome the opportunity to chat with you at the IWMW 2014 event.


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Guest Post: Building Cost-effective, Flexible and Scalable Education Resources using Google Cloud Platform

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 May 2014

IWMW 2014, the 18th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop takes place in Newcastle on 16-18 July. The workshop fee is only £350, which includes 2 nights accommodation.In a series of guest blog posts speakers at the forthcoming IWMW 2014 event have been providing an introduction to their talks in order to stimulate interest in their ideas and solicit feedback and comments prior to the event – an example of ‘flipped lectures‘ which can provide opportunities for more considered reflections on new ideas provided at a conference.

In today’s guest post Sharif Salah, Senior Systems Engineer at the University of Portsmouth introduces his talk on “Building cost-effective, flexible and scalable education resources using Google Cloud Platform”.

Sharif will give his plenary talk on the second day of the IWMW 2014 event, from 09.00-09.45 on Thursday 17 July 2014.


Building cost-effective, flexible and scalable education resources using Google Cloud Platform

This will be my first time attending the IWMW event, and I’m grateful to fellow speaker Martin Hawksey who highly recommended the event to me. I’m excited and fortunate to be both attending and speaking this year. I first met Martin in 2012 at the annual European Google Apps for Education user group meeting #GEUG12 where we were also both speaking. At that time I had been working with Google Apps for a little over three years and there was a sense that the Higher Education community was growing relatively comfortable with the principles and concepts behind Software as a Service (SaaS).

In fact my colleagues and I at the University of Portsmouth had begun to explore the use of other types of cloud technology to extend the capabilities offered by the Google Apps services. For example, we built a largely cloud-based student portal primarily using Google Sites and then used Google App Engine to provide bespoke functionality such as the delivery of assessment results, that was highly specific to an education context and wasn’t readily available as part of Google Apps. In 2012 Google App Engine was often described as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) that allowed developers to deploy application level code without having to worry about the burden of looking after the underlying infrastructure. Today Google App Engine is part of a growing collection of tightly integrated services that make us Google Cloud Platform and include additional services for storage, compute and data analysis.

I’ve continued to build on my knowledge of Google Cloud Platform and earlier this year it led to Google awarding me entry into the Google Developer Experts (GDE) program for 2014. A large part of our activities as GDEs relates to both community engagement and public speaking, and I spend a lot of my time volunteering help with colleagues from both the education and business communities make the most of their introduction to the cloud.

One big shift I’ve observed in recent months within the cloud community is that the model I describe above with clear demarcation between SaaS, PaaS and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) layers is hindering the way that we build and architect our IT services in HE and other large enterprise environments. All too often I find that developers try to shoehorn their requirements into one model or another. However it’s often the case that one layer of the cloud model doesn’t provide enough flexibility, at other times it comes at the cost of too high a management overhead. Google Cloud Platform is helping to define a new way of working across cloud boundaries and this in itself presents us with new challenges as we try to learn to use the new tools effectively. One big theme of my talk will be to share my experience of working across these layers in the process of building hybrid cloud solutions.

Perhaps more importantly for this audience I also look forward to the opportunity to share some of the work we have undertaken at the University of Portsmouth to build new services for our students that might not have previously been possible or practical prior to the availability of cloud services. Over the past year we’ve experimented with the use of Chromebooks for exams, Google Compute Engine to deliver Linux resources for teaching and research as well as the operational use of Cloud Storage for the delivery of content as part of student-facing services. Higher Education is a unique environment that brings with it challenges and opportunities that often don’t apply to the world of business and this is particularly true of cloud services.


Biographical details

Sharif SalahSharif Salah has worked with Google technologies since early 2009 when he began a role as a Google Apps technical lead in Higher Education. Along the way this has given him the good fortune to be involved in evangelising extensively and affecting change and progress on the adoption and integration of Google Apps, Cloud Storage and App Engine both internationally and locally. More recently he has become immersed in and advocate on Google Cloud Platform, open source software as well as mobile app development and strategy.

Sharif is a frequent public speaker and spends time working with both education and startups on making the most of their move to the cloud. He is a Google Developer Expert for 2014 and a Google Qualified Developer for Google Cloud Platform.

Contact details:


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