UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Posts Tagged ‘iwmw11’

Reflections on Technologies Used at IWMW 2011

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Aug 2011

The Need to Reflect on Changes to Working Practices

UKOLN’s annual IWMW event provides a useful opportunity to evaluate new technologies with participants from across the UK HE sector being able to identify successes which may be of valuable for use in their own institutions. In addition there will be a need to reflect on technologies which have failed to live up to their expectation since this will help to minimise others making similar mistakes.  This post provides a summary of our experiences, in part to ensure that the experiences can inform future UKOLN events and, in addition, so that others can learn from our experiences.

Technologies Now Embedded

Twitter

Certain technologies are now embedded at IWMW events.  Twitter, for example, is well-established and is used in conjunction with TwapperKepper which provides an archive of the #iwmw11 tweets. The Summarizr service for the week of 23-29 July shows that there were a total of 1,514 tweets from 185 users. This compares with 3,080 tweets from 282 users for a similar 7-day period for the IWMW 2010 event which probably reflects the reduction in the length of the event from 3 to 2 days.

The number of geo-located tweets has also decreased slightly since last year, with the 100 such tweets representing 6% of the total number of tweets. The Summarizr service, developed by Andy Powell, Eduserv, allows you to zoom in on the location of the tweets. From the map we can see the locations of the main lecture theatre, the halls of residence and the bar, together with the pub I visited on the night before the event.

From the list of  the top 10 tweeted hashtags we can see how the use of a clearly defined hashtag for the plenary talks is being used to associate tweets with a specific talk. We might also speculate whether the number of tweets has a relationship with the interest generated in the talks, as suggested by the evidence that the most highly rated talk was the opening talk on ” OK, we know what you do, so how much is it worth?”  given by Ranjit Sudhu also generated the largest number of tweets:

iwmw11 (1,499 tweets), p1 (79), p6 (74), p4 (63), p5 (60), p2 (50), p3 (47), p9 (43), p8 (35) and  p7 (34).

Note also that a Scoot.it summary of tweets, blog posts and photos about the event was also published.

Slideshare

Slideshare is another mature technology which has been used for the past 5 years at IWMW events.  As mentioned in a post which described Evidence of Slideshare’s Impact Slideshare has proved successful in enhancing access to plenary talks given at the events.  This year we have encouraged facilitators of the parallel sessions to make their slides available in the IWMW 2011 event group.  We have also provided a Slideshare pack of all of the presentations (as illustrated). This resource is available on the IWMW 2011 Web site and can also be embedded elsewhere.

Note that we noticed that the event group for previous years had attract spam comments and spam presentations (which have now been deleted). We will shortly change the access permissions so that no new presentations can be added in order to ensure that this group contains appropriate content.

The IWMW 2011 Blog

For the third year running a blog was used to support the event. The IWMW 2011 blog was launched on 8 June 2011. It was used before the event to promote the event and highlight key features. During the event interviews with speakers and participants were published on the blog and after the event various summaries of the event were published.

For the IWMW 2010 blog we used the BuddyPress plugin to provide social networking capabilities.  However this was little used and we have come to realise that people tend not to make use of a social networking service dedicated to an event; rather they prefer to use existing social networking tools, such as Twitter. We therefore decided not to use BuddyPress this year.

As might be expected the blog attracted the largest number of visits during the event, as can be seen below.

Note that the image also shows the traffic from mobile devices.  On Monday 25 July there were a total of 157 visits, which included 31 from mobile devices (this high proportion probably due to participants being away from their office and therefore using a mobile device).  In total there have been 1,306 visits to date, with 162 from mobile devices. Google Analytics provides the following summary of browser usage: FireFox (38.9%), Chrome (25%);  Safari (30% including 4.3% from mobile device); Internet Explorer (12.9%) and a Mozilla-compatible browser (5.7%).  This year ~10% of the visits to the blog have been from a mobile device.  It will be interesting to see how next year’s statistics will compare with this.

This Year’s Experimentation

Live video streaming

Whilst we have provided live streaming of the plenary talks for a number of years this has normally been provided by the host institution. At this year’s event the host institution did not provide a video streaming service.  We therefore had to select a service for ourselves and take responsibility for delivering the video streaming.

Following a suggestion from the eDevelopments Team in the Division for Lifelong Learning we decided to make use of the Adobe Connect tool. A Summer Update post on the eDevelopments Team blog described how the team are planning to “Us[e] collaborative web-conferencing technology to enhance participation by prospective students from widening participation backgrounds“. We were happy to support the team by carrying out an evaluation and sharing our experiences.

My colleague Marieke Guy has already posted her summary of Event Amplifying With Adobe Connect and concluded “I would thoroughly recommend Adobe Connect for any event amplification, it was slick, fully customisable and easy to use“. I would agree with Marieke. As shown in the accompanying image (click for larger view) the tool provided the integration of the video-streaming, speaker’s slide and Twitter discussions which meant that the remote audience did not have to switch between different applications as has been the case for several of our previous amplified events.  It should also be noted that although the tool does use a Fl;ash interface a dedicated Adobe Connect client for iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad devices is also available.

Shhmooze

A recent post described Shhmoozing at Metrics and Social Web Workshop. Following this initial pilot we encouraged participants at IWMW 2011 who had an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to install this app and use it to be able to communicate with other users whilst at the event.

A total of 35 participants used the app at the event.  Whilst I am not aware of any significant use being made of the tool I did receive a message saying that six people couldn’t find their way to the bar on the first evening of the event. This suggested a potentially valuable use for Shhmooze: being able to contact event organisers without having to post publicly (as would be the case with Twitter unless the organisers followed all the participants’ Twitter accounts) or having to divulge mobile phones numbers.

For the IWMW 2011 event I suspect that most participants would be happy to make use of Twitter as a communications channel and so did not feel the need to use Shhmmooze to support their interactions with others at the event.  However for events in which use of Twitter isn’t the norm I do feel that a service such as Shhmooze could have a useful role to play.

Eventstreams

As part of our explorations of services to support the management of the content related to events we made use of the Eventstreamsapp service. This hosted information about the programme and speakers. However the service did not allow us to manage other aspects of the event Web site and from the blog we found that there appears to have been no development work since January. We therefore decided to stop using the service and hosted the content on the main IWMW 2011 Web site which was used in conjunction with the Lanyrd service as described below.

Lanyrd

Following our decision to stop using Eventstreams we decided to make greater use of the Lanyrd site for the IWMW 2011 event.  Lanyrd was launched after the IWMW 2010 event had been held last year.  However we were aware of significant interest in the service and so created a Lanyrd site for IWMW 2010 in order to provide details of the Twitter accounts for speakers at the event which could be linked to other events which the speakers had participated in.  We subsequently updated the Lanyrd site with information about the various session at the event, included embedded videos and slides.

This year we provided the abstracts and timings of the sessions in advance, and included the slides and video recordings when they became available.  It should be noted that our use of Lanyrd should help to enhance exposure to the content provided at the event in ways that would not be the case if the content was hosted only on the IWMW 2011 Web site.

This service is easy to use and does seem to be improving in functionality.  Initially we felt that its strength was in providing social networking capabilities around speakers and participants at events (as can be seen from my Lanyrd profile page). However Lanyrd now seems to have developing into providing a richer hosting environment for event content. It will be interesting to see how the service may have developed by the time IWMW 2012 arrives.

Conclusions

Using new technologies is not without an element of risk.  We therefore publish a risk assessment page for the event which summarises the services used and our assessment of the associated risks.   In addition we hope that these reflections on the use of the services will be beneficial to others who may be considering making use of similar technologies at their events.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Evaluation of UKOLN’s IWMW 2011 Event

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 Aug 2011

Feedback on IWMW 2011

UKOLN’s annual institutional Web management workshop, IWMW 2011,  took place at the University 0f Reading on 25-26 July. This year’s event was reduced from three to two days since it was unclear how the economic downturn would affect bookings.  The event attracted 163 bookings, which was only slightly down on last year’s attendance.  The weather was great during the event, but what did the participants gain form their attendance at the event? We have analysed the responses provided on the online evaluation form and a summary is given below.  Note that a more complete summary of the event feedback is available on the IWMW 2011 Web site.

IWMW 2011: Numerical Ratings

The workshop content at the event had an average overall score of 4.02 on a scale of 1 [poor] to 5 [excellent] from the 62 responses we received. This included 19 5s (excellent), 28 4s (very good), 13 3s (good), 2 2s (fair) and 0 1s (poor).

The workshop organisation did even better with an average overall score of 4.16, with  25 5s (excellent), 26 4s (very good), 7 3s (good), 4 2 (fair) and 0 1s (poor).

The highest ranked plenary speaker was Ranjit Sidu with an average score of 4.28, with  17 5s (excellent), 13 4s (very good), 5 3s (good), 1 2 (fair) and 0 1s (poor), followed by Martin Hamilton with an average overall score of 3.94, with  11 5s (excellent), 12 4s (very good), 9 3s (good), 2 2s (fair) and 0 1s (poor).  The workshop conclusions, which included brief presentations from several of the workshop participants was also highly regarded with an average overall score of 3.91, with  12 5s (excellent), 17 4s (very good), 14 3s (good), 1 2s (fair) and 0 1s (poor).

It was interesting to observe that the overall score for the workshop content (4.02)  was beaten by only one of the plenary speakers which I think indicates that the workshop in its entirety (including the parallel sessions, discussions, networking and social events)  is valued more highly than the individual parts.

IWMW 2011: Overall Comments

The responses to the question “Please give your overall views on the workshop” included the following:

  • I thought the programme was the most consistent and coherent of all the ones I have attended, and also probably the most relevant. Much as I’ve enjoyed forays into the unknown (eg FOAF/RDF) in previous years, this was a very practical and useful programme. It was good giving the DevCSI geeks some bigging up as it would appear that they can do useful things ;-)
    The balance of plenaries and parallels worked for me and the timings were good.
    The organisation was faultless as usual.
  • Still a totally essential part of the HE web management calendar. Not only are the talks and sessions really useful and thought provoking, the networking element is so reassuring. It’s fab to discover that everyone is tacking the same issues.
  • It is an essential part of my year and cannot imagine it not running, I thought that there was easily enough content for a 3 day conference. The topics covered were current and key issues that we are grappling with on a daily basis. I felt that the old model allowed a chance to build on the content in workshops and this year felt rushed..
  • I’ve been to the IWMW twice now. On each occasion I found it an excellent opportunity to meet with the people working in same area as myself and learnt a huge amount. Coming from IWMW2011 I have new ideas for improving the way we work and communicate to managers and some great new contacts that should may lead to improving personal development of resources across institutions.
  • This event is brilliant value for money, expecially compared to the eye-wateringly expensive events my colleagues in the Marketing department attend … . My institution benefits hugely from my attending every year, because we are a small HEI and can’t afford: (a) outside consultants to buy in expertise and new thinking, or (b) a big team to cover all the specialist areas related to the web. I especially value being able go the IWMW website to download presentations etc, when I get back.

IWMW 2011: Most Valuable Aspects

The responses to the question “State up to three aspects of the workshop which were most valuable” included the following:

  • informative topics, especially on social media, open data, statistics analysis, SEO
    use of social media: iwmw & iwmwlive twitter and iwmw11 blog are great tools and help in terms of connecting, catching up and following up.
    networking with other university guys, getting to know their situations and problems, and how they deal with them.
  • 1) Opportunity to share my own work and gain invaluable feedback and insight in my parallel session (which is why I haven’t voted on it’s quality!)
    2) Opportunity to meet and connect with others in my field
    3) Opportunity to hear from insightful and interesting speakers – Dave Raggett and Paul Walk were particular highlights for me.
  • 1. The opening and closing sessions were really informative about the general state, direction and interesting developments of universities.
    2. Parallel sessions were very useful.
    3. Evening BBQ (social event) was great for meeting and getting to know people from other universities.
  • Opportunity to network with other web teams
    Ideas on how to best promote my teams good work
    Real examples of best practice
  • 1. The ‘Web cooperative’ session / workshop was really, really useful -lots of shared ideas, and a real toolkit I’m starting to implement already.
    2. The ‘cookie finder’ presentation in the wrap-up: brilliant way to present easily-findable data, but resulting in a really great product for the end-user, eg up-to-date menus and ‘where to buy’ mapping.

IWMW 2011: Aspects Which Could be Improved

The responses to the question “State up to three aspects of the workshop which were disappointing or could be improved” included the following:

  • I preferred the feel of the 3 day event so would like to see it return to that format. I know organisers were keen to take account of the current work / financial climate but for many people, given the location, the event was a 3-day one anyway and to a certain extent, cost is not a deciding factor as long as the event remains under £500 per person. I felt the catering was mediocre, especially the lunch – houmous & dips is not a very bright option with ~150 trying to get fed at once. Wireless access was an issue – this is a conference which will likely see in excess of 200 devices connected; the host institution MUST take account of this to ensure amplification and backchannel activity is as impactful as possible.
  • 1. Not enough time to network – all had to be done on the evening of the conference dinner / BBQ. Please revert back to the 3 day setup for future IWMW’s
    2. No hot water in the accommodation on the Wednesday morning
  • It was a shame that there was nothing on KIS, perhaps in future events there could be sessions left empty to accommodate last minute issues? Alternatively some sort of bar camp-style sessions so that attendees can deliver short sessions themselves?
  • Lecture theatre not designed for attendees with various laptops, tablets and so on – no where to put them but on your laps and lack of power outlets. Given the nature of the conference and the delegates attending then think that the sourcing of a venue which lends itself to these key aspects would be beneficial (increased comfort for delegates leaving them paying full attention to workshops).
  • 1. A reliable Internet connection – there were attempts to interact and encouragement to tweet and, in the end, I had to rely on the 3G on my phone as the wifi just wasn’t stable another (it was stressful!)
    2. It was stated that Universities are often years behind the private sector in terms of our activities but rather than just play catch-up, how about pushing some more leading edge ideas to get us to the front?
    3. 2 hours without a drink is too long – dehydration = reduced capacity to concentrate

IWMW 2011: Additional Comments

The responses to the question “Please give any additional comments on the event including the administration, venue etc.” included the following:

  • Would be good opportunity for attendees to engage in a “festival of blogging”, maybe showcasing things they get up to locally and want to show off. This might even just arise from a commitment to post comments on a series of round up blogposts? eg I pulled together a couple examples of campus maps http://blog.ouseful.info/2011/07/26/innovations-in-campus-mapping/ If folk contributed links to anything innovative they’re doing, with a brief explanation why its innovative, or as same ilk as something covered in the review, it would give Brian a batchload of “”free”” sector survey results for different themes?”
  • I enjoyed the event overall and would happily attend again in a similar role – as facilitator, speaker, or similar. I am not sure I took away enough from the day to attend only to listen and take part in the workshops but, as I have already said, I am not really the core target audience for this event.
    I thought the accommodation was excellent the first night but it was hard to overlook the lack of hot water on day two and that was a shame. I thought it was strange that there was no wifi in such modern halls although I was delighted to have access to proper broadband and this helped me keep up with work in the evenings. I was also able to liveblog thanks to Eduroam. I would have much preferred more comfortable seats in the theatre though – I arrived home with rather bruised knees from the seats in front! I really appreciated the availability of extension cords in the main theatre and thought that all of the amplifyers did a great job of managing the online and remote experience of IWMW.
  • Can we get Tony Hirst to come next year? He is so great. His presentation (at the OU) on the perils of measuring social media was terrific.
  • The (non-eduroam) wifi was useless, had to login a number of times and it kept dropping out. Paid for 3G data on the second day instead.
    I was not impressed that there was no hot water in the Halls.

IWMW 2011: Comments on Topics Covered

The responses to the question “Please give your comments on the range of topics covered” included the following:

  • Every year I wonder what could possibly be covered the next year but you seem to bring together a range of topics and speakers that interest the majority.
  • The range of topics felt well balanced. Not all were high on my priority list, but the discussion around the event balances this very well.”social media (Nicola Osborne’s A7 session) I do not have a chance to attend this session, but her Prezi slides give a lot of information and tips on this topic which I could learn from.
  • Linked data: Christopher and Dave have cleared up all the questions in my mind about this topic. I now have a better understanding on linked data, open data and RDF. Looking forward to practicals.
  • All the plenary speakers were good, I got something out of all of them. I often find it hard to judge how relevant a speaker will be to my role / team (these day’s I’m primarily a designer) from the session title alone, but this year they all exceeded my expectations. There was nothing too techy that I couldn’t follow it, or at least see a practical application for.
  • I think there was some tension between demand for technical/specific content and the very general. However the blend, especially depending on selected parallel sessions, was pretty good and interesting. I don’t feel I am the core target audience for this event though and attend many specialist events in my field so there were some sessions where I know I did not get as much value from the sessions as I could have.

Reflections

The week before the event I wrote a post on The Web Management Community of Practice in which I described how the IWMW 2011 event would provide an opportunity for the Web Management community of practice to consider how it should develop in the future.  A more complete summary of the event feedback is available on the IWMW 2011 Web site which indicates that there is a strong and thriving community who understand the benefits which can be gained from acting collaboratively, sharing experiences and avoiding reinvention of the wheel. A large number of those who responded felt that the event should revert to its three-day format, although a minority preferred the two-day format. Once we’ve had an opportunity to more fully reflect on the feedback we have received we will start to make out plans for IWMW 2012.

I should conclude by saying that at the end of the event myself and Marieke Guy gave out thanks to the speakers, facilitators, session chairs, events team and the local support provided by the University of Reading.  It would be appropriate in this post to give thanks to the participants and especially those who took time to complete the evaluation form.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

New Opportunities for the Institutional Web Management Community

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 Jul 2011

IWMW 2011: Responding to Change

Warm weather at IWMW11 so one parallel session took place outside

The IWMW 2011 event, the fifteenth in this annual series of event aimed at members of institutional Web teams, took place at the University of Reading on Tuesday and Wednesday, 26-27 July.  At the IWMW 2010 event the theme was “The Web in Turbulent Times” and we addressed the implications of the financial crisis and the expected changes in funding for higher education for those working in the sector and in institutional Web teams in particular.  This year’s theme was “Responding to Change“: we acknowledged that we were living in radically changed environment and needed to be able to respond to such changes rather than wishing for a return to the past.

One aspect of how the sector could respond to changes which was addressed at the event was to help gain a better shared understanding of the institutional Web management Community of Practice, which I described in a recent post.

According to Wikipedia a Community of Practice (CoP) is:

a group of people who share an interest, a craft, and / or a profession. The group can evolve naturally because of members’ common interest in a particular domain or area, or it can be created specifically with the goal of gaining knowledge related to their field. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally.

CoPs can exist online, such as within discussion boards and newsgroups, or in real life, such as in a lunch room at work, in a field setting, on a factory floor, or elsewhere in the environment.

The institutional Web management CoP has both an online presence (through mailing lists such as the web-support and website-info-mgt JISCMail lists) as well as a real world presence through, for example, the annual IWMW event.  But at the event we sought answers to a number of questions:

  • Is there still a need for a institutional Web management CoP – after all there isn’t (although I could be proven wrong!) a whiteboard CoP? This question was touched on at last year’s event when Susan Farrell asked “Are web managers still needed when everyone is a web ‘expert’?“.
  • How will political and funding changes to the sector affect the  institutional Web management CoP? Might we find that a more competitive environment and the moves towards the provision of privatised higher education providers result in a community which is much less willing to share, help, advise and support one’s peers?
  • Is there a need to revisit the online tools which can help to support the community, especially in light of the significant decline in use of the JISCMail lists within the sector?
In her plenary talk in the opening session at IWMW 2011 Amber Thomas of the JISC spoke about  Marketing and Other Dirty Words.  Amber suggest that there is now a need for those involved in the development and support of online services to go beyond their comfort zone (which revolves around concepts such as “open access“, “academic autonomy“, “public good” and “language of values“) and engage with the dirty words of  “impact“, “brand“, “metrics“, “marketing” and “language of the market“.  Amber argued that the need to move beyond one’s comfort zone would also be the  case for other grouping within institutions, including researchers, teaching and and learning staff, marketing people, community outreach and engagement people, etc.  Many people within the institution will be looking to those with IT and online skills (including expertise beyond use of services hosted in the institution) for advice and support. There should also be opportunities for those working in institutional Web management teams to demonstrate their value to core institutional services.  After the doom and gloom  which we saw in the opening session of last year’s event it was good to see that this year’s event began with such optimism. But how might institutional Web teams engage with this new environment, especially when there are existing services will still need to be provided with, in some cases, downsizing of Web teams having already taken place or restructuring process being in place?

The Web Management Community: Beyond IWMW and JISCMail Lists

These issues were addressed in a session I facilitated entitled The Web Management Community: Beyond IWMW and JISCMail Lists.  It seems there was a strong feeling that the benefits of being a member of a community which existed in the early days of the Web (getting help and advice; sharing concerns; learning from others; etc.) were still feel to be beneficial – there clearly isn’t a feeling that the provision of institutional Web services is now a mature technology with little to be learnt from others.  There was a minority view that the greater competition across the sector would result in a reluctance to share success stories – however others felt that the competition would take places in other areas, with a feeling that we would continue to see sharing of best practices for providing the online infrastructure which is now so important across the sector.

LinkedIn

Although there may have been some disagreements on the extent of collaboration and sharing there was agreement that there is a need to explore online tools which can be used to support community activities which are aligned to personal (and institutional) needs.  In discussing various online tools which may have a role to play we discovered that most people in the session have a LinkedIn profile. But in addition to LinkedIn’s use for hosting CVs (and concerns over uncertainties regarding jobs seemed to be a reason for joining LinkedIn)  the services also hosted many online groups which can support professional activities.  I pointed out a number of existing Web-related groups such as the Web 2.0 for Higher Education group.  However such existing groups will tend to have a US focus and topics of particular interest to our community (such as UK cookie legislation, Web accessibility and BS 8879 and the requirement of UK HEIs to provide KIS data) would have little or no meaning to existing US members.  Should, therefore, we set up a UK-focusssed LinkedIn group?

That question was answered not by making a recommendation that we set up a working group to evaluate the potential of LinkedIn to the sector. Instead Stephen Ashurst, Senior Multimedia Designer at Loughborough University, simply created the UK HE Web Professionals group. As can be seen there are now 26 members. There are also some additional benefits which this service provides which are not available in JISCMail lists such as the improved user interface, display of connections, etc. Whether this group becomes sustainable and provides a useful service for the community remains to be seen, but I personally do appreciate this grassroots initiative from someone who is using LinkedIn groups to support activities in other areas.

Twitter

Following on from discussions about LinkedIn the group went on to discuss the role of Twitter.  Some people in the session regard Twitter as part of the portfolio of  tools they use to support their community engagement whilst others admitted (in response to my leading question) to not ‘getting’ Twitter. There is an action on people to write a post on the relevance of Twitter to the sceptic which I will publish shortly.  In the meantime I have created a Twitter list for the institutional Web management community called iwmc. I will be happy to add anyone who regards themselves as part of the institutional Web management community (which will include those who have attended IWMW events, are members of relevant JISCMai lists or have general involvement in managing institutional Web services in a UK University or related service) to this list. The simplest way to be added will be to publish a tweet with the hashtag #iwmc. I’ll search for such tweets and add people to this list – and will include in my blog post details of the potential benefits of such Twitter lists.

Google+

Inevitably there was also interest in the potential of Google+ to support the Web management community of practice.

It seems that I am not alone in being both very interested in the potential of Google’s latest development in the social Web sphere whilst also being uncertain as to whether it will be a success (unlike Google Wave and Google Buzz) and, if so, how it can be used.

There was a feeling that Web managers could regard the release of Google+ and the undoubted interest it has generated as an opportunity for hands-on evaluation in order to be able to be seen as an authoritative source within the local institution for the various grouping who are likely to be interested in making use of Google+.

It seems many of us are grouping our Google+ contacts into friends/family and professional.  I, too, have Friends and Families Circles and have also created Circles for JISC and UKOLN contacts, Gurus (typically US experts who will have large numbers of followers), Overseas contacts (will this morph into a non-English language Circle, I wonder) and an initial subject-based circle for those who have a strong interest in accessibility interests.   I have also created a Circle for those who I regard as part of an institutional Web management community. Currently there are only non people in this Circle, but I will be looking to include more in order to see if it can provide ways of both managing this network in ways which can’t be done easily using Twitter as well as providing richer functionality.

This morning I came across a link to a post on Google+ Implications for University Recruitment which described how organisational profile in Google+ “should be back in the next few months (with analytics), and universities need to be ready this time (compared to most campus’ delayed foray into other popular social media)“. Let’s use this opportunity to gain expertise in Google+ so that we are prepared to advertise not only those involved in student recruitment but also in research and development activities, for example. We have an opportunity demonstrate that the advantages of centralisation which the government are proposing can be achieved by collaborative working across the sector.

New (and Renewed) Approaches to Collaborations

The concluding session at IWMW 2011 provided an opportunity to highlight some of UKOLN’s activities for the sector and also to hear examples of how the sector has been working collaboratively and plans for renewed areas of work.

Institutional Web Team Blog Aggregator

UKOLN’s Institutional Web Team Blog Aggregator was formally launched in this session. This Drupal-based service harvests blogs provided by institutional Web teams (or by individuals who working institutional Web teams) based on a list of such blogs originally gathered by Mike Nolan of Edge Hill University (unfortunately when we used this list we failed to include the Edge Hill Web Service blog itself, so apologies to Mike and his team for having failed to harvest his team’s posts). We have now added the Edge Hill Web Services blog to our list.

We will shortly be looking to set up a small group which can advise on future developments to this service (policies on blogs to be harvested; categories to be auto-classified; developments to the UI: etc.).  If you wish to submit your blog for inclusion in the blog aggregator,  a submission form is available from the blog’s home page, as illustrated.

Semantic Web Demonstrator

Two of the blogs included in the blog aggregator are written by IWMW stalwarts who joined in the final session.  Chris Gutteridge made a compelling case for embracing open semantic data not by talking about the underling technologies but in providing a live demonstration of a couple of services has has deployed at the University of Southampton. Chris showed how the catering manager is now a content provider on the Semantic Web by simply updating details of food available at various outlets on campus using a simple Google spreadsheet. Whereas the backend processing of this data (XLST transformations, RDF triples, etc.) may be of interest to developers, the main stakeholders (the content providers in the Catering Service and the student who wishes to see a campus map of the cheapest place to buy a bar of Kit Kat on campus) simply see a compelling user service.  I think Chris providing a great way of promoting the benefits of the Semantic Web – by showing tangible benefits to the end user (why didn’t we thing of that approach before!)

Incidentally Chris mentioned that he had been inspired to set up a Web team blog after attending an IWMW event a few years ago and hearing, from Mike Nolan, I think, of the benefits to be gained from blogging. The University of Southampton ECS Web Team blog is currently the main  provider of posts related to Semantic Web and Linked Data developments. I’m really pleased that the ECS Web team is willing to share its expertise in this areas. I suspect that Chris and his colleagues will be looking forward to reading posts form other institutions who may be deployed Linked Data services – and with the blog aggegrator’s auto-categorisation feature and RSS export capability people with a n interest in this area will be able to subscribe to the Linked Data and Semantic Web channel.

Community Activities

Just before the IWMW 2011 took place Claire Gibbons, manager of the Web Team and Marketing Team published her first blog post of the year. As she described in the post she left IWMW 2010 “all refreshed and guns ablazing for blogging“. However she shortly afterwards acquired responsibility for managing the Marketing Team in addition to the Web Team and pressure of work meant she was unable to find the time to blog. And yet in her post Claire managed to summarise recent activities of the Web team and outline new areas of work her teams will be addressing in the near future.  This is valuable content – and if all 168 participants at IWMW 2011 had written a page each since last year we would have a valuable community resource which services such as the blog aggegrator could provide access to.  A page a year is clearly achievable.  Might it be possible for all attendees to write a page a month, I wonder?  That would provide over 2,000 items which could cover what Web teams have achieved and developments which are being planned.  As with many social networking services, the blog aggregator will improve as the numbers of contributor grow.  Let’s hope Claire’s post inspires others to  blog, even if infrequently.

In her post Claire described how:

There must be many activities that we are all doing, usually the boring stuff, whereby sharing ideas and resources would benefit us all. Two things spring to mind – the social media policy and the recent review to Privacy Policies that the cookies law brought about.

Claire repeated this in the closing session and invited others who have interests in these two areas to get in touch with her.  I’m looking forward to seeing how such grass-roots plans for collaboration develop.

Scottish Web Folk Regional Group

Duncan Ireland, University of Strathclyde, described how he, too, had been inspired to do something differently after attending his first IWMW event. In his case there was a realisation that there need to be more than an annual event which led to the establishment of the Scottish Web Folk Group, which has a JISCMail list and a regular meeting.  This could provide a framework for use by other regional activities – and Duncan argued that distance shouldn’t be a barrier since Web team members from the University of Aberdeen, for example, are will to spend four hours travelling since they feel there are tangible benefits to be gained from meeting with one’s peers.

IWMW 2012

The IWMW concluded by discussing next year’s event.  We can no longer automatically assume that activities which are highly regarded will necessarily continue. However we were able to report that an IWMW 2012 event has been included in our work proposals for next year and we feel that we have gathered evidence of the value and impact of the event and its importance in supporting JISC’s activities and interests.

We will shortly be starting discussions for a venue for next year’s event.  In addition we are aware that many people felt that two days were too short to ensure effective networking takes place. A show of hands in the final session made it clear that a majority would prefer a return to the three day format we have used for every year apart from the first event.  We will shortly be analysing the evaluation forms in order to gather a more complete picture which will help us to inform our planning for next year.

To conclude, I feel we can say that there is an institutional Web management community which is willing to engage and collaborate. As I said in the title of this post, there are “New Opportunities for the Institutional Web Management Community” :-)

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