The notion of community continues to be recognised as a fundamental aspect within descriptions of shared human activity and group bonding. In his socio-cultural analysis of the work place Wenger defined a particular type of communion, which he termed a community of practice (CoP). The concept of a CoP has been somewhat abused in current literature yet it does provide valuable insights into how communities evolve, behave and sustain themselves. By elaborating dimensions of community such as shared practice, dialogue, legitimate peripheral participation and negotiation of boundaries, Wenger has provided a model that can be applied to a number of differing groups of activity. This talk will explore what we can draw from the work on CoPs, in terms of the role and identity of institutional web manager, one that is inseparable from a field of practice that remains dynamic, fluid and under constant negotiation.
In recent years we've seen a huge increase in social networking and the students entering Higher Education now come complete with a range of online skills, preferences and identities. Like many other Universities, at Edge Hill we've re-developed our thinking and systems to take advantage of this and have developed:
A student portal which embeds social networking and user-owned technologies with our Institutional systems.
An applicant community Web site which allows our applicants to chat directly to current students to discover all there is to know about University life.
Students are asking each other for help and advice rather than coming direct to our staff. These same students are advising our applicant community about University life and they're all doing it in an "informal" environment. These are all positive developments but it does mean we start to ask the question...if we're moving towards developing and nurturing students in these online communities and empowering them to help themselves, will we still need a "corporate" Web site in the future? Furthermore with the increase in "free" tools available such as email, file storage, blogs, etc. will institutional systems be a thing of the past?
I will share the experiences we've had at Edge Hill detailing feedback from our students and ask the questions do we think we'll continue to manage University Web sites as they are today? Will we provide students with the institutional systems such as email or provide them with the "plugs" to embed our systems (student records, library catalogue) into their environment of choice.
When it comes to the future "will we ever be confident enough to let our students do the talking?"
Discussion group sessions will be held on Monday 16th July from 14.15-15.00 and on Wednesday 18th July from 11.00-11.45. You should have selected your topic of interest when you booked your place. You will be notified of the session detauils on an envelope which will be provided at registration.
This year there will be two discussion group topics:
by Andy Powell, Andrew Cormack and Richard Dunning
This workshop will investigate the relationships between institutional single sign-on, Athens, Shibboleth, the UK Access Management Federation and more recent developments like OpenID and CardSpace and will give participants an opportunity to ask questions of a panel of experts from the community.
We are one of those rare web teams based in the IT Section who have an excellent relationship with our External Relations Section. Whilst there are obvious ways in which the two sections need to work together on a day to day basis, for publications, marketing, etc, this session will explore the less common collaboration our web unit has developed with the Widening Participation office. We will investigate the ways in which web-based resources can be used to develop and support WP initiatives and how these could be transferred to other areas within the Institution. We will also explore how we can utilise the wide variety of pre-university students our institution already has access to for user needs analysis.
YouTube is a popular online video streaming service that allows anyone to view and share videos. In this session the process of capturing video from a camcorder and uploading it to YouTube will be explored via a practical approach. Adrian will be uploading extracts of video taken during IWMW, at the same time exploring the ease of use, advantages and pitfalls of the service. He will consider the benefits of sharing video via YouTube and aim to encourage delegates to upload their own video snippets during the conference.
by Ross Gardler
What makes a service usable and sustainable? Is it one that offers you a service level agreement (SLA)? Or is it one that has sufficient clients that it is likely to survive long-term? And can a service that is principally a "social" service be sustainable? And how might communities of practice relate to the sustainability of an open service?
by Paul Kelly and William Mackintosh
The University of York is currently reviewing its approach to Web site statistics. We are looking to improve our knowledge of how visitors find and use our site and gather information that will help us to improve our structure and content. We are considering the use of Nedstats Sitestats, Google Analytics and open source solutions.
by Stuart Smith
We live in a time in which a plethora of portable computing devices are available such as: mobile phones, handheld computers, gaming devices and movie and music players. These devices offer powerful computing power, often on a par with desktop computers of only a few years ago. Additionally, they increasingly have wireless connectivity to the Internet. These devices are in wide spread usage and are considered affordable by many students and academics. The array of portable computing power can be bewildering. This session will look at options available and how they might used by institutions to increase the learning value for students.
by Emma Tonkin
In a follow-up to last year's session, User testing on a shoestring budget, this session demonstrates two methods of user testing. One, the cognitive walkthrough, can be carried out by a single evaluator. The second, the think-aloud protocol, is all about observing the way Web visitors interact with your Web site.
It is becoming more common to "hide" information in Web pages for retrieval by intelligent Web clients; this may be done by elements in the header, or by tagging of material in the page body (microformats). One application of this is attached geographical location to objects, which can be used to link to maps, or provide input to dynamic mashups. The purpose of this section is to:
put together a set of small demonstrations of applications in different institutions (at least Salford, Bath, Oxford and Northumbria)
discuss different techniques of acquiring and storing data
see whether there are any useful inter-institutional collaborations to work on
by Phil Wilson
Google's famous for it, Flickr's moved to Gamma, Moo are on an eternal 1.0 - yet still in institutions we plod on with a tired, slow-moving and opaque process for developing and enhancing applications. From our closed support lines to official notices on unread websites and applications mysteriously changing in front of a user's very eyes we look staid and tedious. But it doesn't have to be like that, we could be fast faced and interactive - but at what cost? Continuity? Uptime?
by Jeff Barr
In this plenary, Amazon's Jeff Barr will discuss Amazon's approach to Web-scale computing. Using this new approach, developers can use Amazon's broad line of Web services to rapidly and cost-effectively build scalable and flexible Web applications. Jeff will focus on Amazon's newest services, including the Simple Queue Service, the Simple Storage Service, and the Elastic Compute Cloud. The talk will include technical details and an overview of how the services are being used by customers all over the world.
Every time non-semantic markup is used, a piece of data dies. Data was born to be shared. Discover how the use of semantic markup and microformats can obsolete common read-heavy APIs and can be paired with identity protocols and OpenID to provide casual APIs for the loosely coupled generation.
by Keith Doyle
Delegates will discover how, by taking the information architecture approach as their next step, they can improve the user experience and business benefits. Information architecture gives delegates a framework and benchmarks for managing Web provision at an institutional level. This should be an engaging and entertaining talk which would help delegates decide whether a formal IA role is appropriate to their organisation. Helping delegates consider their institutional strategic approach: What is IA? How is the role covered at the moment? Should it be a specific post rather than something that's squeezed in with everything else we do?
by Arthur Clune
Attacks on Web servers, and internet connected devices in general have become both more common and more sophisticated in recent years. This talk will look at how people attack Web servers, and what they are hoping to gain from it, based on data from the Honeynet Project's deployment of Honeypot servers worldwide.
by Peter Reader
E-communications, e-marketing and social media are hot topics for university marketers and communicators, with old ideas of 'control' looking more and more unrealistic. Now the talk is of 'influence', viral marketing, students as customers, and of client management, with the web and web technologies seen increasingly as the u niversity's most important marketing tools. So what are the challenges and what are the issues with which marketers will face us? Expect more of "why" and "want" than of "how"!
by Paul Boag
Social participation is the cornerstone of the web 2.0 movement and has been spearheaded by sites such as digg.com. One of the underlying principles of these sites is that peer to peer recommendations carry more weight than those from either a search engine or from corporate advertising. The commercial sector has been quick to adopt this peer review mechanism with customer reviews and ratings.
This talk proposes to explore how social participation can be applied to the process of recruiting new students and what lessons can be learnt from the approach adopted by the commercial sector. We will also look at what institutional barriers exist that prevent this approach and how these can be overcome.
by Keith Doyle
This is a practical session following from the plenary on information architecture by Keith Doyle. The aim of information architecture is to improve the information ecology which is made up of the interaction between users, content and context. What is the process and methodology required to develop an information architecture? What are the key tools and enabling services which are required to implement information architecture? How is this process evolving at Salford? There will be a chance to look at the information architecture of institutional web sites, tips for improving the design of sub-sites, and we will look at and discuss real world examples. Keith Doyle is Web Content Architect at the University of Salford.
by Claire Gibbons and Russell Allen
The University of Bradford is currently embarking on a major series of projects under the banner of e-Strategy. The Content Management System (CMS) Programme of projects is e-Strategy project number 12. It began in October 2005 with the Business Analysis Phase (Project I). The analysis phase of the project was designed to find out how information is passed between members of staff and to our external audiences with an aim to recommend improved structures and processes in an effort to make communication simpler and more effective.
Throughout this project it became apparent that this was the first time that such a large number of staff had been consulted with and involved in a 'technical' project from the beginning, and one where the solution was not predetermined. The success of the Business Analysis phase and the staff involvement therein, has encouraged other Project Managers to consider the impact of technical projects from a 'people' point of view. Sounds obvious but how many projects do you know of where the solution has been purchased without even determining what the problem is first!
A recent (small-scale) culture survey of the University of Bradford highlighted the primary behaviours of the University of Bradford (as seen by a cross-section of University staff) to be ones that would result in the institution struggling to realign departments, staff and resources to new plans, mainly through procrastination, and infrequent interaction with staff leading to disengagement with colleagues. Surely the recipe for failed change-management projects!
Phase II of the CMS Programme is now underway with colleagues right across the institution still involved - from Professors to secretaries, managers to academics. This cultural shift towards staff engagement and affiliative behaviours has encouraged staff involvement and buy-in and such should result in a successful CMS implementation in the future.
by Helen Sargan
There are several realistic alternatives to using a slide presentation tool such as Powerpoint or similar. I'll give an overview and demo of several Web-based alternatives with the pros and cons of using them, a profile of the constituencies who would benefit, and what skills and support they might need to succeed.
by david sloan and Simon Ball
Institutions are required, by the DDA 2005, to implement and publish a Disability Equality Scheme that documents a plan to maximise inclusivity for disabled staff, students and others who come into contact with the institution. The DES should include steps for optimising the accessibility of digital resources, and for monitoring progress towards meeting these objectives.
Conformance with technical accessibility guidelines might seem like the most appropriate way of mandating a minimum level of conformance, and monitoring adherence to that level. In practice, however this can lead to a number of different problems, including the validity and applicability of the guidelines, differences in interpretation, and also the potential rejection of valuable resources, particularly for teaching and learning due to their apparent failure to meet the mandated level. The obsolescence of much of W3C WCAG 1.0, and the controversy over its planned replacement WCAG 2.0, also provides a practical problem over how to define and refer to 'accessibility standards' in policy.
This has led to the promotion of the concept of contextual accessibility, which encourages a more holistic view of web accessibility in a wider context of delivery of information, services and experiences in an inclusive way (for more on this see http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/web-focus...). How, though, do we promote contextual accessibility as an institutional standard? How can we encourage web authors to use
by Stuart Church and Pete Walker
Your web site is now almost certainly the KEY communication channel for your institution. The majority of people are now aware that usability and accessibility are vital issues. However, many remain uncertain how to evaluate, test and improve Web interfaces. There is perhaps even more uncertainty in how to do this in way that can be shown to be objective and repeatable.
This workshop will provide an insight into common pitfalls of web sites and outline some easy methods to undercover how your site is being perceived and how it can be improved.
by Scott Wilson and Ben Ryan
Although standards are maturing for exchanging student data between institutional systems, specifications for course information have so far been neglected. XCRI is a JISC-funded, community-driven project to develop a UK standard for eXchanging Course-Related Information. The briefing will show how collaborative technologies and an agile development philosophy have enabled an RSS-like XML specification to emerge and be refined through trials in UK higher and further education institutions. Those attending will be introduced to the XCRI-CAP Prospectus XML and learn the outcomes of JISC-funded national trials with UCAS and Lifelong Learning Networks. An open source aggregator that uses mash-ups to add value to collated course information will be demonstrated. Attendees will be invited to critique the XCRI concept and comment in particular on the challenges and opportunities for implementing XCRI in their own organisations.
by Matt Thrower
UKOLN is currently going about the business of redesigning its Web site. Given our position in information management and digital curation research this has thrown up some interesting challenges and problems that don't normally come to light during a Web site redesign, but which have resonance for any Web site rebuild. How, for example, do you impose navigation suddenly onto 9GB of unstructured data without deleting any of it? How do you get a corporate stamp on your site without removing the ability of staff to design their own pages? Come along and discuss potential solutions to these and other problems and what lessons could be learned for your institution.
by Brian Kelly
Members of institutional Web management teams have helped to develop a sustainable community through use of mailing lists, such as the web-support and website-info-mgt JISCMail lists (which are very successful in sharing tips and receiving advice on problems) and participation at the IWMW series of workshops (which provide an opportunity for members of the community to meet, hear about new trends and best practices and to share concerns).
Web 2.0 technologies and approaches provides an opportunity to further develop and build the community, by providing a richer set of tools to support our work. Wikis, for example, could be used for writing collaborative documents; blogs could be used for documenting decisions, ideas, etc. taken by Web developers and inviting comments and responses from the wider community (an approach which has been taken in the ukwebfocus.wordpress.com Blog and other social networking services may have roles to play in supporting the community.
Such tools and services can provide opportunities for increasing visibility of members of the community, creating dialogues, giving a voice to many who might not always have the opportunity to 'speak', developing a shared purpose (almost a set of values) through sharing artifacts such as blogs, RSS feeds, documents, conference reports, etc. and finally providing a strong network through which members can help each other and become resources for each other. These would appear to be key areas where deploying Web 2.0 tools can really foster communities ... a facilitatory tool-set that provides a participatory environment where communities can really start to build themselves.
And, of course, the experiences gained by members of institutional Web teams in using such technologies will also inform their use elsewhere within our institutions.
But as we know, there will be many issues which need to be addressed in seeking to exploit Web 2.0. How should we address possible legal barriers? What about privacy issues? Will such services be sustainable? Which services should we be looking at and should we be prepared to take the risks associated with use of externally hosted Web 2.0 services?
by Dan Smith
The Web content management is seen almost universally as an essential part of the information infrastructure, but rolling out a Web Content Management System (Web CMS) is often a painful process. Why is this, and what can institutions do to avoid the pain? The facilitator will use his experience of rolling out a successful Web CMS to help attendees with potential problems.
With the introduction of variable fees Universities have entered what education secretary Ruth Kelly called "a new era". Financial departments have had to find more creative ways to meet the sector's growing competitive demands and those working within universities have had to take a more business-like, customer-focused approach to many aspects of their work as they compete for students.
Some questions this panel session will be discussing include:
Is it time that we start to deal more with the commercial sector?
Should they no longer be seen as "money grabbing tyrants" who lack understanding for the work we are trying to do?
What about using commercial services such as content management system providers and Web site consultants?
Should institutions with existing in-house teams should ever be using external agencies in the first place?
Is there a formal approach we could take to dealing with the commercial world?
Are there richer models in dealing with these complexities?
by Brian Kelly
16th–18th July 2007