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by Brian Kelly
Welcoming talk to IWMW 2010 event given by Marieke Guy and Brian Kelly.
This talk will look at turbulent times from the perspective of an IT Director. What challenges are we as IT departments facing, what challenges are HEIs facing that we can help with, and what impact on our services are these challenges going to have?
While most senior managers would agree that the web is mission-critical, at a time when budgets are tight it becomes increasingly difficult to persuade them that employing skilled web professionals is vital. With devolved publishing models in many institutions and the increasing use of social networking, senior managers might be forgiven for assuming that managing a website is easy. Surely everyone is a 'web expert' now that 74% of the UK population spend an average of 13 hours a week on the web? So are web professionals really needed?
No senior manager would disagree that web professionals with technical skills are essential; it's those with the 'softer' skills that are in danger of being overlooked. Yet these are the very people who make the web work for the stakeholders with their knowledge of writing content for the web, content management, metadata, taxonomies, the user experience, usability, and search: the list goes on. These are the skills which are being undermined by the web 'experts'.
The key is to show what we can do beyond 'just' managing the website. The web is at the heart of business efficiencies through its use in streamlining processes, making tasks quicker to perform, connecting business applications, and enabling fast access to resources, so use of the web is key in the battle for the future of higher education institutions. As web managers we need to promote our roles, and those of our teams, showing what we have to offer the long term future of the organisation.
But we are not helped by the lack of recognition for our profession. What is a web professional? This term covers a range of skills and experience but it is not one that is necessarily recognised by recruiters and managers. Web developers are recognised as being IT professionals, but if you have the 'softer' skills it becomes more difficult for recruiters and managers to know how to describe what is required and where to find suitable candidates.
Is it because there are no recognised qualifications (except technical ones), and no professional body, that we have these problems? Are we currently running the risk of our skills being absorbed into other roles therefore jeopardising the quality of future web management and the importance of the profession? How should we promote ourselves so that the benefits of employing web professionals are recognised?
This presentation will consider how and why web professionals should actively fight for recognition so that they can ensure there is a more certain future during turbulent times.
What is project management, how can it help you? This session will look at:
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While the use of social media tools is now recognised as an important medium to communicate with our audience, many institutions are still in the dark as to how best to use these tools to support recruitment, build brand and reputation, and facilitate better internal communications. There are pockets of good practice out there, but also dismal failures due to the lack of understanding of the nature and premise of social media.
This session will explore how institutions should approach the use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Participants will have the opportunity to develop guidelines on using social media for their areas of work. There will also be opportunity to discuss how best to respond to negative comments and how to deal with awkward postings.
At the end of the session, participants will:
Even in a positive economic climate, investing resources into usability or user experience (UX) work is often seen as an expensive luxury by organisations. With public sector budgets likely to face a major squeeze over the next few years, how can we continue to ensure that our websites are as effective and engaging as they can possible be? In this interactive workshop, we will explore ways in which user experience methods can be made more cost-effective yet still provide tangible benefits; for example, by adopting low-cost 'guerilla' methods for user research and evaluation and adopting a more user-centred philosophy within an organisation.
Suitable for all levels of experience, this hands-on session will involve all participants in building a mashup which merges two or more sets of information already available on the web. Whether you can contribute as an expert user, a designer, or a developer, you can help decide what we build by participating in online discussions beforehand, and contribute to the process on the day. By the end of 90 minutes we will (believe it or not) have a working mashup demonstrating how easy it is to 'just do it'.
by Richard Kirk
Data visualisation is one of the hottest trends in online and offline marketing at the moment. By the time the workshop comes round we will have been through a general election; anticipated by many to be an event that ensures data visualisation or infographics really come of age online.
As a tactic, data visualisation lends itself to further/higher education institutions that generate or store large datasets naturally. With the launch of data.gov.uk, data visualisation is also becoming a rare marketing sphere in which the public sector appears to be setting the agenda.
If, as an institution, you feel frustrated that you cannot put across complex arguments to interested parties, or that your communications are dull and uninteresting to your key stakeholders, then data visualisation could be just the thing to stimulate debate, comment and creativity amongst your target market.
At the end of the session, participants will understand:
by Damian Steer
This talk will provide an introduction to the mobile web. We will examine the capabilities of current mobile phones, how they are being used, and who is using them. Native iPhone and Android applications will also be covered.
We will use the Mobile Campus Assistant as a case study. This was created by the Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT) to make time and location sensitive information available to students via their mobiles and location-aware smart phones. For example, where is the nearest available PC? When is the next bus to the hall of residence? Which library is open now?
by Ranjit Sidhu
Many for-profit industries have found that, even in these challenging times, the one area that has been resilient to large expenditure cuts is the internet and web services. Often this expenditure is supported due to every pound being accountable and transparent, therefore justified.
Are there lessons that web teams can take from the for-profit sector to stop what they are doing becoming a vague proposition to those who set the budget? Also, do the web teams need to claw back roles given away freely in the past or would this require a complete change of mindset?
How do you communicate with your staff and students and the wider world when it all goes horribly wrong? Is your IT/Web related response aligned with your institutional Major Incident and Disaster Recovery policies?
Over the past few years a number of experiments have been undertaken by various institutions to address these issues. Externally hosted websites are one solution and some have used SMS messaging and third-party services such as Twitter. This talk covers ways in which communications can be disseminated via as many channels as possible while allowing simple access to tools for those in MI teams who need to make announcements.
One day it will of course go so wrong that the only solution is a walk around campus with the megaphone - short of that we owe it to our users to provide information in as coherent and effective a manner as possible.
How is the Mobile Web shaping up to deliver critical institutional information? Where does Teaching and Learning come in? ...and do we need an App for that?
This discussion workshop will begin by introducing a range of approaches UK HEIs have taken towards establishing their provision for Mobile devices and the content and interactivity they facilitate - from news alerts, library and location services through to course content delivery.
We'll look at home-grown solutions as well as examples from third-party providers, compare native application capabilities with HTML5 and the Mobile Web and review current thinking on how these devices are used within the Higher Education context.
The session will then call upon attendees to examine the issues presented and discuss their own approaches - planned or realised - to mobile provision, looking at aspects of:
by Joss Winn and Chris Goddard
This workshop will provide a technical introduction to managing a large multi-site WordPress installation and provide a number of real-world examples that demonstrate the versatility of WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS). Attendees will be asked to think 'beyond blogging' and consider WordPress as a popular, low-cost, cutting-edge technology platform serving the needs of research, teaching and learning and institutional web managers.
by Keith Doyle
Turbulent times means uncertainty, so let's get positive about your future! Maybe you've dreamt of developing your career, or maybe you've been forced to think about your future. Whether or not you see yourself staying in your field of work or staying in education, what can you do today to prepare for your future? Keith has experience in further education, higher education, local authorities, industry, as a contractor and running a VAT-registered limited company. He has experienced being made redundant, of finding work and of providing work. In this session, he will share some of his experiences and then work with the participants to build their ideas. This will include: making the most of where we work now; portfolios and interviews; setting up a business.
The use of a taxonomy in creating structured content allows emergent patterns in content to drive navigation. By using a taxonomy to create novel tags for content it is possible to produce strong navigational effects and use this to encourage investment in metadata in your content. Using metadata to produce front end effects, allows richer content that is easier to exploit in novel ways and gives a positive feedback process to encourage metadata production.
On the other hand this approach risks polluting your taxonomy with meaningless tags that are so specific they have no meaning unless otherwise explained.
At Leeds this approach is paying dividends in allowing flexible navigation and content reuse.
by Brian Kelly
The Social Web is now widely accepted as having an important role to play in supporting institutional activities. Many (if not all) universities will now have a presence on Social Web services such as Facebook and Twitter. In addition services such as iTunes and YouTube are now becoming used to provide delivery channels for institutional content.
It is therefore timely to seek to identify emerging best practices in use of such services. This session will review institutional approaches to use of the Social Web services. Participants will explore the reasons for using such services and also discuss possible concerns and dangers in such usage.
This session will also explore ways in which usage of such services can be measured in order to provide evidence of their effectiveness. Ways in which such metrics can be used in order to enhance the impact of institutional activities will also be explored.
12th–14th July 2010