Granite, seagulls and a surprisingly warm Aberdeen

IWMWIt’s a week since myself, Andy, Sam and Steve Daniels were up in Aberdeen for IWMW 2008. I’ve already blogged about my parallel workshop session, the BarCamp-style sessions and my thoughts about the lack of blogging web teams while Andy has posted his top five lists (#4 worst thing: listening to Alison’s talk).

Everything I’ve written so far is – how can I put this – all about Edge Hill, so I figured it was time to post something that people might actually be interested in!

IMG_3271Unleashing the Tribe

The last plenary talk of the conference was by Ewan McIntosh, a former teacher who now advises on social media in the public and eduction sectors. A video of the talk is available online and a here’s a slidecast for a similar presentation delivered a couple of months ago:

If you’ve got time, go watch one of the presentations, and keep an eye out for the quote from our very own Tanya Byron:

The technology itself is not transformative. It’s school, the pedagogy that is transformative.

Sorry, I’ve brought it back to talking about Edge Hill again!

Ewan’s insight into how students use social networks is really interesting. He says this of how universities attempting to get into Bebo/MySpace/Facebook:

it’s like a creepy treehouse […] one where adults try to get youngsters to come in […] learn with my on my Bebo page.

He questioned the need to a Phd when you can demonstrate your experience so easily, citing a video by Johnny Lee demonstrating a really cool way of creating 3D images on a TV using a Wii remote.

Bath Web Services have run a session on managing your professional identity in the past – Ewan referred to persistence on the web – showing someone’s public Facebook profile which is critical of their employer and reminding us that students are probably saying the same sort of thing about universities, lecturers, tutors, even web services! I think we have a role to play in raising the profile of these issues with staff and students and I’d hope we can look into offering something similar to Bath in the not-to-distant future.

Mobile phones are popular. Really popular. Are we doing enough to cater for users accessing our sites in this way? Probably not yet, but we’ll have to offer something to mobile users (and I’ve got some thoughts about what we should be doing… we just need to find some time to do it!). Another cool video clip, this time showing a flashmob in Grand Central Station.

There’s a few other nuggets of information along the way, but I’ll let you find them yourself. Ewan’s talk was definitely one of the highlights of the conference for me and well worth watching.

IMG_3250Look Who’s Talking Now…

It would be amiss of me not to mention Alison Wildish’s plenary session. Once again, the video is online so you can see the presentation in full if you wish. At last year’s IWMW, Alison’s talk developed quite a lot of buzz around the work we’d done at Edge Hill (sorry, all about us again!) so the pressure was on to deliver again.

Instead of following up with more about her views on web services (personalisation, web 2.0, user generated content, blah, blah!), Alison spoke about the move to Bath and the differences to Edge Hill. There seemed to be some feedback last year that Edge Hill had it “easy” and that big/old/research universities have a whole different set of challenges that we simply didn’t have to face. Would she be eating her words now?

It was very interesting to see the comparisons and in many ways we do have it easy! The links between IT Services and Marketing, the focus on the student, and the freedom that we have to develop across web services is great! In other institutions where web services are far more decentralised it can be difficult to ensure high quality and consistency across the site.

The overall impression I got was more positive than you might otherwise assume. Once the commitment is there to manage web services more effectively it becomes possible to start developing all the cool stuff that the web has been promising for the last couple of years. We, I believe, are in that position so the task it to keep delivering!

IWMW 2008 – a 3ish day blur

For the last few days, I’ve had the pleasure to attend the Institutional Web Management Workshop in Aberdeen with Mike, Sam and Steve. Aside from registration, the event seemed to just fly by, so until I can focus on specific events, here’s a few, hazy, memories.

The 5 Best Things

  1. Ewan McIntosh‘s Unleashing the Tribe keynote speech about social media.
  2. Mike Ellis‘s grounding in thinking about, approaching and doing mashups mostly using Yahoo Pipes.
  3. Meeting such a nice, friendly bunch of people who care about what they do.
  4. The “High Street” on which sits the Machar Bar and the Auld Toon Cafe which sells the most wondeful minced beef pies and chelsea buns you ever tasted.
  5. Experiencing barcamp (if only on a small scale) for the first time, and enjoying every minute of it.

The 5 Worst Things (nothing was really bad)

  1. Stalag luft Hillhead
  2. The drive.
  3. It took me three months to lose about 4 kilos, it took me 3 days, to find them again.
  4. Listening to Alison’s talk and regretting not having worked for her for very long.
  5. As good as the song was, its an absolute travesty that the live train times application from Dawn Petherick, Web Services Manager, University of Birmingham didn’t win first prize in the innovation competition (and I told her so too).

5 (nice) surprisesSunny

  1. Sunshine (even though we were inside most of the time).
  2. Learning doric, the official (unstoppable) language of Aberdeen, even though I never met anyone who spoke it.
  3. I can still run 5 miles+, even with a bit of a hangover….just.
  4. Edge Hill’s events timeline might be considered a “mashup” by some.
  5. Discovering I know a little more than I sometimes give myself credit for.

I know that Mike was threatening to expose the lack of institutional blogging, so I hereby pledge to blog … a bit more than I used to, well every little helps…

IWMW 2008

IWMWOver a month since the last post on the blog – not good! Well this week we’ll make up for it as myself, Sam, Andy and Steve D head North to Aberdeen for the Institutional Web Management Workshop.

This annual event allows those involved in the provision of web services in Higher and Further Education institutions to get together, share case studies and hear talks from a wide variety of speakers and take part in workshop sessions. I went to last year’s IWMW in York and found it very useful. Myself and Alison blogged about some of the sessions and this time I’m hoping with more of us up there we’ll be able to share even more of our experiences.

If you’re interested in being part of the conference from afar, then the website shows how you can follow using the live blog. I imagine a number of people will be twittering heavily using #iwmw2008 to mark out tweets. Use the new search.twitter service (Twitter recently bought Summize) to keep track of the conversation

Looking through the schedule, there’s a number of sessions I’m especially looking forward to. Alison Wildish (formerly of this parish) is going to be reflecting on the differences between Edge Hill and Bath and whether any of her views (which caused quite a storm at York) have changed with the move. Helen Aspell’s talk seems to have changed at the last minute but will be replaced by a number of interesting speakers. Assuming I’ve got my choice of workshop session, I’ll be going to Paul Boag’s Battling Bureaucracy.

I didn’t get a choice for the other Workshop session because I submitted a proposal of my own so I’ll be busy with that! I’ve just put the finishing touches to the content of “Stuff what we’re doing at Edge Hill University“. I’m hoping to get lots of audience participation to get ideas from them as well as sharing some of the things we’ve been working on here. I’m glad to be getting it out of the way on the first day – I’ll report back (with slides) once it’s all over.

That’s all for now. Check back for some semi-live blogging. I’ll be taking a spare laptop so I don’t repeat the problems from SOLSTICE Conference!

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