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.