UK Web Focus http://ukwebfocus.com UK Web Focus: an independent Web consultant Tue, 03 May 2016 10:49:34 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 IWMW 2016 Now Open For Bookings! http://ukwebfocus.com/2016/05/03/iwmw-2016-now-open-bookings/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2016/05/03/iwmw-2016-now-open-bookings/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 08:01:20 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=17100 I’m pleased to announce that bookings for the IWMW 2016 event are now open. This year’s event will be held at Liverpool John Moores University on 21-23 June The IWMW 2016 event is the leading event for those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and other digital channels within the UK’s higher and further educational […]

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IWMW 2016 home page

I’m pleased to announce that bookings for the IWMW 2016 event are now open. This year’s event will be held at Liverpool John Moores University on 21-23 June

The IWMW 2016 event is the leading event for those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and other digital channels within the UK’s higher and further educational sector. The event, the Institutional Web Management Workshop, was founded in 1996 so this year marks the event’s 20th anniversary. We are planning to celebrate this special occasion, with a conference dinner being held at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

As can be seen from the IWMW 2016 timetable there are a range of topics being address at the event.  The theme for this year’s event is “Understanding Users; Managing Change; Delivering Services” which nicely summarises the main challenges which web managers are currently facing.  In the opening strand on the first day we will hear from speakers from the universities of Edinburgh and Greenwich about the approaches they are taking in providing effective services to their user communities. The second day will provide six talks which will explore the approaches institutions are taking in managing change – in order to what one speaker describes as “Establishing Digital at the Heart of the University” – whilst continuing to deliver services.

Beyond the main event themes additional talks will explore analytics, provide insights from those working beyond the higher educational sector and, in the final session, learning lessons from when things go wrong.

A key aspect of the IWMW event series has been the emphasis placed on ensuring that participants are able to actively engage in sessions. A number of workshop sessions, which last for 90 minutes, will be held. In addition following last year’s innovation of the master classes we will be running a number of these sessions, lasting for 2.5 hours, which will provide more time to explore relevant topic areas in depth.

IWMW blogThe IWMW blog has been established in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event and provide an opportunity to reflect on the history of the development of institutional web services and the growth of other digital channels. In the most recent post Stephen Duncan looks back on his involvement with the event in a post entitled “What Six Years of IWMW Tells Us About Developments in Digital“. In the post Stephen describes how “We have an incredible community. It still amazes me that as a sector we can be so open with each other about our challenges, and so willing to freely share our knowledge”.

The establishment and growth of a community has been another key aspect of IWMW events, as can be seen from reading the blog posts, with other speakers feeling that over the past twenty years we have “fostered a community of like-minded folks, faced the same issues, the same changing tech, the same battles and the same ever-changing Internet landscape”; we have “had a lot of fun and developed strong connections across the UK’s web management community“; there has been “Lots of knowledge gained and shared; a warm and welcoming community; new friends (now old friends)”; discovered “a community to share and discuss ideas, meet people and look at things from a different perspective” and event suggestions that the IWMW event is “being a bit like Glastonbury“!

If you’ve not attended an IWMW event previously, listen to what your peers are saying on the IWMW blog. Would you want to miss out on the 20th anniversary celebrations?! If you have attended IWMW events previously, you will know how valuable it can be – but if you can’t attend this year perhaps you can encourage colleagues to attend.

Note that one change this year is that accommodation will not be provided in the event fee, since the host institution is not able to provide accommodation for conferences. However there are a wide range of affordable hotels and other forms of accommodation available in Liverpool city centre. We will be providing details of accommodation. Also note that the obviously the event fee is less than previous years – but, thanks to the generosity of the event sponsors, we have been able to reduce the cost of the event so it is now less than last year’s event for those who did not require accommodation!

Please book early, so that we can identify the popular parallel sessions and, if necessary, make plans for additional activities for this memorable event!

 

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Do You Have Memories Of IWMW Events? http://ukwebfocus.com/2016/04/11/memories-iwmw-events/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2016/04/11/memories-iwmw-events/#respond Mon, 11 Apr 2016 09:55:58 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=17078 20 Years of IWMW! This years annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2016, will be the 20th in the series. The event was launched in July 1997 with a two-day event. Although initially envisaged as a one-off event the feedback for the first event made it clear that there was interest in continuation of an […]

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20 Years of IWMW!

This years annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2016, will be the 20th in the series. The event was launched in July 1997 with a two-day event. Although initially envisaged as a one-off event the feedback for the first event made it clear that there was interest in continuation of an event for those with responsibilities for management institutional web services. The event grew to be hosted over 3 days (with one exception, in 2010, when concerns over cutbacks in the sector led to the event being held over two days for that year only). The event peaked in popularity in 2009 when it attracted 197 participants. The Jisc cessation of funding for UKOLN in 2013 led to concerns that IWMW 2013 would be the final event. However participants at the event – and across the wider web management community – made it clear that there was continued interest in the event. The event was relaunched in 2014 (organised in conjunction with Netskills and hosted at Northumbria University) and in 2015 was held at Edge Hill University. As part of the transition from an event which was funded by the Jisc, an enlarged advisory group has been set up to oversee the planning for the IWMW 2016 event.

19 Years of IWMW Online Content!

The IWMW event is probably unique in long-standing IT-related events in the UK’s higher education community in the continued availability of the event web site content, which includes timetables, titles and abstracts for talks, speaker biographies and, for much of the content, access to speakers’ slides. This content is available on the original UKOLN web site (from 1997-2013) and the IWMW.org web site since then. In addition, in case of loss of the original content  as well as providing a more conference set of resources, much of the content is also available on Lanyrd.

Your Memories

Over the past 19 years there have been over 2,500 registrations at the events (although of course, many delegates will have attended multiple events). Judging from the comments received on the evaluation forms over the years the event has been highly regarded, not only for providing an opportunity to update one’s professional skills but also to develop one’s professional network – and also to have some fun!

The IWMW blog was launched recently in order to document memories of the event. In recent posts my former colleague Marieke Guy alludes to the IWMW song in her post on “IWMW: On the Web, the World Wide Web” which summaries her long-standing participation at the event as a delegate, speaker, facilitator and event co-chair. Marieke has also shared her thoughts on other aspects of the event in her posts on My Top 10 IWMW Session Titles and My Top 10 IWMW Photos.

In another post by a long-standing participant at IWMW event – “Friends, blivets and Haribo” – Debbie Brooke reflected on the ten events she has attended, as a delegate, workshop facilitator and local event organises and conclude “For me the friends I have made is definitely the best part of being involved with something as wonderful as IWMW for so many years“.

Many of the local event organisers have been invited to reflect on the events they helped organised with the first being “Ricky Rankin on IWMW 2001“. However a number of the local organisers have now left the sector or (like Ricky Rankin) have retired. This is to be expected for such a long-running event, so it will be important to capture memories before these numbers increase.

Other participants at IWMW events left the higher education sector following the economic turmoil and cuts which have affected the sector since 2008. In “A Brief EncounterDeborah Fern reflected on her first event in 2009: “My overwhelming memory was the relief in finding a like-minded bunch of people facing similar challenges to myself“. The following year was turbulent with talks of public sector cuts and a general feeling of gloomy times to come in the HE sector which was reflected in many of the talks at the IWMW 2010 event. A passionate ‘call to arms’ by Ranjit Sidhu helped lift Deborah’s gloom and fill her ‘to do list’ for the months to come: “So as an optimist (with realistic tendencies) I came back from Sheffield fired up to lead my team through the challenges to come as evidenced in my blog post at the time“. Sadly shortly after publishing her post Deborah was to become a victim of those cuts (and yet another departmental restructure) – her job disappeared as the University removed a level of management to cut costs, Fortunately Deborah subsequently got a job as a Project Manager for a digital agency and is still “destroying chaos (organising project teams) and herding cats (organising clients) to this day“. In her post Deborah concluded “So what did the IWMW events mean to me? Lots of knowledge gained and shared; a warm and welcoming community; new friends (now old friends); fun nights and horrible hangovers – I loved every minute of it and long may it continue!”.

IWMW2015: sketchnoteThe impact 0f IWMW events was also described in Kevin Mears‘ post which asked “What has IWMW done for me?“. Kevin (who is best know at IWMW events for his sketchnotes of the talks at the events) described how the “experience of his first [IWMW event] at the University of Essex was a wonderful realisation that here was a conference where I could speak to people experiencing similar problems with an understanding of university cultures“. Kevin concluded by paraphrasing the famous Monty Python quotation: “All right, but apart from the knowledge, information, education, wine, discussion, enthusiasm, contacts and community, what has the IWMW ever done for us?

Kevin is a member of the IWMW 2016 Advisory Group. Two other Advisory Group members have also contributed gust posts to the blog: Andrew Millar and Claire Gibbons

Andrew Millar launched the series of guest posts with his “Reflections on Recent IWMW Events” and concluded by describing his expectations of this year’s event from his perspective as a recently-appointed Head of Web Services at the University of Dundee: “What I hope for the conference, more than anything else, is that it continues to do what it does best. To bring together a community of people, to share openly and encourage but most of all to inspire us all to greatness in our own spheres of service.”

Claire Gibbons came to her first IWMW event in Bath in 2000, as ‘a slightly scared new Web Officer in her twenties’. In her guest post on “It Started in the Year 2000 – For Me” she looks back at her “love affair with IWMW“. Claire, who has attended 15 IWMW events, provided an answer to the question “why do I keep going back?”. IWMW events provide:

an opportunity in a very hectic calendar to stop (Hammer Time) and spend time with very like-minded people, but also those who are willing to be a critical friend, challenge and stretch you, as well as encourage and support you and your ideas. Web (and, dare I say, digital) professionals aren’t rare, but they can struggle in HE institutions where their ideas and innovations may be ahead of where an institution is willing to go at that time – and IWMW is an opportunity to collectively come up with ideas to overcome these potential barriers

In recent years it was noticeable that IWMW events was attracting significant numbers of first time attendees. One of these first-timers was Stratos Filalithis, the acting head for the University Website Programme at the University of Edinburgh. Stratos attended his first IWMW event in 2014 – and, as he described in his post on “Any 20th Year Anniversary is Significant!” discovered “a community to share and discuss ideas, meet people and look at things from a different perspective“.

Although many of the guest posts have focussed on the community aspects of the event, specific content areas have also been addressed. In particular in her guest post on “The Portal is Dead. Long Live the Portal!Tracey Stanley, a librarian who has spoken at the IWMW 2002, 2003 and 2004 events, looks back at the panel session on “Avoiding Portal Wars” she participated in at the IWMW 2002 event. Tracey described how back in 2002 “We were all getting very excited about web portals in higher education back then, and many of us put these at the centre of our institutional web strategies“. Reflecting on the environment 14 years ago Tracey feels that:

The Institutional Portal was perhaps seen at that time as a panacea by Senior Managers, Marketing and IT staff alike. Managers and Marketing wanted to separate out content for prospective students and external audiences and put it onto a flashy institutional website over which they could have complete control. Internal Communications were keen to find new ways of presenting internally-focused content – and the Institutional Portal offered the promise of delivering this in a way which segmented it according to the different internal audiences, so that users were only presented with the stuff that is most relevant to them. IT staff were keen to implement single-sign on so that the Institutional Portal could act as a one stop shop to all the web systems and services increasingly proliferating on campus – from the Library system to the Student Information System, and the VLE.

But hands-up if you are using the hot institutional portal technologies of the time, such as IBM Websphere, uPortal (the open source portal offering), Luminis, and Sharepoint? Tracey feels that although there is still interest in institutional portals, she feels that in the UK the concept hasn’t gone much beyond the original early adopters, possibly because the model of aggregating everything into a single place on a web page perhaps makes less sense when increasingly users are accessing content through their smartphone or tablet.

An Opportunity To Contribute!

The IWMW blog provides an opportunity for those with responsibilities for managing institutional web services and other digital channels to contribute their thoughts. In addition the 20th anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect of the development of the community and the services provides over this significant period for the development of online services across the higher education sector.

A number of potential contributors have already been approached. However now that 11 guest posts have been published it is timely to open up contributions more widely.  As mentioned details of the content and speakers for all of the IWMW events is available on Lanyrd, which may help trigger memories. But for me such approaches to digital preservation (the preservation of the content itself) is insufficient – we also need the stories which can bring the content to life and provide the contextualisation to appreciate the relevance of the past to planning for the future.

So if you would like to contribute a guest post to the IWMW blog please get in touch (email to ukwebfocus@gmail.com).I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

 

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Brief Thoughts on Day 1 of the Jisc Digital Festival 2016 http://ukwebfocus.com/2016/03/02/day-1-of-the-jisc-digital-festival-2016/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2016/03/02/day-1-of-the-jisc-digital-festival-2016/#respond Wed, 02 Mar 2016 21:15:30 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=17053 The Jisc Digital Festival 2016 The two-day Jisc Digital Festival began early today and continues tomorrow. This was my first Jisc event for some time and provided a valuable opportunity to gain an overview of Jisc developments and, perhaps more importantly, meet many friends and former colleagues. Unfortunately due to family commitments I was only there […]

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The Jisc Digital Festival 2016

The two-day Jisc Digital Festival began early today and continues tomorrow. This was my first Jisc event for some time and provided a valuable opportunity to gain an overview of Jisc developments and, perhaps more importantly, meet many friends and former colleagues. Unfortunately due to family commitments I was only there for the day and had to leave at coffee time – in addition I spent most of my time talking to people and therefore didn’t attend any of the many parallel sessions. However I did attend the opening plenary which provided useful insights into current Jisc thinking.

Jisc digital festival 2016

The Power of Digital

The opening plenary session, entitled “The Power of Digital” had four plenary speakers: Dr Paul Feldman, chief executive, Jisc; Professor David Maguire, chair, Jisc; Professor Andrew Harrison, professor of practice at University of Wales Trinity St David and director of Spaces That Work Ltd and Professor Donna Lanclos, associate professor for anthropological research at UNC Charlotte.

The sides used by the speakers are available on Slideshare and are also embedded below. There is therefore no need for me to comment on the details of the opening talk. However one slide in particular caught my eye: the overview of the three key areas of work provided by the Jisc for the sector:

Slides from opening Jisc plenary talk

As can be seen Jisc do three main things for the sector:

  1. Provide shared digital infrastructure and services. This includes the Janet network, shared data centres (formerly known as Mimas), Eduroam and geospatial services provided I understand by Edina) with new services in the area of learning analytics, research data management and “FE college in a box” currently being developed.
  2. Sector wide deals with IT vendors and publishers. In the past the focus would probably have been on deals negotiated with publishers and have primarily been of interest to librarians, together with deals for large data sets. However it was interesting to note that the current emphasis is on the deals with IT vendors, with deals with Microsoft and Amazon being mentioned.
  3. Expert and trusted advice and practical assistance. This includes advice on open access, cloud services and cyber security (which I’m familiar with) and “financial x-ray” which is new to me, with plans to move into FE area reviews and a national monograph strategy.

Discussion

I was particularly pleased to see the high profile which was given to the importance of Jisc’s work in negotiating deals for institutional use of Cloud services, such as those provided by Microsoft and Amazon. In the past legal issues such as data protection and uncertainties of the robustness of the Safe Harbor agreement were cited as barriers to the widespread deployment of such services.

The Jisc web site contains brief details of the deals which Jisc have negotiated for the sector, which includes deals for Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps for Education and Amazon Web Services, although details of the provides of file synch and share services do not seem to be available.

jisc-cloud-services-summary

I should also add that at the event there was an announcement of a deal for Amazon Web Services, which is described in more detail on the Jisc blog. This announcement reminded me that back in 2008 Jeff Barr of Amazon Web Services gave a talk at the IWMW 2007 event on “Building Highly Scalable Web Applications” – although it appears that the deal is for use by researchers and not for those providing large-scale web services.

But what did I think was missing from this overview?

It was interesting to note that although open access continues to be of great relevance to Jisc, open source software no longer seems to be being mentioned. Funding for the Jisc OSS Watch service ceased some time ago and advice and support for the sector on procuring open source software products or on developing open source software does not seem to be provided. In addition, although there was an expectation that software developed by Jisc projects would be available as open source, it does not appear that current services being developed or procured will be as available as open source. Perhaps we should accept that openness tends to be popular in times of growth (as we saw in the early part of the 21st century)  but at a time of cutbacks openness is deemed no longer to be relevant?

I also noticed that the relevance of Wikipedia also appeared to be dismissed as part of the ‘wild west’.  This made me wonder whether such community-led approaches to content development were at odds with the Jisc view on the importance of “expert and trusted advice”.

Finally I wondered not that Jisc has negotiated deals for the mundane office products and we have a reliable networking environment, with many (but not all) users owning their own powerful devices, where the support for local development work will be provided. In the past the DevCSI initiative was successful in motivating institutional development activities; although the Jisc Summer of Student Innovation has been valuable in providing students with skills in IT development, such expertise will be lost to the sector when they graduate.

jisclive tweetPerhaps the most valuable comment made in the opening plenary was the comment by Dr Paul Feldman, chief executive, Jisc. As summarised in a tweet on the @jisclive account:

Feldman: Jisc is here to support institutions innovate and use technology. We want to hear what you need at #digifest16

I welcome this invitation to give comments and feedback. I’ve shared my thoughts of the areas I’ve welcomed and the gaps. I’d welcome thoughts from others.

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IWMW 2016: Call For Submissions Open http://ukwebfocus.com/2016/02/04/iwmw-2016-call-for-submissions/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2016/02/04/iwmw-2016-call-for-submissions/#respond Thu, 04 Feb 2016 11:31:36 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16984 IWMW 2016, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, will be held at Liverpool John Moores University on 21-23 June 2016. The theme of this year’s event is “Understanding Users; Managing Change; Delivering Services“. The event, the 20th in the series, is aimed at those with responsibilities for providing and managing institutional Web and digital services […]

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IWMW 2016, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, will be held at Liverpool John Moores University on 21-23 June 2016.

The theme of this year’s event is “Understanding Users; Managing Change; Delivering Services“.

The event, the 20th in the series, is aimed at those with responsibilities for providing and managing institutional Web and digital services and provides the premier event for professional development and networking opportunities.

Since the event was launched in 1997 the web has evolved from providing online access to the University prospectus to being the focus across a range of mission-critical University systems. The web is no longer simply a technological platform but is instigating significant organisational change, with the term ‘digital’ sometimes being used to highlight such changes. These changes may have been driven by economic and political factors, by technological developments or by changing user requirements and expectations.

Despite such continual changes there will still be a need to provide a diverse range of online services, ranging from the provision of the institutional web services, specialist online services to support teaching and learning and research activities and supporting use of social media and cloud services.

The delivery of services will be based on an understanding of the needs of the user, which will lead to the development of effective user experiences.

This year’s event has three main strands: (1) understanding users; (2) managing change and (3) delivering services. We invite submissions for plenary talks and workshop sessions (or other formats such as debates, panel sessions, lightning talks, birds of a feather sessions, etc.) which address these strands.

Submissions are invited which address these strands. Possible topics include but are not restricted to:

  • Strategic change
  • Reorganising web / digital teams
  • User experience
  • Usability and accessibility
  • User needs analysis
  • Supporting mobile users
  • Responsive design
  • Social media
  • SEO
  • Cloud services
  • Demonstrating the value of Web services
  • Digital governance
  • Staff development for web team members
  • Cultural or strategic change and technical innovations
  • Implications of developments beyond the web
  • Dealing with web agencies and procurement
  • Case studies on how teams deliver their service
  • The evolution of the institutional web team

Note that IWMW events have traditionally attracted core members of institutional Web teams such as developers, designers, content creators and managers. However, in light of the strategic importance of the Web this year the event will also seek to attract policy makers and senior managers who have responsibilities for facilitating organisational change.

Submitting Your Proposal

If you will to submit a proposal please send an email message to ukwebfocus@gmail.com or use the online submission form (note the link for sharing is http://bit.ly/iwmw16-submission).

We welcome proposals for:

  • Plenary talks, which typically last for 45 minutes
  • Workshop sessions, which typically last for 90 minutes. The workshop sessions should provide an opportunity for all workshop participants to engage actively with the topics covered in the session.

In addition to these areas we also invite proposals which may use other formats such as:

  • Panel sessions, in which speakers address a shared topic.
  • Debates, in which speakers argue for and against a motion.

Other ideas are also welcomed.

Your submission should contain the following information:

    • The proposed title of the talk or sessions.
    • A brief abstract.
    • For workshop sessions, a summary of how the session would be made interactive, with all participants able to contribute.
    • Other relevant information which will help the IWMW 2016 organisers to decide if the proposal is relevant and appropriate for the event.

If you would like to discuss a possible proposal, or if you have never attended previous IWMW events and would like to hear more about the event, feel free to contact a member of the IWMW 2016 advisory group.

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Should We Boycott Academia.edu? http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/12/09/should-we-boycott-academia-edu/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/12/09/should-we-boycott-academia-edu/#respond Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:46:45 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16928 The “Why Are We Not Boycotting Academia.edu?” Event I recently came across a tweet which announced an event which addressed the question “Why Are We Not Boycotting Academia.edu?“.  As described on the Eventbrite booking page: With over 36 million visitors each month, the San Francisco-based platform-capitalist company Academia.edu is hugely popular with researchers. Its founder and CEO Richard Price […]

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The “Why Are We Not Boycotting Academia.edu?” Event

I recently came across a tweet which announced an event which addressed the question “Why Are We Not Boycotting Academia.edu?“.  As described on the Eventbrite booking page:

With over 36 million visitors each month, the San Francisco-based platform-capitalist company Academia.edu is hugely popular with researchers. Its founder and CEO Richard Price maintains it is the ‘largest social-publishing network for scientists’, and ‘larger than all its competitors put together’. Yet posting on Academia.edu is far from being ethically and politically equivalent to using an institutional open access repository, which is how it is often understood by academics.

Academia.edu’s financial rationale rests on the ability of the venture-capital-funded professional entrepreneurs who run it to monetize the data flows generated by researchers. Academia.edu can thus be seen to have a parasitical relationship to a public education system from which state funding is steadily being withdrawn. Its business model depends on academics largely educated and researching in the latter system, labouring for Academia.edu for free to help build its privately-owned for-profit platform by providing the aggregated input, data and attention value.

The abstract concluded by summarising questions which will be address at the event, including:

  • Why have researchers been so ready to campaign against for-profit academic publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and Taylor & Francis/Informa, but not against for-profit platforms such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate and Google Scholar?
  • Should academics refrain from providing free labour for these publishing companies too?
  • Are there non-profit alternatives to such commercial platforms academics should support instead?

The event was organised by The Centre for Disruptive Media and took place at Coventry University on 8 December 2015 from 3-6pm. Unfortunately I was not able to attend the event, but as this is an area of interest to me I thought I would publish this post, in which I argue that rather than boycotting Academia.edu we should make use it it (and similar services) by complementing institutional repository services with such services.

Background to My Interests

Slide on my use of academia.eduOver a year ago I was invited to give a talk on “Using Social Media to Build Your Academic Career” at a symposium in Brussels on “How to Build an Academic Career” for the five Flemish universities. Over the past two years I have also given modified versions of the talk  at the annual DAAD conference, the IRISS Research Unbound conference and for the iSchool@northumbria’s Research Seminar Series. As can be seen from the accompanying screenshot of one of the slides in the presentations I summarised the benefits which can be gained from making use of Academia.edu, based on personal experiences and recommending best practices.

My advice, as well as that provided by librarians and research support staff who promote use of social media by early career researchers, would appear to be in conflict with the general theme of the question “Why Are We Not Boycotting Academia.edu?” event. But rather than address the issue of whether universities should own the online services they use I will present evidence of how existing services are being used and the implications of such usage patterns.

What Does The Evidence Suggest?

Personal Experiences

The slides for my a talk on “Using Social Media to Build Your Academic Career” are available on Slideshare. In the talk I described the benefits of making one’s research content available in popular places, rather than restricting access to niche web sites such as institutional repositories. In particular I described the SEO benefits which can be gained by using popular sites which contain links to research papers which are hosted on an institutional repository. This advice was based on findings published in a paper which asked “Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” by myself and Jenny Delasalle and presented at the Open Repositories 2012 conference.

duckduckgo-search-for-Can-LinkedIn-and-Academia.edu-Enhance-Access-to-Open-RepositoriesInterestingly I Googled for the paper using the search term “linkedin academia.edu researchgate opus” in order to find the copy of the paper hosted on Opus, the University of Bath institutional repository; however the first hit was for the copy hosted by Researchgate. This suggested that hosting a research paper on a popular service such as Academia.edu or, in this case, Researchgate, would provide better discoverability for Google than use of an institutional repository.

But since Google will remember previous searches a more objective tool to use would be Duckduckgo, which does not keep a record of previous searches. In this case the search for “linkedin academia.edu researchgate opus” found the paper hosted on Researchgate in second place. Using the full title of the paper, as shown the Duckduckgo search for “Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” the order of the search results was (1) paper hosted by Academia.edu; (2) paper hosted by Opus instituional repository; (3) slides hosted on Slideshare and (4) paper hosted by Researchgate.

Personally. therefore, I have found benefits through use of Academia.edu and Researchgate in helping to raise the visibility of my research papers. But how popular in Academia.edu across the UK research sector?

Institutional Evidence

In order to answer this question a survey of Academia.edu use across the 24 Russell Group universities was carried out on 26 November 2015. The findings are given in the following table, with the link in the final column enabling the current results to be determined.

Ref. no. Institution No. of People Link
 1 University of Birmingham      5,408 [Link]
 2 University of Bristol      5,759 [Link]
3 University of Cambridge    12,770 [Link]
4 Cardiff University      5,372 [Link]
5 Durham University      5,198 [Link]
6 University of Exeter      5,346 [Link]
7 University of Edinburgh      9,252 [Link]
8 University of Glasgow      6,094 [Link]
9 Imperial College London      3,943 [Link]
10 King’s College London      8,568 [Link]
11 University of Leeds      8,396 [Link]
12 University of Liverpool      4,911 [Link]
13 London School of Economics       6,184 [Link]
14 University of Manchester     11,249 [Link]
15 Newcastle University     4,756 [Link]
16 University of Nottingham      7,963 [Link]
17 University of Oxford    19,709 [Link]
18 Queen Mary, University of London      4,083 [Link]
19 Queen’s University Belfast      2,639 [Link]
20 University of Sheffield      4,821 [Link]
21 University of Southampton       5,646 [Link]
22 University College London    13,481 [Link]
23 University of Warwick      6,457 [Link]
24 University of York      5,297 [Link]
Total 173,301

NotesSearching academia.edu

  • This information was collected on 9 December.
  • The figures were obtained by entering the name of the institution and using the highest number listed. As can be seen from the accompanying image there may be other variants of the name of the institution: the figure shown with therefore give an under-estimation of the number of items related to the institution (the total given in the table is for the largest variant of the institution’s name i.e. 4,744 in this example).

Note that a post entitled A Survey of Use of Researcher Profiling Services Across the 24 Russell Group Universities published in August 2012 summarised usage of several researcher profiling services  (Researchgate, ResearcherID, LinkedIn and Google Scholar Citations as well Academia.edu). The survey found 33,812 users of Academia.edu from the Russell Group universities, which suggested that there has been an increase of nearly 400% in just over 3 years.

Also note that the findings of a survey carried out in February 2013, which compared take-up of Academic.edu and Researchgate described in a post entitled Profiling Use of Third-Party Research Repository Services found that Researchgate appeared to have entries for 426,414 researchers from Russell Group Universities, compared with 39,546 for Academia.edu.

Discussion

My personal experiences, together with the institutional evidence of Academia.edu suggest that the service is popular with the user community. But what of the issues raised at yesterday’s meeting?

Researchgate is a social networking-site

It seems to me that it will be difficult to find funding for the development of large-scale non-profit alternatives to commercial services such as Academia.edu and Researchgate. And even if funding to development and maintain the technical infrastructure was available, it may prove difficult to get researchers to see the benefits and  make their research content available on a new, unproven service, espcially in light of evidence such as that provided in a paper on “Open Access Meets Discoverability: Citations to Articles Posted to Academia.edu” which described how:

Based on a sample size of 34,940 papers, we find that a paper in a median impact factor journal uploaded to Academia.edu receives 41% more citations after one year than a similar article not available online,50% more citations after three years,and 73% after five years.

Coincidentally a week ago I came across a tweet by Jon Tenant which stated that:

Reminder: @ResearchGate and @academia are networking sites, not #openaccess repositories http://bit.ly/1QWcGnD

As shown in the accompanying screenshot this tweet contained an image which highlighted some concerns regarding use of Academia.edu and Researchgate. However the first part of the tweet highlighted an important aspect of these services which are typically not provided by institutional repositories: @ResearchGate and @academia are networking sites.

It is worth expanding on this summary slightly, based n the evidence given above:

@ResearchGate and @academia are popular networking sites, with content likely to be more easily found using Google than content hosted on institutional repositories. 

In addition the services may also enhance the visibility of resources hosted on institutional repositories:

Providing links from @ResearchGate and @academia to content hosted on institutional repositories should prpvide SEO benefits, and make the content of institutional repositories more easily found using search engines such as Google. 

opus top author statistics for December 2015This was the conclusion based on a survey published in the paper which asked “Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories?“. Revisiting personal experiences use of the University of Bath’s Opus repository usage service it can be seen that my papers are the most-viewed of all researchers (and, interestingly, my formed UKOLN colleagues Alex Ball and Emma Tonkin are to be found in the top 5 researchers based on download statistics).

This, of course, does not necessarily provide evidence of the quality of the papers; rather, as described in the paper cited above, it suggests that providing in-bound links from popular services will enhance the Google ranking of papers hosted by the repository.

Conclusions

Rather than developing open alternatives to Academia.edu and Researchgate my feeling is that the existing infrastructure of institutional repositories  services such as Academia.edu and Researchgate can be used in conjunction, with the institutional repository providing the robust and secure management of content, with researcher profiling services providing SEO benefits in addition to the community benefits these social networking services can provide for researchers.

Such use of multiple services will also help address the risk of cessation of services, which is often highlighted as a risk of use of commercial services where there is no formal contractual agreement. It should be noted, of course, that sectoral not-for-profit services may also be closed down, as has happened with the Jorum OER repository service, whose closure Jisc announced in June 2015.

Of course when researchers leave their host institution they may wish to ensure that they continue to have full read/write access to their publications, in which case storing copies of the papers in the commercial services themselves will provide continued access after they have left their host institution and can no longer manage their publications – this, incidentally, was the approach I took after leaving UKOLN, University of Bath in July 2013.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the relevance of commercial research profiling/repository services, whether the sector should look into providing open alternatives and the strategies needed to ensure that such approaches would be successful.


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Back to the Future at #ILI2015 http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/10/21/back-to-the-future-at-ili2015/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/10/21/back-to-the-future-at-ili2015/#respond Wed, 21 Oct 2015 13:05:09 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16921 Looking To The Past To Predict The Future   On Monday Tony Hirst and myself co-facilitated a workshop on “Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond” which preceded the ILI 2015 conference. In the workshop we explored ways in which librarians could help to identify technological developments which may affect the range of services […]

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Looking To The Past To Predict The Future

developments in wireless technology

 

On Monday Tony Hirst and myself co-facilitated a workshop on “Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond” which preceded the ILI 2015 conference. In the workshop we explored ways in which librarians could help to identify technological developments which may affect the range of services libraries provide and how broader trends may accelerate or hinder such developments.

In the workshop we discussed a number of techniques which may be useful in providing more flexible approaches to predicting the impact of technical developments, including asking questions such as “What did you notice for the first time?” and exploring answers to the question “Did you try the library?“.

We also discussed ways of playing with time, such as the describing the history of technologies in reverse, such as taking the recent EU decision on illegality of the “Safe Harbor” agreement and explore how that could lead to social media services such as Facebook being used in only 21 universities by 2005, with Mark Zuckerberg officially scrapping Facebook in October 2003 and then starting a course at Harvard University. Exploring possible reasons, such as loss of advertising income through changes in technologies, political developments and user hostility towards failures to make adequate tax payments, may be useful in identifying relevant trends which could occur in the future.

It is appropriate to highlight such approaches on #BackToFutureDay, with the BBC featuring articles on “Back to the Future II: What did it get right and wrong?” and, on their sports pages asking, with tongue in cheek, “How will sport look in another 30 years?

At the workshop we also discussed how we can learn from conferences: not only from the content of talks but also from the titles of talks and how they may be groups together. I pointed out that the ILI 2015 conference was featuring a number of talks on use of video in a variety of contexts which, it seemed to me, indicate a newish trend in the library sector.

The ILI conference was launched in 2000 and I have attended – and spoken at – all bar one of the conferences; the exception being ILI 2008 when I was speaking at a conference held at the National Library of Singapore. ILI conference web sites are available for a number of recent ILI conferences but no, I think, all 15 conferences. However since all of my slides are available online, I am able to view the titles and abstracts of my talks and the slides I used. I’ve provided links to the materials in the following table.

A number of things occur to me looking at this list:

  • In 2001 I described Jisc-funded work on “Advertising on Your Web Site” which investigated whether adverting revenue on Jisc service web sites could be used to fund the services. Following the dot.com crash around the turn of the century it was decided not to explore this possibility. It’s interesting that the more severe economic crash in 2008 didn’t lead to a revival of interest.
  • ILI 2002 saw interest in mobile devices, in particular dedicated ebook readers and PDAs. How important would the Rocket ebook reader and the Palm PDA be for librarians, we discussed. That seems such a long time ago!
  • The talk on “Beyond E-mail! Wikis, Blogs and Social Networking Software” at ILI 2004 could have been entitled “An Introduction to Web 2.0” – except for the fact that the term “Web 2.0” wasn’t popularized until late 2004! But it is interesting that the conference organisers felt that this area was of relevance to libraries in 2004.

Of course a richer insight into the trends relevant to Internet librarians would require access to the complete programme for the 15 ILI conferences. For me this is a reason why it is important to preserve access to resources such as conference programmes, with access being open to anyone with an interest in what we could refer to as “Internet archeology“.

Happy #backtothefutureday!

No. Event Title Link Notes
1 ILI 2000 Finding Resources on Your Web Site [Link] Talk
 2 Electronic Magazines: Issues in Implementation [Link] Joint talk with Bernadette Daly
3 ILI 2001 Publishing Web Magazines, e-Journals & Webzines [Link] Half day workshop with Marieke  Napier
4 WebWizards’ Roundtable [Link] Panel
5 Beyond Design: Advertising on Your Web Site [Link] Talk
6 ILI 2002 New Devices And The Web [Link] Joint talk with Helen Petrie
7 Benchmarking Of Library Web Sites [Link] Joint talk with Penny Garrod
8 Building 21st Century Web Sites [Link] Talk in exhibition
9 ILI 2003 HTML Is Dead! A Web Standards Update [Link] Talk
10 Web Site Accessibility: Too Difficult To Implement? [Link] Panel session
11 ILI 2004 Quality Assurance For Web Sites [Link] Half day workshop
12 Beyond E-mail! Wikis, Blogs and Social Networking Software [Link] Talk
13 Optimising Technology in Libraries [Link] Panel session
14 ILI 2005 A Holistic Approach To Web Usability, Accessibility And Interoperability [Link] Half-day workshop
15 Folksonomies – The Sceptic’s View [Link] Panel session
16 Facing The Challenges Of A Standards-Based Approach To Web Development. [Link] Talk in “Using Open Standards and Open Source Software” track
17 Email Must Die! [Link] Talk in “Digital Tools for Collaboration” track
18 ILI 2006 Web 2.0 and Library 2.0: Addressing Institutional Barriers [Link] Talk in “A101 Setting The Stage for 2.0” track
19 Reflections On Personal Experiences In Using Wikis [Link] Talk in”A103 Wikis and Social Software” track
20 ILI 2007 Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Library [Link] Half-day workshop with Kara Jones
21 The Blogging Librarian: Avoiding Institutional Inertia [Link] Talk in “A105 – Blogging Inertia and 2.0 Scepticism”  track
22 ILI 2009 Using Blogs, Microblogs and Social Networks Effectively Within Your Library [Link] Half-day workshop with Marieke Guy
23 Standards Are Like Sausages: Exploiting the Potential of Open Standards [Link] Talk in “B105 Open Standards” track
24 Top Technology Trends for Libraries and Information Professionals [Link] Panel session
25 ILI 2010 Effective Use of the Social Web in Organisations [Link] Half-day workshop with Ann Chapman
26 Monitoring and Maximising Organisational Impact [Link] Talk in “C102 Resource Management” track
27 ILI 2011 What’s on the Technology Horizon? [Link] Talk in “A101 Technology Developments and Trends” track
28 ILI 2012 Making Sense of the Future [Link] Talk in “A101: Future Technology: Stay Ahead, Stay Agile” track
29 What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories? [Link] Talk with Jenny Delasalle in “B203 Evidence and Impact” track.
30 ILI 2013 Future Technologies and Their Applications [Link] One-day workshop with Tony Hirst
31 Digital Life Beyond the Institution [Link] Talk in “A104 Being smart with technology – creating something from nothing” track
32 ILI 2014 What are the Major Technology Trends that will Impact Library Services and their Users? [Link] Talk in “B101 Trends in Technology” track
33 ILI 2015 Preparing for the Future: Technological Challenges and Beyond [Link] One-day workshop

xxx

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Reflections on a Twitter Discussion About ORCID http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/09/08/reflections-on-a-twitter-discussion-about-orcid/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/09/08/reflections-on-a-twitter-discussion-about-orcid/#comments Tue, 08 Sep 2015 14:46:58 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16871 “Can’t Get Excited About ORCID” On Friday (4 September 2015) I took part in an interesting discussion about ORCID which began when I came across the following tweet which provided a link to an interesting post about ORCID, a standard for IDs for researchers: Why I’m not jumping on the ORCID bandwagon https://biomickwatson.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/why-im-not-jumping-on-the-orcid-bandwagon/ … in which I […]

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“Can’t Get Excited About ORCID”

Initial thoughts on ORCIDOn Friday (4 September 2015) I took part in an interesting discussion about ORCID which began when I came across the following tweet which provided a link to an interesting post about ORCID, a standard for IDs for researchers:

Why I’m not jumping on the ORCID bandwagon … in which I nearly wholesale adopt ‘s perspective

I have had a long-standing interest in ORCID, having published blog posts on “Observing Growth In Popularity of ORCID: An SEO Analysis ” and “Why You Should Do More Than Simply Claiming Your ORCID ID” in November 2012. I was therefore interested in this post in which a researcher gives reasons why he isn’t “jumping on the ORCID bandwagon”. The reason, it seems is that:

for me, ORCID is just another place that I need to keep my profile up to date, and it’s not even a very good one.  It’s not the standard, it is just one of many competing standards for presenting my academic life to the world (in addition to those below (PURE; Google Scholar; ResearchFish; EndNote), there is Scopus, My NCBI, LinkedIn, ResearchGate, Mendeley, Microsoft, etc etc etc – the list is almost endless. 

The post, published on the opiniomics blog, was long and provided a useful summary of the benefits provided by researcher profiling services, in particular, the benefits the author gains from his institution’s provision of the PURE service.

But whilst I’ll not dispute the benefits of researcher profiling services (and I’m a happy user of Researchgate – a service which is particularly important to me now that I am no longer affiliated with a university), arguing that the ORCID web site doesn’t do a great job of providing a profile of a researcher’s publication is missing the point of ORCID which is that ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID, is primarily about providing a standard identifier for researchers which can be used across a variety of workflow processes, with the aim of saving time for the researcher and those involved in research administration.

ORCID Is (Primarily) An ID!

As described on the ORCID home page “ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized“.

As an example of why I decided to claim my ORCID ID (strictly my ORCID, but many people refer to an ORCID ID to save confusion) clearly my name does not provide a unique way of identifying my research contributions, even if used in conjunction with my host institution. My email address provides a form of identifier, but this changes as I move to different institutions (b.kelly@bolton.ac.uk; b.kelly@bath.ac.uk; b.kelly@newcastle.ac.uk; etc.) and even different variants in the same institution (e.g. b.kelly@bath.ac.uk; b.kelly@ukoln.ac.uk; lisbk@ukoln.ac.uk).  My ORCID – 0000-0001-5875-8744 – provides that unique identifier which is independent of my host institution.

A reason for the confusion in the blog post is that the online representation of the ORCID, http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5875-8744, can also include details of my research publications. And, to be honest, as a service providing information about my research publications it is not as useful as my Researchgate profile or my Academia.edu profile. But that’s not a problem, as the researcher identifier service (ORCID) has a different role to play to the researcher profiling services I use.

Modifying My Practice for Using ORCID

However that last sentence is only partly true, as my ORCID page also includes details of my research papers. This was a personal choice – your ORCID profile page does not have to include your papers. I chose to include a partial list of my papers which were automatically added when I connect my ORCID profile to my Scopus ID (another research identifier, which is proprietary).

Brian Kelly: ORCID profile As a consequence of the discussion  on Twitter I realised that some researchers may think that ORCID is primarily a hosting service for information about a researcher’s publications. In light of such misapprehensions, I decided to update my ORCID profile so that the biographical details contain information on where to find the most comprehensive list of my publications. In addition the series of links provided in the profiles have been updated to provide links to other web sites relevant to my research activities, including this blog, my LinkedIn profile, my papers hosted on the University of Bath repository and my research profile on Academia.edu.

Reflections on the Discussion

I have archived the Twitter discussion as I feel that it provides a valuable example of the benefits of open practices. To summarise Mick Watson published a post on why he thought ORCID was flawed and was willing to argue his position on Twitter. However the conversion concluded:

Mick Watson: @briankelly @genetics_blog but it’s a little insane having an empty ORCID profile

Brian Kelly: Disgree. ORCID is an ID; web site is value-added service. You can create ORCID & point to other profile(s).

Mick Watson: . @briankelly I’d never thought of this, that’s actually a great idea

Brian Kelly: 🙂 Has a series of tweets changed your mind?! BTW I changed my ORCID profile based on our chat. Thank you!

Mick Watson: @briankelly it has!

I hope the Twitter discussion on the original blog post has helped clarify the main purpose of ORCID and identified a practice for using ORCID which can co-exist with use of researcher profiling tools. However a comment on the blog post that “Unfortunately, one doesn’t always have the choice not to use ORCID” and the reply that “Nothing will make me hate a platform more than being forced to use it” suggests that there are still misunderstandings. But perhaps I should leave it to ORCID to update their FAQs to address such misunderstandings!


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Feedback on #IWMW15 (and Plans for #IWMW16) http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/19/feedback-on-iwmw15/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/19/feedback-on-iwmw15/#respond Wed, 19 Aug 2015 09:30:36 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16788 About IWMW 2015 IWMW 2015, the 19th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place from 27-29th July at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. As described last year in a post on Reflections on #IWMW14 the event is undergoing a transformation: after 17 years of JISC support for an event which was delivered by UKOLN in 2014 the event was run […]

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About IWMW 2015

IWMW logoIWMW 2015, the 19th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place from 27-29th July at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. As described last year in a post on Reflections on #IWMW14 the event is undergoing a transformation: after 17 years of JISC support for an event which was delivered by UKOLN in 2014 the event was run jointly by myself and JISC Netskills. However due to the closure of JISC Netskills it was not possible to continue the collaboration for a second year so this year I had responsibility for organising the event, supported by an advisory group which provided valuable advice on the theme for the event and suggested specific topics and speakers.

Earlier this week a post on “Reflections on #IWMW15” summarised the content presented at the event, including brief summaries of the comments received on the various plenary talks. The move towards greater involvement with the commercial sector was widely, although not universally, welcomed. Today’s post explores the comments received in more detail.

Summary

This year’s event attracted 110 delegates, which was down from previous events; whether this was due to the time of year (last week in July), the location, the content, lack of budget or other reasons is being explored.

The online evaluation form for the event has received 45 responses, which seems to be sufficient to gain a valid picture from the responses.

The participants were primarily from the HE sector (86%). A show of hands at the start of the event showed that a significant proportion were attending the event for the first time. The evaluation form confirmed this, with 33% newbies, 44% having attend between two and five previous events and 22% having attended over six previous events. Approximately 58%  knew of this year’s event through attendance at previous events and no fewer than 27% though word of  mouth, with only 4% hearing about the event on a Jiscmail list, 4% via Twitter and 7% through other means.

IWMW 2015: overall rating for event organisationIWMW 2015: overall rating for event contentAs can be seen from the accompanying graphs on a scale of 1 (very poor) to 5 (excellent) 49% of the respondents felt that the content was excellent and 51% felt it was very good with 40% rating the organisation as excellent, 51% as very good and 9% as good.

The evaluation form asked for general comments on the content at the event.

  • Whilst it is hard to pin down a theme that captures the pulse of our sector a year in advance, once again you have done so. The content both indicated where we are in relation to the sector, challenged our position, and gave us thought for new directions. Nailed it again.
  • It was my first IWMW, and I was very pleasantly surprised at the level of candour and honesty around the views shared during the sessions. The speakers were all excellent and the content highly relevant yet very different.
  • Enjoyed the range of content, and the varying lenses through which things were examined – from macro/institutional level to micro/team or project-level. Although the ‘content’ content (esp. Rich Prowse/Bath digital team) was my favourite, and the most directly applicable, I did also enjoy the higher-level talks, with Mike McConnell being another stand-out.
  • The content was relevant and of a high standard. As someone who is new to web management in HE it was very useful to hear people speaking who face the same challenges as me. The topics were very relevant to the issues we are currently experiencing. I felt there could have been a wider range of topics with some being relevant to content managers and editors like myself and other for more technical colleagues
  • Themes were very current, eg digital transformation. Great speakers.
  • There was a good mix of topics, and all presentations were delivered well. Speakers were knowledgeable, confident, and facilitated audience participation where appropriate. The event would benefit from a few inspirational, visionary talks that would look beyond the task at hand.
  • Overall the content was good. Lots of institutions are running similar digital transformation programmes that we are but at varying points in the cycle, so it was good to get advice from those who are further along than we currently are. I would have liked to see a few more techie sessions.
  • A good mix of: (a) front-end and back-end topics (b) in-house and external agency speakers (c) plenary and workshop sessions (d) background sector trends and specific digital service developments
  • Some excellent ideas, ways of thinking and arguments were raised this year. I came with reasonably high expectations following previous years and was not disappointed.
  • Fascinating and gave a lot of food for thought.
  • All the plenary talks were first class.
  • A really good range of sector and external speakers covering a broad selection of topics, all very much in-line where institutions and their web/digital teams are right now, or hope to be in the future. This mixture worked well and the external speakers did well not to sell their services but offer sound advice.
  • A nice mix of speakers, I enjoyed the input from the private sector.
  • The sessions (mostly) covered much of what is relevant to me in my role at the University, but also opened my eyes to the wider issues and also similarities between my institution and others.
  • I loved the content. It provided further detail on areas of interest for me. I did hear a number of attendees observe however that they felt it was too high level / big i.e. they felt that whilst interesting, they were not in a position to action some of the bigger ideas / themes and they missed the more low-level, detail content of previous conferences.
  • Good selection of talks – something for everyone: techies, managers, marketing and content people. People often suggest tracks, but I think it is helpful to get an overview of other folks’ disciplines. I think it is fine to have companies speaking, but maybe they should be corralled into a session or it should be noted that ‘this is a sponsored talk’ or something, like they do with adverts in papers!
  • The overall programme of content was well structured and focused. All sessions could clearly be linked to the theme.
  • Really great range of talks and workshops. It would be great if the conference was a little bit longer and had some more workshops, either from other universities or from sponsors i.e. maybe a workshop from LinkedIn on how to make most of their tools to engage alumni
  • I thought that although the content was great, it did seem at times to almost be going over previous IWMW concepts. I enjoyed it, and it made me feel better to hear we are all in the same boat, but I would have preferred more ground breaking things that people are doing.

Participants were asked to give up to three examples of the key highlights of the event or ways in which it has been beneficial to you, Responses included:

  • Networking events – thanks to these I got to meet some fantastic people and will shortly be organising trips to go see a couple of them and help with further collaborations between our institutions – Workshops – the talks are great and with the workshops we got to try out some of the new techniques and concepts other places were using. It really helped to see the benefits and talk with the workshop organisers as to how they brought it to their unis – sponsors – it might sound a bit odd but it was great to be able to chat with some of the sponsors about some of the tools they offer. Whilst those sponsors who did attend weren’t always able to answer specific questions they did help point me in the right direction for more info.
  • Affirmation that we’re on the right track Learn from colleagues who are doing agile and content better than we are Networking; making new friends
  • I very much enjoyed hearing the ‘war stories’ and talking to people who are experiencing the same pain points in their industry. Meeting Paul Boag very briefly was also a highlight – having followed him for years online, it was good to meet him and to potentially talk about how we might work together in the future. General networking and getting to talk about some of the other work that we’re doing with attendees.
  • Building a network in a new field following a recent career change 2) Perspectives and practical examples from other institutions going through similar changes to our own
  • 1. Understand developments within the sector 2. Listen to other peoples experience 3. Develop relationships with other university teams.
  • Networking and finding out more about how web is done at other but similar places. Always useful for comparisons with our own ways! Future scanning. Both presenters and other attendees see other things coming! Reminding me of things I already should know but have forgotten to implement / follow through!
  • 1) Getting advice on the pitfalls/lessons learnt of large digital transformation projects at other institutions. 2) Hack days, think we’ll be running some in the future. 3) Mike McConnell’s session has informative and amusing
  • Networking with others in the HE and commercial sector. Seeing how we are doing compared to others. Learning more about UX, content and agile.
  • Hearing other peoples experience and learning from it. Shared best practice. Networking.
  • The size of the event made it easy to network. The quality of the presentations made it easy to digest the contents. The content was sufficiently relevant for the kind of work I do.
  • Given me new ideas to use in my workplace Given me motivation to change things at work Gained new contacts
    It’s fascinating to see how other teams are dealing with the same problems that we face. It’s also useful to have space to consider future problems and strategies.
  • Networking – my number one reason for attending Diverse expertise/views including peers and 3rd parties – I particularly enjoyed the input from PwC/KPMG/Precedent Seeing Edge Hill for the first time having only ever really see it through Mike Nolan’s eyes.
  • Networking opportunities were exceptional Open, honest, relaxed atmosphere Mike McConnell’s talk on digital transformation

Respondents were also asked to give up to three examples of ways in which the event could be improved. The responses to this questions will be carefully analysed to explore ways in which future events can be improved.

The comments addressed local organisational issues:

  • The catering was very poor Location was a bit out of the way
  • More central or accessible location. Edge Hill was a lovely campus but really limited for transport and things to do in the small amount of free time. The 30 minute walk to the nearest pub wasn’t ideal when the heavens opened. Coming from Aberdeen it was a pain to get to.
  • 1) Better accommodation 2) Hosted somewhere easier to get to
  • Coat hangers would have been nice in the rooms! Better weather. A more formalised approach to sponsorship for example, would be useful to us, to help us plan in how we might be able to help in the future in to our marketing budget. For example sponsoring the food or snacks, or drinks reception.
  • I don’t think there are ways in which you could improve it. But it may be good to feed back to the university that the Hub’s food provision is pretty bad. If students are going to eat there for 3 years on a daily basis, I’m concerned about their health! And that includes what can be bought in the shop!
  • Better food and better air conditioning in the lecture hall.
  • Cooler rooms! – The first night event was a bit poor. It would be nice to try and have something that keeps people together and gets the community spirit moving, especially for any first timers that don’t have the connections of the more seasoned attendees. – Biscuits with your coffee?

Publicity for the event:

  • Forward notice of dates – the more warning we as a community have of the dates, the greater the time to plan / assign budget / promote the event to others / etc.
  • We do need to market it better, somehow, but I have no bright ideas in that regard. How about a pseudo-hack day where we agiley brainstorm around marketing ideas for the event and the community? Rich Prowse could coordinate. How about a link with the BCS or CILIP or CIM or similar?

The structure of the programme:

  • Events should be broken into dev and content streams, helping to expand the number of learning opportunities and improving their relevance to the audience. – Plenaries should be cross over talks which are pitched for a non specialist audience and are relevant to both dev and content. These should be from thought-leaders and/or inspirational speakers. – Workshops/Master classes should be practical exercises and not just plenaries.
  • I like the idea suggested in the panel session at the end of making this a community that has an event, rather than an event that has a community – Maybe use digital technologies to make the plenary sessions more interactive (live digital votes at the beginning/end of a session to see how opinions have changed) – Contrasting and challenging views are interesting and can create more interesting discussions. I would encourage more external views to challenge traditional thinking – but I might be biased 🙂
  • Perhaps a later start each morning – 10am? We inevitably stay out a little later than intended and that extra hour could render everyone a little sharper and place less of an onus on the first speaker to wake us up. Keep using Whova or equivalent. Seemed like a great networking amplifier.
  • Trying to get more but smaller workshops. One of the ones I went to (Bath Uni) was huge and it was tricky for the organisers to manage it successfully.
  • Some break out time allocated to discussing problems areas. Attendees could submit subjects for discussion, then areas set up for group discussions, impromptu workshops with facilitators. One example might be finding out how teams manage reactive work with strategic work. Practical insights. Some regional networking – ways of grouping people from neighbouring institutions. Easier way to get to know local webfolk.
  • Possibly more demos of what institutions have achieved with mobile/web (not just Powerpoints) Consider renaming the event to increase attendance – I’m sure that there are a lot of people in the sector who would find it useful but either aren’t aware of it or don’t know what the event is about.
  • Change it into two days and not 3. Start about 11am on the first day and finish about 4.30 on the second day Have an activity on one of the evenings like a quiz as I felt all social activities were centred on the pub and as a non drinker I’m not interested in that and there was nothing else on offer.

The content:

  • The community is rather self-contained and could benefit from outside perspective, for example Higher Ed web professionals from other countries could be invited to speak. Visionary talks, ‘broader picture’ presentations help to differentiate between urgent tasks and important goals, and challenge the status quo. Focus on fun is important on the last day, and particularly for the closing session. This could be something lighthearted like Town Hall at JBoye, or a hired stand-up comedian, etc. Breaks after every 45min session, to stretch legs and top up on tea/coffee would really help.
  • subscription based setup with some regular updates / info / subsidising for events – either main IWMW or other regional events. Maybe a little outside of HE what is happening in the web to stir ideas.

Social events:

  • There does seem to be a big focus on the pub and ale for extra-curricular activities – not great if you’re not into that sort of thing. You may attract a more diverse crowd if you focus less on that.
  • Having access to wine on the first night!

Other areas:

  • Would be happy to pay a higher price for better food and drink at future events. Having some more technical talks / workshops would be good, but I guess that depends on who volunteers to speak. There weren’t so many technical things this year. Some of the workshop sessions seemed to be ‘sharing’ sessions, which then turn into group therapy rather than solving problems. Really no idea how to get away from that and make them more productive slots.
  • I did notice at the first event I came to in Reading that there were many more sponsors and vendors around the venue, providing information and industrial networking beyond just the institutions themselves. It may not be relevant to everyone, but to some it may be very valuable. Suggestion was made that creating a group or institution that would meet once a year, rather than just an ad-hoc annual meeting of like minded but otherwise largely unconnected individuals, could be a way of increasing the strength of the group, and creating a better environment to share and connect all year round. Possibly a
  • We seemed to queue a lot, that could be improved. The master class was too long and did not warrant 2 1/2 hours, it would perhaps be better to have two sessions. The session looking to the Future could have done with microphones to amplify the sound as some of the participants mumbled.
  • Become more of a community of practice where the event is the highlight, but not the only contact we have. Subscription to a community so that it can underwrite the event.
  • The two workshops I attended weren’t as useful as in previous years. Finding better workshop leaders is one way to improve this, but I appreciate this isn’t always easy, especially on a budget.
  • Only downside I can think of was on the catering side where the venue were at times a bit difficult with my particular food allergies (gluten and lactose intolerance) and didn’t seem to know what these were or what foods they might be in, even when using examples. A ‘would be nice’ would be a copy of all the slides in one place (dropbox maybe?) which we could download and share with colleagues at our own institutions post-event
  • Monday evening – maybe better to hire a place like the Tuesday evening, otherwise people separate across various pubs meaning it’s tricky to make sure that you speak to everyone that you’d like to.
  • Central location for notes, tips, ideas. For pre and post conference discussion – More engagement with commercial sector, but not in a “sales” capacity
  • We spent a long time talking about what students think and what academics think, why not invite some along to speak? We could get in touch with students unions and see if they could send a speaker.
  • It was good to have perspective from the private sector, but it could be more interesting to get perspectives of our stakeholders within HE at a future event, eg faculty admin, academics, other central services
  • The area of digital is now so wide and varied I think it would be beneficial to open up this a bit to other areas such as marketing/comms etc. I know it was mentioned on the final summary session but it would be good to see more events throughout the year. I think the vendors could potentially have more of a role to play in thought leadership and experiences within the sector.
  • 1) Create more events for a specific audience (techy vs content for example), instead of having two optional talks (and 6 options in each one) would have been more useful to have for example 4 optional talks with 3 options each. 2) Have an organised networking session for example at lunch on Day 2
  • Better catering (sorry!) – really needed a proper meal on day two before a whole afternoon of sessions and wasn’t a fan of the indoorr BBQ. I really like the more formal dinner aspect of the event. Event could be ‘tracked’ in terms of having themes running throughout, e.g. content, techie, management/transformation etc. Start a bit earlier to squeeze in one or two more sessions?
  • Improved contact between attendees – some sort of forum/social media location for discussion before/around/after the event Possibly widen to FE – many of the same issues, some we in HE don’t (yet) see? Much of their audience is a year or two younger than ours!

Comments on the social events included:

  • Event dinner was a bit of a disappointment compared to IWMW of old. But still a good chance to meet a few new people. The wine reception was fun and I met a couple of new people which was really useful. A shame it was in the conference space and not at an external event like previous IWMWs. And Piri Piri was great! My partner is Portuguese so I’m familiar with Portuguese cooking. Bacalau in Ormskirk. Who’d’ve thought it!!
  • Not great catering at the Hub or what was served for lunches. Would’ve preferred a proper sit down dinner for the first night (as per 2013) and a nicer location for the drinks reception that’s not our breakout area between sessions. I know it rained heavily but the roof garden would’ve been fine that evening. so possibly changed a little too hastily. Food at lunch was poor, cold and greasy- a few sandwiches would’ve made the difference! Salt and Liquor was great, although a bit of a walk to get to.
  • Really liked The Hop Inn on the Monday night. Great to get together with people and have a chat. Wine reception was a bit underwhelming – the wine was ok (!) but could have done with a change of scenery. Salt and Liquor was ace fun – great food and booze and really good to have that big venue upstairs. Great for mingling and networking.
  • Poor quality food in the hub and only water to drink.
  • I realise that budgets were tight this year and Brian was effectively underwriting the event, so please don’t take these comments as criticism. But I think it’s a pity we didn’t have an “outing” to a local attraction this year or wine at the event dinner.. perhaps next year!

Reflections

Since the IWMW event is undergoing a significant period of transition it was pleasing to receive so many comments which will help to identify the successful aspects of the event and the areas in need of improvement.

Areas of success

IWMW 2015: key aimsDuring the welcome talk I summarised the main aims of the event: 1) to learn new skills; 2) engage with your peers  and 3) identify new approaches for your institution. The secondary aims were to provide the time and opportunity to reflect on the implications of the changing technological, organisational, political and economic environment on the nature of the provision of institutional digital services. The final aim was to have fun!

I feel these goals were achieved. The feedback for the content of the event was exceptional, with the ratings of 49% Excellent and 51% Very good even exceeding last year’s ratings (47% Excellent, 44 Very good and 8% Good). The feedback also highlighted the value provided by the networking opportunities. Finally it was pleasing that the higher level of participation from the commercial sector was widely appreciated, as was the talks which addressed broader institutional issues.

Areas to improve

Despite the success of the event, there are a number of areas in which improvements can be made.

During the welcome talk I described how previous IWMW events had been held in capital cities (London, Edinburgh and Belfast), large cities (Aberdeen, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and Reading) and historic cities (Canterbury, York, Bath and Chichester). IWMW 2015 was the first to be held in a small market town, which provided some challenges: including difficulties in getting to Ormskirk and the lack of suitable venues for social events beyond the university. Edge Hill University, the current Times Higher University of the Year, prides itself for its support for the student population. However it is not an institution which hosts conferences on a regular basis and its limitations in this area were noted in the evaluation forms.

But although I cannot accept responsibility for the limited public transport to Ormskirk or the lack of coat hangers in the bedrooms (!) I have some responsibilities in the late announcement of the event and the lower level of support for the social events at this year’s event. It is intended that next year’s event will be easier to get to (I have already ruled out Inverness!) and will provide a wider range of options for the social events, including wine at the conference dinner and options for those who do not want to visit pubs. In addition, unlike last year when I was working for Cetis for 4 days a week until 28 May, I now have no other significant work commitments and so will be able to dedicate my time to planning the IWMW 2016 event.

Planning for IWMW 2016

The evaluation form asked for suggestions for IWMW 2016. A summary of the responses is given below.

Content

Ideas for areas to be addressed at IWMW 2016 include:

  • More on ‘digital transformation’ – seems quite topical so follow-ups, how people are getting on with this would be interesting. Agile – how this approach is being used both on the technical and content side. How are other people – e.g. customers/users – being convinced of the value of this approach and buying in. Technical stuff – always interested in what people are developing; how they’re managing websites/CMSs; coping with main site and all the offshoots/micro-sites
  • Practical stuff we can do on a shoestring and little resources!!!
  • More for smaller institutions
  • Broader range of content – would be great to have strands suitable for designers and developers. I also think the name puts people off and is increasingly out of alignment with people’s roles. The 20th in the series would be a good opportunity to co-brand with a new name as a mini relaunch. CASE costs loads more and attracts huge numbers
  • I liked the content this year. Workshops were useful and a good way of meeting people too. It would be good if we could have a few more, with numbers a bit more limited for each. I realise the importance of the commercial sector. But maybe mixing them up a bit rather than leaving them all till last?
  • More of the same – management, technical, content & marketing. Might it be useful to have a speaker from outside the sector? Eg, I just saw an engaging presentation from Edinburgh City Council on their user-focused digital transformation project.
  • Digital strategy digital team structures
  • Given the focus on digital cutting across the organisation I’d be interested to see content from or involvement from other areas of HE. Perhaps something on training, working across teams etc.
  • As much content-related content as possible. More best practice, e.g. Bath. More excellent, engaging speakers who have some fire in the belly! Range of topics again – possibly a bit more marketing?
  • Workshops on developments in core areas – HTML5/CSS3/Javascript frameworks and where they are going. Managing content writers outside the core team. How do we train them, how do we keep their content right?
  • It would be nice to see some more practical sessions that the bulk of people could use every day rather than the more abstract strategy material. Perhaps a session with lots of shorter talks to get some new people presenting as well?
  • Would be good to hear from students and academics rather than just other people saying what they think and what they should be doing.
  • More practical hands-on sessions which are tailored to developers and content professionals. Talks from: – Future Learn – EdX – GDS.
  • Continue with a similar mix to this year e.g. experiences on web/mobile projects, Agile approaches etc.Ways of integrating and re-using content, what analytics mean, ITIL and service catalogues
  • Plenaries Parallel sessions – possibly tracked/themes Pecha Kucha style sessions – 20 slides, 20 seconds Panel sessions – experts and HE sector again Hack day style event
  • More technical sessions. Less group therapy / moaning sessions (if possible)
  • Really hard to do as this was my first IWMW – I suppose being aware of global web/digital trends and working out how they might apply to HE? Any futurologists out there?

In addition it was suggested that the event continues to invite speakers beyond the HE sector:

  • I would like to see much ideas from outside of the HE sector, so that we in the HE can start to look further afield for inspiration instead of cloning ourselves.
  • Happy to see vendor presentations, perhaps a head to head 10 mins each, all in one session.
  • More of the same, but obviously evolving as the digital world does too. I think commercial sector presentations are important. Even if we do not operate in this sector ourselves we need to know

In response to a question on the format of the event the majority were in favour of maintaining the existing format:

  • Similar format to 2015.
  • It was my first event so similar to this year seems fine.
  • 3 day format works well. The master classes worked particularly well. Perhaps needs some element of stranding..
  • Format worked fine, some of the workshops were a little lengthy but good IF you’ve got to get to grips with new techniques or ideas in detail.
  • I liked the format as is, but think the afternoon sessions could be more focused with possible slightly smaller groups?
  • Similar to 2015? Worked really well.
  • Existing format works really well. I would replace the last session with something decidedly light-hearted.
  • Good format. If attendees numbers were high enough would be good to have multiple streams (technical and content) but may not be possible.
  • I love the 2 days over 3 days approach, please retain it. If it was at the end of the week (ie finishing on a Friday) it would perhaps give the delegates the opportunity to stay on, or fully unwind
  • Current format worked well – having a morning to get there and an afternoon to get back meant limiting the disruption to your home life.
  • I think the length of the conference was about right, the lunchtime to lunchtime format probably works well for people travelling longer distances (not an issue for me this time).

although a small number suggested hosting a shorter event, shortening the mast classes or holding short events during the year:

  • Three days is a lot not to be at work. Could it just be two days?
  • I am not sure the afternoon (3.5 hrs) sessions worked as well as they could do. Think it is slightly too long.
  • More smaller events throughout the year. More streams for delegates to attend – technical, marketing, business

One potentially controversial area was the question of greater involvement by the commercial event at IWMW 2016. As can be seen greater involvement was welcomed by the majority of the respondents.

Commercial involvement in IWMW 2016

Responses given to the question “What concerns do you have regarding greater commercial involvement with the event?” included:

  • I think that commercial involvement is an important part of making sure that IWMW remains financially viable.
  • Overall, I think the balance was right this year. Perhaps presentations from two management consultants was one too many.
  • Greater – none. If it were to start to dominate then that would be a worry.
  • None; assuming that they aren’t selling too obviously 🙂 Seriously, no commercial attendee is going to expect anything silly like exclusive contact or anything of that sort.
  • No concerns

Suggestions for the location of the IWMW 2016 event included:

  • University of Kent! 😀 If that’s out of the question then I nominate Bath. They’ve done great talks 2 years running and it would be awesome to see them at home.
  • Anywhere in the UK – preferably close to a mainline rail station.
  • Anywhere as long as it’s easy to get to
  • Liverpool suggestion sounded good. Would prefer UK as may have trouble funding excursions further afield. Bath?!
  • Wales!
  • If it’s someplace like EdgeHill with poor connections, then someplace in the North is best for those in Scotland. If it has good connections to airports then further south is fine.
  • Midlands?
  • Wales?
  • Another small university/location not too far north though!!!
  • Anywhere at least reasonably well-connected by train.
  • Not in a campus location, too limited. Should be in a city centre with good transport links and facilities.
  • Somewhere more central so people can get there more easily eg Manchester, Birmingham
  • Anywhere with good transport links. Wales? Not London. I think somewhere ‘in the middle’ is the fairest. I’m not so keen on it being in London because so many things are already there.
  • Loughborough if things pan out.
  • Anywhere in a major UK city with decent transport links!
  • somewhere central – midlands

Next Steps in the Planning for IWMW 2016

Following the analysis of the evaluation forms and the publication of two blog posts based on the feedback my next steps are:

  • Explore possible locations for IWMW 2016 including following up the suggestions I have received to date and inviting additional proposals to host the event.
  • Solicit feedback from non-attendees at this year’s event in order to understand the reasons they did not attend.
  • Invite feedback from members of the IWMW 2015 advisory group and establish a group to support the planning and delivery of the IWMW 2016 event.
  • Develop a marketing strategy for the event.
  • Review the comments on greater commercial involvement at the event and feedback received from event sponsors in order to develop plans for further sponsorship of next year’s event, which will help ensure the financial sustainability of the event.
  • Publish a timescale for next year’s event including dates for the official announcement for the dates and location of IWMW 2016, dates for submission of proposals and dates on which bookings will open.

Note that in order to ensure that the views of those who did not attend the IWMW 2015 event can be addressed in the planning for next year’s event an evaluation form for non-attendees at IWMW 2015 is available.


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Reflections on #IWMW15 http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/17/reflections-on-iwmw15/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/17/reflections-on-iwmw15/#respond Mon, 17 Aug 2015 15:11:47 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16804 About IWMW 2015 IWMW 2015, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place at Edge Hill University of 27-29 July. Following the recent series of guest posts from participants at the event this is the first of two posts which provide the event organiser’s perspectives. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, the IWMW […]

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About IWMW 2015

IWMW logoIWMW 2015, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place at Edge Hill University of 27-29 July. Following the recent series of guest posts from participants at the event this is the first of two posts which provide the event organiser’s perspectives.

For those who are unfamiliar with the event, the IWMW series was launched in 1997 to support members of institutional web management teams, to ensure that they are kept up-to-date with technological developments,  could learn from the approaches to management of large-scale web services from others across the higher education community and develop and strengthen professional and social networks with others in the community.

As described in a post on Reflections on #IWMW14 the event is undergoing a transformation: after 17 years of JISC support for an event which was delivered by UKOLN last year the event was run jointly by myself and JISC Netskills. However due to the closure of JISC Netskills it was not possible to continue the collaboration for a second year so this year I had responsibility for organising the event, supported by an advisory group which provided valuable advice on the theme for the event and suggested specific topics and speakers.

The theme of this year’s event was “Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution“: an idea which emerged during the Advisory Group discussions, based on discussions about ‘digital’ at last year’s event but also an awareness that the digital agenda needs to provide the basis of transformations within the organisation. Several of the talks at the event directly addressed the event theme and these will be highlighted in the following summary of the event. Note that a report based on an evaluation of the event will also be posted shortly.

The Plenary Sessions

Putting The Web Manager First

Following the refocussing of the event to be more directly relevant to the needs of those with responsibilities for providing large-scale institutional web services the event began by “putting the web manager first“.

In the opening talk  Mandy Phillips, Head of Corporate Business Change Initiatives at Liverpool John Moores University, described the nature of digital transformation at her host institution in a talk entitled “Out With the Old, In With the New: Digital Services at Liverpool John Moores University“. In this  opening 30 minute talk Mandy, who leads the Digital Services and Business Systems teams at Liverpool John Moores University, provided a very relevant start to the event, which was appreciated by the audience with the following comments being made:

  • Really engaging and informative. A great starter for the event.
  • Really useful to find out how LJM went from zero to hero!
  • The case study approach is useful for others to see how transformation can be achieved.
  • Great talk – really interesting and full of things to take back to my own work
  • Good to see front end and back end teams coming together – as it should be. Good to see success can be realised despite some of the constraints (eg: use of certain agencies).

In contrast to Mandy’s talk on institutional change Rich Prowse, Digital Editor-In-Chief at the University of Bath, described the practicalities of managing content. In the talk on “An Agile Approach to Content” Rich explained why the University of Bath had adopted an agile approach to the creation and delivery of useful and usable content online, summarised  the work of the Digital team and shared lessons learnt on the importance of user needs, how to keep publishers happy and why building a community is important to successfully deliver decentralised publishing.  Again this talk helped to get the event off to a great start, with Rich received the following comments on his talk:

  • Fantastic talk from the Bath team. I really enjoyed it, they were brilliant and I can’t wait to chat to them again about Agile Content.
  • Nice to see sessions on actual techniques.
  • Again, great to see what you can do with better resources, ability to schedule everyday work into one day a week and focus on more creative thinking. Can definitely take the user stories recommendation forward.

I should add that Many and Rich both agreed to facilitate master class sessions which developed on the ideas described in their talks.

Supporting Our Users, Revolutionising the Experience!

The original title for the two talks which opened the second morning was “Supporting Our Users“. However the speakers felt that title was somewhat staid for their talks and suggested an alternative: “Supporting Our Users, Revolutionising the Experience!“.

Mike McConnell‘s talk on “The Challenge Is Institutional: Merging Customer Needs With New Operating Realities” was successful in generating much discussion and debate on the implications of engaging with commercial consultants in helping to identify ways in which the institution needs to transform existing and well-establishing business processes. The talk receives the highest rating of all the plenary talks, with 84% judging the talk to be ‘excellent’ and 16% to be ‘very good’. The comments on the talk included:

  • Mind blowing talk from Mike, a really frank and honest talk about how to challenge institutional thinking and change it for the better. Very inspiring to see how much they managed to do in so little time.
  • Great talk, really well delivered. Again, interesting insights into how it’s possible (with time, effort, and money!) to shift institutional attitudes and practices.
  • Well structured and delivered. Presentation of the big picture of digital transformation supported by examples and experiences from Aberdeen was really useful.
In the second talk of the session Paul Boag asked User Experience Design. How Far Will You Go?. Paul is an experienced speaker at web conferences around the world and has also spoken at a number of recent IWMW events. Paul’s talk was ap[preciated by many, especially those who were hearing him speak for the first time:
  • Brilliant to get to hear him speak and know we’re in agreement!
  • Well presented talk. Content was both relevant and interesting for me.
  • As ever with Paul it was an enjoyable talk. Came away with some good ideas such as UX calendars, top tasks, the need to operate like an agency etc.
although a number of people who have heard Paul speak before probably agreed with the comment that “Paul delivery is always lively however the content was predictable“.

Managing the Content; Developing the Services

The second morning session featured two talks on “Managing the Content; Developing the Services“.  Mark Fendley, University of Kent was the main speaker for a talk on “From Hack Day to Open Day: Building a Tour“, a talk which, perhaps surprisingly, was one of only two which had a significant technical aspect. As described in the abstract for the talk:

At a Hack Day event last summer, a team of people at the University of Kent postulated the concept of an self-guided audio tour for mobile devices for our open day visitors who are unable to join a guided tour. This idea was enthusiastically prototyped and subsequently championed by the organisation. A full product has been developed in the first quarter of this year, with content being produced over the summer for a planned launch in the new academic year.

Although a show of hands on the first day showed that developers were in a minority at this year’s event the feedback suggested that people could see the potential benefits which ‘hackathons’ may provide.

  • Good to have a more technical talk about how a web team works in practice.
  • Hackathons sound like great ideas to gather “free” ideas. Also, chaos monkey could be good for testing.
  • Good intro to a new approach to rapid development.
The second talk in the session, “Marrying Creativity with Management Complexity“, was given by Rob Van Tol, Precedent and Sam Sanders, KPMG. This talk complemented Mike McConnell‘s talk on “The Challenge Is Institutional: Merging Customer Needs With New Operating Realities“, providing the insights from the consultancies which had been commissioned by Aberdeen University. This talk had the potential to alienate those who work in institutional web management teams, but the talk was well-delivered with 41% rating it as ‘Excellent’, 41% as ‘Very good’ and 18% as ‘Good’. The following comments were given:
  • Interesting to see how the two agencies work together. I particularly liked the opportunity to see one project from both the side of the university (through Mike’s talk) and the agencies.
  • Sam Sanders was engaging and persuasive, and didn’t come across as pushing a corporate agenda. Bit of a revelation, really…
  • Really good talk once they got going. Felt they were trying to be too funny at the start and just needed to get on with it. Once they got going it was a very challenging and informative presentation.

which suggest that the benefits of making use of external agencies are becoming accepted.

Beyond the Institution

This year saw a deliberately changed emphasis in the content, with four of the plenary talks coming from the higher education sector, four from the commercial sector and one from an educational charity (Jisc). It seems the greater involvement with the commercial sector was welcomed:

The content was really high quality and it was really good to listen from private companies working with HE

The final session on the morning of the third day, Beyond the Institution, featured plenary talks from a consultancy, a service provider and an educational charity, all of whom provide a variety of services relevant to higher educational institutions.

The session began with a talk by Michael Webb, Jisc on “Integrating Institutional Web Services with Jisc’s ‘Cloud First, Mobile First’ Platform“. The aim of the talk was to “explain Jisc’s new ‘Cloud First, Mobile First’ delivery platform, and show how web managers will be able to work this platform, both by using APIs to integrate resource into their own services, and by creating APIs from institutional web sites and services, allowing creation of new sector-wide services“. The talk did provide a useful summary of Jisc’s development work in this area although, in retrospect, it was probably too technical for many in the audience:

  • Very interesting to hear what JISC are working on – I was previously unaware of this. I think it’s useful to include sessions like this that are slightly more technical.
  • Great talk, however, I felt that it failed to take account of the range of individuals who attend IWMW.
  • Probably not what a lot of people in the room were expecting but I found it really informative. This is the kind of thing that we should be talking to developers about.

The second talk in the session was given by Charles Hardy, who is responsible for LinkedIn’s engagement with the Higher Education community. In his talk on “LinkedIn for Higher Education – How Universities can Leverage LinkedIn to Engage Future, Current and Past Students” Charles described how LinkedIn has developed a number of features specifically for Higher Education institutions, blending career data insights with people and brand and explained how these features can be integrate into an institution’s social media / content strategy. Again this talk was well-appreciated, although some expressed concerns regarding personal data about staff and students being held by a commercial company:

  • Brilliant! A commercial speaker delivering a disruptive technology that could blow apart the sector and change how things work. Charles was a great speaker, answered the questions brilliantly and in a non threatening manner.
  • A very well delivered talk. There was a lot of potential shown for what we as HE can do with out LinkedIn pages/profiles.
  • A really excellent overview of the capabilities and potential of LinkedIn from an engaging presenter. One of my favourites of the conference
  • Interesting and useful talk, although somewhat uncomfortable with the subject matter and the company’s motivation.
  • Hand over your data and Linkedin will make money out of it. The only talk that was a little out of place, but incredibly useful to have an insight into what they are doing and have them express their rationale.

In the final plenary talk Niall Lavery and Dan Babington, PwC revisited the conference theme in a talk entitled Beyond Digital – The Agile University“. Again this talk generated much discussion, with some expressing concerns at the criticisms being made of higher educational institutions by a commercial organisation, although it was also admitted that such criticisms had some validity:

  • Really excellent. Lots to take away in terms of approaches and how to look at things differently. Great to get external experts in and sharing at that level.
  • Good talk on how the HE sector needs to evolve over the next 3 to 5 years to reflect the societal changes occurring around us
  • Some challenging ideas around what universities are for and how that impacts user experience and digital strategy. Seemed to end up being a bit of a sales pitch though.
  • It was very enlightening to see this consultant view of the sector. There was much in the presentation that I found distressing, but I can’t fault its accuracy. It also in part confirmed many of the statements I, Mandy, Rob & Sam had made regarding institutional structure.

What Does The Future Hold?

This year’s event concluded with a panel session. The panellists, Mandy Phillips, Claire Gibbons, Charles Hardy and Marianne Kay, were asked by Mike McConnell, the panel chair, to give their thoughts on four questions: (1) Are universities businesses? Are they truly in competition? Where do third party services like LinkedIn fit in, if at all?; (2) What is the role of pedagogy/academics in this brave new world? Are we driven by a culture of managerialism?; (3)What effects will the Internet of Things have on higher education and the student experience? and (4) What is the future for IWMW?

The panel session, which was introduced at last year’s event, was felt to provide a useful way of concluding the event:

  • Half hour was maybe too short – could have done with a bit more time and a bit more debate. But good nevertheless!
  • I feel like this is a welcome addition to the IWMW format. A chance to ask the key talkers some points that may not have been formed until after some hindsight.
  • Nice quick, interesting panel session.
  • Good session. Good to have a serious discussion on what we think about the future of higher education.
  • Some interesting discussion and debate to round off the event. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would!

The Parallel Sessions

In addition to the plenary talks and panel session there were also six workshop sessions which lasted for 90 minutes (on Working with an Institutional Web Team – Edge Hill University; iBeacons for Recruitment Events; BS 8878: Systematic Approaches to Documenting Web Accessibility Policies and PracticesAll CMSs are Rubbish: Live With It!; A Revolution in the Exchange of Courses Information: The national rollout of XCRI-CAP for Postgraduate course marketing information and Future-proofing the Web Professional) and three master classes which lasted for 3.5 hours (on Working in an Agile Way – Content Creation, Delivery and Standards; Lessons Learned from Helping HE Institutions Develop their Digital Strategies and a merged session which included Moving from the Old Web Team to a New Digital Services – Liverpool John Moores University and Working with an Institutional Web Team – University of Bradford).

Over 60% of respondents rated the workshops as “Excellent” or “Very good” and over 80% rated the Master classes (another innovation this year) as “Excellent” or “Very good”!

Conclusions

This is the first of two posts about IWMW 2015. This initial post has summarised the content of the event. The second post will describe participants’ thoughts of the event: what they liked and the areas they felt could be improved.


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Guest post: Evolution at its finest in the Higher Education sector http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/13/guest-post-evolution-at-its-finest-in-the-higher-education-sector/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/13/guest-post-evolution-at-its-finest-in-the-higher-education-sector/#respond Thu, 13 Aug 2015 08:26:29 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16759 This year’s IWMW 2015 event attracted larger numbers of speakers and participants from beyond the HE sector than in the past. This guest post by Rachel Rennie, Head of Edinburgh at Precedent is the fourth in a series of guest posts from participants at the IWMW 2015 event, was initially published on LinkedIn. I don’t get to […]

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This year’s IWMW 2015 event attracted larger numbers of speakers and participants from beyond the HE sector than in the past. This guest post by Rachel Rennie, Head of Edinburgh at Precedent is the fourth in a series of guest posts from participants at the IWMW 2015 event, was initially published on LinkedIn.


IWMW guest postI don’t get to go to too many conferences. Partly, the majority of my work is very delivery focused, partly because it’s hard to get out of the office for extended periods of time. However, for the right conference and the right client, I can just about make it work.

Last week, I went to the Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) at the very lovely Edge Hill University. I was accompanying our senior consultant Rob van Tol, and his counterpart from our partners at KPMG, Sam Sanders, as they presented in front of professionals working in the marketing, communications and technology fields (and sometimes all three) in the higher education sector. The reason I got the chance to go, was that our charismatic client Mike McConnell, was presenting the work we had recently delivered for them – namely, the Digital Vision and Strategy for the University of Aberdeen.

When we, as an agency, get the opportunity to speak side-by-side with our talented clients we jump at the chance. Of course, no one was silly enough to let me do the presenting bit, but what I did do over three days was talk to some of the amazing people who are working in this sector today.

Although I love all of my clients, it is the higher education sector in particular that is drawing my attention at the moment.

Maybe it’s because they’re a sector which has notoriously been slow to catch on to digital, but seeing what some of the attendees are focusing on now; making huge leaps in content delivery, understanding their audiences, embracing and utilising technological change, that makes it all the more impressive. Surely, making education more accessible through digital, and supporting and nurturing the student’s digital experience once they get onsite, is an idea we can all get behind.

Smaller conferences, such as IWMW – which is about to enter its 20th year – are invaluable for getting to meet, personally, sector specific people who are skilled in their fields. It’s a great opportunity to show ideas, collaborate, and even share some of their HEI pain down the pub.

For us suppliers, it’s really valuable for us to meet other companies in the same space; talk about what we’re working on, think about ways to collaborate, and share some war stories down the pub.

Of course the cynical amongst you will think – it’s just a sales opportunity – but that’s not the way Precedent have ever worked. We are not a hard sell agency, and we never will be. We just want to understand this, and all of our sectors as well as we can; to stay contemporary and joined up to the needs of our clients and this is what these events do.

If you work in the higher education sector, I can’t support IWMW highly enough and next year I’d encourage you to get on their list early – their 20th year is sure to be a lot of fun.

Rachel Rennie, Head of Edinburgh

Key links:


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Guest post: Reflections on IWMW Events from Jean Jumelle http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/12/reflections-on-iwmw-events-from-jean-jumelle/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/12/reflections-on-iwmw-events-from-jean-jumelle/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 09:00:04 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16757 Jean Jumelle, Web Communications Analyst at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh is retiring shortly. Jean has attended several IWMW events since 2007  and, in this third guest post by IWMW 2015 participants, gives his brief reflections on the events. I am retiring in October 2015, so Brian has asked me to share some thoughts about my […]

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Jean Jumelle, Web Communications Analyst at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh is retiring shortly. Jean has attended several IWMW events since 2007  and, in this third guest post by IWMW 2015 participants, gives his brief reflections on the events.


IWMW guest postI am retiring in October 2015, so Brian has asked me to share some thoughts about my times at IWMW.

I first took over my web responsibilities at QMU in 2005, I thought it was a good idea at the time and I never regretted it.

I cannot recall how I got introduced to ScottishWebFolks, a bunch of enthusiastic web experts in H.E. based in Scotland and a renegade from Sunderland, however this has been an invaluable source of information shared openly, QMU and myself benefited greatly from this web managerial expertise, as I am moving away from all this the most memorable aspect of this group is the comradery and the friendship that will survive long after web and digital trends will fade.

Through these people I got introduced to IWMW, my first experience was in 2007 at the University of York and I loved it, I haste to add that I don’t get out much. The experience was facilitated by my mentors from Scotland; the focus was very much on the operational management and technicalities of the web. This was my first introduction from a distance to Brian Kelly and the like, I must admit that I thought these people were on a different planet, their enthusiasm and foresight meant they were light years ahead or perhaps in need of therapy, eight years later I am still unsure :o).

IWMW 2008 in Aberdeen basked in sunshine as you would expect, great setting, and great debate.

Sheffield 2010 was all about the web in turbulent times; it was a great place to listen to the storm, actually more like the start of climate change in H.E. with funding cuts.

Edinburgh 2012 brought a change; less moaning about the climate but the realisation that innovation was the key to progress. Northumbria 2014 carried on with this theme in asking what’s next. IWMW 2015 at Edge Hill University – Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution was marked by Aberdeen University’s project presented by Mike McConnell, their vision of total transformation of their digital business was most impressive, very few individuals and institution will be brave or resourced enough to embrace such vision. This year also saw more involvement from the commercial sector, a breath of fresh air – however be aware that their vision is not without self interest and that their vision of education can be pretty narrow.

Through the years the focus has evolved from operational management through to strategic management, this is a natural progression. It was great to welcome so many freshers in this year’s smaller audience. However the mix of the assembly poses a challenge to the organisers; funding is obviously an issue. It was great to see Claire Gibbons, Mike McConnell and others supporting Brian Kelly as this event owes him so much.

Thank you Brian and everyone involved through the years.

Jean Jumelle Web Communications Analyst QMU


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Guest post: Reflections on IWMW 2015 from Charlotte Harry http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/11/reflections-on-iwmw-2015-from-charlotte-harry/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/11/reflections-on-iwmw-2015-from-charlotte-harry/#respond Tue, 11 Aug 2015 09:00:43 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16778 Yesterday Emma Cragg gave her Reflections on IWMW 2015. Today’s second guest post about the IWMW 2015 event is written by Charlotte Harry, another IWMW first-timer. Since attending my first Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) in July I’ve been chastising myself for not discovering it sooner. What pearls of wisdom, illuminating ideas and work practices and valuable […]

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Yesterday Emma Cragg gave her Reflections on IWMW 2015. Today’s second guest post about the IWMW 2015 event is written by Charlotte Harry, another IWMW first-timer.


IWMW guest postSince attending my first Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) in July I’ve been chastising myself for not discovering it sooner. What pearls of wisdom, illuminating ideas and work practices and valuable connections have I been missing out on all these years?

I felt an immediate sense of relief at walking into a ready-made community of like-minded individuals all grappling with the challenges of ‘doing digital’ in higher education (HE). In his talk on “Marrying Creativity with Management Complexity” Rob Van Tol (Precedent) recognised the therapy-like function of such a gathering: let’s face it, it’s good to share the pain. And when you consider the scope of the challenges facing most HE digital teams there’s a fair bit of pain to go around…

Revolution not evolution – the need to think big

The theme of IWMW 2015 (‘Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution’) was nevertheless bold and positive and the conference was full of talented, passionate individuals that it was a privilege to listen to and learn from. Mike McConnell, for example, talked about the University of Aberdeen’s consultation process for developing a ‘digital vision’. This was big stuff – transformational stuff, no less. The focus was resolutely on people and processes, not just systems, websites and technology, and it was a theme that arose again and again during the workshop. Listening to such case studies, and hearing from people who are attempting to transform their institutions in this way, was inspiring. It reminded me of Martha Lane Fox’s recommendations to the Cabinet Office back in 2010 – ‘revolution not evolution’. I sense that it struck a deep chord with many of those present at IWMW 2015.

Putting the user first

Another notable theme (addressed by Paul Boag, among others) was just how crucial it is for universities to prioritise user/customer experience. Before returning to HE this year I worked at the Government Digital Service (GDS) where user needs are the driving force behind everything they do. The argument for putting the user/customer first doesn’t always seem to be accepted (or perhaps even heard) in the higher echelons of some universities, so it was heartening to hear this message being blasted out loud and clear.

An agile approach to content

Besides plenty of excellent plenary talks we also got to choose from a range of practical master classes. I couldn’t resist the University of Bath digital team’s session on an agile approach to content creation, delivery and standards. Music to my ears!

Rich Prowse and his colleagues generously shared everything – from their digital principles, roadmap and content strategy to their experiences of building up a wider community of publishers and supporting them with clear standards and guidelines. They skilfully led the group in a real-time user stories workshop, allowing us to try on a variety of agile practices (e.g. stand-up) for size. I came away feeling invigorated and relieved to see that many of the well-tested GDS design principles and agile work practices are finding their way into HE.

Breaking down the silos

Given the tendency towards silos in HE it seemed fitting that the conference encompassed content editors, designers, developers and digital managers, with everyone exposed to each other’s fields of expertise and how they interrelate. As a content person I appreciated the mix, and I enjoyed hearing some of the more tech-focused talks, such as the University of Kent’s hack day experiences.

Making connections

Finally, as a newcomer to IWMW, the sense of community was striking – almost familial. The longstanding organiser Brian Kelly went out of his way to welcome me, to the extent of cherry-picking people for me to talk to at some of the social events (a fellow lone-wolf worker here, a fellow musician there, …).

Despite a late initiation, I’m looking forward to IWMW 2016. I just hope that other digital HE bods don’t take as long as I did to discover it.


About the author

Charlotte is a writer and digital content editor/manager with a background in higher education, currently based at UCL. She previously worked as a content designer for the Government Digital Service (GDS).


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Guest post: Reflections on IWMW 2015 from Emma Cragg http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/10/guest-post-reflections-on-iwmw-2015-from-emma-cragg/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/08/10/guest-post-reflections-on-iwmw-2015-from-emma-cragg/#respond Mon, 10 Aug 2015 08:00:56 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16752 IWMW 2015, the 19th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place recently at Edge Hill University. In this, the first guest blog post about the event Emma Cragg gives her thoughts from the perspective as a first-timer at the event. At the end of July I attended my first Institutional Web Management Workshop. I was […]

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IWMW 2015, the 19th annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, took place recently at Edge Hill University. In this, the first guest blog post about the event Emma Cragg gives her thoughts from the perspective as a first-timer at the event.


At the end of July I attended my first Institutional Web Management Workshop. I was encouraged to see I wasn’t alone. When Brian profiled the audience during his introduction lots of first-timers raised their hands. I knew I was among friends when a large part of the introduction was dedicated to the best places in Ormskirk to get a pint of real ale.

Digital strategyThe title of the conference, Beyond Digital, was addressed in all sessions through the focus on people, not systems. This came most directly through plenary talks given by Mandy Phillips and Mike McConnell. Both talked us through digital transformations happening at their institutions. While they involved new systems and front-end design the main drive was to change the culture of the institution.

The culture shift begins with the recognition that digital cuts across all activities of the institution:

  • Facilities: spaces that support digital working
  • Learning: initiatives to improve the digital literacy of staff and students
  • Support: student services and business processes
  • Marketing: channels to support communications throughout the student lifecycle

You don’t need a digital strategy, you need a business strategy fit for the digital age” – PwC

"Symptoms"Another theme threaded throughout the conference was agility. In this we got a masterclass from Rich Prowse and the University of Bath team. In his plenary talk, Rich walked us through the steps when applying agile to content creation. In planning, the use of analytics and user stories help to develop a culture that values data and user needs. Sprint teams involve members from beyond the digital team. This has helped to build trust with faculty and administrative teams.

Those of us lucky enough to attend the “Working in an Agile way” practical session got a view of what it might be like to work at the University of Bath. We developed a minimum viable product for a course search and wrote user stories to help the sprint team develop a solution.

Agile is hard work. It requires practice and discipline” – Rich Prowse

The Q&A session sought to challenge our perceptions of what universities are for. Are they businesses? The panel was split with three in yes camp and two adamantly saying no. Should we refer to students as customers? This seems to be a given if you see universities as businesses and hard to argue against with the current price tag for a degree.

In his closing remarks, Brian encouraged us all to contact at least three people after we returned to work. I’m really pleased to see people taking up this call to action. I’ve sent and received two emails (one of which led to this post). I’ve also seen my online network grow, with new followers and conversations on Twitter, and connections on LinkedIn. This would be my key takeaway from the event – actually, any event – don’t let the conversation go quiet just because we’re no longer in the same place.

Whatever the future of IWMW, you can be sure I’ll be back.


Biographical details

Emma CraggsEmma Cragg is a Web Content Officer at Newcastle University. In this role she plans, writes and edits content for the university’s central website. She supports the University’s community of web editors, delivers training in planning and writing web content, and is responsible for development of the web team’s blog. Emma is a productivity geek and is always on the lookout for solutions that can help the team work smarter.

If you’re interested in writing and editing, training, digital literacies, productivity or blogging, contact Emma using the details given below.

Contact details


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Is Wikipedia Relevant to University Web Managers? http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/17/is-wikipedia-relevant-to-university-web-managers/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/17/is-wikipedia-relevant-to-university-web-managers/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 08:00:20 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16692 Areas Apparently Not Being Addressed By Web Managers Yesterday in a post entitled “Pondering the Online Legacy of my Work” I described how two recent Facebook messages highlighted areas which appear not to be being addressed widely across the web management community Yesterday’s post looked at how web content may be deleted after content creators leave the […]

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Areas Apparently Not Being Addressed By Web Managers

wikipedia workshop at Exeter University, July 2015Yesterday in a post entitled “Pondering the Online Legacy of my Work” I described how two recent Facebook messages highlighted areas which appear not to be being addressed widely across the web management community

Yesterday’s post looked at how web content may be deleted after content creators leave the institution, meaning that the content creators, who are likely to care about the resource, are unable to exploit the resources unless they have migrated the resources before leaving.

Today’s post was inspired by a Facebook update from Rod Ward who alerted my to a workshop on use of Wikipedia which he helped facilitate at the University of Exeter.

Wikimedia Workshop for University Web and Communication Staff

Rod’s Facebook post provided a link to the entry on the Wikimedia UK Web site about the workshop which was held at Exeter University  on 15 July. As shown in the screenshot the event was aimed at web and communication staff from universities in the south west of England.

I’ve a long-standing interest in Wikipedia, and last year published posts on “Librarians and Wikipedia: an Ideal Match?“, “#1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research“, “Top Wikipedia Tips for Librarians: Why You Should Contribute and How You Can Support Your Users” and “Supporting Use of Wikipedia in the UK Higher Education and Library Sectors“.

As suggested by the title of these posts my main target audience for the posts were librarians and researchers. Members of university web and marketing teams would not be likely, I felt, to have responsibilities for managing Wikipedia articles. However from seeing the details of the recent workshop it seems that I was mistaken, with several of the participants working for university marketing teams.

But should people who work for marketing teams update Wikipedia articles about their institutions? In a post on “Wikipedia, Librarians and CILIP” I flagged the dangers of this:

[In a talk to librarians] I pointed out the Wikipedia neutral point of view (NPOV) principle which means “representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic“.

One way of minimising risks of sub-conscious biases in articles is to ensure that content is provided by those who do not have direct involvement with the subject area of an article. For an article about an organisation it would therefore be appropriate for an article about CILIP should be updated by editors who are not employed by the organisation.

Rod Ward, one of the facilitators at the recent workshop, proposed one mechanism for addressing this tension: he asked participants at the workshop to include the text on their Wikipedia user profile page:

I am username. I work for organisation as job title. Part of my role is to improve the Wikipedia articles about academics of my employer. I have attended a workshop where policies about the Neutral point of view, Biographies of Living People, Conflict of Interest and Paid Editing were discussed. I am aware of potential conflicts in this area. If you see any issues with my editing please contact me via my talk page.

This seems to me to be a sensible approach to addressing the NPOV principle: there may be factual aspects of Wikipedia articles which would be improved in a timely fashion if updated by staff working for the institution. For example, looking at the updates made two days ago to the University of Exeter article we can see that the updates are factual updates to the Medical School. These updates were made by user SallUEMS whose user profile states that the user “work[s] for the University of Exeter as a Web Marketing officer“.

Developing an Ethical Approach to Managing Wikipedia Content

I’d be interested to hear if other institutions are taking a pro-active approach in managing Wikipedia articles about their institutions, such as those which featured in the recent workshop: the List of University of Exeter people and the List of University of Bristol people as well as the collections of articles on Academics of Bath Spa University, Academics of the University of Bath, Academics of the University of Bristol, Academics of the University of Exeter, Academics of the University of Plymouth, Academics of the University of the West of England, People associated with Cardiff University, People associated with Falmouth University and People associated with the University of St Mark & St John.

There will be a need to ensure that updates to Wikipedia articles are made in an ethical fashion, to avoid updates being reverted and to avoid the risks which politicians, political researchers and PR staff in Westminster have experienced as described in an article on “15 Embarrassing Edits Made To Politicians’ Wikipedia Pages By People In Parliament“.

In September I will give a talk on “Developing an Ethical Approach to Using Wikipedia as the Front Matter to all Research” at the Wikipedia Science 2015 conference. I’d be interested in hearing if any institutions have developed guidelines on updating Wikipedia articles related to activities carried out in the institution. It does seem to me that marketing staff would benefit from having policies and guidelines which they can use. There may be temptations (and pressures from senior managers) to remove embarrassing content – and yes, there are negative comments abiut vice-chancellors which have been published in national newspapers which could be cited!

The higher education sector should avoid the risks of seeing headlines such as “Wikipedia Pages of Star Clients Altered by P.R. Firm” in which a founder of the PR company Sunshine “acknowledged that several staff members had violated the terms of use by failing to disclose their association with the firm. Mr. Sunshine said a key employee in his web operation was not aware of Wikipedia’s new terms“. Interestingly, after being caught for “play[ing] loose with Wikipedia’s standards and violat[ing] the site’s updated terms of use agreement, by employing paid editors who fail to disclose their conflict of interest on the website” the PR company now requires “all employees who edit on Wikipedia have now disclosed their affiliation with Sunshine“.

This approach is aligned with the suggestions made at the recent Wikipedia workshop at the University of Exeter: if you do update articles in which there may be a conflict of interest ensure that you are open about possible conflicts of interest and invite feedback from those with concerns.

However there is a need to go beyond this simple approach. And I wonder if the higher education sector could learn from the approaches taken in the PR sector. In a post on Links From Wikipedia to Russell Group University Repositories I highlighted challenges for universities which may be tempted to seek to exploit the SEO benefits which links from Wikipedia to institutional web pages may provide. In the blog post I cited an article from the PR community who had recognised the dangers that PR companies can be easily tempted to provide links to clients’ web sites for similar reasons. In response to concerns raised by the Wikipedia community Top PR Firms Promise[d] They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article, which is hosted on Wikipedia, describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms which was published in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors. Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices. We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
  • To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

 

Might universities find it useful to embrace similar principles?

In order to help identify early institutional adopters of guidelines and policies for updating Wikipedia content where there may be a conflict of interest you are invited to complete the following surveys. The first survey covers policies/guidelines on updating Wikipedia content and the second asks about responsibilities for updating Wikipedia articles.


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“Pondering the Online Legacy of my Work” http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/16/pondering-the-online-legacy-of-my-work/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/16/pondering-the-online-legacy-of-my-work/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 09:02:34 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16681 Neglected Areas for Web Managers? Yesterday I came across two posts in my Facebook stream which addressed areas which appear to be neglected by those with responsibilities for providing institutional web services. In the first of two posts I comment on responsibilities for maintaining the online legacy of staff after they have left their host […]

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Neglected Areas for Web Managers?

Online legacy of ILRT workYesterday I came across two posts in my Facebook stream which addressed areas which appear to be neglected by those with responsibilities for providing institutional web services. In the first of two posts I comment on responsibilities for maintaining the online legacy of staff after they have left their host institution.

“Pondering the online legacy of my work”

Yesterday Virginia Knight shared a link on Facebook to a blog post with the words “Pondering the online legacy of my work at Bristol, or: why is there not much of it visible now?“. in the blog post, entitled “Where did my work go?“, Virginia described how she has been “working out how much of what I did in my sixteen years at ILRT at Bristol University has survived in a recognisable form“. Virginia pointed out that “Obviously there are publications, such as an article in Ariadne [such as ‘The SPP Alerting Portlet: Delivering Personalised Updates’– Editor] and more recently a prizewinning essay” but concluded “my online legacy is harder to trace“.

This is an area of particular interest to me. Almost two years ago I finished work at UKOLN. During my final week at UKOLN I published a series of blog on “Reflections on 16 years at UKOLN“. The five blog posts covered my early involvement with the Web (which dated back to December 1992), my outreach activities, my research work, my work for UKOLN’s core funders and my interests in evidence-based policies and openness.

Digital Preservation – Whose Responsibility?

During my final few months at UKOLN I had responsibilities for managing the preservation of UKOLN’s web resources. In brief this covered updating web sites so that the home page for self-contained activities described the background to the work and made it clear that the web site was no longer being maintained (e.g. see the Cultural Heritage Web site and the web site for the JISC-funded QA Focus project). After updating the content the web sites were archived by the UK Web Archive, which included the main UKOLN Web site, sub-sites (such as the QA Focus project and sites with their own domain such as the Cultivate Interactive ejournal).

In addition to the management of traditional web assets, typically hosted on an institutional web site, I also emphasized the importance of being able to continue to manage and maintain one’s professional profile, running a workshop session at the IWMW 2013 event on “Managing Your Professional Online Reputation“. During this period I became aware of the possible tensions between the provision of institutional web sites and the use of third-party services from the perspective of a professional who wishes to continue professional activities after leaving the host institution. As Virginia has pointed out, one’s online legacy can easily vanish.

But whose responsibility is to ensure that an institution does not lose its scholarly digital resources and individuals do not lose their online legacy? In a poster presented at the LILAC 2014 conference on “Preparing our users for digital life beyond the institution” I summarized a survey carried out by myself and Jenny Evans in which we found that librarians do not feel they are responsible for supporting academics who wish to continue making use of their digital assets after they have left the institution.

I therefore wondered whether web managers felt they had responsibilities for the preservation of web resources, not just as institutional assets but also as assets of value to members of staff after they leave the institution. A workshop session on “Page Not Found’: Practical Web Preservation Advice” was intended to explore some of these issues, with the abstract for the session suggested that “in web site development projects … a full impact analysis encompassing all stakeholders is essential“. Unfortunately the session has been cancelled due to lack of numbers.

In the poster presented at the LILAC 2014 conference I asked, in light of the survey findings “Are librarians enablers of life-long access to digital technologies or custodians of institutional services?” In light of the apparent lack of interest in web preservation at the IWMW 2015 event there seems to be a gap: who should be responsible for managing long-term access to web resources? Perhaps the answer will be self-motivated individuals, just as it was for long-lost copies of episodes of Doctor Who?


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Time To Update Web Accessibility Policies? http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/14/time-to-update-web-accessibility-policies/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/14/time-to-update-web-accessibility-policies/#respond Tue, 14 Jul 2015 08:44:37 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16668 Institutional Web Accessibility Policies What type of policies do institutions provide on the accessibility of corporate web sites? This question is very relevant to the workshop session on “BS 8878: Systematic Approaches to Documenting Web Accessibility Policies and Practices” which I am running at the IWMW 2015 event; considerations of the relevance of use of […]

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Institutional Web Accessibility Policies

Accessibility policy for LJMUWhat type of policies do institutions provide on the accessibility of corporate web sites? This question is very relevant to the workshop session on “BS 8878: Systematic Approaches to Documenting Web Accessibility Policies and Practices” which I am running at the IWMW 2015 event; considerations of the relevance of use of the BS 8878 code of practice for web accessibility should be informed by an understanding

Analysing a Small Sample of Web Accessibility Policies

Rather than looking at a large selection of web accessibility policies I chose to select a small sample. And rather than looking at Russell Group universities, as I have done in the past when analysing institutional approaches across a range of different areas, this time I looked at  nine universities based in the north west, near Edge Hill University, the host for the IWMW 2015 event.

All ten institutions helpfully provided links to their web accessibility policies from their home page (and, I suspect, in the navigational areas for other corporate pages).  The accessibility policies can be view using the following links:

[Edge Hill] – [Liverpool John Moores] – [Liverpool] – [Liverpool Hope] –  [UCLAN] – [Bolton] – [Manchester] – [MMU] – [Salford]

Looking at the web accessibility policies a number of characteristics can be identified:

Aspirations: Such as “The University is committed to making its website and the material provided on it accessible to as many people as possible“; “The site aims to be compliant with worldwide standards for accessibility“; “The University website is designed to be as accessible as possible to all, in line with W3C recommendations“;

Aspirational to conform with WCAG: Such as “All pages on this site aim to be accessible to W3C AA compliance or better, complying with priority 1 and 2 guidelines of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Not all the guidelines can be automatically checked. With this in mind every effort has been made to manually check university pages.

Specific WCAG conformance levels: Such as “This central site is intended to meet at least level 2 (AA) of the W3C’s Website Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Guidelines, and as far as possible to meet level 3 (AAA).

Browser policies: Such as “We try to make our website compatible with as many browsers as possible

Details of testing processes: Such as “We have also tested the site extensively in a wide range of browsers and settings to ensure the site functionality is available to as many users as possible“;

Techniques for users: Such as “You can increase or reduce the text size by using your browser’s zoom function

Specific techniques for users: Such as “Microsoft Internet Explorer version 8 and above …; Mozilla Firefox: To alter text size, select ‘zoom’ select zoom in (Ctrl+) or zoom out (Ctrl-). To remove CSS stylings select ‘page style’, then no style”; Safari: Select ‘view’ from the top pull down menu options; To alter text size, select ‘zoom’ select zoom in (Ctrl+) or zoom out (Ctrl-); Google Chrome: Select ‘settings’ from the top pull down menu options. Click ‘show advanced settings’ and scroll to fonts size and page zoom; To alter text size, select view, then ‘zoom’ select larger (Ctrl+) or smaller (Ctrl-)

Details of access keys: Such as “Access keys for websites are defined as: Access Key 1 – Homepage; Access Key 2 – News; Access Key 4 – Focus on Search box; Access Key 9 – Feedback Form; Access Key 0 – Accessibility Help (this page)

Techniques used by content providers: Such as “Steps we’ve taken: Using alt tags on images; Using sufficient contrast on colours; Using CSS to allow the separation of style and content; ..“; “Use of ‘alternative text’ to describe images. This is useful for text-based browsers and/or for users with visual impairments; Implementation of ‘skip menu’ feature to allow users of speech or text rendering software to bypass the menu structure of a page and go straight to the content; Links to the Adobe Acrobat reader for PDF Adobe Acrobat files; Use of ‘cascading style sheets’ (CSS) which means that it is easy for a user to over-ride page settings to make it easier for them to view the page. In this way you can; Increase contrast between background and text for readability purposes; Change text colours; Change background colours; Ensuring that fields in online forms can be navigated in order by pressing ‘tab’ in a keyboard

Details of training and support: Such as “staff are offered a comprehensive training programme

Contact details for further information or in case or problems: email address; links to disability support services.

Note that all of these examples are taken from public accessibility policies available from the following pages: [Edge Hill] – [Liverpool John Moores] – [Liverpool] – [Liverpool Hope] – [Edge Hill] – [UCLAN] – [Bolton] – [Manchester] – [MMU] – [Salford].

Reflections

It should be noted that accessibility policies typically go beyond statements of conformance with WCAG guidelines and may include specific techniques for users, details of the processes used to create web resources, details of testing processes used to ensure policies are being implemented correctly and contact details in case of accessibility problems. However these approaches are not taken in a consistent manner. Also none of the pages appeared to describe maintenance of the information provided, such as accessibility tips for new browsers or new versions of browsers. It was also noted that there appeared to be no information provided for users of mobile devices which perhaps suggests that the information has not been updated for some time.

Time for BS 8878?

The BS 8878 code of practice for web accessibility seeks to formalise the process for ensuring the accessibility of web resources by documenting 16 steps which can help to ensure the production of an accessible web ‘product’ (to use the terminology of BS 8878). The 16 steps cover research & understanding in the initial conception and requirements analysis for the web product; making strategic choices based on that research; the decision whether to create or procure the web product in-house or contract out externally; the production of the web product; the evaluation of the product and the launch of the web product.

A workshop session on “BS 8878: Systematic Approaches to Documenting Web Accessibility Policies and Practices” at the IWMW 2015 event will explore how BS 8878 can be used in an educational context, going beyond provision of public web sites and including use of the web in teaching and learning and research applications.

If you have an interest in BS8878 you may wish to book a place at the IWMW 2015 event. The event will take place on 27-29 July at Edge Hill University. Bookings are still open, but will close shortly.

In addition if you have any comments, questions or observations on issues related to web accessibility and BS 8878 feel free to leave a comment.

 

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Finalising Plans for IWMW 2015 http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/06/finalising-plans-for-iwmw-2015/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/06/finalising-plans-for-iwmw-2015/#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2015 15:04:34 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16660 IWMW 2015: A Recap The 19th in the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop series, IWMW 2015, will take place at Edge Hill University on 27-29 July. The event is aimed at members of institutional web management teams, who have responsibilities for managing large-scale institutional web services. At last year’s event, IWMW 2014, there was a […]

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IWMW 2015: A Recap

IWMW 2015: day 3The 19th in the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop series, IWMW 2015, will take place at Edge Hill University on 27-29 July.

The event is aimed at members of institutional web management teams, who have responsibilities for managing large-scale institutional web services.

At last year’s event, IWMW 2014, there was a recognition that the term ‘web’ sounds somewhat dated, with institutions now focusing on their ‘digital’ strategies and having digital teams to implement such strategies.

This year’s event has the theme “Beyond Digital: Transforming the Institution” which reflects the changing environment, and how moves towards embedding digital approaches are likely to require changes in established institutional practices.

The event consists of three days of plenary talks, half day master classes and shorted workshop sessions.

The plenary talks are grouped into a number of themes:

  • Putting The Web Manager First: The opening session provides an opportunity to hear from two institutions about how institutional web and digital teams are responding to the challenges we are all facing.
  • Supporting Our Users: Two plenary talks will explore how institutions are responding to their customer needs in the context of new operating realities and the importance of providing outstanding user experience as a key differentiator for an increasingly demanding student environment.
  • Managing the Content; Developing the Services: Two plenary talks will explore approaches to managing content and developing services.
  • Beyond the Institution: In light of the importance of use of third party services for supporting institutional services there will be three talks from organisations who can support institutional activities: Jisc, LinkedIn and PwC.
  • What Does The Future Hold?: The IWMW 2015 event will conclude with a panel session which will address the topic “What does the future hold?

IWMW 2015: the Final Day

Although the master classes, which were described in a previous post, are the most significant change to the format of this year’s event, it is the final day which, to me, marks a transition from previous years. A last year’s event, for example, the final morning provided institutional case studies in which web managers described their approaches to addressing mainstream web challenges, with the event closing with a panel session in which four experienced web managers spoke on the topic “What is our vision for the institutional web and can we implement that vision?

This year’s final day, however, finishes with a session entitled “Beyond the Institution“, with three speakers who work for organisations which are not directly part of the higher educational sector: Jisc’s “Cloud first/ mobile first” platform, the role of LinkedIn for higher education and how universities can leverage LinkedIn to engage future, current and past students and perspectives on the ‘Agile University’.

The final plenary talk at the event,  Beyond Digital – The Agile University will be given by Niall Lavery and Dan Babington, PwC. As can be seen from the abstract for the session this talk will be looking at approaches which go beyond making improvements and enhancements to our web services:

Leading Universities are looking beyond the short-term impact of an improved web or open-day experience, towards the delivery of simpler, faster, personalised interactions throughout the entire institution.

PwC provide insights into the workings of the world’s most innovative universities and describe the future-proof architectures that build an amazing educational experience on the three pillars of simplification, personalisation and value-focus. This session will start with the approach and mind-set required to become an Agile University, discussing how it can help balance the books within a year, and show examples of how you can transcend your competition to become a Category of One.

However since the majority of the delegates work for higher educational institutions we will ensure there is time for questions at the end of each of these plenary talks. In addition in a final panel session a number of experienced web managers will respond to the ideas given by the plenary speakers in this session and other ideas, proposals and suggestions which have emerged over the three days.

Still Opportunities to Book Your Place!

IWMW 2015: registration still openAlthough the official closing date for bookings has passed we have been informed that university finance departments will need additional time to process bookings. We will therefore keep the bookings open for a while longer.


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Cloud Storage – for Use by Individuals http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/02/cloud-storage/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/02/cloud-storage/#respond Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:00:15 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16591 Providing Advice to the Members of the University of the Third Age In my recent post on Life After Cetis: the Launch of the UK Web Focus Consultancy I described “I am also intending to carry out a limited amount of pro bono work, such as the talk on use of Cloud services I will be giving […]

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Providing Advice to the Members of the University of the Third Age

In my recent post on Life After Cetis: the Launch of the UK Web Focus Consultancy I described “I am also intending to carry out a limited amount of pro bono work, such as the talk on use of Cloud services I will be giving next month for the U3A in Bath“. Due to holidays I was unable to attend the U3A meeting, but I intend to give the talk at this month’s meeting later today.

About the U3A

Logo_of_the_University_of_the_Third_Age

Image from Wikipedia article on “University of the Third Age “

On its home page the University of the Third Age in Bath describes itself as “a lively and friendly association offering a wide range of study and leisure activities for those whose days are no longer tied to earning a living“. A Wikipedia article on “University of the Third Age” describes how “The University of the Third Age is an international organisation whose aims are the education and stimulation of mainly retired members of the community—those in their third ‘age’ of life. It is commonly referred to as U3A.

I worked in the higher education sector for over 30 years and continue to have an interest in learning. I am now in a position to complement my work for higher education with involvement with U3A in Bath.

I recently joined a new U3A group – a Mac Users Group. At a recent meeting there was discussion about ways of storing resources, such as images, videos and text documents. It seems that memory sticks are a popular means of storing such files. I suggested that Cloud storage should also be considered and was invited to share my thoughts, knowledge and experience at a forthcoming meeting. This blog post summarises my talk and demonstration. I am posting the thoughts on this blog in order to share my views more widely and to invite feedback.

It should be noted that members of the group include some experienced IT and Macintosh users and others who have less experience. As is likely to be the case for many retired U3A members, affordable – especially free – solutions to IT problems will be particularly welcomed!

Storage Systems – a Brief History

Fortran-card

Punch card. Image from Wikipedia.

If you have worked in IT since you were much younger you may have encountered storage systems such as punch cards and even paper tape punch. I personally stored my first computer programme on a tape punch and, in my final year at university, stored my data for my final year project on punch cards.

If, however, you first started using home computer in the 1980s, 1990s or later you are more likely to have used floppy disks, either 5¼-inch or, and in particular for Mac users, the 3½-inch (in which the floppy disk was protected by an external case. However floppy disks are being phased out, with the Apple SuperDrive (originally called the Apple FDHD – Floppy Disk High Density – Drive) being discontinued in 1998 (see Wikipedia article).

In brief the history of storage systems tells us that technologies evolve, with storage systems having increased capacity, being more robust and convenient and easier to use across a range of different devices. The initial alternative which helped to kill off floppy disks was the USB flash drive (also known as a memory stick, memory drive,  thumb drive, flash drive as well as a host of other names). However flash drives are themselves facing competition from Cloud storage systems.

About the Cloud

According to Wikipedia “Cloud computing refers to the practice of transitioning computer services such as computation or data storage to multiple redundant offsite locations available on the Internet“.

As described in an article in The Guardian “In the early 1940s, IBM’s president, Thomas J Watson, reputedly said: ‘I think there is a world market for about five computers.’” Arguably Cloud computing marks a return to this – mistaken – vision, with a small number of global companies, such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon, providing a range of computer services, including desktop applications (such as Google Docs and Office 365), storage systems (such as Google Drive, Microsoft’s Onedrive and Apple’s iCloud) and other services including ‘virtual’ computers (known as Platform as a Service).

In brief, the ubiquity of the Internet now provides home users with Software as a Service – we can run applications from the network (and note that this can be done not only via a web browser on any networked computer but also with devices such as Google’s Chrome PCs which are looking to complete with traditional computers on price and ease of use) as well as Storage as a Service – the main focus of this post.

Cloud Storage Services

Enough of the theory – what are the popular Cloud storage systems which can be used by typical home users with a limited budget? Recent articles published in PC magazines on  13 best cloud storage services 2015: Dropbox vs Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud & more, Cloud storage services: the big four compared and Dropbox vs OneDrive vs Google Drive: what’s the best cloud storage service of 2015? provide useful summaries.

Five of the best-known Cloud storage providers are listed in the following table, together with iCloud, which will be of particular interest to users of Macintosh  and other Apple devices.

Name Storage
Google Drive 15 Gb free.
Onedrive 15 Gb free. £1.99 for 100 Gb/month. £3.99 for 200 Gb/month. £5.99 for 1 Tb/month plus Office 365.
Dropbox 2 Gb free. £7.99 for 1Tb/month or £79/year.
Amazon Cloud Drive 5 Gb free. £6 for 20Gb/year. £16 for 50Gb/year.
 iCloud  5 Gb free. £0.79 for 20Gb/month. £6.99 for 500Gb/month. £14.99 for 1Tb/month.

Note that the storage costs should not be regarded as the only – or indeed, most important – factor to be considered when choosing a Cloud storage.  As described in a post which, on 14 March 2014, described how Google slashes Drive prices in cloud storage price war, Cloud storage costs are still volatile. In addition various types of deals can bring down the costs (e.g. Microsoft’s Onedrive is bundled with a licence for the Office 365 software suite; Dropbox provides ways of getting additional storage space for free; etc.). There are also many other Cloud storage providers including Mega (50 Gb for free); Copy (15 Gb for free);  Tresorit (only 3Gb free storage but focus  on security); Box (10 Gb free storage, but focus on business sector); Mediafire (10 Gb free storage); Mozy (2gb for free but focus on security) and Spideroak (2gb for free but focus on security).

Cloud storage services may also be bundled in with a broadband package provided by your Internet Service Provider. For example BT Cloud provides 5Gb or 40 Gb (depending on your package) for free with 50 Gb available for £3/month or 500 Gb for £9/month.

It should also be noted that there are also Cloud storage services which are format-specific such as Amazon’s  Unlimited Photo Storage (which is free for users who have signed up to Amazon Prime), Flickr (1 TB of free storage), Google Photos (unlimited free storage for standard-resolution images) and, for storage of one’s music Amazon Cloud Player (250 songs for free or 250,000 songs for £22/year) or Google Play Music (50,000 songs for free).

There are also Cloud hosting services which are more relevant to my professional activities.  I’m a longer-standing user of Slideshare for hosting my slides. I also uploaded my research publications to the University of Bath repository when I worked there. However I can no longer add new papers to the repository or update the papers, so the repository is now a read-only resource for me. Because of these limitations before leaving the University of Bath I uploaded my papers to Researchgate and also, as a backup, to Academia.edu.

As well as the storage costs and the normal factors which affect purchasing decisions (functionality, ease-of-use, etc.) additional factors to consider which are of particular importance when evaluating Cloud services include the sustainability of the service provider and ethical and privacy issues.

Provide Your Own Cloud

You may chose to buy additional disk storage for your computer, such as an internal drive (which requires you opening up your computer) or an external drive which can be connected to your computer’s USB port. However you could also but a NAS (Network Area Storage) device which you could attach to your router so that it can be accessed by other computers and mobile devices on your home network. With some NAS devices you can also make the storage available via the Internet to your devices or other computers when you are away from home. Yes, you can manage your own Cloud storage system, with prices typically costing from about £100.

What Of The Risks

Sustainability

The IT industry has always been very volatile. Hardware companies which, at the time, were well-known (e.g. DEC as provider on mini-computer and Acorn and Commodore as early PC manufacturers) are no longer around and even IBM stopped manufacturing computers and moved into the services sector.

The sustainability of a company which makes hardware and peripherals need not necessarily be of significance if the company goes out of business or changes its business practices – after all you still have the physical devices. However if your Cloud storage provides goes out-of-business you could lose your data overnight. And even if the company is still in business it could close to close down particular services – and as David Harrison has pointed out, even successful companies such as Google have closed down popular services they have hosted, such as Google Reader.

Ethical and Privacy Issues

If you don’t pay, you’re the product, not the user” is a well-known soundbite which forms the basis of criticisms of free Internet services – you are effectively paying for the services by giving access to your content or your personal information to the service provider.

Another concern is that the companies are not acting in an ethical manner – for example the concerns raised last year regarding Amazon’s tax avoidance techniques which led to an “Amazon UK boycott [being] urged after retailer pays just £4.2m in tax“.

A Risk and Opportunities Framework

About the Framework

The risks and opportunities frameworkBack in 2009 I wrote a paper on “Empowering users and their institutions : A risks and opportunities framework for exploiting the potential of the social web” which described a framework which could help institutions considering making use of social media services. This framework, which is illustrated, can also be applied to individuals who are thinking about selecting a Cloud (or local) storage service. The need to be able to assess and evaluate risk is needed when we are looking to make use of innovation. Indeed, as Douglas Adams pointed out, if we weren’t risk takers homo sapiens might never have evolved:

Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans

In brief to use this framework it may be useful to document (or discuss with friends and colleagues):

The intended purpose of the service: Is it to share with a small number of close friends? Is it to make available to anyone (which might include potential friends!)

The benefits of the service: What do you hope to gain from using the new service?

The risks of the service: What do you think are the risks of using the new service?

The missed opportunities of not using the service: If you decide to not use the service because of the risks, what will you lose?

The costs of using the service: What are the costs (including non-financial costs, of using the service.

What approaches can you take to minimising the risks: It should be noted that you may chose to accept some risks, especially if the probably is low or the consequences are not significant.

What evidence is there for your choices, preferences and concerns: There are dangers that an ‘echo chamber’ will simply reflect your personal concerns or preferences which are not based on evidence.

money-under-mattressIn use of the framework to assist in personal rather than institutional decision-making there are  likely to be personal and subjective factors including “it’s too complicated for me” or “I can’t be bothered”. But the importance of risk assessment is likely to be understood by U3A members who have evaluated their personal assessment to financial risks when considering what on to do with one’s life-saving – invest in a speculative high-risk fund; a fund which reflects personal preferences and beliefs such as an eco-friendly fund; a low-risk saving account which has a low rate of interest or putting the savings under one’s mattress, because you can’t trust banks (which, sadly, may be a valid reason if you live in Greece!)

Application of the Framework

Subjective Factors

It should be noted that the risks and opportunities framework recognises that there will be biases and subjective factors (experiences, beliefs, prejudices, etc.) which will influence decision making. In order to illustrate how the frame work might be used I will begin by outlining some of my experiences, beliefs and other subjective factors which have influenced my selection of Cloud storage services.

I feel that the slogan “If you don’t pay, you’re the product, not the user” has some validity – and could also be applied to ITV (for which the core business are adverts which generate most of the profits and are needed to fund the programmes which are wrapped around the adverts!)

I accept that such services need to make money to fund the service and, for those provided by commercial companies, to make profits. I recognise that there are different business models, but I personally tend to be willing to make use of free services, knowing that companies may commercially exploit my content and metadata (judging from adverts on my Facebook page they will have evidence that people in their 50s are likely be interested in pensions schemes and in dating women in their 40s and 50s!).

I also tend to make resources I create, including this blog post, available under a Creative Commons licence which permits commercial exploitation provided only that acknowledgement is given. I am willing for others to make use of my ideas. Similarly I am willing to accept licences to use services I feel useful which allow the licence holder to commercial exploit my content and metadata.

I am aware of subscription services which do not commercial exploit my content or metadata. I have signed up for such services including Diaspora, identi.ca and, more recently, Mind but none of these services gained momentum. I am therefore happy to make use of popular alternatives which are available for free.

I am also aware that commercial companies may have business practices which I do not agree with, from Barclays links with apartheid in the 1970s through to examples such as Amazon’s tax avoidance schemes and concerns about Apple’s commitments to sustainability. But although I am aware of such issues they have not caused me to stop using the services.

Services Used

I will initially  summarise some of the functional areas for which I use Cloud (and non-Cloud) storage areas.

Music: I have digitized my large CD collection. The MP3 files are stored on the hard disk on my desktop PC. In addition a copy is held on my NAS drive. I have also uploaded my music to Google Play Music which, as well as providing a backup, enables me to access my music when I am away from home. I am aware of the risks associated with a disk crash of my desktop PC and the, much more unlikely, loss of both this drive and my NAS drive (theft, fire in my home, virus which deletes all files on my home network), but Google Play Music will provide an additional backup. My original CDs are also still available so I could redigitise the music if necessary.

Documents: I tend to use both MS Word and Google Docs when writing documents – MS Word for documents in which the final format is important and Google Docs for collaborative writing. I also use Evernote for general note-taking. In these cases I tend to use the Cloud storage provided by the application or by the company – Microsoft’s Onedrive for MS Word (and MS PowerPoint) files, Google Drive for Google Docs (and Google Spreadsheets) and Evernote’s Cloud storage for Evernote documents. These are all well-established companies and I do not think that they will disappear overnight. I am also confident that if, in the event they chose to cease providing their services or significant change the terms and conditions I will be given sufficient notice for me to be able to migrate my content.

Photos: I have used a number of Cloud storage services over the years, so I should probably rethink the services I use and the way I use them.  Currently I use Google Photos, with photos taken on mobile devices automatically being synched with the service. I acknowledge that I am not storing the high resolution images, but am happy to accept that.

Facebook: Whilst primarily a social media service for hosting discussions and sharing resources it should be recognised that Facebook is also a significant Cloud hosting service for photos – back in 2013 it was reported that “Facebook users have uploaded a quarter-trillion photos since the site’s launch” with “every day, Facebook’s 1.15 billion user base uploads an average of 350 million photos“. I tend to upload photos to Facebook when I am go to somewhere new and wish to share this with my network. I also find it interesting when I receive a anniversary message from the Facebook On this day service which brings back memories which otherwise I may have forgotten. I know that I can export resources I have uploaded to Facebook, but in reality I suspect I’ll not do this. I am happy to use Facebook as a Cloud service for sharing thoughts, ideas and images as they are posted and am happy with the serendipitous reminders I receive.

Risk Minimisation and Evidence Base

My general approach to risk minimisation is to use mainstream services which appear to have a sustainable business model to help ensure the continuity of the service (typically through making use of my personal profile information and potentially my content).

As I mentioned back on April 2012 in a post which asked Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts? comments such as “Google owns everything on google drive.” are, quite simply, wrong. The Google terms and conditions state that:

You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

and goes on to add:

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

Missed Opportunities

If I did not make use of services such as Google Drive, Onedrive, Dropbox I would miss the convenience these provide. I would have to make use of either alternative Cloud services, which will have their own risks or costs associated with them or make use of non-Cloud services, which will have other types of risks or complexities (do I really want the hassle of managing my own IT infrastructure?).

Conclusions

Writing this post has been useful as it has helped clarify my own thoughts on making personal use of Cloud services and identified areas in which I should modify how I use the services. I’d welcome feedback on the post and if the approach described would be helpful for others wishing to make personal use of Cloud services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Developments to Accessibility, Automation and Metadata http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/01/developments-to-accessibility-automation-and-metadata/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/07/01/developments-to-accessibility-automation-and-metadata/#respond Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:40:54 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16649 Last night I attended talk on “Schema.org & Accessibility – How Can it Help?” which was organised by Accessible Bristol.  This was the first time I’ve attended an event organised by Accessible Bristol but looking at their programme of recent monthly events I should try and get to a future event. I was pleased to meet up […]

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Last night I attended talk on “Schema.org & Accessibility – How Can it Help?” which was organised by Accessible Bristol.  This was the first time I’ve attended an event organised by Accessible Bristol but looking at their programme of recent monthly events I should try and get to a future event.

I was pleased to meet up with Chaals McCathie Nevile (@chaals) again, whom I first met many years ago probably at a W3A WAI event. The last time I recall spending some time with Chaals was back in January 2009, at a barbecue Chaals organised after I spoke at the OzeWAI 2009 conference.

As well as catching up with Chaals, at last night’s event I also  caught up with Dan Brickley (@danbri) and Libby Miller (@libbymiller), who used to work at ILRT, University of Bristol and whom I met at events in the southwest as well as at a number of Web conferences in the US, Hungary and elsewhere.

When I realised that I’d be meeting Dan and Libby at an event about accessibility and metadata I remembered that I had given a talk on the subject many years ago. Looking at my record of my presentations I discovered that I had given a talk on “Accessibility, Automation and Metadata” at a WAI meeting held in Toronto in May 1999. Although the slides are no longer available on the UKOLN web site I found a copy of the slides which are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

The ideas I presented which, as the title slide shows, were influenced by discussions I had with Dan Brickley, seem to reflect the talk given last night about the schemas.org accessibility vocabulary. It seems we can now flag, in a machine-understandable format, accessibility ‘hazards’ which are defined as “a characteristic of the described resource that is physiologically dangerous to some users” – such as flashing content. It would then be possible for third-party services to identify such resources. This was the idea I presented back in 1999 – and the ideas caused consternation at the time. Perhaps it was my suggestion that “Is ‘universal design’ a false goal? Shouldn’t we be aiming for personalised services based on individual preferences?” which was controversial at the time.

There now seems to be a wider acceptance of the value of personalised access to resources, and that trying to ensure that all web resources are universally accessible is not a realistic or achievable goal.

But why has the vision from 1999 taken so long to come about? Chaas acknowledged that the schema.org accessibility vocabulary is still not ready for mainstream deployment. But should we start to describe our resources which may be accessibility hazards or provide significant barriers? The BBC announces if video clips contain flashing images so that viewers who may be affected can avoid watching the clip. Should we do likewise for videos we use on our web sites? And should we flag videos which don’t provide captions? However if we only use videos which are captions, perhaps this is not necessary?

These are questions I intend to raise in the workshop session on “BS 8878: Systematic Approaches to Documenting Web Accessibility Policies and Practices” which I’ll be facilitating at the IWMW 2015 event in a few weeks time. I’d welcome questions or comments on the relevance of the schema.org accessibility vocabulary.

Note also that a Storify summary of the tweets from last night’s event are available.

My slides from the WAI meting in May 1999 are available on Slideshare and embedded below.


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LinkedIn for Higher Education http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/06/29/linkedin-for-higher-education/ http://ukwebfocus.com/2015/06/29/linkedin-for-higher-education/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 12:57:34 +0000 http://ukwebfocus.com/?p=16629 LinkedIn For Web Professions Many web and digital marketing professionals will have their own LinkedIn profiles. My initial use of LinkedIn was to provide my list of professional contacts, which would be updated as my contacts maintained and developing their profile pages. LinkedIn, I found, was particularly useful in finding out when people changed their jobs or roles. […]

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LinkedIn For Web Professions

LinkedIn-for-higher-educationMany web and digital marketing professionals will have their own LinkedIn profiles. My initial use of LinkedIn was to provide my list of professional contacts, which would be updated as my contacts maintained and developing their profile pages. LinkedIn, I found, was particularly useful in finding out when people changed their jobs or roles.

LinkedIn has developed from a simple professional contacts service and provides additional communications and discussion tools such as the discussion groups for UK HE Web ProfessionalsDigital Libraries, Digital Preservation, Higher Education Marketing & Communications, Web 2.0 for Higher Education, Web accessibility and Web standards which I subscribe to.

But in addition to the value which LinkedIn can provide for web professionals, LinkedIn also seems to have an important role for universities.

LinkedIn For Higher Education

The 'youniversity' page on LinkedInThe ‘Youniversity‘ page on LinkedIn could well be an information resource for potential students and, therefore, for those with responsibilities for attracting such students, managing the content and engaging in discussions on the services the potential students may visit.

Looking at the University Finder it seems that if I wish to study Computer and Information Science in the UK the most popular universities are the Open University, the University of Manchester, the University of Hertfordshire, Staffordshire University, Kingston University and Sheffield Hallam University. Incidentally it appears that the order is based on the number of ‘likes’ from alumni – so if you want to raise the visibility of your institution on this list you may wish to think of ways of getting current and former students to like the LinkedIn page – encouraging graduates to do this during degree ceremonies, perhaps?

edge hill university: Linkedin-pageI’m sure that digital marketing staff will look at the LinkedIn page for their institution and their peers.

Looking at the entry for Edge Hill University, the location for the IWMW 2015 event, as shown it contains factual information about the institution and details of the careers of the alumni, with additional pages providing access to the LinkedIn profile for the, in this case 8,259, alumni, notable alumni and recommendations about the institution.

Find Out More

The LinkedIn for Higher Education web site provides access to a “resource center has customizable presentations, videos, tip sheets for students, and more“.

A video, lasting for 3 minutes 36 seconds, on LinkedIn for Higher Education is embedded below which provides a brief overview.

Finally I should mention the plenary talk on “LinkedIn for Higher Education – How Universities Can Leverage LinkedIn to Engage Future, Current and Past Students ” which will be given by Charles Hardy, LinkedIn at IWMW 2015, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop which this year takes place at Edge Hill University on 27-29 July. There is still time to book your place, learn about “LinkedIn has developed a number of features specifically for Higher Education institutions, blending career data insights with people and brand” – and much more!

LinkedIn for Higher Education, video:


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