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Session Summary: “Are web managers still needed when everyone is a web 'expert'?”

9:14 am in plenaries by guest

Amy Chamier gives us her summary of the plenary session: P2 “Are web managers still needed when everyone is a web ‘expert’?”, presented by Susan Farrell.

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Will web managers be the first to go when public sector cuts bite? This was the unsettling question put to us by independent web consultant Susan Farrell.

Susan, a former head of web services at Kings College, London, explained how those with front-end skills are most at risk. Although we make the web work for visitors – with our knowledge of writing for the web, information architecture, usability, accessibility and search engine optimisation – these skills often go unappreciated.
The rapid spread of easy-to-use web tools, such as content management systems, is leading senior managers to look on everyone as a web expert now. Departments keen for a bigger slice of the web cake, are quick to endorse this view. So how do we communicate our value as web specialists? Susan’s advice is to demonstrate the competitive advantage we deliver in turbulent times. We must show how websites run by web managers cut the cost of: (a) generating new customers (b) back office administration and (c) service delivery. And also, how websites run by amateurs can put an organisation’s reputation at risk. In wrapping up, Susan left us with a final question. Without recognised qualifications and a professional body, do web managers and their specialist skills run the risk of extinction, as our duties are absorbed into other roles? Answers on a post-card for next year’s workshop, please.

NOTES:

  • Susan’s presentation (on Slideshare)
  • If you liked this session, you might like this article (by Gerry McGovern)

By Amy Chamier, Web Editor
Institute of Education, University of London

Session Summary: Looking Back and Looking Forward

6:08 pm in plenaries by kirsty-pitkin

In his final closing comments to the workshop, Brian Kelly summarised the topics covered throughout the event within the context of the workshop theme “The Web In Turbulent Times”. He outlined how the programme had tried to cover a range of things, including the bigger economic picture affecting the sector, the opportunities for innovation that still exist, and some of the practical things that web teams are doing now that could inspire everyone else.

Brian invited various people to speak to provide their perspectives on this issues raised. Owen Stephens picked up on some of the issues raised by Chris Sexton in her opening plenary and by Patrick Lauke in his plenary about HTML5, Dave Stanley summarised his parallel session about the “Sheffield Made Us” campaign, and Mike Ellis announced the results of the QR code game, which had involved delegates finding and scanning QR codes hidden around the conference venue, then answering multiple choice questions.

Brian then demonstrated some of the innovative tools we have been using to analyse and increase the impact of IWMW. These included our use of Twapperkeeper, upon which Andy Powell has developed Summarizr, geotagging of tweets and the use of Linked Data. He demonstrated that the 14 years of data about IWMW locations, speakers, presentations, attendees and represented institutions, all linked to Dbpedia, can be used to answer questions about dissemination and impact of the event by showing patterns that could lead to new insights into the factors affecting conference attendance and impact.

To emphasise the need for the impact of an event to be sustainable, Brian restated his argument from previous years about the need for web teams to be blogging to create shared resources to help both themselves and the community. He has set up ukoln.ac.uk/community to draw together these blogs, but noted that there is still a long way to go, with few web teams blogging to draw attention to what they do.

To conclude, Brian drew our attention to the share press release for the event, which anyone can edit and contribute to here. He emphasised that the future is still uncertain, so they will be exploring the future of the IWMW event and potential sources of additional sponsorship as the whole sector rides out these turbulent times.

Throughout Brian’s talk, we premiered Twitter Bingo – a new version of Buzzword Bingo created by Richard Pitkin. Delegates were asked to tweet as normal using the event hash tag, but if their tweet included one of the secret buzzwords, a square would light up and play an accompanying sound effect to alert everyone. This became quite competitive towards the end, with a bidding war between two sponsors offering a prize for the winner, who tweeted the final buzzword. As well as being a bit of fun, Brian emphasised that this provided an example not only of rapid development (the game was developed from scratch within 2 days), but also an example of how technology can be used to enhance collaborative learning. The buzzwords his talk generated were: rapper, mobile, twitter, value, elephant, cuts, linked, sharepoint, remote, web, network, social, HTML5, innovation, beer and economic.

Session Summary: Doing The Day Job

5:25 pm in plenaries by kirsty-pitkin

The final plenary of this year’s event focused on practical activities undertaken by web managers and featured three short presentations discussing particular technologies.

Richard BriertonThe first to present was Richard Brierton from the University of Sheffield, who gave a talk entitled: “Replacement CMS – Getting it right and getting the buy-in”. The University of Sheffield has been using Polopoly since 2003, and last year upgraded to version 9. The change between versions was so significant that it was effectively like moving to an entirely new product. Brierton discussed some of the common issues connected with using and changing CMS, and some of the measures they have taken at Sheffield to ensure user buy-in.

He began by discussing some of the common (and to many, quite familiar) criticisms users have of content management systems, the most repeatable of which was: “CMS is a catastrophe – the interface is clunky, slow and unattractive”. Brierton highlighted how easy it is to blame the CMS when users complain about changes, particularly when the users already have this attitude to the product. However, he emphasised that if you change something, it is not the CMS’s fault, it is your fault for changing it, and if you do choose to change aspects of your CMS, you have to bring the users with you in a positive way. He described CMS as the “promised land that we need to get people to” and outline some of the measures his department have taken towards this, including keeping the users informed about the process via blogs and demonstrations.

Brierton also discussed some of the reasons that web teams themselves often feel frustrated by CMS. Prior to the use of CMS, the number of users creating web pages was quite small, and they needed specialist skills to be able to do so. CMS effectively lowers the bar to web page creation, so there are now more users with a lower level of technical skill, who now need supporting in their use of CMS. He emphasised that no one approaches the task thinking “I want to make a really bad web page”, but this lower level of technical skill means that they will need more support and more careful thought about the configuration of your CMS to prevent unnecessary complexity for your users.

Brierton outlined his 7 commandments of CMS as a summary of his department’s ethos:

  • Keep the 90% in mind all the time – keep the majority of users in mind, not just the techies
  • One voice – we are not a coalition
  • Training is cheap – it is the most cost effective way to improve your website
  • Content is expensive – do not be tempted to get people to re-do their content when you move to a new CMS, as it is easy to forget that the content is the most expensive bit of your site to produce
  • Editors will often best-guess if unsure – so it is important to remember that if your CMS is unclear in any way, people will not necessarily ring for support, they will have a stab, and this should inform your design
  • Avoid unnecessary flexibility – if features are not really necessary, remove them
  • Most editors don’t care – the content providers are not passionate about the web, as it is not their job, they are just passionate about their content

To conclude, Brierton described the gradual process they are doing to roll out their new CMS – department at a time, so that they can ensure everyone is onboard and comfortable with the system, and to identify problems as they go along with a smaller set of users, rather than being hit with all of the problems in one go. This was the most painless route they could see to successfully getting it right and getting the buy-in.

Josef LapkaSecond to speak with Josef Lapka from Canterbury Christ Church University. Lapka introduced their latest project: StudentNET Portal, which received considerable admiration from the audience via the Twitter backchannel.

The system began life as an online student re-enrolment system, developed to address the problem of students failing to re-enrol each year. After attending IWMW in 2007, Lapka’s team were inspired to bring this system together with all of their ideas about supporting the student to create a portal service. Their challenge was to build a tool that was consistent, engaging and interesting that helped the university to build a relationship with students throughout the course of their involvement with the university.

Lapka outlined the various options they considered, including Sharepoint and in-house development, but the team finally chose to use Drop Things as their base – an open source framework that the aggregating service PageFlakes is based upon. This allows them to give students three zones on their own personalised web page: an app area, a fixed content side area and a regular widget zone. The architecture of the system is so granular that they can send individual messages to communicate with specific users or groups of users using widgets. Changes can happen in realtime, with a maximum of a 30 min delay.

Lapka also described how easy it was to transfer from their old systems to this new portal – as the old systems can be compressed into widgets, making migration relatively easy and free from re-coding. Now the framework is in place, they can continue to add new features by developing new widgets, which can take 5-10 days to build, making it very easy to improve and respond to user requirements on an ongoing basis.

To conclude his presentation, Lapka gave a practical demonstration of the site, showing how students can personalise their portal space and bring in their own content using an RSS feed widget to make it a more useful to them.

In the final slot of practical discussions, James Lappin and Peter Gilbert discussed the impact of Sharepoint in higher education in an open conversation. They noted the scale of the product and used the analogy of an elephant to explain the wide range of reactions to it. They explained that a Hindu proverb, in which six blind men are taken to touch an elephant, but all touch different parts of the elephant’s body, and so come away with different ideas about what an elephant is like. They related this to Sharepoint, a similarly very big system, comprising of many different systems, so people generally only look at specific parts.

The pair discussed the ubiquity of Sharepoint, quoting that 90% of HEI are making some use of it for some purposes. It is usually used for intranet services, rather than external web services, but there are other divides within its use profile, including a higher rate of use by admin and research departments, and lower levels of adoption within teaching and learning.

They moved on to discuss the reasons for its high level of use within HE. Gilbert explained that Sharepoint use has grown by two methods: dictate, and by stealth. In explaining his remark about stealth, Gilbert noted that Sharepoint has been added to the Microsoft Campus Agreement which most institutions use to licence their software, so it is often just there, and therefore gets used when a need arises.

In discussing the criticisms and practicalities of using Sharepoint, the pair noted that branding can often be difficult due to the large number of stylesheets, which is often one of the reasons why it is more popular for use as the basis of an internal system, rather than an outward facing websites. They also commented that this aspect has been improved in the 2007 and 2010 versions.

The use of Sharepoint within research has been a relatively new and interesting development. Lappin and Gilbert explained that there are currently not very many solutions within the research market, and as researchers often want to share and communicate with other researchers in other institutions, the benefits of using such a widely established system are quite clear.

The pair concluded by observing that Sharepoint, like an elephant, has a massive ecosystem around it, so like it or hate it, it is an almost unavoidable system.

Richard Brierton’s slides are available on Slideshare here.

Josef Lapka’s slides are available on Slideshare here.

Peter Gilbert and James Lappin did not use any slides for their presentation (just a large image of an elephant!)

Session Summary: Mobile Web and Campus Assistant

12:50 pm in plenaries by kirsty-pitkin

Damian SteerDamian Steer from the University of Bristol provided us with an overview of the evolution of the mobile web, including the development of the hardware capabilities and the mobile web protocols through from WAP to WML.

Steer identified 2000 as the year that things started to get interesting, when lots of people had mobile devices and they started to be used for purposes other than voice calls – including SMS messaging. At this point, phones start to become internet devices, but are very much “leafs on the network”. They didn’t speak the same language as the rest of the internet, which enabled service providers to offer a walled garden service. The devices themselves were also very restricted – Steer noted that he has icons bigger than some of the mobile screens from that period. As a result, not many people were making use of these limited internet services.

Things improve from 2002 onwards, when smart phones appear. These start to have bluetooth, GPS and cameras, as well as internet connectivity and email so these devices were starting to look more like proper web devices, using Java and XHTML. At this point Steer drew particular attention to Opera Mini, which was not widely used, but deserved appreciation because it handled the real web very well. It allowed you to look at normal web pages on a reasonably limited device without any need for the pages to be specially configured.

Steer then moved on to 2007 and the advent of the iPhone, which he noted had almost no novel features at all, except for gestures, but was very useable. He demonstrated the iPhone effect by showing us the increase in mobile users visitors to the University of Bristol website. The proportion of these visitors using an Apple product is much higher than Apple’s market share, showing that whilst many devices had the capacity to enable web browsing, people were not making use of these features as much. Steer used this point to illustrate how there is no equivalent to I.E 6 in the mobile web sphere – there are terrible browsers out there, but people are not using them, so there is no need to cater for them.

In response to the question “how does my institution join the mobile web?”, Steer noted that if universities are building websites that comply with web standards, don’t use Flash too much, and stick to good practice with regards to accessibility, then their websites already work on a mobile device. He also noted that the proportion of people accessing university sites from a mobile device is still very small, so there needs to be some perspective. He also recommended thinking about the context – the situations when your users will only have a mobile device conveniently available and what services will they require at those points? He also discussed the benefits of building mobile web applications, rather than native applications in terms of market coverage and support. He explained how CSS can be used to tune your mobile website to suit the capabilities of a range of devices if you don’t want to build a specialised mobile page. Specialised mobile sites often have limited functionality, but can make use of some of the features of the device, such as the GPS to offer different services. However, browser sniffing and redirecting to mobile sites is generally frowned upon.

This led Steer to describe the University of Bristol Campus Assistant, which was a JISC Rapid Innovation project. This was designed to be a time and location sensitive service for students, rather than a complete mobile version of the University of Bristol site. The use cases included: location of the nearest wireless spot; location of a free PC to use; times of buses to halls of residence; library opening times. The bus departures feature is the most popular feature. The Campus Assistant takes information from RSS feeds, screen scrapes from web pages and other sources, and represents this in a relevant way. It is an open source and ongoing project, so it can be reused if you can provide the information to feed into it.

Steer then handed over to Alex Dutton, who described a similar project undertaken by the Oxford University, called Mobile Oxford. Again, this presents essentials such as bus information, feeds from local webcams, locations of pubs and university buildings. The main features he discussed were the contacts search and the library search for which they use a Google search client to index the site and provide the XML to help people search the site. Dutton’s favourite aspect of the project is that although it is a mobile web app, they have left it open for people to build other web apps or native applications on top, as each page can be rendered in HTML, XML, JSON or YAML. Future developments include linking into their VLE and other authenticated services. Dutton also explained how this project has now been taken open source to become the Molly project, which they hope will enable it be used at other universities too.

Damian Steer’s slides are available at Slideshare here.

Session Summary: ‘So what do you do exactly?’

7:25 am in plenaries by kirsty-pitkin

Lynda Bewley gives us her summary of the plenary session: “‘So what do you do exactly?’ In challenging times justifying the roles of the web teams”, presented by Ranjit Sidhu, Director of Statistics into Decisions.

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Ranjit started by explaining that in many for-profit industries, even in these challenging times, the one area that has been resilient to large expenditure cuts are internet and web services. Often this expenditure is retained due to every pound spent being accountable and transparent, and therefore justified.

Ranjit raised the question of whether web teams can take lessons from the for-profit sector in order to stop what they are doing becoming a vague proposition to those who set budgets. The best way to do this, he said, was to provide compelling statistics and to give them context. University websites are multi-faceted – they are information and e-commerce sites – and return on investment can therefore be measured in the same way as commercial websites.

Using the example of the Honda website, Ranjit demonstrated how web managers could provide detailed and contextual reporting to show a clear return on investment. Ranjit drew parallels between key calls to action on the Honda site and those on a university website (booking a test drive: coming to open day, downloading the brochure: downloading the prospectus). Honda would typically spend £10 to £15 on their site per brochure download.

On a university site, using the example of the number of international visitors who downloaded an application form, Ranjit calculated that the cost per application based on 1000 downloads and 50 successful applications would be just £0.06, and would generate revenue of £40,400 a year.

Ranjit also conducted a cost analysis of alternative application methods, comparing the cost of offering a downloadable application form to sending out a printed application form (£400.03 per application based on sending out 1000 forms), and asking students to apply via the ‘contact us’ page (£1.25 per application based on 1000 ‘contacts’). This kind of analysis enables web managers to justify why online is more cost effective than offline and will help when making a case for more resources.

Ranjit ended by emphasising how urgent is for web teams to start demonstrating return on investment. The recent COI report on government web spending should act as a wake-up call to web teams to prove their relevance and justify the value for money they provide. Online is the most efficient communication and recruitment tool available to a university – the challenge now is to demonstrate that and therefore prove your worth.

Ranjit can be found on Twitter as @rssidhu
His website is sidspace.info

The slides from this presentation are available on Slideshare here.

It’s all gone horribly wrong – disaster communication in a crisis: Jeremy Speller

9:07 am in plenaries by kirsty-pitkin

Jeremy Speller

Jeremy's love hearts

Jeremy Speller of UCL set the scene for his presentation by taking us back to 2005, when he was presenting at IWMW on 7th July. He showed how the first information about the bombings in London came through on the IRC that was being used as a backchannel at the time, and described his helplessness when the network connection he needed for his live demo went down as a result.

Speller’s talk took us through the range of web-based communication options available to ensure messages get out in a range of crisis situations and argued that web teams need to be actively involved in advising their institutions’ crisis plans. Very often these plans omit the web team. Speller emphasised that web teams are communications experts and should be advising the other parties, as well as considering how best to protect their own systems, upon which the operation of the institution and its staff and students rely.

Speller asked us to consider the tools that could be our “megaphones of communication” and used a love heart illustration, which varied in size to indicate his own preference for certain options. Whilst he acknowledged the use of tools such as Twitter and Facebook for communication in a disaster situation, he emphasised the need to link these in to updates from a central source. He recommended the use of JANET, which provides a bunkered, off-site system. The advantage of this is that it offers a virtual server, on which you can install WordPress. WordPress can be linked easily with a variety of other tools (including Twitter) using plugins. Because this is your own installation of WordPress, you have control over the plugins (which you do not with a WordPress.com site), so you have greater flexibility and fewer unknowns!

He outlined some of the information dissemination routes which have an inherent level of unreliability, usually because the data involved is prone to being incomplete or inaccurate. This included using student and staff personal (non-university) email addresses and mobile telephone numbers. However, he noted the potential to keep university email services going in the event of a disaster affecting the university servers for those using Live@edu.

Speller also outlined a suggested system of offering university web service back up as a shared service. He noted that this may not work well between just two institutions, illustrating with UCL and St Andrews (UCL may be confident with St Andrews maintaining an emergency version of their site, but St Andrews may find a London-based back up of theirs may not help in the event of certain types of disaster). However, if a network was established, this could be an effective route to keep the basics going in a cost effective way.

To conclude, he reminded us that in the worse-case scenario, there was always the option of a megaphone! We can be prepared, but there will always be situations where nothing is available. In the questions, Chris Gutteridge of University of Southampton described the situation they found themselves in when their back up essential “black box” survived as designed, but fire crews would not allow access to it for 7 weeks. He explained what they had learnt from the process of coping without it and how their emergency plans had been strengthened by this. Brian Kelly also noted how information in an emergency would not always be provided by the university, but perhaps by other agencies, like the local travel company. Working together with these information providers would also make the university crisis plan more resilient.

Jeremy’s slides are available at Slideshare here.

No Money? No Matter – Improve Your Website With Next To No Cash: Paul Boag

4:23 pm in plenaries by kirsty-pitkin

Lynda Bewley summarises Paul Boag’s plenary session

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Paul Boag

Paul Boag illustrating a bloated website

With government funding being slashed many Higher Education institutions are reducing the budget assigned to web development. However, it is more important than ever to attract new students and the website is a key tool in this battle. How then, can you do more with less?
Paul’s talk aimed to answer this question with two key recommendations. The first was to simplify your site by scaling back legacy content and removing pages that are not reviewed regularly. The second was to move towards a more ‘agile’ approach to site development, rather than focus on the long-term ‘grand project’.
Paul’s view was that budgetary constraints provide an opportunity to break with tradition and change the way things are done, and to operate more like a commercial web environment in which return on investment is everything.
You can view a video of Paul’s talk along with the blog posts that inspired it on boagworld.com.

Paul’s slides are available at Slideshare here.

by guest

P1: The Web in Turbulent Times: Chris Sexton

7:25 am in plenaries by guest

Chris Sexton giving her opening plenary

In the opening Plenary of IWMW 2010, Chris Sexton, Director of Corporate Information and Computing Services at the University of Sheffield, explored the challenges that web and information services teams are facing. Chris’s talk looked at the challenges from the perspective of an IT Director and explained how they may lead to changes in the way IT departments operate.

The challenges:

1. Cuts to funding and financial uncertainty. The one certainty is that IT/web departments will receive less funding. Savings will have to be made and that there will be an increased focus on shared services. The Government will look increasingly towards open source and shared services to deliver value. There is a case for universities sharing back office systems (such as Finance, HR and Payroll). Existing good examples in Higher Education include JANET, UCAS and HESA.

Commonality of function is what makes a good shared service: the example of justgiving.com in the charity sector is a good one. This is the kind of service universities should be looking to develop.

2. Support and control. IT departments are no longer the ‘gatekeepers’ of technology. They no longer own the hardware or software, they don’t control access to services or how they are accessed (browsers, devices, operating systems) and they don’t control ‘where’ data is kept.

A number of factors are causing user expectations to rise. For students these include the prospect of paying higher fees, rapid changes in technology, high quality commercial services, remote and mobile access to services and sector-leading user interfaces. The ‘net generation’ or ‘digital natives’ grew up with the internet, 98% own a mobile, 95% own a laptop.
The challenge is to meet these expectations on the same or smaller budgets. Students often describe in-house interfaces/software as ‘clunky’ as their expectations of a VLE, for example, would be the same as they would be for a consumer-driven commercial website.

3. Overlapping technologies. With so many applications and web services offering the same functions, the purpose of IT/Web departments is increasingly to help people to know the best way to use them.

4. Round-the-clock access.
24/7 access means 24/7 support. Sheffield offers 24/7 support to staff and students around the world. Challenges arising from this include staffing 24/7 services, resilience of systems, SLAs, cost, energy usage and maintenance windows (i.e. when can we turn services off?).

5. Mobility. The biggest challenge of increasing mobility is the diversity of operating systems and devices. Application developers say to hit 70% of the mobile market, an application would need to be tested on 300 devices. Collaboration has to be the key for mobile application development in higher education.

6. Data security. Increased access and mobility bring greater challenges in terms of data security, in particular for information security (confidentiality, availability, integrity). Considerable risk is involved (data being lost or accidentally made public). IT/Web teams need to play a key role in education – telling people how to protect data.

7. Legislation Chris has blogged extensively about the Digital Economy act 2010 and believes that unless some of the definitions are clarified it could cause major problems for the HE sector. Is a university classified as an ISP? Or a ‘subscriber’? How a university is classified will determine significantly how it responds to alleged copyright infringements and complaints.

8. Reducing carbon footprints. Web/IT departments need to identify and implement energy saving measures in areas such as green IT, printing, efficient data centres, improving video conferencing (particularly individual-to-group), reducing power usage, virtualisation (using fewer, bigger servers).

What does it all mean?

We need to be more flexible/agile, which means changing the way we do things. The days of the two-year development projects have gone. We should now be asking:”If it can’t be done in six months then should we do it at all?”
We need to make things simpler. Complexity is one of the reasons why shared services don’t happen. There are many examples of departments reinventing the wheel (such as devolved support, data centres and procurement in departments).

We should aim for business processes improvement, without seeing technology as the ‘silver bullet’ that will solve every problem.

Different delivery models are needed. We should encourage more self-service (e.g. online helpdesk/diagnostics, remote access helpdesk) and look to managed services, outsourcing, out-hosting and the cloud.
Hard decisions will need to be made. For example, cloud services may not be as good but allow IT providers to focus efforts on teaching and research (e.g. improving VLE rather than in-house email system).

The future

In future, IT services will no longer be the gatekeepers, but the facilitators and educators. Innovation is a must: we can’t afford to just ‘keep the lights on’. It is important to get the balance right. It would be tempting in this climate to cut back on innovation, but failure to innovate carries a greater risk

You can follow Chris on Twitter on @cloggingchris and read her her blog: From a Distance.

Written by Lynda Bewley

Opening Comments: Brian Kelly

7:14 pm in plenaries by kirsty-pitkin

Brian Kelly

Brian looking relaxed prior to his opening presentation

Brian Kelly opened IWMW10 by taking us back in time to 1997, when the new labour government came to power, the mantra was “education, education, education” and the Institutional Web Management Workshop was born. Kelly emphasised that we have seen 13 years of “good times” in higher education since then, with a lot of investment across the public sector and higher education, followed closely by technical innovation. He also noted the move toward the web becoming mission critical for many of our institutions, becoming embedded into the way we do things. Kelly also noted the amount of JISC investment in IT within the sector.

As part of our journey back in time, Kelly demonstrated the Memento plugin, which enables users to browse the web of the past using a slider to move backwards in time. He showed us a University of Sheffield webpage created not long after the first IWMW event, illustrating what we were doing back then, and how far we have moved on since then.

Much of the innovation that we have seen has been supported by funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), which included many of the national services such as Mimas and JISCMail. JISC has been around since 1993, but Kelly challenged us to think about how it might need to be described and justified if it were to be invented today. He highlighted the key language features that would be likely to be included, defining it as “…an example of a centralised shared service which provides economies of scale and is pro-active in promoting and delivering innovation across the higher and further education sector. Kelly emphasised that these are this is the type of language we need to be using to reflect the new political agenda.

Kelly introduced another JISC funded project, the Guide to Web Preservation (#jiscpowr), which was officially launched today. He drew particular attenion to the way that this report is being made available: through PDF, JISCPress (therefore enabling comment) and for purchase via Lulu.com. The use of services like Lulu.com interested him, as it shows a possible route for the use of commercial services to compliment our own services as funding gets cut.

Kelly then reminded us of some of the themes IWMW has addressed in previous years, noting that last year was the only year when an appropriate theme was not really clear, following consecutive themes about growth. However, this year the theme was obvious because the times they are a-changing. In particular, the importance of the social web with the focus on the individual has surprised many institutions since those early days and we have only started to explore this issue in the last few years. This has also affected the community surrounding IWMW, with the traditional community sharing and supporting space of JISCMail falling out of popular use. We need to think about where the online community is now to help support each other and share both successes and failures.

Today we are in turbulent times. It is no longer “education, education, education”, it is now “cuts, cuts, cuts”, with concerns about the global recession and climate change impacting what we do. Cabinet ministers have been told to expect 40% cuts in their respective budgets, so Kelly warned us to look at the people around us and question who will still be here next year, and how we are are going to respond to these cuts.

Kelly feels that the key for web managers is to focus on innovation, explaining that IWMW represents a safe area for experimentation and a forum for seeing innovation demonstrated in practice, particularly in the area of the mobile web. He challenged us to tag any #eureka moments we may experience throughout the event to share in each other’s insights. He also outlined some of the mobile web applications that would be use throughout the event – including geo-tagging and a QR code team game devised by Mike Ellis.

Next, Kelly outlined some of the questions he hoped the event would cover. As the government expects shared services, community becomes an important issue. We need to consider this community and how we might work together better. There is also the question of openness: not just of our experiences, but also our data. There will also be questions about digital preservation and the future role of remote and amplified events. Specific to IWMW as an event, Kelly outlined how he and Marieke Guy see this event, but asked what is the future of IWMW? Should the commercial sector take responsibility for professional development? Will new models evolve? He discussed how the role of the IWMW sponsors currently fits into this issue.

Finally, with a slide stating: “There will be no miracles here”, Brian declared IWMW10 open.

Brian Kelly’s slides are available at Slideshare here

A recording of Brian’s presentation is available here.

by guest

Plenary 2: Are web managers still needed when everyone is a web 'expert'?

10:02 am in plenaries by guest

In these cash-strapped times, I believe any sensible Institution should be increasing their web professionals as they can provide many efficiencies and savings by web enabling processes and reducing printing costs (among other things).

So do you find that you are less valued than you used to be or more? Are you seen as the person who can save money by web enabling processes, or as someone who can be replaced by one of those web ‘experts’ who lurk in every organisation?

If this is the case then you will benefit from my plenary Are web managers still needed when everyone is a web ‘expert’?

See you there.

Susan Farrell