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by b.kelly

Linked Data and RDFa

5:35 pm in workshops by b.kelly

As part of the recent government announcement on IT cutbacks the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced that it is to cut funding for the Institute of Web Science at Southampton University, worth £5 million this year. Despite this news, Tim Berners-Lee has suggested that the “Web Science future is bright” and pointed out that:

It is clear from the new Government’s Big Society declaration, the Coalition Partnership and speeches such as David Cameron’s to TED before the election that open government data is a high priority. Our understanding is that the portal will in fact grow significantly in the months to come.

A View of the Linked Web of Data (image from Wikipedia)

The importance of open access to data funded by the public is, of course, applicable to the higher education sector as well as central and local government.  An understanding of the relevance of recent technological developments such as Linked Data and RDFa will therefore be important for those with responsibilities for opening up access to institutional data.

At this year’s event we are featuring two workshop sessions which address this topic:

  • Adrian StevensonThom Bunting and Mark Dewey will facilitate a session on “RDFa from theory to practice which ”will introduce the concepts of Linekd Data and RDFa and provide examples of applications which can be used to produce and consume RDFa Web resources”.
  • The following day participants at a session on “Looking at Linked Data facilitated by Chris Gutteridgeshould come away from the session with an idea of what is and is not practical, and some of the technical and political issues involved in providing useful Linked Data“.

We have scheduled these two sessions to be held on different days so that participants wishing to quickly gain an understanding of developments in this area will be able to do as at this year’s event.

NOTE I have just spotted that BBC News item published earlier today which informs us that “David Cameron to make more government data available“. David Cameron is quoted as saying that “So we’re going to rip off that cloak of secrecy and extend transparency as far and as wide as possible. By bringing information out into the open you’ll be able to hold government and public services to account“. I feel that it will be important for Universities to be pro-active in ensuring that their data is open and available for reuse by others.

by b.kelly

Mobile Technologies

4:50 pm in plenaries, workshops by b.kelly

Campus M Mobile App

Importance of Mobile Technologies

The high level of interest in use of mobile technologies by higher educational institutions is apparent from the popularity of the recent Eduserv Symposium 2010: The Mobile University.

As described by Andy Powell in a post on The implications of mobile… or “carry on up the smart phone” which summarised the event, Chris Sexton (IT Services Director of the University of Sheffield and the opening speaker at IWMW 2010) felt that “the question is not, ‘can we afford to support mobile?’ but, ‘can we afford not to?’“.

But what are the issues which need to be addressed? And what can we learn from existing work in this area across the sector?

Plenary Talk

A plenary talk by Damian Steer, ILRT, University of Bristol on “Mobile Web and Campus Assistant” will use the Mobile Campus Assistant as a case study. This was created by staff at ILRT, University of Bristol in order to “make time and location sensitive information available to students via their mobiles and location-aware smart phones. For example, where is the nearest available PC? When is the next bus to the hall of residence? Which library is open now?“. The talk will also provide an introduction to the mobile web, examine the capabilities of current mobile phones, how they are being used and who uses them.

Workshop Sessions

There will be a number of workshop session on use of mobile technologies at the event, each lasting for 90- minutes including:

  • A session on “Location Based Services Without the Cocoa” will explore the potential of  (smart phone) mobile devices which have location sensors such as GPS, compasses and accelerometers and how this has generated an explosion of new location- based services ranging from simple navigational maps to augmented reality.
  • Another session on “Stylesheets for mobile/smartphones” will explore the ways in which stylesheets can be used which will give a better experience for users of mobile devices.
  • A session on “Mobile Apps vs Mobile Web” will explore how the Mobile Web is shaping up to deliver critical institutional information and address questions such as “Where does teaching and learning come in?” and “Do we need an app for that?
  • Designing, developing and testing a location aware learning activity using QR Codes” which will highlight another aspect of mobile technologies – how QR Codes can provide a low threshold technology for the creation of  interactive, location aware learning activities, including applications such as campus or building induction tours, health and safety tutorials in lab, and off- campus learning activities.

We have scheduled these workshops so that two of the sessions take place on Monday 12 July with the other two on the following day  to ensure that those with a particular interest in mobile technologies will be able to choose from a number of options.

by m.guy

Economic Challenges

3:20 pm in plenaries, workshops by m.guy

Last week the new Coalition government unveiled their £6.25bn spending cuts. The Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) has the Higher Education budget down for £200 million in efficiencies.  It is likely to be a very difficult few years for all working in the HE sector and the Web management community is likely to be no exception. We have yet to truely see where the budget cuts will fall but there is little doubt that finances will be tight, resources will be limited and there may be many more restrictions on the way we work.

What affect will this have on our institutional Web sites? What effect will it have on our community? What effect will it have on our jobs?

This year’s IWMW theme is the Web in Turbulent Times. Our economic challenges have us set for bumpy ride so we have a number of plenary talks and parallel sessions that aim to equip Web managers with the know-how to justify their worth and make prudent savings which still allow them to still provide an efficient service.

Plenary Talks

On Monday 12 July we open with the ‘The Web in Turbulent Times’ session. Our opening plenary by Chris Sexton, Director of Corporate Information and Computing Services at the University of Sheffield, will set the scene and talk frankly about what lies ahead.

Susan Farrell‘s talk on Are web managers still needed when everyone is a web ‘expert’? follows. Susan points out that now that budgets are tight managers may start to look at devolved publishing models and fail to see that employing skilled web professionals is vital. Surely everyone is a ‘web expert’ now that 74% of the UK population spend an average of 13 hours a week on the web? Are web professionals really needed? Susan’s talk will consider how and why web professionals should actively fight for recognition.

On Tuesday in the ‘Web in Difficult Time’s session Ranjit Sidhu, founder of statistics into Decisions asks  So what do you do exactly?. Ranjit’s talk, like Susan’s,  aims to help us justify the role of Web teams, but he does this by seeing if there are lessons to be taken from the commercial sector. He also proposes that web teams need to claw back roles given away freely in the past, which may  require a serious change of mindset.

Paul Boag, Creative Director of Headscape, then offers a more practical approach to budget cuts by saying No money? No matter and helping Web managers to Improve your website with next to no cash. Paul will be offering up 5 powerful techniques which include enabling us to understand the benefits of realigning rather than redesigning and start breaking down complex projects into simple phases.

Parallel Sessions

A workshop session on Developing Your Personal Contingency Plan: Beat The Panic facilitated by Keith Doyle of Extreme Usability will take a positive look at how sometimes forced situations (like redundancy) can allow you to take a positive look at your future.  Keith has experienced being made redundant, finding work and providing work. He will share some of his experiences and then work with the participants to build their ideas. This will include: making the most of where we work now; portfolios and interviews; setting up a business.

Demonstrating effeciveness is now key in order to retain finances. The workshop on Engagement, Impact, Value: Measuring and Maximising Impact Using the Social Web facilitated by Brian Kelly will explore ways in which usage of such social networking services can be measured and ways in which such metrics can be used in order to enhance the impact of institutional activities.

The economic climate may be gloomy but IWMW is hoping to make it a little less so!