Just Two Days Left for Early-Bird Registration!

Discounted early bird prices for higher education attendees are only available through September 15 — only two days from now! — so register today to join us Oct. 14-17, 2007, in Rochester, N.Y., for the only conference for higher education Web professionals, by higher education Web professionals. When you register by Sept. 15, you’ll be securing:

  • Significant early bird discount as a member of a higher education institution.
  • The opportunity to hear our 2007 conference keynote speaker George Cook, national consulting engineer for Apple Inc’s U.S. education sales division.
  • The ability to attend a very special presentation with Michael Dame, director of Web communications at Virginia Tech, who will speak about the Web and crisis management.
  • Access to five presentation tracks containing a total of 65 peer-created presentations, as well as the exciting HighEdWebDev annual poster session. You can also register for the additional pre- and post-conference workshops, a true value-added opportunity!
  • Your place in an exciting community of higher education web professionals, which provides opportunities to network, socialize and collaborate with others in your specialized field.
  • Participation in a conference experience unlike any other, with outstanding professional and social opportunities and surprises yet to be announced!

Register by September 15 to get all this and more. Don’t delay! And we’ll see you in Rochester in October.

colleen
conference committee

PS: While you’re at it, be sure to reserve your hotel room — they’re going fast!

A Request from Once-and-Future Conference Presenter Mark Greenfield

Hi All

I will again be presenting at HighEdWebDev and this year I’m going to try something new. For several years, I have been looking for a way to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, my use of PowerPoint. Instead I want to utilize some of the principles of an unconference (See Understanding the Unconference). I’m looking for ways to leverage the “Wisdom of Crowds” to get the audience more involved. So instead of 60 minutes of me talking with PowerPoint illustrating the key points, I will be using the following format:

  • Participants will have an opportunity to see the ideas and themes prior to the conference and be encouraged to provide comments, suggestions and feedback which will be incorporated into the final presentation. This will be done through a series of posts on my blog at markagreenfield.com.
  • I will follow the 20/20 format of Pecha Kucha – 20 slides for 20 seconds each for a total time of 6:40 seconds. The remainder of the time will be for audience conversation and dialogue (For more information on Pecha Kucha, see del.icio.us/markgr/PechaKucha )
  • I have created a channel on Jaiku that we will use before, during, and after the presentation to further the conversation. The URL is jaiku.com/channel/highedwebdev2007.

This year’s presentation is called “Higher Ed Web Development Gets Flattened, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New World Order. The basic premise is that the same forces of globalization that have flattened the business world will soon flatten higher education and there will certainly be repercussions for our profession. The goal is to explore what our jobs may look like in the future, and what we can do to prepare.

I will begin posting the ideas and themes to my blog in the next few days, and I look forward to your feedback and participation. I invite you to join me in this experiment in Presentation 2.0.

Thanks,

Mark

Mark A. Greenfield
Director of Web Services
State University of New York at Buffalo

Web Accessibility

W3 has been working on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2 for several years. Organized quite differently from WCAG 1, WCAG 2 is centered on four design principles:

  • Perceivable – information and user interface components must be perceivable by users
  • Operable – User interface components must be operable by users
  • Understandable – Information and operation of user interface must be understandable by users
  • Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies

Each principle offers descriptive guidelines and success criteria. The W3 categorized the success criteria into three levels: A, AA or AAA. The goal would be to develop web sites that pass as many criteria as possible with a best case scenario of achieving the highest AAA compliance level.

The standards apply to more than just HTML; they include CSS, multimedia, SMIL and scripts. This should help developers using newer techniques become accessible. The standards were also developed to be more “testable” in hopes that would make them more adoptable.

Not everyone is happy with WCAG 2. See the WCAG Samurai Errata posted in June 2007 as an example – these suggested updates to WCAG 1 are offered as an alternative to WCAG 2.

W3’s first WCAG 2 Last Call Working Draft was published May 2007. Once they address all the comments, they plan to publish a second WCAG 2 Last Call Working Draft in few months.

Overall, I’m glad that the standards are being discussed and updated. How they’ll end up is anyone’s guess . . . W3 thinks WCAG 2 may be completed in early 2008.

– sara
conference committee

HighEdWebDev 2007: Presentations for everyone!

The program for this year’s conference, HighEdWebDev 2007: Collaborate. Participate. Innovate. , is jammed with more content than ever. There were over 130 proposals submitted for the 65 presentation spots; many thanks to all who submitted, and congratulations to all of those accepted. These presentations are divided into five tracks/themes, so during most of the conference’s scheduled presentation time blocks, you will have five topics from which to choose. The tracks’ titles say it all: it is a highly diverse program covering applications, standards, marketing, management, professional development, social applications, content, usability, accessibility, design and the perennial favorite,”technical propeller hats required“.

We also have 20 poster presentations already confirmed, and and for those of you who have never attended we have to tell you that the poster session is always one of the conference highlights. You can still submit a poster proposal, but this opportunity will close soon. The poster session is kind of like a science fair for web topics and is a great way to share a project you are working on. To send in your own poster proposal, visit the proposal web page .

And of course, don’t forget to resgister today for HighEdWebDev 2007: Collaborate. Participate. Innovate.

2007 will be a great conference… I’ll see you there!

– Doug Tschopp
Program Chair

On Format Wars and Abandoned Promise

Many of us in the Web world are aware of the importance of standards. Those of us who follow technology may be aware of a standards war being waged worldwide by Microsoft and their XML file format (OOXML) against the OpenDocument format (ODF) used by Open Office and others. I don’t personally understand the difference, but essentially these two competing formats do almost exactly the same thing, politics aside.

Pick your winner:

  1. VHS versus Beta
  2. DVD vs. DIVX (not the one that’s around today)
  3. HDDVD versus BluRay
  4. XHTML versus HTML 5

HTML 5? No, that’s not a typo. The HTML format has been resurrected by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (predominantly players in the Web browser market, it seems to me) to accomplish the same sorts of things that we can accomplish in HTML 4 or XHTML today. I’m not sure what they hope to accomplish with canvas and article tags, ins and del tags, progress and meter tags, and more that we can’t accomplish today through reasonable means.

The section and nav tags seem to have some sense about them. Then again, I did read up on the XHTML 2 draft a while back, and sections and unnumbered headers (h tags) seemed to make a lot of sense in ways that numbered headers never did.

One direction that could have promise is the improvement of forms on the browser-side. However, the security side of me worries that this could open up a new class of Web vulnerabilities on the sever side of the equation, when we start to assume that the browser will be doing our error-checking for us and begin to trust it. How many of us want to do error checking twice, once in the display code and again in the application logic? Are we finally going to get an input type of date? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I think this new draft of HTML is a portent that we’re about to miss out on the real promise of XHTML. How many content management systems out there use XSLT to transfer data from some intermediary format to the XHTML pages those CMSes produce?

How much easier would portlet development be if we could submit a SQL query to pull XML data from a student out of our ERP system and specify an XSLT to convert it to HTML, instead of having to code every little step in Java? Perhaps this isn’t strictly going away.

In some ways, I think we’re fully expecting HTML to continue to be vaguely XML-y, so perhaps all hope is not lost. In other ways, I think we’re giving up – or at least the Web browser makers are giving up on us.

Some of the commentary I’ve seen is that HTML 5 is looking to handle bad markup in better ways that XHTML or HTML 4 did. I think this is the ultimate problem. How many of us actually check our conformance to Web standards every time we post a new page? Every time we write an application?

I fear that this divided future is the price we’re going to pay for our own inability to write conforming (X)HTML. I am reminded of an old browser evaluation that looked at different Web pages, and the Web page with the fewest problems across all browsers was the only one in the test that had valid HTML markup.

In some ways, I think standards are a losing battle. Standards will always be trumped by what works. In many ways, we’re in the marketing business. If our site is technically correct but doesn’t sell people on our respective colleges and universities, we run the real risk of going out of business. Unfortunately, we can’t always have that warm-n-fuzzy feeling we get when we do the right thing.

I am not afraid of progress. I think I’m tired of futile conflict. And I refuse to make investment in a technology until there is a clear victor for the future. (Pay no attention to the TiVo in my living room.)

Perhaps someone else should decide on the future of HTML, and not worry about it. Meanwhile, I’ve got a Web site to run. I wish I knew what Web language I would be planning to use tomorrow.

– Steve Lewis
Conference Co-Chair
HighEdWeb Director

HighEdWebDev Welcomes: 2007 Keynote George Cook

George Cook of Apply, Inc.HighEdWebDev is pleased to announce the 2007 conference keynote speaker: George Cook, national consulting engineer for Apple Inc’s U.S. education sales division. As part of the Apple team since 1988, Mr. Cook regularly consults with educational institutions to develop creative applications for digital media in curriculum, research, administration and public relations activities. His work experience also includes IT project management at Cornell University and time as M.I.S. Director for a $50 million ad agency. Mr. Cook graduated with honors from Syracuse University’s computer graphics program in 1984.>

We are also pleased to announce that Michael Dame, director of Web communications at Virginia Tech, will be joining us for a special HighEdWebDev 2007: Collaborate. Participate. Innovate. presentation. Don’t miss this highly-relevant discussion about the Web, crisis management, and the challenges that face all colleges and universities in the age of communication.

On the Road Again

After a number of wonderful years in Rochester, N.Y., the HighEdWebDev conference will move to a new home in Fall 2008. Is that home in your city? The Higher Education Web Professionals Association is currently accepting proposals from sponsor groups/institutions who would like to host the 2008 conference.

Learn more about submitting a proposal to host the 2008 HighEdWebDev conference: 2008 HighEdWebDev Call for Site (PDF)

— colleen
conference committee