Back at the Backchannel

One of the many strengths of the HighEdWeb (#heweb) Conference is our passionate, engaged community.  As the core of  HighEdWeb — presenters, organizers, and attendees — our community literally IS the conference: without each of you, HighEdWeb would simply not exist.  It’s your dedication that brings us together to learn what’s new and exciting in our profession. It’s your knowledge that creates more than 65 outstanding conference presentations and workshops.  And it’s your passion for the work and for the HighEdWeb experience that feeds the #heweb “backchannel,” where observations, ideas and feedback are generously shared. It seems most appropriate that cutting-edge higher education Web professionals have been the group to embrace and purpose Web-based tools like Twitter in this manner. lndeed, the backchannel has become an excellent resource, allowing Web professionals who are able to attend HighEdWeb as well as others viewing around the world to connect in virtual space, to learn from one another’s experiences, and to continue to advance our profession.

Of course, in addition to serving as a digital community hub, the backchannel can also tell us things that are very difficult to hear, and that was certainly the case with the Twitter conversation regarding one of HighEdWeb 09’s keynote presentations. The keynote was not well-received by the community, and the backchannel reflected that in no uncertain terms.  In the weeks since the conference, this virtual, in-the-moment conversation has spawned a number of *additional,* longer-term discussions regarding topics such as what attendees expect from keynotes, to how to remain professional in backchannel communications, to what it means to embrace a truly free and open stream of communication in the digital age. All of these questions are important and, though the topics may have arisen from a less-than-optimal situation, we are glad to have the opportunity to have these conversations together.

In short, there’s been a lot to learn from the #heweb09 backchannel, for both the Association and attendees, and the conference committee is committed to applying these lessons to improve the conference for 2010 and beyond.  We are very proud of the high quality of the HighEdWeb Conference, and remain dedicated to our core mission of advancing Web professionals, technologies, and standards in higher education. If you have suggestions or would like to join us in exploring these important issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to seeing you in Cincinnati for HighEdWeb 2010.

 

Program Track Preview: Marketing, Management, and Professional Development

Continuing our series of conference program previews, today it’s time to take a closer look at the Marketing, Management, and Professional Development track — MMP in your program (#1 in your hearts).

Meet the MMP Track Chairs

  • Steve Lewis (@stebert): Though this is his first stint chairing a program track, Steve has been involved in HighEdWeb for many years now – serving as the conference co-chair during HighEdWeb’s stint in Rochester and as president of the HighEdWeb Professionals Association. In his day job, Steve is the Web manager / information security coordinator at The College at Brockport, State University of New York.
  • Lori Packer (@LoriPA): Lori is the Web editor at the University of Rochester, and has served on the HighEdWeb conference committee for five years. During the conference you can usually find her untangling neck wallets at the registration desk or searching for coffee. This year she’ll need the caffeine even more as she serves on both the conference and program committees.

Tell Us A Little About the MMP Track

The sessions in the Marketing, Management, and Professional Development track address both the goals and the processes involved in the Web development projects we all work on every day. From presenting a unified brand, to organizing and managing a Web office; from planning strategically and measuring success, to just surviving your next redesign: the MMP track offers something for anyone who’s had to take a Web project from concept to implementation.

Why Should Attendees Come to Your Track’s Sessions?

Because MMP rocks, that’s why! Because graduate school is too expensive (see The Case for Professional Development ). Because you don’t want to grow pointy hair when you become the boss.

Anything Special You Want Attendees to Know About Your Track

If you’re the “Web person” in your university’s marketing or PR office, or the “big picture guy” in the IT or Web Services shop, this track is for you. Plus, we’re both program committee newbies this year, so the tack will be flush with naïve enthusiasm – which can make a refreshing change.

 

Program Track Preview: Technical, Propeller Hats Required

In preparation for HighEdWeb 2009, we’re introducing a bit about each of the program tracks, as narrated straight from the track chairs.

Today’s featured track: Technical, Propeller Hats Required (abbreviated as “TPR” in the conference materials).

Meet the TPR Track Chair

  • John Wagner: John is Systems Programmer at Princeton University.  This is his 10th HighEdWeb conference (he first started attending in 2000).   To establish his cred for being chair of the TPR track, John wants you to know that he has been known to read computer books as “relaxing” reading while on vacation.

Tell Us A Little About the TPR Track
Technical, Propeller Hats Required will cover both technical topics and related-but-other topics that techies should find useful in working with their management.  This is a great track for anyone responsible for the technical side of Web support.

Why Should Attendees Attend This Track’s Sessions?
Well, our attendees get a chance to enter our raffle for great swag,  get up-to-date technical information,  and will learn a LOT about how to better operate with their management.

Anything Special You Want Attendees to Know About TPR?
“Propeller Hats Required” is not just a title, it’s a track way of life!  We will once again be holding the (now traditional) raffle for clothing items, including the much-revered propeller hat —  but this year the hats do not have propeller, exactly.  To see what they DO have, you’ll just have to attend HighEdWeb 2009 and find out!

Want to hear more?  Come to HighEdWeb 2009 and check out the TPR track for yourself!  Registration is limited, so sign up today.

 

Program Track Preview: Applications & Standards

In preparation for HighEdWeb 2009, we’re introducing a bit about each of the program tracks, as narrated straight from the track chairs.

Today’s featured track: Applications & Standards (abbreviated as “APS” in the conference materials).

Meet the APS Track Chairs

  • Shelley Keith: Shelley is Web Site Coordinator at Southern Arkansas University.  This is her fourth HighEdWeb, and her third time on the Program Committee. In web development since 1994 and higher ed since 2004, Shelley is a crackberry evangelist, MMORPG addict, pitbull advocate, chronic over-Tweeter, and has given up any hope of ever getting her office organized.  Be sure to follow Shelley on Twitter: @shelleykeith
  • Glenn E. Donaldson Jr.: Glenn is SIS Integration Director & Associate Director – AD&S at The Ohio State University.  He was involved with WebDev @ Indiana since 1997, and has been with HighEdWeb since the merging of the two conferences. Glenn has been a track chair on the program committee (and in this particular track) for 7-8 years, and has been with The Ohio State University full-time for 15 years. He loves to sing, dance, and have a fun time — as committee members, past attendees and photos on Flickr can attest!

Tell Us A Little About the APS Track
Applications and Standards will cover topics ranging from using Moodle to Section 508 to connecting with students and benefitting from those interactions. If you’re interested in CMS options be sure to catch APS 3, Implementing Reason CMS with Small Teams & Small Budgets.

Why Should Attendees Come to Your Track’s Sessions?
We’re more technical than those marketing and social networking folks, without all the propeller hat requirement of TPS (Technical: Propeller Hats Required).

Anything Special You Want Attendees to Know About Your Track?
We’re a great track for the Lone-Ranger Web professional, the hands-on non-programming site manager, and those who are expected to come up with great ideas.  Also, there will be candy, and maybe a cool chachka giveaway … or two.

A Note from Glenn
This is my first year at #heweb without my partner in crime Jim Gorman (University at Buffalo). I’ll certainly miss him but I warmly welcome Shelley to the track and know she will continue the fun times with me.

Want to hear more?  Come to HighEdWeb 2009 and check out theAPS track for yourself!  Registration is limited, so sign up today.

Program Track Preview: Content (aka TNT)

We’re only a few weeks(!) away from HighEdWeb 2009, and we thought a great way to get ready would be to introduce a bit about each of the program tracks, as narrated straight from the track chairs.

So, first track up: Content (abbreviated as “TNT” in the conference materials).

Meet the TNT Track Chairs

  • Brian Heaton: Brian is content management programmer/analyst in the office of Web and new media at Missouri State University.  This is Brian’s eleventh HighEdWeb, and his ninth time on the Program Committee.  Some fun facts about Brian include that he likes Hawaii-themed parties, is a  D-I collegiate volleyball referee, and is proud to be a 45+ gallon blood product donor.  Be sure to follow Brian on Twitter: @bdhvb
  • Michelle Tarby: Michelle is director of Web services in the office of information technology at Le Moyne College. This is Michelle’s sixth HighEdWeb and her fifth on the program committee. Michelle has many interests: she likes all things social media and is a baseball fanatic, which explains how she became a “Little League coach extraordinaire!” Follow Michelle on Twitter: @tarbym

Why Should Attendees Come to Your Track’s Sessions?
Well, it’s the best track, as always! It’s all about content: maintaining it, helping others maintain it, making content work smarter not harder, and keeping it current. After all, content is king! Bells and whistles don’t mean a thing if users cannot find the content they need.

Anything Special You Want Attendees to Know About Your Track?
The TNT track will be bursting with dynamite information from fiery presenters. Hang out with us and your content will explode on your audience like fireworks in the sky! (oh, and there will be candy … just sayin’!)

Want to hear more?  Come to HighEdWeb 2009 and check out the TNT track for yourself!  Registration is limited, so sign up today.

 

Worth 1000 Words: Cheep! Cheap(er)! Cheep!

Welcome to our weekly feature, “Worth 1000 Words,” where  you can catch a glimpse of the wonder that is HighEdWeb.

registerearly

Ok, so this picture is cheating a bit but we wanted to make sure you were fully aware: the end of early bird is coming!  The end of early bird is coming! Register for HighEdWeb 2009: Open. Connected. before August 31 to make sure that you get the worm registration discount. Because who doesn’t love getting really great professional development AND making the most of (let’s face it) limited travel budgets?

Of course, you can still register even after the early-bird period is over; conference registration will be open until mid-September.  But why not register by August 31, save $125 on your registration fee, and make your plans to get thee to Milwaukee?!

 

Why I Attend HighEdWeb (& I hope you will, too)

In the spirit of full disclosure: I’ve been attending the HighEdWeb conference for the past five years, and have been a member of the conference committee for four. Because of this, you might guess that I’m a tad biased in my high opinion of the conference.

You’d probably be right.

However, I like to think that this also means I have a detailed understanding of HighEdWeb: what it is, how it works, why it matters … and why, in my humble opinion, it’s one of the strongest, best, most engaging conferences out there for Web professionals.

I attend HighEdWeb for a number of reasons, some professional, some personal, all important:

  • It makes my brain hurt. If I know one thing about HighEdWeb, it’s this: I will leave at the end of four days with a lot more knowledge than when I arrived. There are so many presentations on such a wide variety of topics that it’s like an absolutely feast for my mind. Even the “casual” chats over meals and in the halls yield great ideas to mull over! And better yet, I always return home with solid info to help me demonstrate the measurable value of sending me to this kind of event.
  • Blood, sweat and tears make it run. HighEdWeb is not-for-profit and a purely volunteer-run conference. I like knowing that dedicated, passionate colleagues, tops in their fields – from the conference organizers, to presenters and all other volunteers — believe so much in this conference that they put in hours and hours of their own time to make it work.
  • You’re there. One of the best parts of HighEdWeb is the opportunity to spend time with all of you amazing colleagues from across the country. I might have breakfast with a person I know from a past conference, lunch with friends from UWebd, and dinner with a group I’ve never met before but with whom I share a common interest. And then, when I go home, the conversation continues on Twitter and in other social spaces. Being able to network with some of the most exciting, interesting folks in the profession? Priceless.
  • It’s a lot of fun. Hey, work is serious business, but I like to laugh and enjoy myself as much as the next higher ed Web pro. Friends and I sometimes affectionately refer to HighEdWeb as “Geek Camp,” and with all of the social events, good food, friendly personalities, and potential late-night pranks & hijinks, it lives up to that name.

There are many great conferences out there. It’s often hard to choose just one to attend but many of us DO have to choose as travel budgets continue to rapidly fade away – ironic, since these days professional development is more important than ever. My choice is to go to Milwaukee and HighEdWeb 2009 for all the reasons above, and I hope you’ll go, too — not just because it’s a great conference (it is!) but also, on a purely selfish level, because then I get to meet you, to share ideas, and to maybe share a beer and make a new friend and contact in this crazy, wonderful profession of ours.

I invite you to share why YOU attend HighEdWeb, and your thoughts on what makes for good professional development for Web pros. Feel free to leave a comment here or @ColB on Twitter. And I’ll see you in Milwaukee.