2014 Conferences: HighEdWeb and UNC CAUSE

Fall is one of those crazy times of year when everything seems to happen at once and the past few weeks and moths have been no exception. In case you haven’t heard, we hired a new guy, Brian. Wohoo! Welcome, Brian!

In addition I had back-to-back conferences in October: HighEdWeb in Portland October 18-22 and then UNC CAUSE, October 29-31. A quick recap of both events…

HighEdWeb

Brilliant. Loved it. Two thumbs up. Would recommend. This was my first time at HighEdWeb but it turns out it’s the perfect conference for the job I do. It’s people from all over the world who work in higher education and deliver content and functionality via the web. The people there were great and their problems were my problems and we had lots to talk about.

I actually started HighEdWedb with some leadership training the two days before the conference and I think that was helpful. I was able to meet some people that I could check in with during the conference but we also had a very diverse range of backgrounds and skills. The leadership sessions covered everything from management to governance for people in different types and sizes of schools.

The conference itself wasn’t as technical as I kind of wanted but that’s not really the point of the conference – a fact I was reminded of after going to a couple sessions. We spend so much time solving technical problems we’ve forgotten the importance¬†of some of the other elements of site-building: the content and architecture, usability, training, day-to-day organization, and planning for the larger picture. It was these messages in particular that I tried to bring back and I really think our processes and habits need to improve. I spend so much time putting out fires it’s hard to get focused so this is one of the areas I’m working on.

UNC CAUSE

This was not as relevant to me as it has been in past years. There was a lot of Learning Management and technology in the classroom in this year’s sessions.

There were a couple that related to campus web content that were very helpful. One was UNC-Charlotte’s sessions outlining their implementation of Drupal for campus. Sounds like it’s been largely adopted, much like the way App St. has done it and that’s fabulous. I don’t think that model works for NCSU but there were elements of it I really liked (such as the way their web staff works with campus clients) and I’m always intrigued by the economies of scale that are possible with a single web solution.
The other session was UNC-CH’s demo of their WordPress multisite environment. It’s so similar to our (and was in fact the inspiration for me to start up our Blog and Hosted WP services) so it was really nice to see where they are a couple years down the road. We really need to hang out with these guys more often.

That’s my recap for now but keep checking back — Brian and I are working on a couple things for the site and we hope to do a much better job of keeping this site updated with new experiences, projects, etc.