HighEdWebDev Conference

Rochester, New York, October 14-17, 2007

Beautiful Downtown Rochester


Once more I made the long pilgrimage to upstate New York to attend the HighEdWebDev Conference, a gathering of some 410 higher education Web developers from 21 states (and a few foreign countries).

Hot topics were home page management in emergencies, social networking software, and Web 2.0. The following are some personal perspective notes on the discussions.

Crisis Communications and the Web: The Virginia Tech Experience

One of our guest speakers was Michael Dame, Director of Web Communications at Virginia Tech (WCVT), who described events at Virginia Tech in response to the mass shooting in April, 2007. Some key points are the following:

Bright colored leaves
Leaves in Western Pennsylvania

Web 2.0 and Social Networking in Higher Education

The importance of personal outcomes

Apple's George Cook, a consulting engineer for Apple's education sales division, kicked off the Web2.0, social networking discussions by first defining Web 2.0 as Web activities involving sharing, media, interactivity, and live presentation. Then he asserted that success in these activities is determined by the user's personal outcomes, including socialization, usefulness in the user's context, engaging to the user, and building connections with others. Focusing on technology without nurturing these outcomes will be pointless. Sites he felt addressed the personal outcomes of their users included the following:

Carleton explores Facebook

Mark Heiman of Carleton College talked about Carleton's exploration of social networking software. Interest in building social networking among all Carleton-ites is strong, but how to go about it? Could Facebook be the social arena?

Carleton is experimenting with ELGG, an open-source social environment with lots of features (tagging, rss, friends, communities, aggregator, branding). Integration with Carleton's other activities is the goal (not isolation within a product's garden walls). The trial ELGG site is at http://elgg.carleton.edu/.

Fall color in New York

Lessons from a successful blogger

Larry Borowsky, who manages the successful sports blog Viva El Birdos, gave a half day workshop on blogs and online communities in higher education. Examples of sites we visited and discussed are the following:

Some observations about these sites:

Larry had some general rules for launching and conducting a blog:

Finally, Larry differentiated between the social models of blogs and Facebook-like environments.

Much more I could talk about but I will stop there.