Returning back to London from another IWMW there are many memories and lots to describe to my fellow colleagues and those who couldn’t attend. The main organiser Brian Kelly (a legend of the institutional web) again made me feel the romantic and the passion of working within a University’s web team and in general for the educational sector.
There were a number of cool ideas that we as Web Team, could use in our work in the future.
This years conference was again very much in Open Data and Mooc’s and how through Mooc’s we could open the data across the world. “Education itself should be made free to everybody”, as described by Dr Cable Green – who presented the business and policy case for OER. Dr Green helps Governments ensure high quality education and he wants to make people more open. In his presentation at the beginning of the conference, he presented the value of education and its benefits. Web is a valuable tool that helps us to achieve.
Unfortunately the increase of fees is against the dream of openness, but here the web comes to be useful and helps to make it the dream true. Unesco recently added the right to education, together with all other rights. Mooc’s recently (Coursera) make courses available to all. In order to make education available to all we need to overcome bureaucracy. We need to get lawyers to add copyrights and the right to use. Recently Dr Cable Green’s company – the Creative Commons – helped to overcome those obstacles by creating a website that issues copyrights. Those come as widgets which can be used as widgets and so far YouTube, Flikr, and other commercial websites make use of them.
I am sure that those widgets with copyright info can help to distribute the work of phd students. While I was having my coffee around and outside of the lecture theater I heard many web developers giving stories of PHD students being so happy because somebody downloaded their work. Those students they were not having any issues with people reading their work, they were not thinking that somebody could steal their ideas but mostly they were thinking that this PHD thesis could be read instead of falling to another bookcase and get dusted. The power of web right there!
Later on I found more on Mozilla work by Dr Doug Belsaw and the Open Badges. What a cool idea! This is another widget that can be downloaded by Mozilla ( A non profit organisation). This will help people more graphically show a visual representation of achievements. Just like for those that play Playstation or XBOX can see what kind of achievements friends of them have achieved on games like NBA JAM or FIFA 2013! Mozilla does the middle tier job for this project. Those widgets they just dont show what you have achieved but also the process that someone took to achieve them, so inner stages of achievement.
These are currently used by NASA, Chicago Town and other big organsations. And to issue a badge you can use the badg.us.
Dr Doug also talked about the Mozilla Festival on the 25-27th of October which will be a good opportunity to see more of the Mozilla foundation work. Some of the very good ideas were badges for the CMS editors (I hope my editors don’t read this because I am ready to give some!).
Later on the same first day there was more talk about Mooc’s and the open data plus how we as web developers we could support researchers through openness.
Some other discussions touched the subject of Accessibility and how we should motivate people by passing the message like at the moment ” 6.9 million disabled people of working age which represents 19% of the working population” (http://www.dlf.org.uk/content/key-facts). The new websites built also mobile devices and by making them responsive we are helping a lot to achieve a higher accessibility and therefore we make our websites accessible to all and on all devices.
Again this year there were conversations about the responsive design and examples of work were shown by David Conforth and the University of Cambridge. We need to built with the main variable being the content and around the content built our designs. David gave an amazing idea of how Photoshop is now becoming a bit useless and that drawing on a piece of paper is so much better. I have already seen this on our team through Rik and others.
At the end I would like to say how sad I feel that IWMW might not happen next year as UCOLN stops funding it. Brian and others are trying at this point find funds to make it happen again next year and I hope that will succeed. I am sure Brian going up his hill even on weekends, will be able to go up the hill again and again!