As mentioned in a post on “IWMW 2018: Participants’ Feedback” we have started to publish a series of posts on the IWMW blog about the IWMW 2018 event which took place on 11-13 July 2018 at the University of York. The first post summarised the overall feedback we received about the event. This post summarises the feedback received for the plenary sessions.

IWMW 2018: The Plenary Sessions

The IWMW 2018 event featured ten plenary talks together with a plenary panel session a series of lightning talks. The plenary sessions were grouped into a series of themes:

  1. Learning From Stories: The opening session featured two plenary talks, following the event introduction: “10 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier (In My Career)” by Alison Kerwin, University of York and “Telling the Birkbeck Story: How Customer Journey Mapping Helped Us Develop Our New Approach To Web” by Jane Van de Ban, Birkbeck & Chris Scott, Headscape.
  2. Working With Others: The morning of the second day of the event began with a 90 minute panel session on “Blending Internal and External Services“. The session was chaired by Mike McConnell and featured contributions from  Piero Tintori, Adrian Binzaru, Russell, Sneezum, Carley Hollis and Claire Gibbons.
  3. Effective Digital Teams: After the coffee break on the second day there were two plenary talks on “Understanding Invisible Labour” by Gareth Edwards, University of Greenwich and “Stress…and what to do when everything starts falling apart” by Andrew Millar, University of Dundee. Following these two plenary talks we saw a new feature at an IWMW event: a series of Lightning Talks, lasting for up to 5 minutes.
  4. It’s About Content!: There was one talk in this session: “Don’t be Content with Average Content” by Dave Musson, The Native.
  5. Institutional Case Studies: The final morning featured a series of case studies: “User Needs, Content Design and Culture Change: Digital Transformation at the University of Southampton” by
    Ayala Gordon, University of Southampton & Padma Gillen, Llibertat; “Student Recruitment Enquiries in CRM” by Megan McFarlane & Mike McConnell, University of Aberdeen and “Hands off – it’s ours! Taking back the reins” by Keith McDonald, University of London.
  6. Revisiting Content: The final plenary talk on “Resurrecting the Content King” was given by Jenni Taylor, Cardiff University.

Note that the slides for the talks are available on the abstract page for each talk. In addition video recordings will be available for the individual talks in early August.

The Feedback for the Plenary Sessions

Over the 22 years the IWMW event has been running we have provided feedback to the individual plenary speakers. We are continuing to do that this year. In addition we are publishing this post which summarises the feedback we have received.

The three plenary speakers who received the highest evaluation scores (on a score of 1 for poor to 5 for excellent) were:

  1. Alison Kerwin, University of York for her talk on “10 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier (In My Career)” which received (an average of 4.76).
  2. Andrew Millar, University of Dundee for his talk on “Stress…and what to do when everything starts falling apart” which received (an average of 4.73).
  3. Gareth Edwards, University of Greenwich for his talk on “Understanding Invisible Labour” which received (an average of 4.70).
  4. Jenni Taylor, Cardiff University for her talk on “Resurrecting the Content King” which also received (an average of 4.70).

A summary of comments for the individual speakers is given below.

Feedback for Alison Kerwin, University of York

The comments received on the talk on “10 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier (In My Career)” included:

  • Inspirational, powerful – refreshingly honest.
  • Brave, human, brilliant, and an excellent way to start the conference.
  • Very honest and open as well as having lots of good practical advice
  • Blew me away. So much admiration for Alison, both for what she’s achieved professionally and personally, and for her incredible honesty in that kind of forum.
  • I loved this and thought it was a fantastic way to start the conference.
  • Everyone was blown away, will stick with me for a very long time. Thank you, Alison!
  • Wow! Very courageous and inspiring talk.
  • I thought this was a bold, brave and inspiring keynote, with an interesting mix of marketing and personal notes. It really set the tone for what was to follow.
  • Wow, what an opener!
  • Alison step outside the bounds of the usual to give heart-felt advice
  • Unexpectedly candid and a perfect reminder of the human aspect of work in this sector.
  • Can’t commend Alison’s talk enough. Really powerful talk and such a brave woman to share her experience. I’ve recommended this talk to friends of mine, who don’t actually work in HE!

Feedback for Andrew Millar, University of Dundee

The comments received on the talk on “Stress…and what to do when everything starts falling apart” included:

  • Really appreciated Andrew’s insights into dealing with stress, and how honest he was about his experiences.
  • Andrews talk was excellent – think we are all stressed out at some point in our careers and it is important that everybody in a team can understand and support.
  • The highlight of the conference for me.
  • Very honest and emotion talk from Andrew
  • Andrew is wonderful. A very personal journey with plenty of work relevance.
  • Very brave to be open about the effects of stress on personal life. We need more of this, little is done in institutions to acknowledge the human aspect of working life, there are initiatives and schemes here and there but it doesn’t seem to be taken seriously.
  • This was my personal favourite talk. I struggle with issues similarly expressed by Andrew, and subsequent to this talk I managed to have a candid, thorough talk with my manager about my problems, which was a massive weight lifted from my shoulders. Although I am incredibly reticent to speak on the presence of over a hundred delegates, talks like Andrew’s have made me seriously consider speaking at the next event in Greenwich
  • Andrew is a great speaker, his talk was fascinating and very honest. I really enjoyed this session and it made me think about the stresses we face in this industry and how we can be more honest about pressure/our mental health in order to support each other in teams.
  • Wow. Fantastic, compelling talk which so many people were talking about afterwards. A realisation that IWMW really is a community and that we have a responsibility to each other to be honest. The reminder that we do not need to aim at perfect all the time. So pleased that Andrew is part of the Scottish community – such an inspiration.
  • Excellent. Again, I like this emotional element to the conference to remind us that we’re all just people and helping our coworkers get through life is just as important as helping each other get through our work.

Feedback for Gareth Edwards, University of Greenwich

The comments received on the talk on “User Needs, Content Design and Culture Change: Digital Transformation at the University of Southampton” included:

  • This was my favourite presentation of the whole event. I have so many ideas now on how to manage my own time more effectively.
  • Another fantastic talk from Gareth – will take away some ideas for trying to cut the invisible work. Also good to know that some of the solutions mentioned we are already implementing e.g. fix it friday.
  • Extremely useful and my line management will be made to watch this!
  • Excellent content, presentation style, and slide design. One of most memorable talks I’ve seen at a conference.
  • Gareth always finds new nuggets of wisdom to share that seem obvious in hindsight, but really chime with my experience.
  • Probably my favourite talk of the conference. Beautiful slide deck, fantastic concept and really compelling examples. Did that wonderful thing of reminding me that we all have similar problems but that there are solutions to some of them (close your emails! rotate your phones!). Would happily sit and listen to Gareth talk all day.
  • Gareth is a great presenter and his slides are beautiful. Topic was especially relevant to me.
  • Giving this a 5 if only for the amazing slide deck. Having said that, the content of Gareth’s talk was also incredible and thought-provoking. It has really highlighted the issue of invisible labour in a way that simply reading about it couldn’t.
  • This talk for me personally was my favorite, as our situation at St Andrews mirrors the problems Gareth described. Also, he is a very talented speaker and the content was engaging. (Any presentation that references Leeroy Jenkins is a win in my book!)
  • Loved this. This clever concept made me realise that digital specialists encounter more work management issues than most sectors, and yet are well-positioned to generate logical and creative solutions to them. Amazing slide deck. (Even my non-tech-literate parents enjoyed this!)

Feedback for Jenni Taylor, Cardiff University

The comments received on the talk on “Resurrecting the Content King” included:

  • I love the idea of making other realise the importance of website content by making it more difficult for them. Also love how we can help people write – we are doing some of this, but not all of it. I’ve been inspired to run writing workshops!
  • Very engaging and moving. Great advice throughout. Excellent presenter.
  • High energy, fun, and very helpful and relevant.
  • Jenni was thoroughly engaging and presented brilliantly, and with great humour. Another brilliant speech, well done.
  • Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. By far the best content related talk I’ve heard in a long time.
  • Fab – just fab. Great way to round off the conference – the idea that we need to value content way more – and perhaps most. So great to hear people talking about empowering our content coordinators – especially to say no.
  • Amen to this presentation. So relevant to all delegates, especially for non-content people to understand the value of good content. Jenni is a fabulous presenter.
  • Loved this one. Super engaging, also some great examples of how some of the problems occur with the separate publishing of info from various teams.
  • Funny, engaging and practical – making a challenging and complex issue look like fun. For me, this was the presentation of the conference
  • This was an excellent concluding plenary talk. After a couple of discussions around content governance, this was an inspiring glimpse into something closer to the promised land! It was amazing to learn about the strict standards on content quality and workshops to help people write. I completely agree that getting in a room with people and showing interest in their stories is a great way of collaborating (even if it’s harder to achieve). I feel like this talk empowered us to go back to our institutions and make things happen!

Feedback for Jane Van de Ban, Birkbeck College & Chris Scott, Headscape

The comments received on the talk on “Telling the Birkbeck Story: How Customer Journey Mapping Helped Us Develop Our New Approach To Web” included:

  • Great to hear about how Birkbeck are approaching governance and their story. Some great soundbites – ‘your brand is not what you say it is – it’s what your users say it is.’ Perhaps the first half could have been sped up slightly, but a fab talk nonetheless.
  • Great examples of the journey Birkbeck have been on – showing where they came from, where they want to go and progress made so far.
  • Nice case study – wittily presented and I particularly liked statement tiles
  • Tough to follow Alison but they were great and their case study was very pertinent and funny!
  • Came away with good ideas for journey mapping and how it could help us

Feedback for Dave Musson, The Native

The comments received on the talk on “Don’t be Content with Average Content” included:

  • This was music to my ears. It’s always inspiring to be encouraged to work on great content – and Dave suggested ways in which we could empower ourselves to do this. I loved his headlines: ‘be bolder and more creative’, ‘be thought-provoking and challenging’. Some great examples as well – the ‘uncomfortable academic’ and the Zurich video have both stuck in my head ever since.
  • This talk was really forward thinking in terms of how universities can be more effective, especially on social media.
  • Really slick, interesting and thought provoking presentation with the right mix of humour and relevant industry examples.
  • An excellent talk showcasing content we could all aspire to. What would be great is insight in how to brainstorm ideas to surface/create content like this.
  • Great talk by the media expert about how we can improve and create great digital content, he also show us examples which will helps us to craft the right content/message for the medium.

Feedback for Ayala Gordon, University of Southampton & Padma Gillen, Llibertat

The comments received on the talk on “User Needs, Content Design and Culture Change: Digital Transformation at the University of Southampton” included:

  • This is partly what i came for to hear about the process of rolling out and putting new design ideas through the minefield of university executive
  • A fun talk really taking the audience on the journey, and a good example of how we, as HE institutions, can work with others in digital. Nicely done.
  • Interesting approach for the development and challenges experienced on the digital transformation at the University of Southampton by improving the customer experience. This is the level of understanding, involvement and engagement that we need from employees to help deliver the expected changes.
  • This is how to do a collaborative talk: very nicely planned and structured. And what an interesting case-study….bit frustrating that the story ended where it did, with ‘To Be Continued’, but look forward to hearing what happens next.
  • Loved the imagination and energy that went into this. Looking forward to hearing the update next year!

Feedback for Megan McFarlane & Mike McConnell, University of Aberdeen

The comments received on the talk on “Student Recruitment Enquiries in CRM” included:

  • I found this talk really interesting – and it was nice as it was a bit of a change from the talks we’d already heard. Only talk about CRM and how we use data. Both speakers were excellent – engaging, funny and interesting.
  • Fantastic talk which showed the problem, the proposed solutions, what is working and what’s not. Love that Aberdeen can see which page on their site a visitor was on before they started a chat. Funny and inspiring and something that I’m sure we’ll be asking them about again in the future.
  • Having heard about elements of this through the Scottish regional group, it was good to see it on the big stage. Quite a scary ‘scale’ of work in that I don’t think we’re anywhere near that level of thought/effort.
  • Incredible to hear what Aberdeen are doing to convert prospective students. This isn’t my area, but I sat there wishing our Registry colleagues could hear this presentation.
  • Very interesting mix of IT, UX and focus on solving a specific issue – again, hope they can provide an update in 2019

Feedback for Keith McDonald, University of London

The comments received on the talk on “Hands off – it’s ours! Taking back the reins” included:

  • Fantastic examples of ‘streamlined governance’ that I can see helping with some of our biggest annoyances. Really looking forward to getting my hands on the slides from this one…
  • Good story about a content wrangling exercise – no magic bullets to this kind of things and so a talk that details a bit of the slog that has to be done was good.
  • A fantastic and timely talk from Keith. It was so interesting to hear the story from his POV, being from one of the University of London member institutions myself. The lesson on expecting the unexpected was particularly poignant.
  • A nice case study of some of the challenges that are unique to HE and which we share – eg overseas campuses
  • Such a good talk. Some good new terms that I hadn’t heard before – like ‘informational bias’. Would love to see a blog post from Keith on the move away from PDF culture. Really inspiring.

Feedback for the Panel Session

We have held a number of panel sessions at IWMW events over the years and know that it is difficult to gauge how they will be received. The panel this year, on “Blending Internal and External Services” received some mixed responses, with 12 delegates giving the session a rating of 5 (excellent), 20 gave a rating of 4 (very good), 24 gave a rating of 3 (good) and 5 gave a rating of 3 (poor) (an average rating of 3.64).

The comments received on the panel session on “Blending Internal and External Services” included:

  • I found the panel really interesting. I got a bit lost with one of the speakers’ presentations, but that may have just been because it was outside of my realm of knowledge.
  • I thought this worked really well. Some of the talks seemed a bit more like they were pitching services than talking about blending. Might be worth reinforcing the content of this prior to the session to give people a chance to think of more questions?
  • This was good, might have been good to have one more Higher Ed person on the panel as well as Carley but some really useful discussion from the whole panel.
  • Interesting, though not relevant to my situation at the moment. Nice to see sponsors and suppliers just talking through their experiences without a hint of sales pitch
  • Great timing to hear these views and experiences

Feedback for the Lightning Talks

For the Lightning Talks session we invited delegates to give a brief talk, of up to 5 minutes, on a topic of interest to them and relevant to the event. We had advertised the session in advance on the HE Digital Slack group, and the six speakers confirmed at the event itself. This was the first time we had organised a lightning talk session at an IWMW event and we were not sure how well it would go down. But the feedback made it clear that it was a success with 34 delegates giving a rating of 5 (excellent), 19 of 4 (very good) and 8 of 3 (good) – and average of 4.43.

Comments for the session included:

  • Enjoyed this new format and all of the talks. Good to get a break from the powerpoints.
  • Love this format. All interesting, and varied, and exciting.
  • Loved these, especially Kevin’s. A great introduction for people to the IWMW event. We need to do a bit more to promote these prior to and at the event.
  • Fab concept, executed well. So pleased to see some people who may not usually feel excited to speak speak, and to see the energy some people gave it! Lots of fun to take part in as well.
  • I know they were lightning talks, but I’d have preferred maybe a single slide per presenter to have a good visual queue to refer to.
  • I liked this. It’d be quite fun to have two of these to break up the sessions although obv depends on volunteers.
  • Nice new addition and a good way of getting newbies involved. I especially liked Kevin Mears’ contribution
  • Speakers were great. Really enjoyed the bit on drawing – big respect to Kevin for overcoming his nerves.
  • MORE OF THIS PLEASE! Though no more than 30mins at a time, as it’s REALLY intense.
  • A great idea and perhaps the basis for a formal slot of prepared, short (5-8 minute) talks in a future conference?