HighEdWeb 2009 Wrap Up

Links from the conference

After conference links

The first-timers raise their hands at orientation.
The first-timers raise their hands at orientation.

If you read the posts in this blog tagged with heweb09 you’ll see my notes from sessions I attended. Several were good, a few were not-so-good. Going from memory of my evaluations, I would say my average score of sessions was 5.5 out of 7 (78%).

Was it worth approximately $2000 to attend? When I was in school 78% was a “C”. It was passing, but you couldn’t get into graduate school with a C average, and you couldn’t get a good paying job with a C average. Now, you should know that I grade rather conservatively. No one got a 7 on my evaluations; no one got a 1. If I like it and I thought I learned something they got 6. The first keynote, with Jared Spool, would have received a 7, the best of track winners I attended would have received a 7, but these were not graded. So overall, I will come back if it is in the budget, but I wont fight for it if it is not. (It cost me a lot of money that cannot/wont be reported on the expense report.)

I met a lot of people, and followed several tweeple. I learned a few things and was entertained. Those were part of my goals so I can say that part was met. I don’t have H1N1 and I don’t think I gained 10 lbs and I got some swag, so check on those goals too. However, I was a little surprised at the skim-the-surface approach of the sessions. I know there is a lot of material for the board to choose from and they did a good job of touching on major aspects of higher education web. I felt like I was back in college: class for 90 minutes then 15 minutes to get across campus, and a lack of detailed information about lecturers’ materials before getting to the session. (Kudos to Daniel Frommelt for putting his session, “Augmented Reality“, online before coming to the conference.)

The back channel t-shirt.

Unfortunately for the conference I learned something else – what happens in the backchannel doesn’t always stay in the backchannel. This shirt (“I Survived The #heweb09 Keynote“) is an example of what came out of the backchannel after Tuesday’s (October 6) keynote with David Galper. My netbook battery was low so I did not get to read it while it happened. You can read the transcript of the backchannel during keynote #2.

After the conference a few us wrote analyses that reflected the words of Michael Fienen:
“I think that it’s important to admit that several of us might have overstepped a professional line, but I think the event itself was not uncalled for and is an important example that audiences are no longer passive.” Source: The Great Keynote Meltdown of 2009 | .eduGuru.

After I read the article my tweet comment was “@fienen Good observations 1) material not relevent to an educated crowd 2) reflects poorly on “us” 3) pressure for next year.”

We have something to think about for next year. In this age of transparency you must “know thyself” and be an expert in your area – experience and ignorance shine equally through the window of our minds. We are people in higher education with limited budgets that come together to live, laugh, learn, and we express ourselves using the technology we help to create – the web.

Post Script

Conference committee for HighEdWeb 2010 remember three little words, “hella drop shadow

WordPress University

Stephanie Leary
Website Administrator, Texas A&M University

October 7

CMS Capabilities

  • posts and pages
  • scheduled publishing
  • basic workflow
  • easy media embedding
  • excellent seo
  • ubiquitous feeds

Killer Feature is the User Interface. (made by happycog)

Post vs. Page

Posts have…

  • included in feeds
  • categories
  • tags
  • excerpts
  • comments and trackbacks
  • custom fields

Pages have…

  • not included in feeds
  • page parent (not categories)
  • template
  • menu order
  • comments and trackbacks
  • custom fields

Pages can…with plugins

  • included in feeds
  • categories
  • tags

The dirty little secret because pages are posts and posts are pages.

Things that are posts

  • blogs
  • news archives
  • press releases
  • podcasts
  • newsletters
  • magazines
  • journals
  • …

Things that are posts

  • anything you want in a feed
  • anything organized by date

Things that are pages

  • anything that does not change often
  • anything that is not organized by date

Other things

  • media uploads
  • users
  • links


  • installation
  • file import
  • basic options
  • reading settings
  • permalinks

Less blog, more CMS

  • magazine-style home pages
  • great url structure
  • no category or archives
  • contextual navigation
  • breadcrumbs
  • subpage listings

Magazine Layout

  • multiple content areas
  • category sections
  • list of subpages
  • widgets

Required theme files

  • index.php
  • style.css

Other recommendations

  • functions.php – this is where you define widgets
  • screenshot.png

More files

category.php = global category theme

category-6.php = category theme for catid=6

How a theme file works

  • get_header
  • The Loop
  • get_sidebar
  • get_footer

sandbox, hybrid, thematic themes to start looking at

Inside The Loop

  • title
  • content/excerpt
  • date
  • categories
  • tags
  • author
  • custom fields

Complicating matters

  • custom loops
  • multiple loops

Modify the query (query_posts)

  • limit
  • offset
  • parent
  • categories & tags (include/exclude)
  • sort order
  • type
  • author
  • status


one included by default – get_sidebar()

can use more than one with php file include syntax


theme/plugin hybrid

can be defined in functions.php or installed as part of a plugin

Built-in Widgets

  • archives
  • categories
  • calendar
  • links
  • RSS
  • pages
  • meta (log in/out, feed)
  • recent posts
  • tag cloud
  • text


6735 plugins and growing

Plugins can…

  • add widgets
  • create template tags
  • modify loops
  • create shortcodes
  • alter user roles
  • provide custom fields
  • alter write screens
  • add JS libraries

Putting it all together

We want…

  • pages
  • a blog
  • subscribe to comments
  • a podcast
  • a contact form w/spam guard
  • a private area
  • users to be redirected on login

Sidbar login plugin

Peter’s login redirect

Problems with private

visibility: menus

granularity: groups

privileges: roles

Plugin to fix this – Role manager (for now)

[PressThis podcast talks about world press]

Hiding the admin area

  • sidebar login
  • front-end editor
  • P2
  • posthaste

Moving servers

  • changing domains
  • edit database fields
  • use config file constants
  • changing directories
  • maintaining permalinks

Caching Plugins

  • WP Cache
  • Super Cache
  • W3 Total Cache

What’s New in 2.9

  • image editor
  • trash (posts, pages, comments)
  • new excerpt filters
  • easy changes to contact profile fields
  • included handbook (printable)
  • category-slug.php

What’s different in MU

  • each user gets a blog
  • each blog gets a set of db tables
  • users can’t upload themes or plugins
  • site-wide plugins installed for all
  • site admin screen (and role)

Calendar plugin: AMR ICAL Event

Cross-site Scripting: What Is It, and How Can You Protect Your Site from Becoming a Victim?

Paul Gilzow
Programmer/Analyst-Expert, University of Missouri

twitter: gilzow

October 7

(This was Winner of Best of Track TPR)

Presentation http://2009.highedweb.org/presentations/TPR5.zip

or local copy Cross-site Scripting: What Is It, and How Can You Protect Your Site from Becoming a Victim?

Same Origin policy: 1 page in 1 tab can’t interact with other page in another tab.

Injection attack: accept exploits the trust for a site

Education sites are the worst for xss.

URL Shorteners are bad: need to be locked down in edu

Three main types:

  1. non-presistent/reflective – most common, relies on social engineering (GET data)
  2. persistent/stored – web forums, social media sites (POST data)
  3. local – less likely but dangerous (html files on your desktop)


” ‘ < abx >

The People directory “search” is not google and thus another company (in house) makes the search – more vulnerable.

How to protect:

Be paranoid. Trust no one. Layers, layers, layers.

Input filtering

Input validation

Output encoding

Intrusion detection system


Tidy the output

HTML Purifier



No Script plugin for Firefox.

Look at phped for php editing.

Maybe the Purpose of Our Redesign is Only to Serve as a Warning to Others

(Winner of Best of Track MMP)

Anthony Dunn
WCMS Coordinator, CSU, Chico

October 7

Presentation http://2009.highedweb.org/presentations/mmp11.pdf

or local copy Maybe the Purpose of Our Redesign is Only to Serve as a Warning to Others

Background Info:

In 2007 Chico had a web committee (formed 1996) that governed the internet.

It was/is political environment.

Current site was november 1999

Current design april 2004

Jerry Spool “redesigns always fail.” If you do it right you don’t have to redesign. It grows as needed.

Someone needs to take responsibility, and establish a web governance structure.

They should take ownership of the content (brand). Then others come to them and ask for a recommendation of how to put something on the web.The benefit is that it removes politics for the process.

In the beginning it was hard to decide what each (of 4) group does; what is their role. But with time it got ironed out. “If you don’t have high-end buy-in, you will fail.”

Create a competent and sufficient team. A team of designers is not enough. A team of programmers is not enough. You need a team of all of these. If you a lacking one it will be evident.

Define the project. Identify what’s wrong with the current site. Set the scope; sign off on it (accountability). Ask what do you want it to do (brainstorm); don’t bogdown. Define the phases, deadlines, milestone to be accomplished.

The biggest constraint was budget. It didn’t exist. Having no budget helped to pair-down the site. Focus on what needs doing not what they want to do.

Do the research: crazyegg, google analytics, user surveys. Helpful, but not a lot of useful information.

It help find best practices. It helps to learn from other sites’ mistakes. Get input; focus groups, meetings with stakeholders.

Plan your content. Number 1 reason it fails is because of content. Make information architecture(?). Make wireframes. Keep track of every piece; inventory the content.

By doing all this stuff it defused negative reactions for future designs.

Frameworks = no budget friendly. Write a bunch of extra (custom) stuff.

Take Away:

  • get buy-in and high-level ownership

  • make sure you have the right people on your team

  • clearly define the project and its scope

  • do the research

  • get input and feedback

  • have a content strategy and plan

Show Me the Data: Usability-driven Web Design

Jason Alley
Instructional Technologist, Lafayette College


Kenneth Newquist
Web Applications Specialist, Lafayette College


October 6, 2009


Time to redesign site

Everyone has opinons about what works, but they don’t have data

Replace opinion with fact


Use software called ScreenFlow

Tests aren’t about the user it is about the website.


10 usabilty questions

2 volunteer questions

Setup: Opinio web survey tool and $10 gift card

Asked why they go to the site

5 common tasks

5 faculty tasks

5 students tasks




What was learned:

people don’t search – they have to use the right term

dense pages are hard to scan

category pages are difficult to browse

getting to a page was half the battle

Used a open card sort: let user sort them. Proves other people think differently then the designer. Helps identify trends.

Great idea but…

  1. We don’t have time
  2. We don’t have money
  3. We don’t have the space
  4. We haven’t don’t this before

But then…

  1. Testing takes some time.
  2. Analysis takes longer
  3. Much much longer.

Augmented Reality – Merging the Virtual World into Ours

Daniel Frommelt
University Web Coordinator, University of Wisconsin – Platteville

October 6

Presentation at www.uwplatt.edu/web/presentations

Augmented Reality asymmetric image.
Augmented Reality asymmetric marker.

AR is adding, modifying reality.

They exist now.

It’s not a hologram.

It starts with a marker that is asymmetric.

More complex = smaller margin of error.

Use Blender: flash base AR.

It triggers a Flash with ActionScript when shown to a web cam.

Needs audio in/out and video in/out.

You can make virtual popup books.

He had lots of examples.

So where do we go from here?

Bunch of resources.

An Argument for Semantics – Why Developers Should Give a Hoot about OWL

Brian Panulla
Director, Extreme Events Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University

October 6

Presentation http://2009.highedweb.org/presentations/TPR9.pdf

or local copy An Argument For Semantics

The quest for a smarter web

What is semantic web and why would I want one.

The “O” word – ontology

Using SW technology today

New w3c

RDF, RDF Schema, OWL

Each build on one another, but all are fundamentally RDF

Implied Meaning

What we have now needs a human to process it.

We want to markup for machines

meaning of symbols

  • words usage, connotation

  • images symbolism

become real useful when shared

  • between individuals

  • within a community or culture

Is this more catherderal thinking?

  • Top-down ivory tower approach has led to out current network of walled gardens of data

  • Could some of out data be more open?

Why can’t we pull non-sensitive data from an open, central source?

How many Web applications have local copies of:

States, countries, campuses, majors, courses?

Why are we maintaining them?

Separation of concerns

  • smarter data is driving new levels of separation of concerns

  • content, presentation, behavior, and rules

Is HTML dead? No

The SW infrastructure

a parallel information architecture design pattern for smarter applications

web content, pages and sites do not

roadmap to smart data

  • entities as resources

  • specifying relationships

  • drawing inferences

Entities as Resources

Locally “IST” refers to at least 6 entities (for Penn State)

how do we identify entities

differentiating between conceptual entities creates the need for an identifier

indefinite article A college of IST

Convention allows us to simplify integration of data across systems

Convention is implicit symantics

In the absence of a good candidate key, each organization usually make an ad hoc identifiers.

We have a handy tool to globally identify – it’s URI

Normally they are unique, but that can be overwritten


RDF is the language that gives us resources, specifies properties

RDF can be used to specify is-a, is-a-member-of,

It stores as triples: subject, predicate, object

RDF schemas

dont give meaning

Ontology gives meaning

a formal ontology is a representation of a true ontology in some sor of communicable format

“its the next level up from schema”

OWL features

classes, properties, individuals

Data can be inferred or derived with owl/rdf with symantics.

Ex: if a is near b and c is near b then a is near c.

twitter: bpanulla

Actionable Web Analytics for Higher Education

Joshua Ellis
E-Marketing Manager, Penn State Outreach

Shelby Thayer
Online Marketing Associate – Web Strategy, Penn State World Campus

October 6

What is analytics:

competitive intelligence

voice of customer

web site behavior onsite analytics

10/90 Rule

10 % tool

90% analysis

why measure

optimize marketing efforts

optimize user experience

Is your site effective? Forget about the site for a second. What are you business objectives? Once you have business then you can look at website objectives. Give it a time frame and make it measureable.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

Measures to use to see if your web site is meeting the objectives. Ask so what? If you can ask so what 3 times and get an actionable item each time then it is a KPI.

Segmentation is critical

look at trends before the campaign gets rolling.

If the trend is there it is a good objective.

Ex: you want to increase iPhone visits


100k visit today…or we increase 50% over yesterday or last month (time measurement)

Then they need context: Huge bounce rate got several click throughs or low bounce got a couple

But then go back and check: what causes the good and bad numbers.

Going through the numbers translates in to saving cost and time.


link to form > form > thankyou

check numbers where people stop in the stream.

User testing

How do you know if it works? Measure before and after. Use your KPI for goals with time frame.

Free usability test

  • Referring keywords

  • Internal site search keywords

  • Knowledgebase keyword phrasing


Possible segments: internal/external, in-state/out-of-state, search terms, frequent flyers

Referring Keywords

Internal site search

Site overlay (heat map)

It’s good but not perfect. Not good with javascript.



Get Your Easy Button: Web and Marketing Working Together

Kevin Lavelle
Coordinator of Web Services, Xavier University

Maggie Ridder
Director of e-Marketing, Xavier University

October 5

Project “Road to Xavier” is a recruitment campaign.

Cost, time, fixed content were the constraints.

Decided to move away from big budget because it wouldn’t have the best impact – timing and audience wasn’t ready.

Their real plan:

  • 3 print pieces

  • landing pages

  • events

  • addition elements

Division of labor:

  • Admissions

  • Marketing

  • Web services – tracking data fed back to Admissions

They had 8 key target programs and after brainstorming they came up with “I Am…” (role, service, )

Print pieces told a story. And they told what is the input component and what is the result.

Landing pages complemented the print page brand/content and were listed on the print pieces. This enabled easy stats of hits and emails.

Follow up emails of print.

Phoning: faculty calling students, student calling students

alums calling students

they each had guides

website with contact reports

weekly email bulletin

The result was 70% of students that attended an event enrolled. That was 20% of admitted enrolled at Xavier. Goal was 940 they got 1174.


  • focus on growth potential and capacity

  • collaboration and working together

  • clear responsibilities, communication and regular meetings

  • involving faculty and alumni

  • keep the team small, working with limited dollar resources

Now what:

  • strategic review of programs to highlight

  • reuse existing profiles and media

  • strong, focused events

The success of last year lead to more input from their team.

Road to Xavier is a portal like howdy.tamu.edu

They do a lot of their business there: housing, accounts, profile/directory information.

The New Academics of Social Media Networking

David Hart
IT/IS Project Manager, Stanford University

October 5

They used a vendor’s solutions for the majority of development.

social community = academic community = share!

If you build it, they will come?

Their project was named Community Services Platform

The project processed well for about a year and then they reviewed business rules with each of 3 departments: they could not force unity among all three departments. This caused delays and scope creep.

“film, works of art are never completed, they are only abandoned” Leonardo de Vinci and Steven Spielberg.