Preparing for JISC11

by | Mar 11, 2011

I have recently been involved with planning the event amplification for the JISC Conference 2011, which is finally upon us. I will be travelling up to Liverpool on Monday to play my part in making the event accessible to a remote audience, and wanted to take the opportunity to take stock of the planning process and the amplification strategy for the event, before we get stuck into it!

I will be providing the live commentary throughout the conference using the @JISCLive and @JISCLive2 accounts, whilst supporting the Online Engagement Team, who will be using the @JISCEvents account to offer practical support to the remote audience. I will also be curating a summary of the event using Storify. In addition to this, the remote audience will benefit from a one-stop-shop hub for all of the live content, including the live video stream, and the option to email in with questions if they do not want to participate in the conversation via Twitter.

We have spent quite a bit of time creating a strategy which effectively separates the role of the commentator from the role of the virtual chairperson who engages with the audience more directly. I plan to blog about this in more detail after the event, when I am in a position to assess how well this division of roles works in practice. To support this strategy, we have developed guidance for online participants to help them navigate and make best use of the resources.

There were also some unexpected aspects of the planning process, including the changes at Twapperkeeper, which provoked us to think about the need for a disclaimer and a back up plan for each element of the amplification plan. This is a much bigger issue for me, which I will be exploring further.

In the meantime, there are many more interesting things to highlight about the JISC11 event amplification plan….

One of the things I am most excited to see is this online programme for remote participants:
[slideshare id=7219154&doc=jisc11onlineprogramme-110310093610-phpapp01]
This presentation was featured on the Slideshare homepage under the “Hot on Twitter” section, based on the volume of tweets sharing the link.

The programme provides remote participants with their own guide to the event, including a full day of live streamed content. This includes exclusive material broadcast live in between the main plenary sessions, such as live interviews, commentary from an online host and footage from around the event. This effectively will make the live stream more akin to a TV channel for the day. The approach quite clearly moves the event towards a more hybrid model, where there is a carefully planned virtual experience happening alongside and interlinked within a physical event.

There have been some interesting omissions from the event amplification strategy as well, which are worthy of note.

Firstly, there is no branded event social network this year. The organisers observed that these generated little activity in previous years, so failed to justify the time and effort required to both create and moderate such a site. Instead, they opted to create an open event LinkedIn group, which delegates could use for pre-event networking and discussion, as they saw fit. I think this is a particularly pragmatic solution, which enables delegates to build professional connections in an external space that many will be using for this purpose anyway. This means they can continue to maintain these connections after the event more effectively and use their attendance at the event and participation in the group as part of their professional portfolio on the site. This is also much more in keeping with the whole amplification philosophy, which relies on natural connections within existing social platforms. Activity within the group has been slow to get started, but I suspect that now we are closer to the event, we will see more activity – particularly as speakers start to use it to generate momentum in advance of their own presentations. The group may also be used for more detailed follow-up discussions post-event.

The second omission is the event blogger. I often perform this role myself (in addition to or instead of live commentating), so I was interested in the justification of this decision. It was based, again, on participation over previous years: not only in the lack of active discussion within post comments, but also low levels of readership. With the availability of session videos, slides, programme notes and blog postings from other participants, it seems that the audience for the “official” summary has diminished at this particular event. I find it interesting and really encouraging that we are now reaching the stage when organisers can make informed decisions about their amplification portfolio based on consistent evidence and value/impact assessments. This shows that we are moving away from doing all of these things because we can, to choosing our tools in a more discerning way. I think blogging still has an important part to play in event coverage, and that we need a range of access points to effectively amplify an event, but I do appreciate honesty and realistic deployment of resources. Effective amplification depends very much on the needs and preferences of the event’s audience, so it is great to see evidence of these needs and preferences driving resourcing decisions in this way.

Overall, I think there is going to be lots to take away from JISC11 and I hope the plans we have put in place will make it a valuable experience for the remote audience. I’m certainly looking forward to it!
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