#PSEWEB 2013 0

#PSEWEB 2013

Posted by on Apr 20, 2013 in conference, pseweb

Our annual national conference for Canada’s post-secondary education digital strategists is in Vancouver this year with 28 speakers, 2 keynotes and the first ever Canadian eduStyle awards along for the ride. More info at

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“Hella Drop Shadow”: Presenting and Teaching in the Era of the Backchannel #HighEdWebNotes

Posted by on Nov 20, 2010 in conference, higher ed, opinion, pseweb, socialmedia


As Twitter’s growth and hype continue, it seems like everyone is getting in on the act — athletes, actors, politicians, and even educators are joining the virtual conversation. But what happens when that virtual conversation becomes the main event? How should presenters and educators prepare themselves for this reality? And what responsibilities do audience members have when thoughts shared amongst friends can suddenly become “trending topics?’ Join us for a conversation focused on the need to understand how the crowd in the cloud and the sage on the stage can coexist to create an environment of engagement, respect, and conversation, including first-hand observations of some recent “tweckling” incidents (some closer to home than others).


  • Robin Smail, Disruptive Technologist, Penn State University
  • Patti Fantaske, IT Specialist, Information Technology Services, Penn State University

  • Lori Packer, Web Editor, University of Rochester


How powerful is it? Of all the ppl who weren’t here last year, only one person hadn’t heard about “hella drop shadow” (aka the Great Keynote Meltdown of 2009).

Backchannel has always been around:

  • now we have a megaphone
  • no longer contained to geo-physical space
  • not just public, it is pseudo permanent. It is findable.

Social media is forcing us to change how we do things.

Monitor the online and in room backchannel – speakers are partnering to watch each other’s back(channel)s.

The days of fifteen bullet points per slide are over: unless of course you are using an accepted new technology such as Google Wave, or Prezi.

Challenge for speakers is to be compelling enough for the audience to pay attention.

Are presentations many to many now?

There needs to be a referee – an ombudsperson – who stops and says there is a question on Twitter, please answer it.

Backchannel in the Classroom:

  • Hotseat – participate via Twitter or Facebook, via laptop or mobile. Purdue University
  • Harvard Question Answer
  • Goal with software is to not require users to change their behaviour.

Backchannel can go bad on good speakers:  “spectacle at web 2.0 expo … from my perspective” (dannah boyd)

  • dannah is a brilliant academic and sought after speaker who had a negative backchannel experience when presenting at web2.0 expo (she was the only academic speaker at the event and her format was much different than that of the non-academic speakers)

The same way we can tweak online ads from day to day, minute to minute to get the best performance possible … Conferences/events can use the backchannel to provide the best experience possible.  They can protect the speaker, act as a moderator, and can act on issues impacting the experience of the attendees. i.e. Mark is able to hear the wifi isn’t working and get it fixed.

With danah boyd, did the organizers fail? Putting the backchannel onscreen with the speaker – taking away the audiences choice whether to pay attention to the speaker or go into the backchannel. dannah also didn’t know the set up of the stage/backchannel screen until she got onto stage.  Is enough thought going into the physical and tech set up at events? Over and over speakers can’t see their slides, the screen is too dark, or in this case, the panelists are behind a podium and can’t be seen by the audience.  At eduweb09, the podium where my laptop was setup was about 20 metres from the screen where the slides were shown – to point to the slides, I had to jog across the stage and talk and point, and then jog back across to click forward to the next slide.  Could have been improved if screen and podium were closer to each other, or if a laser pointer had been provided, or if the speaker had a remote control clicker.

As a speaker, I have a choice to be scared or to take control and own (the backchannel).

The audience is the paying customer.

Rule with radio, television is that when it goes south – you end it. No matter how long the session is supposed to be. Used to be at you walked out, now people enjoy watching the crash too much to look away.

My take from hella drop shadow at #heweb09 was that the speaker and his content did not match the audience.  Maybe he was a poor selection, or maybe (definitely) he was poorly prepared (for us).  It is critical to know who you are talking to – what they know, what are they interested in, what’s their background. That said, was there any value in leaving the speaker on stage? He couldn’t be heard, his slides were sloppy and unprofessional, and his content was out of date and self-driven.  I’ve never taken a speaker off stage, but I’ve definitely considered it and watched the backchannel and audience for cues that things were headed South.  Would I have the guts to stand up and end a presentation if it were of no value to the audience and damaging to the speaker? I hope so – but I haven’t yet.

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May 2010: Canadian Post-Secondary Web Marketing Conference

Posted by on Mar 1, 2010 in conference

The first Canadian Post-Secondary Web & Marketing Conference will be at Brock University: May 26, 27 and 28th, 2010. We’re planning 2 days of sessions followed by an optional Friday of hands on workshops (limited space in workshops).

Registration will be about $350, but there will be a $50 early bird discount, as well as a $50 speaker discount.

We’re planning one evening of planned events and another evening “on your own” to let attendees mingle.

There are fantastic, convenient and affordable accommodations available right on campus – as well as a walking distance hotel for those that prefer.

Registration should open tomorrow or Wednesday, as soon as I confirm the process with Brock conference services.

In the meantime, we need speakers! Please consider submitting a presentation topic – the goal of this conference is to share experiences between peers in college/university web and marketing – if you have a story or a topic to share, please submit it here and help us create the richest possible program:

Some other very exciting news for folks in our field coming soon!

Thanks to all the members of our planning group on LinkedIn!

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A Different Conference Experience

Posted by on Mar 1, 2010 in conference, opinion

Today I attended an “emarketng” conference hosted by the city’s major college – by their business school actually – which I suppose would be the nearest local competitor to where I work. 

I’ve never felt so alone! So helpless! The opening keynote by Mitch Joel was fantastic, bang-on and inspiring.  It home when he described his job as the type where his wife had to ask him every few months what he did again and how they paid for their house when he spent some much time on Facebook? I’m not sure anyone in my family or social networks knows quite what I do for a living, or how I keep dog food in the bowl. 

One or two times a year, I pop on a plane to somewhere random in the United States and within a few hours I’m sharing apps and drinks with a group of people who know what I do.  For a collective 6 to 8 days a year, I’m surrounded by the warm hug of people who know what Twitter is and are passionate about the size & content of the display picture used on a Facebook Page. 

These semi-annual occasions are conferences for web professionals and marketers in higher education.  Today, I attended a conference for professionals on the topic of e-Marketing in my hometown.  That warm sense of co-nerdiness was missing.  Although the keynote was fantastic, it was in a room without wifi or cell service – in fact, there was no wifi all day! When I was able to get reception, I tweeted to the world – hello, is anyone here? – and got no response.  This was a far cry from last October’s HighEdWeb conference, where the session rooms were bursting with silent online conversation. 

It was a very different experience.  I’m glad I went – it is important to support the web and social media community of business people here so that hopefully it will take off running.  I have no idea why the community of local social media professionals and gurus were not in attendance.  Last year at Podcamp London, we actually were able to trend the conference on Twitter! But today, in the same city, the feeds were quiet.

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Presentations 2K9

Posted by on Oct 13, 2009 in conference, higher ed, marketing, mobile, socialmedia

In a fit of organization, I’ve created a page that embeds the presentations that I’ve put together over the last year, as well as links to presentations I gave while at Academica Group Inc.

Here are a few that you might be interested in:

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