HighEdWeb 2019: Milwaukee in the fall is cold but we didn’t have that far to walk

HighEdWeb Annual Conference: Oct. 13-16, 2019. Join us in Milwaukee, a great place on a great lake

On a train is how I arrived to ‘Cream City’ from Chicago, my near future home as of when I am writing this. I was in the windy city acquiring an apartment for the upcoming year as I move some things around in my life and it seemed really silly to fly between the cities when you can drive in less than 2 hours. It turns out you can take a train for $25.00 each way and it has free wifi good enough to read news and check email. This was the first time I had returned to ‘Brew City’, home of The Bronze Fonz was way back before this blog was a thing for WordCamp Milwaukee 2016. I forgot all about it until I got here and no old post to remind me how good it was in so many ways. I was excited for a few reasons but the biggest was this was my last scheduled talk and workshop for the whole year, which I was giving at HighEd Web 2019

Food and Fun

Before I dig into the day by day play by play, I need to tell you about the Polka Button. Yes, you read that right, a Push To Play Polka button. It does exactly what it says too. You push it, an announcer says what band and song and it plays that good time feeling music for all ages to dance to for a few minutes.

Saturday

I arrived a day early and not much was going on for event stuff but there seemed to be a natural gathering of folks at Miller Time Pub and Grill. I made my way there and immediately saw a few people I knew and raised a glass with them. It was also good to meet a few new people as well. I returned to this place a few other times, but this will be it’s only linked inclusion for the post.

Sunday

A late start to the day meant the day started with lunch. And what a lunchroom it was. The speakers and workshop attendees gathered in the Crystal Ballroom at the official convention Hotel, the Hilton, for a buffet of salad, soup and potato.

As the day ended with the Orientation, which I will discuss later under Sessions, we walked over to the “Welcome Reception” at the Milwaukee Public Market. This is a grand space with many vendors. It feels like someone went to Pike’s Place market in Seattle and rebuilt just the good parts in Wisconsin. I had too many different awesome things to name them all, but will cite the vegan ice cream from On The Bus as outstanding.

Monday

Unlike any other conference I have been to in my travels, this one offered a formal “let’s all sit down together” kind of breakfast experience. I had coupons all week for a special dietary meal which fed me tofu scrambles and many other delectable things. Meanwhile, others ate a lot of bacon. This conference is known for this apparently. The quality of the coffee was pretty good, so much so that I never even bothered to look at the tea selection too closely.

While I was surprised at the breakfast it did set expectations high for lunch and I have to say they delivered on it very well. Same as the breakfast, I presented my ticket and they brought me a soyrizo stuffed pepper that was mighty tasty.

One more time we gathered at Miller Time for an end of day relaxation drink and social hour.

And then we went to the unofficial party at Up-Down MKE, an arcade bar stuffed with well maintained classics, modern awesomeness and some rarities I have never seen in person ever before. The one that sticks out the most is a rare box called ‘Ice Cold Beer’. Giant Jenga and some other non-video cabinet games were around as well. A very good night overall.

Tuesday

Breakfast was as good on the second day as it was the first with another tofu scramble thing. Coffee was on par too. Lunch was a repeat mostly but with a pastry replacing the pepper. I like the idea of all eating together in one room and then having the next part of the day be in the same large room, as they did here if you look at the schedule. It feels efficient and keeps the whole conference going as one unit.

The big after party for the event, which they call the BIG SOCIAL EVENT took place at the Milwaukee Art Museum, one of the finest collections of modern art and most striking buildings on the planet. We were given free access to the exhibits and we had some light snacks, beer and wine. There was even a fireworks show for the event!

At the BIG SOCIAL EVENT, they had live band karaoke! They hired a band called “Live Band Karaoke Milwaukee” to do it. Everyone had an amazing time but we were not done singing for the night.

Karaoke Plane

Now, I have heard of this before and was supposed to crash it last year in Sacramento, but got sick and couldn’t make it over there from SF. This year I was the first singer singed up as people just started arriving and it was amazing! I wish every event I went to had this kind of group singing tradition. We gathered at the really cool spot Tavern at Turner Hall, which was super comfy and cozy but very large and accommodating at the time time. A remarkable time that ended only when the venue finally forced everyone out with the flood lights that bars use to shoo patrons.

Wednesday

Breakfast and coffee were repeats, but boy howdy was it great. At the end of breakfast they announced the Red Stapler Award winners who would have to give their talk again this day. This is a mixed thing. It is great to be honored for an award, but having to repeat a session when you are exhausted is just a chore. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I did not get one of these awards. It was right before the keynote, after the session has been represented, that they gave the actual Red Staplers out. Lunch followed and that ended the day and the event for me.

Sessions

Orientation

There was a very friendly and welcoming orientation session where I learned about half the people attending were also first timers. I wish more events had these type of welcoming sessions. It really made me feel more connected and less like an outsider as this was my first HighEd Web as well.

Escaping the Data Doldrums: Transforming basic analytics into holistic data-driven decision-making
Sean Flynn

This was a very no-nonsense talk about collecting real data into reports for deciding on actions. Sean laid out very succinctly what tools he uses and why. Striving for automation is great, but striving for automation of meaningful reporting is the best. He also addressed SMART goals, like a few others did as well, which I love and think we should talk about even more. The second half of the talk, about how to wisely use the data is the real star of the talk though. Just having data means nothing if you can’t connect it with how people receive data and act on it. He ended on an XKCD joke, so this talk got my highest praise in my evaluation.

Raw Notes:
not about coding today
What covered
building foundation-ally sound analytics Building Data infused decisoin making culture
data can’t tell you what you strategy should be
without data we are working in the dark,
we should drive the process
Lot of unreacted data today
data sources
GA/Tag manager
Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Social Media Sources
G/A Basic web analytics
event tracking via GTM
ecommerce tracking for a giving site
Twitter Analytics
export data button to get a CSV
FB has data export function as well, but exports excel, not CSV
Automated Instagram reporting
they ended up running the school’s LinkedIn account
turned out LinkedIn is most engaged audience
Salesforce marketing Cloud
emails – sends deliveries, etc
does require some manual, not 100%
URL builder
UTM tagging – without this working, not as useful data
dev team built a UTM building tool, made it way easier to track links once made easy
Reporting?
they started in hand typed Adobe inDesign docs
weekend to build it
no automation of daily entry, no auto comparisons
hard to read and no real insights exposed easily
Meet Google data studio
Rapid visualization and reporting
eam based permissions
easy rapid visualization
examples of output
tiny.cc/heweb19tea1
advancement.wm.edu/analytics
Social summary gives very clear view of which platform most engaged, LI
tracking texts vs calls
Data cleaning is the most important and most time consuming step manually
pt. 2
Building a Data Infused Culture
culture change is hard and frustrating
Basic analytics flow
communications->visitors->reported
In reality
stale comms strategy
frustrated audience
data
never ending meaningless reporting-> frustration
what is missing?
institutional support, stakeholder buy in
data infused decision making
this is the feedback that improves and closes that loop frustration turns to improvements
but how did they get there?
Slow uphill climb, no easy answers

  1. analytics subject matter expert (SME)
  2. build rapport with colleagues, TRUST builds everything
  3. aim for small victories early, then build on them – small stuff builds trust
  4. set SMART Goals
    becoming the SME
    immerse yourself in data
    admit when you don’t know things
    prize credibility above all – if you’re not sure say so. if you need more time to give good answer, say so
    saying you don’t know, when you don’t know, builds trust
    Build rapport
    seek first to understand, then to be understood
    You need to know both analytics and your colleagues missions and priorities
    Get people on your side informally reaching out to friendly colleagues
    sit in on meetings, the more you know the better
    Aim for small victories
    in early days especially: limit scopes of your projects
    clearly define scope and terms of success/failure
    A/B testing small web design changes (use Google Optimize)
    story of breaking button on mobile, hurt donations
    find easy visible wins that don’t break things
    build on small tings
    SMART goals
    email example
    email is primary communication tool
    they wrote a LOT more email than they thought they did
    only started tracking
    most people about 127 times
    179 most
    just from advancement.
    raised 4.7 million through online giving, email solicitation
    if increase overall click rate
    not an easy sell not achievable
    data suggested sending less emails
    can’t just cut emails in half
    seems right but not a SMART goal now
    efficiencies
    combine emails
    consider alternative channels
    aggressively segment emails based not just on affinities, but on previous response to emails and drop highly responsive and non-responsive alumni
    example homecoming emails
    Pitfalls to avoid:
    Discovering huge issues and being overwhelmed and taking on too much
    suppress the urge to shout your discoveries from the mountaintop, be methodical
    You’ll know your data better in a year than you will in those first few months, even better after 2 years
    Change takes a long time and dedicated effort
    XKCD tornado app example

From Colleagues to Collaborators: How Building Relationships Can Pave the Way for Sustainable Change
Marissa Gentling

At the heart of her talk, full of examples of her methodologies in action, she breaks down 4 types of stakeholder and client. I have not hear of these 4 groups before, but it makes a lot of sense. The groups are The Enthusiast, The Investigator, The Loyalists (aka The Confused), and The Challengers. Her slides are a better resource for this than my scant few notes but I would love to dive into this theory more.

Raw Notes:
400 hours of video uploaded to FB every minute
1/3 people use FB
Credibility of trust
trust turns colleagues into collaborators
MCCMS
Mayo School of Medicine
10,000 applicants – only 250+ students in program
120 programs in allied health science training programs
school fo continuous professional development
4,000+ in school
97 countries
all 50 states
new site
old one: little to no images
text is generic and not conversational
duplicate content
lacks visual appeal
new one:
we work with you
new documentary style hero images
text is conversational
CTA buttons
Consolidates pages to eliminate duplication
have you ever heard: ‘Just put this on the web’
it does not work with the site
She had a request who explained down to her how web worked
read between the lines
understand the needs of and goals of both internal and external customers
start with what is important
Who are customers
internal
colleagues goals
external
anyone using the site
target audience
why web governance
hands in different directions square vs circle
same directions easy
Franchise meets mom n pop
franchises are all about trust, same experience no matter who runs it
web services ‘mcdonaldized’ standardized services and templates
‘mom-n-popinized’ the delivery
so what now
some people don’t care or just lack understanding
some people work just different
basic principles of change management
make connections/build relationships
use evidence and data to support recommendations
people don;t buy what you do, they buy why you do it
start with why they should do or want something
trust brings change
bust how to build trust if time is limited or scarce resource?
and what about the skeptics?
Kendall Lee example
her customer
another one made first successful face transplant
types of customers
the enthusiast – dive into research to show how things improved
Investigator – questions validity
Loyalists (aka confused)
Challengers
How to know?
see her slides for example emails from each
which one are you?
learn how you: absorb info, make decisions, give feedback and receive it
Establish Credibility
provide evidence be authentic
be human
Share the what
Share the processes and policies establishes for the website
with Leadership
internal intranet site
lunch and learns (buy it and they will come)
one-on-one consults
want it right the first time, easier once they know
be open to new idea
nothing is permanent

Once Upon A Time, I Wrote My First Hello World
Elyssa Naval

As someone who does not read session descriptions too closely ever, I really thought this was going to be a talk about her life journey to being a web developer. It kinda was, but in all reality it was a talk about cognitive bias and how to deal with it. Many a good take away from the talk but the one that distracted me while she was talking was her talking about Userinyerface.com which you should open in a new tab, otherwise you might not remember to come read the rest of this.

Raw Notes:
last year at California State Railroad Museum
Found a wall full of index cards with questions
she wrote down she wanted to be a SME on web design
working towards that goal
Curse of Knowledge
cognitive bias assumes they know same background knowledge
learning to cook with her dad
knife skills
measurements
Dad just tried to say ‘just to taste’
not great way to learn
Can you guess the song? (exercise with drumsticks)
Tapper and Listener study
1990 study listeners on;y guessed on;y 2.5% of songs
3 out of 120
before the guesses, expected 50%
real was 1 in 40
hearing the music in your head
Jargon
words and phrases particular group
hard to learn because you don’t know the background info
sister wanted to “Buy a developer”
she was talking about beauty supply
project needs and requirements get messed up due to project vocabularies misaligned
importance of MVP and feedback project
swing analogy
donut analogy
analogies work because they use things we know
Empathy Gaps
Are we really designing for the users
client vs user view
Userinyerface.com
Option A Option B “click the red button”
aditus.io button contrast checker
Developer Tea podcast
Learning is the core activity of a developer
no perfect roadmap but there are a few good Web Developer Roadmap out there
be proud of your skills
think about what you have learned
hello world

Get. Stuff. Done.
Day Kibilds

This talk was all about optimizing how you do some of the basic things in office life, like keep notes in a sane fashion and how to actually, without as much pain as it sounds, schedule meetings with any number of people. This one also won a Re Stapler and was repeated and both times there was a packed house. I personally think the Super Mario Bros. 3 theme throughout her deck had something to do with that, because come on, that is like one of the best games of all time. Lots and lots of little nuggets in this one to implement right away no matter where you work or what you do.

Raw Notes:
jack of all trades
learned to do the mundane stuff
emails people will read, taking notes, around the cool work that we do
stuff that sends us to happy hour
Not a PM talk,
journey
pile of docs for admission example
instead of dealing with lists of things and bad search
using a wiki
search-able, tag-able, browsible, mobile
vertically and tagging across
click on tags to learn more
downloads docs and forms
screenshot
when you set up a wiki, set it up with growth in mind
version nightmares
naming hell
use the cloud, one location, versions saved, can access control
sharepoint file
Date format YYYYMMDD
no letters for months in file names
pick your battles
scheduling meetings
scheduling flowchart
(find it online)
never ask ‘what works best for you’
give two options and only 2
notes shared documents
team meetings and agenda and notes
Use shared docs to take important meeting notes
action items
names first, change color
if people are not reading what you write, it is 100% your fault
should this be a meeting or trainings?
use bold and white space
large, color, whitespace!
Stop being polite
be polite at top and bottom, rest of email is
Fact, Fact, Action, Action, Fact
write like you speak
if only 2 seconds, remember what you want them to see or do
Manage your projects

Herding a clowder of cats: how Mizzou cost-effectively migrated hundreds of websites
Paul Gilzow
Royall Spence
John Boyer

I have known Paul for a while and he was the one that encouraged me the most to submit technical intro talks to HighEd Web in the first place. I have seen him give presentations before and I knew he was good. Seeing this presentation about his overarching work at Mizzou though put it all in a new light for me. He and his team are literally fighting uphill and performing tranformative miracles over there. For shear inspiration that with perseverance you can do anything, there are few better examples I can point you to than this session. Also there were the best cat gifs of the whole event in the slides. This talk won the Red Stapler for its track, so it is not just me bing nice here, this was outstanding.

Raw Notes:
Decentralized
set up standards but could not enforce them
not authority to
herding cats
difficult to support
Conflicts between Central IT, devs and Admins
not in sync
waiting for funding a lot to fix specific issue
from 13 to 2 CMS
dozens of ways to set up sites, many types of users
needed standards for Authentication
Flexibility – different stacks outside LAMP possible
more efficiency needed
few false starts
cultural challenge vs tech challenges
exploration
need better DevOps practices
integration hurdles
SSO
CMS strategy
security
domains and Apache debt
traditional ops services
Multisite – found more than anticipated – based on costs?
internally ‘tiger bucks’ interdepartmental charges accounting
caching
Initial rollout
Drupal and WP upstreams
Upstream model
blueprint scaffolding for the deployment and automated tasks, like SSO
Shibboleth already set up
Dependency Management
just give up and use Composer
Initial Rollout – Alpha
dev education
Mental map changes
git adoption and workflow
Dependency management and composr work flow
no longer directly touch server code
Caching and HTTP request/response pattern
CLI overload
a lot of ways to do a lot of things
initial beta
local dev and HW challenges
standardized on Lando
think they ave moved 30% now of the total move
but
Workflow is stable
middleware built out as utilities
WP and D performance, way, way better 350% increase in WP performance
initial testing groundwork
standard local env
Future
More auto testing
automated updates
how Platform.sh helped them
Standards based but there is no workflow imposed
carrot not a stick
have to do it the team’s way to get the benefit
faster in all ways
Flexibility to do what is needed
more efficient
multiple environments make it super fast to collaborate
performance/uptime
backups are now consistent

Red Stapler Winner

Be the MVP of Managers
Joel Vertin

I missed this talk the first time around and was very glad this won a spot in the ‘Session Repeats by Red Stapler Winners’ which is a ‘best of show’ award where the session is performed one more time. Given that it is on the last day, after a few nights of revelry, and certainly after the most intense one, this is a mixed honor in my opinion. The talk was a mile a minute kind of great idea after great idea, butt it boils down to ‘be a good human and help others be good humans.’ This is one, that if the recording exists, should be sent to anyone with a manager or director title.

Raw Notes:
from UP of Michigan
right on the lake
Aiming this talk at team director and manager
wants to inspire to be better
Why be better?
HiPPO at every turn
Highly Paid Person Opinions
Giant piles of projects
short timelines
sleepless nights stress and anxiety
enrollment numbers craze
how do we survive?
We can change ourselves and how we manage our teams so we can survive
shine the light on the team it needs and deserves
Managerial skills
Leadership
Motivation
Emotional Intelligence
Structure
1 Leadership
what will you do for me as my manager – digital services staff member
Secret of success good leadership is about making the lives of your workers better
Get to know tour team as people
backgrounds and stories
motivations
personalities and preferences
Build compassion and care, empathy, respect, and trust.
Connect
be kind
love
Love is not a word you often hear uttered in office hallways or conference rooms. Yet hit has a strong influence on workplace outcomes
How do you show love?
Learn their stories
wine and dine them
hold regular 1:1s
make yourself available
tell them you love them
acknowledge their contributions
acknowledge who they love
be real with them
work your butt off for them
No right answer
different personalities
Open vs Private
Business v Personal
Shy vs outgoing
Isn’t this just being a human being?
yes. it is
Understanding motivation
different people have different motivations
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
physiological needs
comfortable working conditions, hours
Safety needs
Social needs – encourage cooperation, teamwork and social interactions
Esteem needs: offer praise, recognition
Self-actualize needs: empower, invite to participate in decision making
Achievement: Seek position advancement, feedback, sense of accomplishment
–missed it, 2 other points —
Cognitive model
equity and expectations
employees may adjust their inputs and outputs or become withdrawn if…
if they perceive unfairness
they do not believe their positive efforts will lead to valued rewards
they believe that inequities will go unpunished
Goal-setting
goals can be very motivating
They direct attention
SMART goals
Job characteristic theory
1 skills variety
2 task identity – visible outcome exists
3 task significance – how much task affects life of others
4 Autonomy – how much freedom
5 Feedback – knowledge of results
in a perfect work, naturally all points met by job
Measuring the motivating factors
get to know 1L1
motivating survey – slides example – others online
Motivation strategy
individual and global level
Emotional Intelligence – EI
EU Ability Model
perceiving
Understanding
Using
Managing
Empathy is the cornerstone of EI
putting yourself in their shoes
leads to stringer more meaningful relationships
success in the workplace
Personal styles
we all prefer to problem solve and communicate
Problem solving
Kolbe’s four Action Modes
1 fact finder – do the research before tackling the project
2 quick start – issues come to them, just want to do stuff
3 follow thru – previously established formula or example follower
4 Implementor – want to get hands dirty, innovate solutions by getting in there
Communication styles
1 in-person v electronic
2 Reactive v thoughtful
3 Space: Yours – Theirs – Neutral
our problem solving is part of our personality
that means there is no ‘right’ way
Practice makes better
improve if you can become self aware
trust and be kind
Structure
Create a system
monday.com as a PM software tool
groove for team messaging
Kanban cards – paper cards and physical card
stickers for finishing and nomination from peers
Structure with freedom
the more you can step away the better
look for cues from your team to help you understand where you are at
it’s about laying the groundwork for communication
with good structure, can really work well together
A few parting shots
Do team bonding,
they did a smelting tour
Share your strategy
Empower our teams
take the brunt of difficult clients
Value your people
Teach all this to your people
should make your team better
Graduate your employees, that is OK

KEYNOTE: ERIK QUALMAN

It is not everyday that you get to see someone who has been on every talk show on the planet and who is such a widely read author. There was a buzz of excitement in the air as Erik took the stage and he followed through with an amazingly well thought through presentation that inspired and challenged the room to go out and focus on doing what you do well even better. I have not read his books before, but I now have one on deck in my Audible. He had an interactive part that asked for us to email him and he emailed me back. That is a classy move and will stick with me for a while as a great way to engage, really engage, with an audience.

Raw Notes:
video intro
digital leader – 2nd most likable author i the world
story about James Taylor on a plane
leadership – being human
digital leadership
voting with our thumbs
‘socialnomics’
word of mouth is world of mouth
now everything has scale
Privacy is dead, lot of regulations
but no matter how you regulate it, genie out of the bottle
video showcases discomfort
Jeff Gordon in disguise pepsi ad
took them trying to 10 times to approval
a blogger called it fake
that is what happens when you pus yourself out there
Digital stamp – digital footprint + shadows
footprint is what we upload – some control on that
Shadow is what others post about us online
need to protect our digital stamp
how do I get more followers is the lead most people want to talk about
some things move slower than we anticipate
‘sprintz’ing books eyes don’t move you can read 500 – 1000 words a minute
https://www.spritz.com/
how do we use this
behave like the Jetsons and Flintstones
refriger-dating – based on images from inside your fridge
what does it mean to be a
STAMP
Simple
True
Act
Map
People
through coarse of conversation – figure out which one of these you are good at and go deep
Simplification, not about additive
it is not just another thing to do
Multitasking – no one is good at it
Simple
what do you want people to think when they think of you
start with one word
no one says billionaire or rich
always kind, just, considerate, etc
take word to sentence level
Act
afraid to fail is what holds some people back
failing better
grew up playing sports, practice makes perfect
that is false
guided proper practice leads to improvement
fail fast, fail forward, fail better
customers who have issues resolved well are 3x more likely to repeat business than someone without an issue
things happen for you, not to you
aways step into your story
Map
pioneers always get pushback
if no pushback, not a good thing, going to be disrupted
People
Post it forward
selfie mentality and use it outward
build the network before you need the network
NCAA headquarters story
what happens in vegan stays on Youtube
YOLO
outside in thinking vs inside out thinking
everything you do will lead to smile, at the end
don’t see it everyday

My Sessions

Pre-Conference Workshop: Let’s Learn Git: No More Excuses

I love teaching mostly because there is no other feeling in the world than seeing the lightbulb come on in someone’s eyes when they first truly grasp a new idea. This session was full of such little moments and I am delighted to the nth degree by it. I am so proud that some people came in the room without having downloading Git before and left the room having successfully done a pull request on a forked repository. Together we built this site, though you can 100% blame me for the CSS choices you don’t like. This felt like the best way to spend my Sunday I could have spent and made the whole trip worth it for me personally.

Bash Is Magic # No It’s Not

If even one person left the room thinking “I can do this command line stuff after all What was I afraid of?” then I did my job. I want to empower the world by helping people unlock the power at their fingertips. I learned so much giving this talk, which I am going to retire as a session or at least retool based on what I have learned giving it. So thankful to all the people that helped make giving this possible and who believed in me.

Now that I am winding down the conference tour circuit life I think I might take this content and make it more consumable by way of videos and community outreach efforts in my new home city. I want everyone to delight in the simplicity of using command line and version control, which give you superpowers!

Wrapping Up

It was an event of connecting with folks from a slightly different walk of life from me, which to be honest made me feel like a bit of an interloper from time to time. Luckily those thoughts were always chased out of my head by a friendly voice and an encouraging word. I, myself, am not in higher ed, I will always be in awe of the folks who give their lives for educating the future generations. The unsung heroes of the fight who made sure the website stayed up and that the content was accessible to all are the ones getting the job done for the kids and for our future world leaders. I count it among the highest honors to have been part of this event and hope that, perhaps if circumstances reveal themselves to be correct, I will get another chance to come and be part of this event again. Maybe even in Little Rock next year for HighEd Web 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *