An event to promote the University
Our latest development brings dynamic lists and calendar views of events to our Content Management System EdWeb. It’s one of a number of steps being taken to help promote what’s on around the University, but also as a way of showcasing the excellent quality and diversity of events to both prospective staff and students around the world.
Talking and listening to our editorial community
We launched our first community survey back in 2016 as way of finding out what our users top priorities for development in EdWeb were. In that survey a large number of people voted for the item ‘Events can be displayed differently in different contexts, such as the automatic creation of an events calendar’.
We’ve completed a lot of work from that long list over the last 18 months and were fortunate to get some additional funding from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to enhance our current event functionality.
Event management and promotion is a complex area to tackle for a large devolved institution so we really need to set this piece of work in a much wider context. There is a need for the University to look at how it tackles the creation and promotion of events, how to create internal and external bookable events and possibly even ticketed events, whether it’s free or there is a cost and who is eligible to attend.
It’s complex and when a solution is needed University-wide, it’s often incredibly difficult to implement. There is a constant need to balance the resource needed to drive things forward or to hold back to create the perfect solution.
Achieving dynamic event promotion
Events of all kinds, from the high profile to the small niche talk, can be a way of promoting the University to prospective staff and students. There are different systems to create and manage events and many different ways to display those events to reach the target audience in the best way.
We didn’t want to implement a solution to the dynamic creation of events to display in a list or calendar view that only worked for EdWeb. So we built a powerful event aggregator as a standalone application that will ultimately be able to be used by other event systems as a way of consuming and creating feeds of event data that can be taken and displayed in any number of different flexible ways. This allows the event to be created once but displayed in multiple locations. And of course for us it made sense to start with EdWeb as our first system to both create and consume these feeds.
Previously editors were having to spend quite a lot of time creating quite complex overviews of events. Now events can be displayed dynamically rather than manually creating lists of events and old events will be archived automatically.
These enhancements will make this process automated and therefore more efficient, reducing effort and helping to avoid duplication. We want to make it as easy as possible for event organisers to be able to draw attention to upcoming events for promotion purposes so that current staff/students/visitors are able to see what’s coming up soon within their area of interest, and for prospective staff or students to able to use events as a way of assessing how active Edinburgh is within their field of interest.
We publish information on our blog after every deployment. The following contains additional information on our event functionality:
The future of event management
Going forward, the Service Management team are ultimately looking to create a solution for the future that will incorporate many different aspects of event organisation.
This is likely to be a suite of applications that would handle event:
- and intelligence (e.g. attendance at events, stats etc.)
By creating an agreed metadata and clever APIs, these systems will be able to talk to each other and then looking wider with future possibilities of linking to email marketing tools, ticketing applications and even customer relationship management software.
Continuous development and collaboration
All the work we do, including these event enhancements, fits into a wider strategy. We look to continuously enhance and improve our CMS by having short agile delivery bursts, then stop to understand the impact. This way, we can review the update and what the uptake is of our new functionality. Priorities change and we can’t get everything done, so it’s important that we direct resources in the most efficient ways.
Read more about our development strategy from Stratos’ presentation at a conference in 2017:
Code sprint number 5
At the same time as running Agile projects, we use as many different strands as possible to maximise our resources and development potential and so have just completed our 5th EdWeb Community Code Sprint. It’s a way of getting more done but it’s also our way of continuing to create opportunities to collaborate and build a learning culture and tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience we are so lucky to have at the University. And we get to eat pizza, too!