Reflections on (and at) HighEdWeb 2009

I attended the HighEdWeb Association’s 2009 conference in Milwaukee (October 4–7) and benefited from the experience. Here are some of my reflections. This post will definitely remain under progress as I add and revise.

* People usually say that conferences are good for professional development. I agree — but for me, they’re also _product_ development, too. I come away with specific ideas of things to build, best practices to implement, topics to research. Calling conferences merely “professional development” makes them sound individualistic (or even self-indulgent to some people, I imagine). They are far more valuable than that.

* What’s dangerous about “tweckling” (heckling via Twitter) is its unbalanced power distribution. Everyone in the room can hear the tweckler clearly and can respond to (and magnify) their remarks — but the speaker getting tweckled can neither hear nor respond. To make matters worse, people not even in the room can hear the tweckler without being able to judge for themselves what the speaker is really saying. This is an invitation to trolls. We should be very slow to say anything that we wouldn’t have the courage to say out loud with a real heckle (or afterwards in a Q-and-A session).

* Karlyn Morissette‘s session on ROI, “Goal-Driven Web Strategy”:, put lots of pieces together for me — especially through her graciously answering my several questions. So now I know: the key step is the estimation of the monetary return on each conversion. And I know something else, because she said it right out loud: that step is where the b.s. comes in. :) It seems to me we shouldn’t say “measure ROI” but “estimate ROI.” (I think I’ll benefit from talking more with Karlyn and others about this.)

* Here are some of the really great conference-planning ideas I want to remember: the red-stapler pins for speakers; the poster session; the reprise of best-of-track presentations.

* More reflections to come.

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