Tools and technologies we used for CW17

Posted by s.aragon on 17 August 2017 - 3:00pm

ToolsBy Shoaib Sufi, Community Lead

People are often interested not only in our events but also how we organise them.  For CW17, we used a number of platforms to make things happen. This is a brief description for more details and if you are interested in running your own, then please get in touch.

For registration, we used the Eventbrite system. This allowed us to control the questions we ask at registration, any access codes, a waiting list and emailing the attendees. It’s all free for free events so there’s a chance to test out its features.

For the pre-registration, collecting feedback, and planning stages, as well as, storing photos, we used Google Drive and associated apps.

To automate the creation of templates and indexes to support the speed blogging and the Collaborative ideas and Hackday ideas session, we wrote custom Google App Scripts to support the pipeline of template requests, templates, indexes and permission. Source code and instructions will be added here once available.

At the Collaborations Workshop 2017, we used a Slack and a specific Slack Team to keep everyone organised and aware of what was happening at all times. Although it can be quite distracting when conversations are happening in Slack while your attention is needed in the real world, Slack was very useful especially to keep a large group of people synchronised. We included a moderator with admin permissions to make sure that the Code of Conduct was adhered to even in the virtual space of the workshop.

We of course used Twitter for official tweets and event amplification but there were many tweets from our attendees as you can see from the official Storify. It’s interesting to note that out of an audience of 80 people when asked who was on Snapchat only around four people put there hands up. Perhaps this is a generational matter, but in any case it was definitely not the right mechanism for promoting CW17. Which social media platforms attendees use is something we will keep an eye on in the future to make sure we are using something which is popular.

We were very fortunate that the facilities at the Leeds University Business School had lecture capture in all the rooms we were in—this made recording the videos much easier and more automated. Though we still had to spend some time post processing them and then publishing them on YouTube.

For most of the steering group meetings and planning meetings, we used Skype due to the ease of setting up a call and free multiway video as the key features, there was always Google Hangouts to fall back on as it tends to have better compatibility across platforms (although setting up a call is marginally less intuitive).

There are a number of collaborative tools and platforms which are useful for organising a workshop and they do change over time as innovation in this space is always taking place. We tend to hear about new tools by word of mouth and then give them a try. There are initiatives which have looked at collaborative tooling and working processes, such as this one organised by Institute Fellow, David Perez-Suarez, Science Together; well worth taking a read and keeping up with if you are interested. The other places we look at for motivation is the Startup space as many of the teams formed are not co-located and thus use web based distributed technology.