I thought I’d do a quick round up of our guest speaker schedule for 2010-2011 as the academic year draws to a close. We had some friends returning, and made made some new ones this year. As usual, we had some excellent presentations by experts and practitioners in the field of web development.
Returning this year was Louis Georgiou from Code Computer Love who again covered CMS with some current examples. PushOn kindly sent Mark Mayne this year to cover Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Gary Byrne from The Reading Room kindly dropped by to explain the do’s and don’ts of pitching to clients. Gary also volunteered to come back a few weeks later to give some tips on applying for jobs in the industry. This was an excellent, amusing talk that ticked all the right boxes.
MMU’s own developers Dave Scott and Derren Wilson came over to talk about their experiences with web databases and CSS respectively. Derren inspired us all with series of simple, helpful tips for CSS3. Richard Clark of HTML5 Doctor fame gave us the basics of HTML5, again with some nice tips and advice. Even those already using HTML5 enjoyed hearing it first hand from ‘the Doctor’!
A big hit with the students was Andrew Disley, Freelance Front-end Web Developer. Andrew came in to talk about hosting. His talk lasted about 15 minutes, but then we lapsed into a further 45 minutes of discussion in which the students actually asked questions. Again, Andrew provided a wealth of tips, links and career advice. Excellent. Andrew has also helped further by running the Geekup job board which has already led to employment for a couple of students. Andrew got a huge ‘thumbs up’ from the students.
This year we have also had the opportunity to attend other events. This includes sessions such as Paul Rouke’s Usability 101 session at MMU’s Business School hosted by our friends David Edmundson-Bird and Brendan Keegan. This later led to us hosting a session on Usability sponsored by our friends at Sigma featuring Paul Rouke once again. We are looking forward to doing more with Sigma in the future. Watch this space.
David and Brendan also ran another successful ProDevDay and the Search and Social School.
We also got the chance to attend Get stylish with CSS3, run at Madlab on Edge Street in Manchester by standards-next. Speakers included our good friend Chris Mills (from Opera), Jake Smith from JP74, Mike Byrne from Fudge, and Patrick Lauke also from Opera.
I was also personally able to attend the New Adventures in Web Design conference in Nottingham. This was an excellent day out in the company of some great speakers, all with interesting (often amusing) perspectives on web design. A well-run conference hosted by Simon Collison; all for a bargain price. We’ll be looking forward to the next one, and will encouraging more students to attend.
We also sneaked in couple of extra sessions, which included a first hand demonstration from our friend Donal Fitzpatrick on using a screen-reader. Donal, a lecturer at Dublin City University who is blind, took us on a tour of his pet hates by demonstrating some of we will call ‘the more frustrating’ sites that he has to use including Air Lingus. It was an amusing and insightful demonstration. Thankfully he slowed down the pace of the screen-reader voice, giving us a ‘half chance’ of following as he navigated pages.
Finally, in December we hosted a talk by Andy Clarke that heralded the launch of his new book, Hardboiled Web Design. Andy is not only one of the best speakers on the web design conference circuit, but he is also very generous. He not only gave his time, he donated two copies of the book (one for a raffle and one for a prize for our poster competition). He also walked in with bags full of training and conference DVD’s, and web design books that we have now made available to the students for loan.
As usual, Andy’s talk was amusing and entertaining. We had a mixed audience of students (MMU and Salford), staff (academics and developers) and guests from local web development companies and freelancers. Sadly Andy was just getting into full flow when we had to pull the plug after one and a half hours. I’m sure many would have liked to make an afternoon of it.
A huge thank you to our guest speakers. Thank you all for your continued support. Here’s looking to 2011/12.