Education Summit before DrupalCon Austin?

cdulude's picture

DrupalCon Austin is still six months away, but I am curious:

a) Has there been any talk yet of a pre-conference higher ed summit? Larger than a BOF or meeting for dinner; I'm thinking more of an all-day thing.
b) If plans are not already in the works, would there be any interest in such an event?

At the last DrupalCon I attended (Denver 2012), there was a Drupal in education "unconference" the day before the 'Con started. It was great to meet folks from other schools and talk about Drupal issues specific to educational institutions. I'd love if we could have a similar event in Austin. I'm happy to organize, or help organize, if there is interest.


Happy to attend

theMusician's picture

I would be happy to attend a pre-conference. Last year I built time into my travels but I believe it got scrapped shortly before the Portland DrupalCon. +2 from Western Washington University.

Great idea

amenity's picture

I'd be happy to help organize, too.

Hat = in ring

milsyobtaf's picture

The UT Libraries would like to throw our hat in the ring to help organize.

Thanks Dustin!

zchandler's picture

What can you guys come up with in terms of venue? I imagine that UT has some pretty big ones ...


milsyobtaf's picture

Ha, yeah, we definitely have a wide range of options. We'll just need a rough idea of attendance and we can start finding an appropriate space. I'm going to bring this up with our campus Drupal group, so hopefully we can start making this a reality soon. What kind of attendance has there been in the past?

Sounds great!

cdulude's picture

Thanks so much for looking into this, milsyobtaf! Let's plan for around 100 attendees?

Maybe more than 100

zchandler's picture

We could definitely exceed 100 if we wanted to. Maybe max venue capacity = 150-200?

BADcamp Higher Ed Summit is usually about 200 people signup, then 100 show up. At NYC camp Higher Ed Summit, 30 signup and 50 show up. :)

I think our BoF in Portland was about 80 people, and that was pretty spur of the moment. If we are including K-12, then I think our vendue should hold more than 100.


cdulude's picture

Hey Zach, I think that's very possible -- especially if we publicize this well, and far enough in advance. I'd really like to nail down a date and location as soon as possible, to give people enough time to plan their travel.

UT Austin folks -- thank you for looking into campus options! Could we (and anyone else who's interested) please schedule a time to talk about what would be available?

Personally, I think the date is a higher priority than the location (assuming we're able to find a space large enough), and that Monday of that week is our best bet. That way, we wouldn't be asking people to come much earlier than the 'Con starts, and it would also give people a chance to attend the Friday sprints.

Definitely Monday

Shawn DeArmond's picture

It really has to be Monday. There's no way I'll be able to talk the finance folks into extending the travel. And the sprints are too important to skip out on.

Monday++ from our team

Slurpee's picture

Monday++ from our team interesting in participating.

Fantastic -- I'm glad there is interest

cdulude's picture

Fantastic -- I'm glad there is interest. I'll look into seeing if we can use space at the Convention Center, since there are usually pre-Con trainings and code sprints going on then anyway. If not, perhaps we could hold the event somewhere on the UT Austin campus.

Quick poll: UT or convention center?

zchandler's picture

Hi All, I think we can get space in the convention center if we want (I'm working with the DA on some of the con organizing), but do we want that? What do you all think? Better to hold this at UT (cool to visit a new campus) or convention center (more convenient?).

I think we will want a venue that can hold ~100 people.

Both have advantages...

cdulude's picture

Agreed -- assuming we have access to both venues, it boils down to convenience vs. campus environment. According to Google Maps, it looks like UT is about a mile and a half from the convention center. I personally have no preference; what do the rest of you think? Any other pros/cons we should be considering?


alancsilver's picture

1 1/2 miles seems doable. But Texas in June can be brutal temperature-wise during the day. Average highs around 90. Of course, now that it is -14 outside, 90 doesn't seem bad ;)


milsyobtaf's picture

Like alancsilver mentioned, the weather is definitely an issue. June is usually pretty dry, but also warm. There are a few bus lines that run pretty straight shots between the convention center / downtown and campus. Day passes / weekly passes for the bus are pretty reasonable, $2 and $9 respectively ( The campus area has a lot more in the way of casual lunch / dinner fare, and our own on campus bowling alley, if that piques anyone's interest. The convention center will be easier, but campus could be a bit of sightseeing for folks as well.


zchandler's picture

Campus sounds awesome. +1 UT.

zchandler's picture

We may gain a lot by adding K-12 to this event. I understand the value of making it more narrowly focused on higher ed, but the history of the unconference event goes back to bonobo, who is an ardent K-12 and open education advocate, so I'd like to honor that history if we can.

Besides, BoFs will coalesce natually anyway. Thoughts?


cdulude's picture

It would be great if the K-12 folks would join us as well! I know we all face many of the same challenges. I'll change the title of this thread to be more inclusive.

Warm wishes from Wisconsin

alancsilver's picture

I'm planning to head to Austin this years. I missed Portland. If I do, I'd be happy to help out as well

Education and training?

tewnet's picture

I may be a lone voice in the wilderness, but how about broadening to include not only academic education but also Drupal for corporate training?


cdulude's picture

I think that's a great idea. I'm sure there are many overlaps between corporate training and K-12/higher education.

Format of the event

cdulude's picture

I've been thinking about the format for the event, and it would probably be best to have at least two tracks: one track of "traditional" presentations that are decided ahead of time, and a second "unconference" track where topics are announced day-of (or, very shortly before) and presentations are a little more informal.

Unconferences are great for fostering organic discussion, but since most folks will need to make travel plans well in advance (and justify to their bosses why they should come a day early!), I think it would be useful to have at least a basic lineup of presentations announced ahead of time.

What do you all think?

Two formats would be nice.

theMusician's picture

I like the idea of a few formal presentations. There are plenty of appropriate sessions that are proposed during the request for proposals, yet never make it into the main Con schedule.

However, I too agree that the unconference format is great for grabbing hold of common threads that do not bubble to the surface until people get into a room and start talking.

Either two tracks as you proposed or a "formal" morning and an unconference afternoon would be good to consider.

Great to see this moving forward

bonobo's picture

And based on past experience running both Drupal and Education related unconferences -

+1 to inclusion of both K12 and Higher Ed - there are a lot of similarities and overlaps, and the more we get people from different backgrounds talking to one another about solving related problems, the better.

+1 to having the event in a community place - it sets a different tone, which can be a net positive for the event.

And, bring in food - lunch is a great time to talk, and if people leave the premises for lunch it removes the opportunity for serendiptitous conversation.

-1 to structured sessions. One of the great things about an unconference is that they avoid some of the canned content that can run during a regular conference. A good middle ground is to identify discussion strands (scalability, responsive, open educational resources, etc) and have breakout discussions arise from these strands. This provides structure to get things started, w/o limiting the scope of who can actually run a conversation.

Structured sessions + unconference

cdulude's picture

Great ideas, bonobo -- thanks for weighing in. The point about a community venue giving a different tone makes a lot of sense and is definitely something to consider.

As for the format of the event, I'm actually suggesting a hybrid approach if we have enough attendees to make that feasible. Agreed that the unstructured format lends itself to great discussions that might not normally occur with formal presentations -- the one you organized in Denver was awesome in that regard!

But I've also been involved with other unconferences where it turned out people didn't really have much to say and things just sort of fizzled. Which of course is the risk you take with an unconference; but I feel like if we're asking people who are traveling from far away to come a day early, we should have at least some presentations on deck that they can count on. :-) And if the unconference format is more their style, then there (hopefully) will be a variety of informal discussions to choose from, too.

I think we're basically talking about the same thing -- an unconference, but with some material prepared ahead of time (be it general discussion topics, or actual presentations).

Structured sessions could be

mradcliffe's picture

Structured sessions could be as short as a 10-15 minute lightning talk. In 2010, at DCSF, there was a core developer summit where everyone had to submit a lightning talk topic, but not all lightning talk topics were chosen.

It could be done similarly.

Submit a topic for discussion - like a BoF.

So one or two people could introduce a topic such as "EDU Distros in 2014" and then open the floor up to others to contribute. And if that talk is too big, then it would be advantageous to break into smaller groups to chat about ELMS or Pantheon or developers can go off and hack/sprint.

UChicago Represent

froboy's picture

I'm planning on being in Austin and could represent University of Chicago. There will be at least two of us going. I personally run 25ish custom sites and work with the central IT group who runs a multisite instance that's on the order of 200. I've also presented some of the work we've been doing here at a couple local Camps and would be happy to rehash that or further discuss our work.

Wiki page for planning

cdulude's picture

I started a wiki page for education summit planning purposes. If you have any topic or presentation ideas already, add 'em to the list.

On that wiki page, I created two sections:

  • Topic proposals: These are topics that you want to talk about -- either in "regular" presentation format, panel discussion, or a BoF freeform discussion.
  • Topic requests: These are topics that you would like to learn more about, but you would like someone else to organize a presentation or discussion around. For example, a topic that is very new to you that you would like to learn about, but don't feel comfortable talking about your own experiences with it yet. Or maybe you're facing a problem or a challenge, and you'd like to hear how others approached it.

Local planning group

milsyobtaf's picture

Today we had a meeting of our local campus users group, and we are all in on helping to put this together. We have a couple of potential locations and dates in mind that should work. We were thinking a mailing list was in order for people to help contribute to the event. Would Google Groups work for everyone? Maybe a Hangout in the near future to talk it over?


cdulude's picture

Thanks for taking this on, milsyobtaf (and UT Austin group)! A Google Group/Hangout sounds good to me. For the date, I personally think Monday the 2nd would be best? It's the day before the start of the 'Con proper, when there are training sessions, other summits, etc. I think it would be easiest for people to manage who are traveling, and wouldn't interfere with regular conference sessions. On the other end, on Friday, people will probably be kind of fried and ready to go home by then. What do the rest of you think?

Definitely Monday

theMusician's picture

Sprints are generally held on the Friday and for those of us that find them fun and/or interesting it would be very difficult to choose between a higher-ed summit or the sprints.


mradcliffe's picture

Friday is Sprint day. Everyone should come to sprint! :-)

UC Davis Represents

Shawn DeArmond's picture

Hi folks,

I'm definitely planning on going, and I would love to participate/assist in organizing this Education Summit. Zach Chandler and I have been organizing the successful Higher Ed Summit at BADCamp for the last three years, and I can see that Zach has already chimed in here.

My particular bailiwick is Features-based development, which we focused on at the last Higher Ed Summit at BADCamp. I'd love to lead a discussion, or give a presentation, or ??? about that. I'll add it to the Wiki page.

Looking forward to it!

Great idea!

cdulude's picture

Hey Shawn! I think a presentation/discussion on Features is a great idea -- we're using it pretty heavily here at Dartmouth, too. Yes, please go ahead and add it to the wiki. Thanks!

Logistics Planning Group Mailing List

milsyobtaf's picture

Put together a Google Group / List for us to hash out the logistics of this in a more-threaded-format:!forum/dca-edsummit

It's applicant-only simply to avoid the brunt of the spambot onslaught, feel free to apply, we'll approve ya'.

Count me in!

ccthompson's picture

I hope to attend Drupalcon Austin and can talk about some Drupal and Islandora projects going on at the UCLA Library! - chis

Chris Cabrera Thompson
Web Services
Digital Initiatives and Information Technology
University Of California, Los Angeles
22484 Charles E. Young Research Library
Box 951575
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
Voice: 310.206.6638


cdulude's picture

Glad to hear it, Chris! Would you consider adding your topic to the wiki? Not a commitment -- just gathering ideas at this point!

Babson is in

barneytech's picture

Babson is in. We have 5 of us going, and we're just trying to book the trip, the sooner we know if the educational summit is Friday or Monday the better. I do think everyone should go to the sprints if possible, so if it is on the Friday I would make them after the sprints, but I dunno if this will interfere with flights. I'm thinking either way works, but whereas in the past it's been on the Monday you might lose people by changing things up. UT or the conference center works, again what is easier will probably be more successful.

Count me in if you need any help organizing!



See you there!

cdulude's picture

Hi James -- thanks for the input! The UT Austin Drupalers are firming up room reservations, but it's looking like the Ed Summit will be on Monday of that week, at the UT Austin campus. We'll make a more official announcement once the reservations are absolutely definite (hopefully soon!)


barneytech's picture

Thanks for the info Christina. We really look forward to the event.

Save The Date!

milsyobtaf's picture

UT is committed to making this happen on our campus, so save the date!
Only local images are allowed.

Count me in!

davidwatson's picture

First, thank you for everything you've done to organize this! I'd be happy to attend, and there may be as many as three coming from Stevens Institute of Technology—just trying to get flights and logistics squared away for everyone.

I've submitted a topic on the wiki page. In the meantime, if you need anything on the organizational front, just let me know.

me too!

damonbla's picture

I'll definitely be there. I'm coming from Hampshire College in Massachusetts. It'll be just me, and I'm looking forward to it! I can definitely come if it's on Monday, but not at all if it's Friday.


cdulude's picture

It'll definitely be on that Monday, at UT Austin. See you there!

I'm game

Register for the Ed Summit!

cdulude's picture

Hey all,

We have a website for the Ed Summit up and running: .

Here, you can:

  • Register for the event (it's free, but you'll need to register so we know how many people to expect).
  • Propose a discussion topic (or see the topics others have proposed already)

See you in June!

Drupal in Education

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