A Successful Higher Education Meetup at DrupalCon
by Chris Hartigan
Acquia’s Higher Education Meetup at DrupalCon was a success, but don’t just take our word for it. Scott Lozier, Senior Drupal Developer at Bentley University, attended the Meetup and said afterwards, “I love hearing real stories from other Higher Ed Drupal folks - we experience similar problems and it's great to hear how others are solving them. I picked up a few ideas to help me with responsive." (Scott and Bentley, btw, have done some amazing things with mobile and responsive design. Check it out their work here: www.bentley.edu.)
Mobile and responsive was an interesting topic of discussion, but in our pre-Meetup survey the biggest subject of interest was migration, whether it be from D6-D7, D6-D8 or D7-D8 (interestingly, none of the attendees admitted to being on an older version than D6!). But while the survey indicated that migration was an area of general anxiety, and it was from the questions that were being asked by many of the participants, there were many in the room who have very successfully dealt with migration issues and who projected great confidence - and even mastery - with the subject. And it was this exchange - schools with questions and concerns hearing directly from schools with expertise and experience - that formed my biggest takeaway from the higher education Meetup: there is a huge need in the higher education Drupal community for more collaboration and sharing of best practices around the issues, challenges and opportunities that colleges and universities are facing.
The positive feedback we received after the Meetup, which was simple and relatively unstructured but which allowed a basic opportunity for discussion and networking, indicates that there is a need for more resources to support the overall evolution of Drupal in higher education. Certainly there are several forums in existence and other newcomers - such as the EDU Drupal Unconsortium (www.edudu.org) - are excellent resources and Acquia is excited to support them in any way we can, but more can always be done. We’re interested in your thoughts as to what that “more” is or should be. One thought we have is to take the face-to-face higher education Meetup forum that was received so well at DrupalCon on the road, and host regional higher education Meetups around the country so that Drupalists from colleges and universities in the same area can come together and share, connect, and collaborate. DrupalCamp and other general Meetups are great and we support them emphatically, but I know from my time in higher education that this is an industry that benefits greatly from face-to-face networking specifically with individuals who can empathize with the very unique challenges and issues that peers at other colleges and universities deal with.
So, while the DrupalCon higher education Meetup was a success, we want to do more for our customers in this industry and for community overall. Let us know how you think we can best support you and your peers – we’re listening.