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Conference Management BY Sashay Global J. Of Eng. Educe. , Volt. 8, No. 2 Published in Australia 0 2004 JUICE The Development of Online Conference Management Tools as a Student Project* ?giddier G¶l Andrew Infant’s Then D. Unguent Quant T. Tara University of South Australia, Manson Lakes Blvd, Manson Lakes, Adelaide, AS 5095, Australia In this article, the authors describe online conference management tools that have been developed at the University of South Australia (Unison), Adelaide, Australia, by students as their final year electrical and information engineering design project.

These tools have been utilized to manage an international conference. The Web tools allow a host of tasks to be handled efficiently. These tasks cover the whole range of conference related business, including the issuing of call-for-papers and providing information about the conference, methods of contacting the conference organizers, registrations of interest, online submissions of abstracts (and, later on, full papers) and online reviewing of contributions. The project has satisfied a number of criteria in terms of suitability for engendering graduate qualities in senior engineering students.

The advent of Internet-based online systems has revolutionized the management of almost every conceivable form of human activity, ranging from making purchases to handling finances. Indeed, the organization of professional conferences has been no exception. Gone are the days for calls-for-papers, paper submissions, and registration documents that need to be printed and distributed at substantial cost by regular post. All this, and more, can now be routinely achieved online. It may not be generally recognized how complex a task organizing a conference is.

Many logistics problems can be solved in a sensitive way by avoiding bottlenecks and inadvertent friction points. If online resources are to be utilized, this requires the mastery of sophisticated skills ranging from systematic thinking to multifaceted computing skills. Regrettably, generic software for practical online conference management *A revised and expanded version of a paper presented at the 4th Global Congress on Engineering Education, held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 5 to 9 July 2004.

This paper was awarded the JUICE gold award (third grade) by popular vote of Conference artisans for the most significant contribution to the field of engineering education. Is hardly available. These factors make the task suitable as a challenging topic for a final year electrical engineering project. The authors of this paper have variously been entrusted with the responsibility of organizing international conferences. This group project.

PROJECT SPECIFICATION It is a standard requirement at the University of South Australia (Unison), Adelaide, Australia, for final year students to produce a design specification as a guide that leads to the implementation of the project [1]. The design specification is to identify the constraints on resources for the project and establish criteria to gauge the success of the outcome. In this case, students were given the task of creating a Webbed management system for an international conference.

They identified the following as the cardinal criteria for the project: Information content: The site must contain pertinent up-to-date information related to the stage along the timeline of the conference calendar, including the provision for the registration of 183 184 O. G¶l et al interest, mechanisms to acknowledge and respond to senders of enquiries, the creation of a mailing list and database, the broadcasting of e-mail messages to those on the mailing list and the dynamic updating of the Web site to reflect the current state of conference activities.

The submission of abstracts and papers: Provision must be made for proposed contributions to be up-loaded directly via the Web site. Review process: Task assignment for reviewers must be well defined with clear guidelines, enabling reviewers password-protected access to submitted documents to be reviewed so as to ensure confidentiality. Administration: The inference administrator must have user-friendly access to the Web site in order to manage the different aspects of conference organization, including communication with registrants, prospective authors and reviewers.

Figure 1: The morphology of the iterative Web site design process based on pervasive usability [1]. Rectified in a timely fashion, taking into account user feedback. Figure 1 depicts the underlying design process [2]. In the process depicted, evaluation occurs at every stage of the evolutionary development. DEVELOPMENT PROCESS The process adopted in the development of a Web site as the main tool for the management of an international conference is based on the evolutionary method employed in software engineering.

In this instance, the procedure is adopted wherein an initial implementation is first developed and its suitability is tested by users [2]. The outcomes of these tests are then used to progressively refine prototype versions of the site in a sequence until such time that the site is deemed to satisfy determine the requirements for the site from the perspective of its users: that is, the users’ needs must be identified clearly. This involves identifying the usability requirements. Surveys and interviews may have to be conducted in order to determine users’ needs.

Conceptual design comes next: this normally involves conceptualizing a site-level design and architectural structure at an abstract level. Active server pages, databases and templates may be considered for inclusion. The final Web site will be based on this sequence of evolutionary prototype designs. Quality assurance tests are then conducted at the page-level and satellites through test plans and usability testing so as to ascertain the site’s functionalities. The results are then utilized to improve the site. Iterations are continued until the stage is reached when the site meets the specified criteria.

After the site has been launched, it must continue to be monitored so that any flaws can be detected and IMPLEMENTATION On the basis of the foregoing, the project set out to ascertain the user requirements and to devise the structure of the Web site [3]. The ensuing site design successfully offers four main services, namely: Registration of interest; Broadcasting timely messages to the mailing list; Uploading files via HTTP; Reviewer access to submitted comments by password-protected login; Password-protected administrator access for conference management [4].

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