Things I’ve learned while working on the Teaching London Computing project [Pt 1] Eventbrite is fab :)

I’m the Project Manager for Teaching London Computing, a project funded by the Mayor of London and Department for Education which supports London teachers who are delivering the new computing curricula. We do this through a variety of taught courses (covering both subject knowledge and pedgagogy relating to how best to introduce them in the classroom) as well as free workshops and downloadable classroom resources.

Colleagues teach the courses and create the activities and worksheets, other colleagues deal with evaluating the project and its impact (this is a non-commercial research project that takes place in two universities: Queen Mary University of London, where I work, and King’s College London, where I have a visitor’s pass).

At the end of the project (formally 30 September 2015 but we have a no cost extension until the end of the year to finish some bits and pieces off) we submitted a large and detailed self-evaluation document to our funders. In it we tried to capture more than just facts and figures (in fact we were encouraged to by the Mayor’s team as they want to know about challenges and anything that would help someone else running a similar project in future).

I wanted to write a series of blog posts about the day to day minutiae of running a project like this because I think that might also be helpful to people, at least I hope so.

Part One – Eventbrite is fantastic

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.01.27

One of our events

For our GCSE and A-level CPD courses, for each place we charge teachers £150 and another £150 to the Mayor’s office (non London teachers aren’t subsidised and must pay the full amount). It is very easy to set up a chargeable event on Eventbrite (the fiddliest bit was finding the IBAN number for QMUL and explaining that we’d be putting money into that account and then later moving it into under our own grant code) and handle payments through credit cards or via invoicing [we do the invoicing ourselves, not via Eventbrite].

I do remember explicitly writing in the report that time spent becoming familiar with the event management tools (and that includes the WordPress blog and Twitter, if you’re less familiar with using those) was time well spent.

We made use of various Eventbrite widgets. On the right hand side of any page on this website you will likely see an orange Eventbrite image / widget which will have information about our event when we’re running them (it will look a bit empty when we’re not). I set this up once and now whenever I publish a new event on Eventbrite it automatically appears here.

I also like the ‘buttons’ widget that lets you choose a button colour and text and then gives you a small piece of code to put on your website or in a blog post, like these, to encourage people to click for tickets. Of course you can just link to the ticketing page with a normal hyperlink, but this seems nice.

Eventbrite - QMUL: miniCPD - Introduction to Arduino, with Nicola Plant [21 Nov 2015]

Eventbrite - QMUL: Paul Curzon computing workshop - Sorting Unplugged – for Sorting Unplugged with Paul Curzon

Eventbrite - QMUL: miniCPD - Introduction to Arduino, with Nicola Plant [28 Nov 2015]

Eventbrite will even let you embed the payment options directly onto your website, again with a bit of code. I’ve not used this as I prefer people to go ‘off site’ to Eventbrite, but perhaps I’ve missed out by not using that option!

It’s extremely easy to gather contact email addresses from people who’ve signed up to our events, so that I can email them with joining instructions and generally keep in touch. Similarly it’s easy for them to send me, as event organiser, an email if they have questions.

Eventbrite also acts as a massive data record of all of the events we’ve hosted at QMUL and I can go back in time and search for any of our events (even once they’ve finished) so there’s little danger of losing any information.

When you sign up to one of our events we ask everyone a series of questions about their school – fortunately we don’t have to remember what these questions are each time we create a new event, thanks to the COPY event option. But we do have to remember to check the ticket prices (our miniCPD events are £30) and make sure that the dates when the tickets go on sale match the time when we want to sell them.

Most of our events involve people arriving once a week for 10 weeks so using the online checkin system for those events isn’t useful but it’s great for our one-off workshops where everyone comes to one event. You can just type in part of someone’s name and any name containing that string will appear.

It did take me a while to become properly familiar with Eventbrite but you can do all the vital things without training, and then spend a bit of time tinkering to get things right. They have fantastic help pages and the team at the company have always been vastly helpful whenever I’ve had a query.

Hopefully there will be more blog posts in this series as I’d like to talk about spreadsheet wrangling (and how I’ve learned some useful shortcuts there), also the fabulous Google Forms (and the resulting Google spreadsheets) and Google Fusion Tables which give you little maps of where you’ve done stuff. I was already familiar with Twitter and WordPress blogs but I might say something about those too.

Obviously there are other products on the market that do Eventbrite-like things. I use Eventbrite because the colleague from whom I took over had set things up already, so I’m not really familiar with ‘the competition’. I should add that neither QMUL nor King’s College London (nor the Mayor’s office) officially endorse Eventbrite, WordPress or even Twitter and this is solely my personal endorsement, because I’ve found it really useful.

Jo Brodie
Teaching London Computing

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