MobileMe&You conference celebrates fifth year

MobileMe&You conference celebrates fifth year

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 9:00am

by Molly Roe

The fifth annual MobileMe&You conference was held Oct. 25-26 at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. The conference, sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications (CoJMC) and the University of Illinois College of Media, offers an opportunity to explore mobile media best practices with talks from top digital media experts. 

Gary Kebbel, CoJMC professor and MobileMe&You and conference organizer, said that although the conference is entirely mobile-based, that doesn’t necessarily mean the cell phone is the main focus. 

“The idea is to spread to the broader population – in particular to people using mobile media in their jobs – what the best practices are for news organizations and communications firms who can help the general population understand how to use mobile media,” he said.

Launched in 2015, the conference focuses on teaching skills that are perfect for anyone who is in charge of communications for an organization, Kebbel said, whether that person is writing an organizational newsletter or managing social media. 

The conference has been held at Nebraska, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. 

Kebbel said the conference has evolved over the past five years with the rise of new technology and best practices. One finding, he said, is that more communications professionals are focusing on using mobile media to engage with an audience of one on an individual level.

While some of the tools have remained the same over time, Kebbel said, each year there is at least one new type of technology introduced. This year’s big focuses were artificial intelligence, and voice recognition. Next year the conference will revisit wearable technology such as fitness trackers and smart glasses. 

Kebbel said one of the biggest goals of the conference is to show the general population that one doesn’t have to be an expert on mobile media. Rather, one should take advice from professionals in the communications field and gain understanding from what those people have learned in their work.

“A key focus of the conference is making it so everyone has access to learning these things from experts,” Kebbel said.

One example Kebbel noted was when one of the students in his global news class attended a presentation on building your own bot. The student came to class a few days later and had created his first bot after hearing the talk. 

Future goals for the conference are to increase funding and registration, Kebbel said. MobileMe&You is currently funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a national foundation with a goal of fostering informed and engaged communities.

In addition, Kebbel said he wants to broaden the audience to include more than just journalism students and communications professionals to anyone who wants to learn how to better communicate with a mobile phone and gain skills from people who know the best practices.  

Kebbel said the opportunity for learning either new techniques or new practices and getting new ideas about mobile media continues and is just as strong every year of the conference.

“I’d really like to thank the  many speakers we’ve had who are clearly at the top of their game,” Kebbel said. “They’re talking about things that they were not even doing a year ago, and they’re sharing that knowledge with us. Everyone is doing it because they want to and we’ve had major top-level participation from major news organizations and key professors around the country.” 


Kebbel headshot
Gary Kebbel is a CoJMC professor and the conference organizer for MobileMe&You.