I just finished my first trip to the yearly ASCD conference. It was a lot of fun experiencing a conference of that size from an attendee perspective (in a former life I worked tech conferences such as COMDEX and PC Expo for eWeek). More importantly, it was great to get out of the bubble, so to speak, and see and hear what others are doing...
A few thoughts:
- It's 2013. There shouldn't be wifi issues at a major metropolitan area convention center during a major conference. Especially an education one with a market that has a large hand in making mobile computing, especially the iPad, successful. If the NFL can offer free wifi to capacities in the neighborhood of 60-90,000 and stream multiple angles of video replays, a convention center should be able to as well. (I’m a NY Jets season ticket holder and I was amazed at the connection speeds and playback during games.)
- Which leads me to my second point, mobile computing. Wow. iOS dominates in a very big way (I view the education market as “enterprise”): iPads, iPhones, iPods. They were everywhere. At times it seemed like everyone had one (I cheated and threw off the curve with three: iPad, iPad mini, and iPhone). Yes, I exaggerate a bit; I saw quite a few Android phone owners (but guess which tablet they were using?) and even found one Surface RT owner (and yes, guess which phone she was using instead?). I wish there was a definitive way to tell but I'd hazard a guess that 90% of attendee tech was Apple. What wasn't mobile were MacBooks.
- Which leads me to my next point: Connecting. All this technology -- iPads. iPhones. Wifi, when it worked. All this digital engagement but little connection. I am speaking of Twitter. There were apparently 10,000 attendees, yet the head of ASCD just started tweeting on Day 1. The #ascd13 hashtag was fairly active, but the same names kept coming up. In an iPad seminar there were 50-100 people. All with iPads. I was one of 2 in the session Tweeting. In this mobile world we are in, if we're not connecting face to face we need to be connecting online. Twitter is a great resource and it was odd to see it so under utilized (Steven Anderson has a great post about this).
- Not exactly technology related, but PowerPoint. Again, it's 2013; must every slide of a presentation have so much text that font size 16 is required? Out of seven presentations I saw, four had serious visual issues and were almost impossible to read. The other two were wordy but readable. I was only in one session that had a simple yet informative and engaging presentation. The presentation materials were all available for download. My recommendation: Pack the downloads with tons of text and information and keep the live visuals to 3-5 lines of text, max. More text doesn't mean more value.
ASCD was a great time. I got a lot of reinforcement by seeing others doing similar things to what we do at PS 10, while also seeing and learning new things. It gives me great perspective as I move forward in my instructional and technology planning. It also gave me great ideas for what and how to present information to colleagues. All in all, a great weekend.