EDUCAUSE 2015–Part 2

One thing I forgot to mention about Wednesday is that a few weeks before the conference I got an email from a video producer for EdTech Magazine (published by CDW) asking if I wanted to be interviewed for videos they were making about EDUCAUSE.  I figured the only right answer to that question was “sure!” so I said yes.  I got a call sheet with several questions on it and a warning that they would not have hair and makeup on site so to arrive camera ready.  A few extra brushes of the hair, and a good shave were thus necessities in the morning.

As for the experience itself, it was a lot of fun.  The interviewer asked the questions off camera and I replied to him.  I gave them relatively long answers, and they asked at least three questions and only used parts of my responses from two of them (news flash, this is how these things are done).  When I was done the producer asked if I had done this sort of thing before because he said I was very polished.  I mentioned I had some theatre experience in high school and college, and that probably was what he was seeing (liberal arts education FTW!)  You can see the videos here and here (the latter even has me as the freeze-frame).

So after my sessions were done I felt like I could kick back a little and enjoy myself.  I had nothing else to do but sit back and enjoy the experience as more of an observer–and report to the joint 2015/2016 committee meeting (to discuss later).

Then we went to the networking reception, which is of course held in the vendor hall.  If you want your free beer or wine you’ll have to run the gauntlet of booths.  I actually talked to a few vendors I wanted to talk to.  I then met up with my other Drew colleagues (and one former Drew colleague) for a very nice dinner, where we were able to update and compare notes.  We then again adjourned to the JW lobby bar for a nightcap.

Thursday.  I might have gone to the gym in the morning but I didn’t log it so I don’t remember.  At least I was walking a lot.

My first session was with some of the EDUCAUSE staff who run the Core Data Service on using the CDS data for benchmarking.  Since this is part of my job, I thought it would be good to go.  I got some good tips and learned about some new tools they have on the horizon.

I then went to the session by Beth Schaefer (@sluggirl), the EDUCAUSE Community Leadership Award winner, on her thoughts on building community.  True to form, she immediately engaged the audience and encouraged us to talk to the people around us.  I had a fascinating conversation with someone from Gallaudet, and learned how they do communications there, which was much different due to using less spoken communications.  We had a conversation through his sign language interpreter, which was actually something I had never experienced before, but I quickly adjusted and found it quite natural.

Beth is one of those people I know from Twitter, but had never actually met IRL, so it was good to finally meet her for real and talk for a bit as well.

I then went to one of the career counseling sessions that EDUCAUSE sponsors.  Not much to say about that except the conversation was very interesting and didn’t go the way I expected, and I’m still working hard at taking what I learned to heart.

Then to the second keynote of the conference by Andrew McAfee at MIT.  Basically he was talking about being in the “second half of the chessboard”–the exponential growth in the capabilities of information we’ll be seeing in the next few years, what we should expect, and how to prepare.  It reminded me a lot of Ray Kurzweil’s talk at EDUCAUSE 2006.  We will have awesome capabilities ahead of us, and we have to be ready, just not technologically, but socially.

Then lunch in the exhibit hall–had an interesting conversation with some new people, which is always good (pro tip:  make sure you have at least one meal with people you don’t know–this is how you make connections.)

Then to the social media constituent group meeting led by the great @tjoosten.  Ironically, the first thing everyone at my table did was exchange business cards–I guess it was an intentional move to bring some uniqueness to our actual physical interaction.  We all had a good discussion about the uses of social media as an adjunct to our support tools, how students prefer to interact socially, and a bit of discussion into the waters of such things as Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

I then managed to the the Drew D briefly on the Lego board:

It did not survive in the final rendition (remade by a professional LEGO artist) but it was cool to get there if only for a short while.

I then spent some time catching up with people and with email, skipping some sessions, until the EDUCAUSE 2015/2016 committee meeting I mentioned earlier.

Also, at some point Kent Brooks (@kentbrooks) called a Tweetup, so I participated.  This picture was not posed:

 

So, then off to the committee meeting.  Obviously I went to this meeting last year, as a member of the incoming conference committee.  The outgoing committee gave us sage advice and their assessment of how things went.  Now it was our turn to pass our wisdom on to the next group.  They were already well underway with their topic areas and pulling together the call for proposals (which ends soon) and I’m confident they’ll do a great job.

I then went to the EDUCAUSE Institute Management Programs reception.  Saw several of my Frye classmates who I hadn’t yet had a chance to see–there were probably close to ten of us who showed up there at some point.  As is their fashion, they cut right to the chase and gave me exactly the advice I needed in a concise and thoughtful way.  And, there was beer.

Went back to the JW and had dinner with some colleagues from the reception at the sports bar there–nothing spectacular, but good enough.  Had an amaretto for dessert which was different for me.

Went back to my room for a bit and then got a message that some people were hanging out at St. Elmo’s 1933 lounge and to come join them.  I did, and had a great time with a great mix of old, new, and briefly-met-once-before friends.  After a bit we went looking for another bar that was open but there wasn’t one, and we retired to our respective hotels.

Friday morning.  The last day.  Started it with a session about using the CDS for student success, which was good but wasn’t really that relevant to what I am currently doing.

I then went to convene a session by Terry Hartle of ACE who gave a great overview of Federal policy on higher education.  Talked a lot about what Congress and the Obama administration have (and haven’t) done and even some thoughts on the presidential candidates and their plans for higher ed.  His slides are here.

The final session of the conference was Emily Pilloton, who talked about the power of design to change lives.  In some ways, the least “IT-y” of the keynotes, but very good from an empowerment perspective.  She talked a lot about how experiential learning is more important than content.  And that’s important for all of us to remember as supporters of students.

During the backchannel on the keynote I coined the term “badgeassery”;

Bumped into several more people on the way out of the hall, and somehow managed to pull together a really interesting group for lunch, including Melissa Woo (@mzyw) who I hadn’t talked to nearly enough until that point.  But everyone at lunch was great and it was an inspiring group of people and conversation.

At that point my conference was over, but my flight didn’t leave until late afternoon, so I took the opportunity to do some sightseeing.  A must do was the Kurt Vonnegut Library.  It was in a little storefront in downtown, and was a great little place.  As a huge Vonnegut fan it was great to see one of his old typewriters:

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Even got a chance to talk a little with the founder of the library.  It was a great place, and my only complaint was that a museum devoted to Vonnegut should be much bigger, based on his significance to 20th century American literature.  But they’re off to a good start.

I then walked around Indianapolis quite a bit, visiting some of the parks, memorials, and the central library.  It’s a very nice, and livable city.  I won’t say I was surprised, but I was pleased.  With all the nastiness about the policies passed by the state in the previous few months, it was good to see the city of Indianapolis was welcoming, funky, and interesting.

So, finally, back to the airport, where I once again bumped into Bryan Alexander, and shared dinner with him before heading off to our respective flights (I’m sure he thinks I’m stalking him now.)

I think that’s enough of the (now very late) brain dump for now.  Perhaps a brief post following up with what I learned and how I will use it moving forward.

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Mike Richichi

I’m an inveterate geek who’s somehow become a leader in higher education information technology. These are some of my thoughts.