In previous years I’ve done a complete blow-by-blow of the entire conference, and that’s really not useful anymore–many of the experiences are the same or similar from year to year, and honestly, I know and talk to a lot of people and to try and name them all would just be self-indulgent. I’ll just go over some of my personal observations:
- I was plagued by a few issues from home which sometimes distracted my focus but also simultaneously gave me clarity on the things I need to be doing to improve the situation on campus. I have started to formulate a plan. I know John O’Brien in his opening speech said that “your emails will still be there” when you get back, and that is certainly true, but the job may not be if you don’t address the issues.
- As always I got to have some great conversations with my Frye classmates. It was a great time to get a reading and just make sure we’re doing what we need to be and to work through challenges.
- I was again blown away by the quality of the EDUCAUSE Award winners. I know that’s funny to say since I helped pick them but to hear them talk just makes me even happier that we were able to select them.
- I was excited about the opening keynote the most, but it ended up being a lot of “This is what a 1960s futurist thinks of the future” stuff, very optimistic without any sense of the issues that the future he describes would bring; and a few descriptions and terms that felt very outdated with our current sensibilities. It was fun to watch the Twitter stream slowly start to become more skeptical of the predictions and context thereof as the speech progressed.
- The second keynote also brought up some issues of big data, but it was interesting to hear how you can be persuasive with data and change people’s behavior.
- Temple Grandin was an incredible whirlwind and her talk gave us a window into her mind. She is a powerful example of why people on the spectrum are not “broken”, they’re just different, and helping them use their difference positively is a tremendous benefit to society. It fit in well with the other thoughts of diversity, equity, and inclusion that I interacted with during the conference.
- Much of my conference dealt with issues of “diversity, equity, and inclusion”. I went to a lot of sessions about it, and thought about it a lot, especially in the context of the recent revelations from the entertainment world. Also, as I am now working in a considerably more diverse environment than my previous institution, the ideas of how to keep the experience of my employees as inclusive of their differences as possible is foremost in my mind, and providing them the opportunities they need and deserve will continue to be a priority.
- One thing (as I finish up this abandoned draft from a few months ago ;-)) that I’ve been thinking of is what it means to be good at things. Defining success and whatnot. I’m still working on that in some ways. Stay tuned.
- A shout-out to Tim Chester and his organizing the second annual (unofficial) EDUCAUSE Fun Run. The obvious choice was up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, and we had about 20 people this time (in Anaheim in 2016 it was three of us!)
All in all, EDUCAUSE remains my premier professional development event, and I will continue to participate fully, as an attendee, as a volunteer whenever my professional association needs me, and hopefully this year as a co-presenter with some great colleagues. I cannot recommend it highly enough and hope to see many of you in Denver this fall.