Overall, it was a really fascinating experience. The mission of EDUCAUSE is to "advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology."It was really interesting to attend a non-library conference where librarians and libraries definitely have an important place. There weren't a lot of library offerings on the program, and I think there should be more - the mission is directly related to everything we do.
It was interesting attending a conference with such big name sponsors as Blackboard, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, and hundreds more. The exhibit hall was like a fairground. Plus, all the lunches and refreshment breaks were delicious!
Best of all was a Beach Party sponsored by Blackboard featuring lots of food, a few free drinks, a Beach Boys cover band and dj! The experience as an attendee was very slick - as the conference planning co-chair for the AzLA Annual Conference, there were a lot of things I wish we could do. They had an online schedule planner so you could plan out your sessions and download them to your calendar; a mobile website with the full program, your schedule, and other conference info; Twitter hashtags for each program (that was a little over the top - that didn't seem as popular as the general EDUCAUSE10 hashtag); an affinity finder to see who else is attending. Finally, they recorded several key sessions and you can view them for free online, even if you didn't attend. I'm grateful for this, because there were a couple of sessions I'd missed that sounded fascinating.
On the professional development level, there are a few things I could take home and try to put into practice in my current job (or at least, ponder deeply about in a general professional sense):
- I attended a couple of repository sessions - what stuck with me for both of these was the emphasis on being able to provide usage statistics and data about the material in the repository. Both sessions said this helps sell the repository to stakeholders. Additionally, the concept of a repository liaison who helps coordinate the dissemination of information about the repository to librarians, faculty, staff, etc. and vice versa. To me that sounds like it would fit right into my job description, so I'm already exploring steps in that direction.
- One of the general sessions (archive video) was just full of mind-blowing concepts. Neil Gershenfeld from the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT talked about his Fab Labs and some of the new theories about computing and education that they're exploring. It was really fascinating! Here are some of the bullet points from my notes:
- just in time vs. just in case education – do we really need to build up this storehouse of knowledge just in case you might need it
- Let students play without worrying whether they understand everything yet – a variant of the vocational school
- libraries don't become obsolete just because you have books at home. Libraries provide foundation for literacy – intersection of physical science and information science
- education is not a place, it's a network
- An article to read: On the future of Invention: is MIT obsolete?
- unbuild as well as build – no trash
- Intellectual rights may hinder ability to create anything
- mass market makes the most boring things
- lesson from music is that drm didn't work – it's too leaky
- intellectual property works if you can find somebody to sue - you can't sue India
- intellectual property business models have to come from adding value, not controlling scarce resources
- I attended a great session called "Games: the best way to learn, period" which was packed and fostered a really interesting discussion and the forming of a new affinity group. I'm looking forward to seeing how this group grows, and I'm looking for ways to use some of the suggestions given in this session for internal learning at the library - new employee orientations, for example, or staff training.
- Finally, I attended a session called "The Academic Library in 2025", which basically talked about the report released by ACRL in June called Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians. I haven't had a chance to read the report yet, but it sounds really interesting. Some of the high probability and high impact possibilities were:
- increasing threat of cyber crime/terrorism/war
- opportunity: information literacy
- mobile devices
- scholarship stultifies – still wrestling in many disciplines whether digital scholarship is valuable
- breaking textbook monopoly – more custom created materials for classes
- bridging scholar/practitioner divide
- everyone is a non-traditional student
- large touch screens become standard equipment
- students no longer just attend one school, but pick and choose their own
- programs depending on interest. More partnerships with industry
It was a great experience. I'd love to go again next year!