Donna Petherbridge, Lou Harrison and Peter Watson represented DELTA at the EDUCAUSE conference in Anaheim, California, October 25-28, 2015. Over the weekend, they heard from a number of keynote speakers, attended various breakout sessions, visited with current and past colleagues and even gave their own presentations.
Keynote speakers Susan Cain, Sugata Mitra and Alex Sheen left each DELTA member with a lasting impression and something to think about. As the opening keynote, Cain highlighted differences between introverts and extroverts in the workplace and gave suggestions on how to structure an organization so each employee’s voice is heard. Her speech was titled Quiet: How to Harness the Strengths of Introverts to Change How we Work, Lead and Innovate.
Mitra challenged listeners’ views on assessment by posing the question: why can’t students use their computer devices (e.g. their assistive technology) to help them on exams when that is how they are going to go through life anyway? This is sure to be a highly debated topic in the educational realm.
“We all found his talk a directive for us to challenge instructors to completely rethink both their teaching and assessment practices,” said Petherbridge.
The closing keynote was Alex Sheen, founder of the social movement and non-profit because I said I would. His focus was on keeping promises and how not doing so causes a multitude of problems.
Aside from the keynotes, Petherbridge, Harrison and Watson attended different pre-conference discussions and events. Watson listened to a seminar on Virtual Reality (VR) and the Future of Learning, led by Maya Georgieva, Consultant/Chief Innovation Office, New York University and Emory Craig, Director of eLearning, College of New Rochelle. After the seminar, participants were able to discuss what their institutions were doing in terms of VR, how it may be used in the future and what policy changes need to occur in order for these things to happen.
Harrison attended a pre-conference session called Moving to the Cloud with Amazon Web Services with speakers from Harvard Business School, University of Notre Dame, Amazon Web Services and Cornell University. This talk addressed how to get the cloud once your institution or department has decided to and how to persuade employees to use it.
Petherbridge spent her pre-conference day a little differently by volunteering at the first-timer area greeting and answering questions for people new to the conference and attending the first-timer orientation. As a member of the 2016 EDUCAUSE Program Committee, she also attended a reception and awards ceremony as they recognized individuals’ service to the EDUCAUSE community. The event was hosted alongside the EDUCAUSE board.
Each DELTA member had a different “most memorable” session. The most memorable sessions for Harrison were Building with LEGOs: Leveraging Open Standards for Learning Analytics Data and Culture Shift: How DevOps Changed the Way We Think About IT. The first talk advocated for more broad-based adoption of Caliper and xAPI standards for data interoperability. “We will take this information to heart while building our very own Learning Record Store (LRS) for use with our learning analytics project with Unicon and Marist,” said Harrison. The second described DevOps, a way for developers and infrastructure people to work together more effectively.
Petherbridge thoroughly enjoyed Leading Transformation within Higher Education during a Period of Major Disruption where she and her colleagues discussed the importance of having individuals who were willing to take risks and fail as part of the change process, and in general, about the current major disrupters in higher education, such as decreasing enrollments, student success concerns, alternative credentialing, etc. She also enjoyed the poster sessions, displaying posters that fit each theme of the conference. Additionally, she attended a session that allowed her to get a sneak peak of this year’s Top 10 EDUCAUSE IT issues, a list that will not be published until January 2017.
While Watson thoroughly enjoyed the keynote speakers, the session he found most interesting featured NC State Division of Academic & Student Affairs (DASA) Technology Services Director Leslie Dare and DELTA’s own Donna Petherbridge and Lou Harrison. The session was titled Student Success Is Everybody’s Business.
According to Watson, “The discussion dealt with ways that the represented educational entities are (or are working toward) using technologies and data analysis to improve student outcomes. The methods described ranged from Cuyahoga’s use of paid student mentors to keep incoming students on track, to complicated data analysis to tell how well (or how poorly) individual students will do in specific subjects.”
Dare has been involved in a massive project leveraging EAB that has been compiling student data for over a year while Harrison has worked with partnering colleges and vendors to create a model for predictive analytics.
Not only did our fellow deltoids learn a lot from presentations, they also gave their own. Previously mentioned Student Success Is Everybody’s Business was just one of four presentations NC State played a part in.
Petherbridge also collaborated with with Debbie Carraway on a poster session about IT Strategic Initiative Implementation at NC State. Special thanks were in order for Stan North Martin and his staff who worked with the pair to create a memorable poster. Marc Hoit and others on the NC State IT Strategic Planning Implementation Team were also major contributors.
Additionally, Petherbridge collaborated with Sharon Pitt (Binghamton University), Laura (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor) and Rashmi Radhakrishnan (Albright College), leading a session called “Diverse Paths to Leadership.” This was a featured session at EDUCAUSE and was very well attended.
Finally, Petherbridge collaborated with Joe Shelley, CIO & Mary Bold, Chief eLearning Strategist, of University of Washington, Bothell; Cathy Bates, CIO, Appalachian State University; Donna Liss, CIO, Truman State University; and Veronica Diaz, Director of Online Programs, EDUCAUSE, to facilitate a discussion of Alternative Credentialing. This was Petherbridge’s favorite session, as it was very interesting to work with other universities to see how they are handling the issue of secondary transcripts that help students illustrate their proficiency in non-academic activities.
While Petherbridge, Harrison and Watson were the three main DELTA representatives, they got the chance to catch up with former DELTA employees Joanne Dehoney and Sharon Pitt, and a current NC State colleague Emily Lynema. EDUCAUSE recognized Lynema with the Rising Star award and she also gave a conference presentation about creating innovative spaces in the Hunt Library. Other NC State colleagues present were Keith Boswell, Marc Hoit, Leslie Dare and Debbie Carraway.
Although the vendor floor was a busy place to be, the DELTA attendees took advantage of the opportunity and got to speak with individuals from Top Hat, Unicon and Marist, various LMS vendors, Sonic Foundry and more! When they weren’t in a session, giving a presentation or making their way through the vendor floor, the trio caught a break and a few Pokemon by playing Pokemon Go. This typically occurred while walking from the hotel to the Anaheim Convention Center. Overall, Petherbridge, Harrison and Watson had a great week and learned a lot about educational trends, the future of technologies and various learning applications.
“As always, we each felt that we got a lot of value out of attending EDUCAUSE, and we look forward to attending again next year in Philadelphia, where the conference will take place from 31st October to the 3rd November 2017. Watch for the call for proposals and registration information at the EDUCAUSE website,” said Petherbridge.