"Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action." -James Levin
On Sunday, I returned home from Charlotte, NC, where I attended the AASL's national conference, Rev Up Learning.
I was a first time attendee and a member of Joyce Valenza's Geek Squad. Here are my impressions of the whole experience.
- meeting some of my online friends and connecting with them on a deeper, more personal level
- becoming acquainted with librarians from around the country...making new friends
- participating in the Unconference, headquartered in the Bloggers' Cafe area
- enjoying the sights - and tastes! - of Charlotte, most within easy walking distance of my hotel and the Conference Center
- having access to a treasure trove of sessions to choose from. The ones I attended, particularly Joyce Valenza's 2.o Learning Tools Smackdown and Buffy Hamilton's Not Just Another Brick in the Wall, were entertaining and provided valuable content
- listening to keynote speakers, danah boyd, James Patterson, and Marco Torres, who were inspired and inspiring
- Internet connectivity was erratic and unreliable. Presenters were frequently unable to demonstrate key sites with a resultant lack of interactivity for the audience.
- the Bloggers' Cafe was tucked away out of sight (though we got the word out, and attendance was large and enthusiastic).
- the Celebrate Conference for new attendees was poorly handled. There were separate lines for getting validated and entering the room, and it was obvious that hundreds of eager newcomers would be turned away, disappointed.
- the Learning Times site did not function as promised. Those of us with blogging privileges were occasionally unable to post; visitors to the home page could not always view promised resources.
- some content was not available to non-attendees and non-members.
- the Geek Squad modeled those frequently touted "21st century skills": lifelong learning, effective information management, collaboration, creation of content. We talked the talk, then walked the walk. Through impromptu presentations and one-to-one mini tutorials, we reached out to colleagues and extended our own learning.
- when the official site had problems, an unofficial alternative space was created and shared
- many presenters added their handouts and slideshows to the Unconference wiki, in the true spirit of advancing knowledge
Overall, I consider my first AASL conference experience to have been a valuable one. In the future, I hope our organization will recognize and actively seek the input of its members, in both the planning and implementation of these gatherings. Some day, perhaps, the Conference will morph into something more akin to the Unconference.
For now, we have the opportunity to reflect on an experience that was mainly positive, and help move it in the direction of greatness.
"What is the good of experience if you do not reflect." -Frederick The Great
"Change is the end result of all true learning." -Leo Buscaglia