Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The Extraordinary: Reflections on Rev Up Learning

"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.

The Good

The Bad
  • 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 Extraordinar
  • 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


@GwynethJones - The Daring Librarian said...

Great Reflection! It was so brilliant meeting you and hanging out with you... the Geek Squad was my favourite part of AASL2009!

BBenkert said...

I agree the first timers session was poorly handled. I was one of the newcomers that was turned away. Being a first timer, I assumed my session ticket and my free box lunch was a given. I was disappointed to learn the ticket meant nothing. I still don't know what I was suppose to do to get admitted and to have a lunch. But I am happy to report this was my only disappointing experience at my first aasl conference.

Andy Plemmons said...

I enjoyed reading this reflection and think you articulated many of my same thoughts. I completely agree with the Celebrate Conference part of your bad section. There wasn't much celebrating going on as access was blocked to many excited newcomers (myself included). However, I leave this conference revved up to try new things in my media center. I am in awe at how we came together and shared our ideas in multiple formats.

Alice in Infoland said...

excellent summary and analysis! FWIW, the Celebrate Conference session for newcomers has had those same problems at several previous conferences: obviously TPTB have not yet figured out how to do this successfully!

diane said...


I agree that the Geek Squad was the highlight of the conference! Hope we don't have to wait until 2011 to meet again.

Barb & Andy,

I was also a newcomer - I hope your overall impression of the conference was a positive one. Please feel free to stay in touch via Twitter, Plurk, or Facebook. I'm dmcordell in most networking spaces.


We want to nurture and encourage newcomers, not turn them away. This is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Andrea Christman said...

Congratulations on getting your first AASL conference under your belt! Now you will be hooked!

I agree with you that the Charlotte Convention Center area made navigating from hotel to restaurant(s) to convention center very easy. Everything was so close together that I didn't have to pay for a taxi once!

We attended many of the same events, so I'm sure I saw you among the crowds!

Thanks for the reflection!
P.S. I added this post to the blogroll I created for AASL blog reflections. Check it out!

diane said...

Yes, Andrea, I am hooked! I plan to travel to D.C. for the ALA convention in June. 2011 in Minnesota seems so far away!