Delayed Live Blogging: Best practices for academic conferences of the 2010s

AERC / CASAE ConferenceInitial thoughts on this morning’s welcome address and announcements at the Canadian Association for Studies in Adult Education / Adult Education Research Conference:

The unavailability of wifi in the auditorium and in the classrooms were the presentations were occuring prevented me from doing live blogging although I’ve typed this entry during that time. So I’m time stamping it at the time it was blogged as I originally planned but will be posting them as I have access to the net along the way.

There are stark differences between technology and academic conferences. From the technology conference last week, I’ve mentioned Stuart MacDonald and Bryce Johnson’s announcements on tagging used, twitter account name, availability of wikis, blogging, webcasts, podcasts and blog sites as part of the administrative announcements at the onset of the conference. These were not identified in the academic conference this morning. What was announced was as follows:

AERC / CASAE ConferenceAERC / CASAE Conference

AERC / CASAE at Mt Saint Vincent University ~
1. Cafeteria’s availability
2. Location of Message boards
3. Bookstores and publishing companies will be at an exhibitor’s table
4. Publication goals were verbalized as tenure requires this anyway, so sessions specifically for publication will be identified
5. The need to follow Robert’s Rules it seems were expressed with the words “We’ll stay in time”
6. Where the Beverage service is located
7. Location of the meeting spaces
8. Conference Staff and Volunteers with identifiable blue T-shirts
9. Conference Schedule is a bit confusing as it was laid out in portrait format rather than landscape which may confuse the reader

At Mesh/Technology Week Conferences at MaRS last week ~
1. Agendas were not discussed, administrative announcements were used
2. No need to inform of a message board because there is a presumption that everyone is wired – mobile phones, blackberries, twitter, etc.
3. Bookstores are presumed to be online so titles of books were used along with websites at conferences. The exhibitors were pushing their URLs rather than published works
4. Available working space at the tech conference with wifi, ample electrical outlets and phone availability
5. Conference Staff and Volunteers with identifiable black polo shirts and ID tags
6. Conference schedule is laid out in time to concurrent schedule

The similarities between these conference announcements are as follows:
1. Availability for registration online
2. Conference websites

AERC / CASAE ConferenceBest Practice that Academic Conferences should continue to use:
1. Articles are published online
2. Agenda: As teachers we learned to tell the students what you’re going to tell them, tell them then repeat it again. The agenda was explained

With regard to facilities ~
It would be great to have a wifi enabled facility but if due to the state or policies of the location maybe have an alternative solution. A MSVU personnel told us that the student lounge was wifi enabled. That is great but unfortunately not a solution for live blogging. We were told that the auditorium was purposely blocked for any cell related equipment to work. A great idea especially to deter distraction but moving to the 2010s, this policy may need to be rethought.

There isn’t enough accessible electrical plugs but with only two people out of about 150 attendees were using laptops at this conference, maybe not really a requirement… at this time. But if Web 2.0 models were to be integrated in an academic conference, maybe its a good idea to have extension cords available, at least.

If academic conference organisers want to incorporate appropriate technology to a changing audience (digital natives joining the academe for example) then my first thought is to make sure various technological options are provided. Look at the technology conferences as a reference. Maybe even hire a live blogger (like myself – ok that was a plug) or two until that competency is brought in-house. Add a blog or wiki (both even?!) in their website. Maybe incorporate twitter. I’m sure there are other options that we’ll come up along the rest of this conference.

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