Well, today was my first day at this year's AECT annual meeting in Orlando and I must say that I continue to be underwhelmed by AECT as an organization.
My point of comparison is, and always will be, the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). It is an organization of roughly the same size and has a conference going attendance roughly the same as the AECT annual meeting. I have been to a total of five AACE conferences. At each and every one, there was free, good wireless Internet access in all of the common areas of the conference and poor access in most of the conference rooms. I have yet to meet a volunteer who didn't have their schedule weeks in advance of the conference and you only needed to volunteer for eight hours to receive a free registration.
I show up at AECT today and find out that most of my graduate student colleagues that have elected to volunteer are arriving on site without their volunteer schedule in advance. These students must also still volunteer for twelve hours and still pay $50 for their registration. The first half of this bothers me, because the volunteer registration system allows graduate students to submit the times that they are available to volunteer. With this information and a spreadsheet, anyone willing to spend the time would be able to create a schedule in advance of the graduate student arriving in Orlando. In fact, this was the only part of the proposal that we submitted in relation to organizing the Graduate Student Lounge that was not accepted. I had hoped that our competing bid from the group up north would have also served to correct this situation somewhat, but alias it is as bad as it was last year and I predict that those who do volunteer will log 150% to 200% of the hours that are supposed to because anywhere from 20% to 35% of volunteers won't bother to show up at all.
The second issue I was confronted with yesterday, that really bothered me was the status of the availability of Internet. In Nate's initial preview
of the conference site, he indicated that AECT would be providing wireless access for most of the conference site. In addition, the whole concept of the Overlay and, in addition, the ability to use Skype to network while at the conference was based upon the ability that I could sit in a session and use the overlay, have my Skype open, etc.. Now, because AECT has decided to be stingy on how, where, and to whom it provides wireless Internet access to, this is not possible and, to be perfectly honest, most of the work done on the Overlay over the past six to eight months has been for nought.
Anyway, not off to a good start thus far, but we'll see how the event transpires. Granted, I'll have to tell you about it after the fact because I may not have Internet access until I get back to Athens (unles I break down and shell out the $10/day to use it only in my room or the $10/day to use it only in the common areas of my resort - which is not the conference hotel).
This entry has been cross-posed in both my blog area at the Overlay
and my academic blog (i.e., Breaking into the Academy).Tags: AECT 2005, AECT, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education