Wireless and AECT
Okay, so a few days ago I told Rick Xaver, over at Disruptive Technocrat that I was anxiously awaiting his thoughts on "Next: is wireless Internet access at the conference a perk or a necessity?" (see More on AECT). Given the inside knowledge and attention to detail that Rick displayed in his first shelling of AECT, I was hoping that he would again offer up some specific criticisms and some specific suggestions on how to more ahead in the future.
While I wasn't disappointed with his specific criticisms, I was a little disappointed with his suggestions on how do we improve this. Beyond stating that "wireless Internet access at the conference is definitely a necessity" and suggesting that "we shouldn't even visit a potential conference site until we know everything about what our Internet options are," there was little there in the way of how do we move forward.
If you recall, wireless access and Internet access in general were the topics of a couple of the entries that I posted about AECT this past year (see First Impression of AECT 2005 - Continue to Disappoint, More Internet Woes, Post-Mortem on AECT, and Final Thoughts on AECT 2005 - I promise). The common thread between all of these entries (and there were two or three more on AECT that didn't include this) was the lack of Internet access for conference participants - be it through the promised wireless network, the lack of facilities provided by the trade show, and the lack of coverage to all of the conference's resort areas.
In more than one of these entries, I compared (and have done so many times in the past) AECT to AACE. Both organizations have similar missions. The AACE on the other hand manages three or four times the number of academic journals as AECT and has three conferences to AECT's one (although this appears to be expanding to two with the proposed research symposium). I've been told that AACE also also has a bigger permenant staff to AECT - four or five to two or three I'm told.
Having made these distinctions, I have been to two AECT annual meetings now and have had very spotty Internet access at the first and little to none at the second. I have been to four AACE conferences now and have had wireless Internet access at all four and have also had access to a computer room three tims the size of anything I have seen at AECT. How you might ask? Well, AACE brings it with them. They bring their own wireless system to the conference hotel for participants to use, through two staff members and a host of volunteers (did I mention that eight hours of volunteering at AACE gets your free registration compared to twelve hours fora $50 registration at AECT - and don't get me started on scheduling) to manage both systems.
I have asked a number of times and have yet to receive what I consider an adequate response as to why AECT can't do this. I mean with all of the knowledge and volunteerism that we have in the organization, why can't AECT just go and purchase the necessary equipment and then have a dedicated team of volunteers (why not even use all of the computer literate and technically savy graduate students running around) to manage the system?
This is what I should, but won't see in Dallas. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me why I won't.
[I should note that posted only a few hours ago on Ward's Ruminations was a Dallas Report which states that with the prospective conference hotel AECT will be bring their own wireless equipment to blanket the conference area. While we've been promised this before, based on this report, it looks more promising that this may become a reality.]
Tags: AECT, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education