Category Archives: Conferences

POW! at TLA 2018 Conference

Congratulations to Tricia Boucher, Texas State University, and Kristina Krengel, Birdville ISD, for their outstanding performance in the Pitch of the Week (POW!) contest at Texas Library Association Annual Conference! Their team, The Pop Culture Homages, came up with the idea for the “Beat Box Blender Bar,” a method for creating mixed drinks from a set of three remote-controlled blenders that create musical beats. As you make music using the wireless remote controlled blenders, you also mix drinks! (at least, I think that was the idea!)

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Report from OLC Accelerate 2016 Orlando

This event was very big, and in my opinion attempted to cram too much into too little time. The mobile schedule was difficult to navigate and had few options for searching. There were too many options to choose from and it was hard to pinpoint the most relevant sessions for my needs. They did offer some themed tracks, but even those had multiple concurrent sessions that competed with one another. Of course, I’m accustomed to attending bloated conferences (ALA, ACRL, ASEE, etc. are all huge) but those tend to have clearly defined tracks that meet my needs with little or no overlap. After several hours trying to navigate the schedule, I gave up and decided to spend the majority of my time in the exhibits hall and the Technology Test Kitchen.

This turned out to be a pretty good decision. OLC had several contests that required visiting the exhibitors, so I decided to play the games and visit as many exhibitors as possible. This allowed me to meet a lot of people and learn about a lot of products and services that I was unfamiliar with. I’m normally too shy and weary of vendor sales pitches and I usually avoid visiting their booths. I guess the prize incentives were enough to break me out of my shell. Unfortunately, I didn’t win any of the contests, and my email spam blossomed exponentially as a result.

The Technology Test Kitchen was my favorite part of the conference. It was interactive and networky and served as a refreshing alternative to the usual PowerPoint lecture model of conference sessions. The Iron Chef Battles were fun and exciting… I’ll write more about that in a later post.

I attended two sessions about Competency Based Education. One was a vendor sessions and I didn’t get much out of it, obviously being a pitch for a product. Another was led by a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and outlined the CBE model that has shown some promise there.

Planning My Schedule for OLC Accelerate

It took me hours to figure out a schedule for the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Accelerate Conference coming up next week in Orlando. This is without a doubt the most daunting and frustrating conference schedule I’ve ever seen. They are cramming in way too many concurrent sessions making it impossible to attend all the sessions that I want. For example, there are over 40 concurrent session on the 16th between 12:00-12:45! Four of those are sessions that I would love to be able to attend, but I can only chose one. I am exasperated by the idea that they are providing over 540 sessions in a two and a half day conference.

Anyway, after hours and hours of slogging through the seemingly endless schedule I finally opted to stick to the Technology Test Kitchen track with only one exception. The TTK sessions will all be held in the same location, so I won’t have to rush around trying to find rooms and wearing myself out. But more than just a matter of convenience, it seems the TTK sessions provide a diverse range of session types, including presentations, hands-on activities, tinkering with new technologies, networking, brainstorming, and design sessions. From this mix I will get many little glimpses into a wide range of things.

I’ll also be attending the session: “Using the 4C/ID Model in CBE: Designing Based on Learning Tasks” which provides a framework for designing competencies-based courses that scaffold domain knowledge, professional communication, leadership and decision making into the learning activities. This is relevant to the work I am conducting as the Maker Literacies Librarian at UT Arlington Libraries, which is all about competencies-based curriculum design. I hope to gain ideas and understanding about effective curriculum design for incorporating those four important competencies in a variety of domains.