Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Highlights of AECT 2009

Thanks to all those who made AECT 2009 so wonderful – especially to my co-planners, Barbara Lockee and Miriam Larson, the division/affiliate planners, and our highly experienced conference support personnel, Lois Freeland and Dalinda Bond. I estimate that the planners invested about 60 hours on planning calls and at least as many hours in planning activities between bi-weekly calls. Without their tireless efforts, AECT 2009 would not have been such a success.

We had about 740 registered participants – slightly fewer than the turnout in Orlando last year – but we had twice the number of one-day registrations as we have had in the past – 140. On Saturday, the AECT Board voted to discontinue one-day registrations since so many of the one-day registrants this year attended multiple days.

The Galt House venue was a hit with nearly everyone. Free Internet access in the rooms was appreciated as was the existence of inexpensive food and drinks within the hotel and nearby.

We had three outstanding keynote speakers: Peter Goodyear (University of Sydney), Daphne Rainey (National Science Foundation), and Andrei Podolskij (Moscow State University). Peter’s talk about learning through inquiry and teaching as design, resonated with many of those in attendance and sparked ongoing discussion throughout the conference. Daphne’s overview of NSF programs, and cyberlearning in particular, also generated many subsequent discussions, and was a very nice introduction to the theme for the 2010 conference. Andrei’s presentation on the developmental dimensions of instructional design was a strong and well-formulated reminder of the need to take into account human development when planning and implementing learning and instruction, and his closing example made the need to keep human developmental psychology linked to instructional planning quite clear. We also had many outstanding presidential sessions, integrative panels and concurrent sessions.

I have already received feedback that this year’s innovation of reflection papers could be strengthened by scheduling them so that the posters followed the short paper presentations immediately. I doubled the number of Presidential sessions in response to feedback from last year. These sessions included an interdisciplinary panel reporting on a technology integration effort in rural K-8 schools in the Southeast, another reporting on technology integration and professional development in a higher education setting that involved two remote presenters and two on-site presenters, a panel addressing the development of the scientific mind, a very stimulating session on cloudworks (see http://cloudworks.ac.uk/), and much more.

We plan to expand the present@distance sessions that were a success this year. Presenting at a distance was designed to allow those outside the USA, and others who simply could not afford to travel to the conference, to make a presentation and place a paper in the Proceedings at a significantly reduced rate. Because there are costs to AECT to support such sessions, and because we expect more of these in the future due to eliminating the one-day registration fee, we will need to revisit the registration costs for remote presenters.

The ECT Foundation sponsored a riverboat cruise Friday evening. We were originally scheduled to be on the Belle of Louisville, but it lost a battle with a barge and we ended up on the Spirit of Jefferson instead. “It was a rainy night in Louisville. The sky was ominous, as was the previous incident with the Belle of Louisville.” So began the saga of the ECT’s Cruising on the River adventure. The boat was filled to capacity, and, no thanks to the weather, everyone survived. Some imbibed. There was music, courtesy of Tom Atkinson and Greg Clinton. Some danced. One danced barefoot – one of those wild conference co-planners mentioned earlier. The music and the weather and the cruise up the Ohio River and back combined to make for a wonderful evening outing.

How about the future prospects of AECT? We are reaching out to new constituencies and reaching new groups of interested professionals. Mary Herring negotiated affiliations with the National Technology Leadership Consortium and the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education this past year. I am working on an agreement with the Indonesian Educational Technology Society (IPTPI) and the New Media Consortium. Future Minds is continuing to pursue its vision of transforming education. We have two new state chapters in Michigan and Kansas, and two new university affiliates - Boise State and Virginia Tech. We are committed to providing improved services to our members including: (a) a series of concept papers to be published through the Publications Committee led by Rhonda Robinson, (b) a new edition of the Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology to be available in 2012/2013 to members online, as are the 2nd and 3rd editions, (c) a new journal focusing on Design led by Elizabeth Boling, (d) joint grant proposals with AECT teaming with universities and other associations, (e) Webinar series sponsored by various divisions and available at no cost to AECT members, (f) virtual worlds space for all of the divisions in Second Life, (g) ongoing biennial summer research symposia resulting in edited volumes, and (h) new software support to make conference planning more effective and efficient.

We will seek to expand membership and reduce operating expenses so as to avoid any significant increases in membership dues or conference rates. Given access to so many high quality online publications, membership continues to be well worth the cost, in my obviously biased opinion. Our 2010 budget was projected to have a total income of $852,855 with total expenses of $773,9925 - with a net gain of $73,930. It is too early to know if we will hit that target. There was reduced corporate support for ISMF which resulted in AECT providing much more support than we have in the past resulting in a net loss rather than a net gain. There were many more one-day registrations than in the past which will put us a bit behind in our projected revenue from the conference. Still, we have very strong revenues coming in from our journals – about $356,000 this year, and membership is stable. While there are new things we need to support – finalizing the Website, an affiliation with the New Media Consortium, etc. – there are also some sizeable expenses that can be reduced (e.g., NCATE dues – my own opinion is that the funding model is exactly backwards in this case; NCATE should be paying AECT for our intellectual property and professional services).


  1. I have realized that there is one group of people whom I have not recognized and thanked - namely, the AECT 2009 facilitators. Please stand and be recognized now. You all made valuable contributors in introducing sessions and presenters, distributing and collecting evaluations, keeping presenters on time, and generally keeping things running smoothly. Again I apologize to the many invited Presidential presenters and panelists whom I was unable to personally introduce and who had no facilitator present. One piece of constructive feedback I have gotten is to have a facilitators list in the program showing when and where each facilitator should be to lead the various sessions. More feedback is most welcome.

  2. Additional feedback about AECT 2009 is most welcome. I would especially like to see feedback about the innovations introduced at AECT 2009:

    1. Present@Distance
    2. Integrative Panels
    3. Reflection Papers
    4. Combining the GSA Lounge, the International Division welcome table, and the AECT job center
    5. Having the D&D Showcase and the University Reception overlap

    Feedback on other matters and sessions is of course welcome.

  3. Hi Dr. Spector,
    I agree with your biased opinion (YBO - LOL)--this year's conference was spectacular! I truly appreciated the in-room Internet access, the wonderful entertainment during the Joint University Reception, the spectacular keynotes, and the wonderful venue. Combining those ohter events with the reception was a very good idea. I wonder if there is something similar we could do for the roundtable sessions--we would've liked to see more attendance (then again, it was after 3pm on Friday!).

    The people at the Galt House made us feel very welcome--they were pleasant, attentive, and eager to help.

    This is the fifth AECT conference I have attended and I must say it was one of the best!

    Thanks to everyone for a wonderful experience. I'm looking forward to next year!


  4. One last thing..

    I particularly enjoyed the panel discussions. I think these types of sessions are quite stimulating. It's great to be able to hear from so many of the best minds in our field--all in one session.

    Again, thanks!

  5. Thanks, Tracey. I have passed your ideas along to Barbara Lockee who will be organizing AECT 2010 in Anaheim.