Tuesday, November 17, 2009

News from the Nov 17th AECT Board Meeting

AECT leaders are hard at work improving the association, and we had an especially productive AECT Board meeting this afternoon. Here are a few examples of the outstanding work being done on behalf of AECT members from today’s meeting. Barbara Lockee has led a task force to identify and recommend a system to improve conference planning - from the initial call for papers, through the submissions and review process, to scheduling and then developing the conference program. The system that her task force recommended is All Academic, which is the system used by AERA. It is very easy to use with all of the functionality we require. In addition, it is affordable and will allow us to provide more meaningful feedback to submitters and receive improved papers from those whose proposals are accepted. The third biennial AECT Research Symposium, led by Les Moller, is moving forward with an extended call for papers. The plan is to hold the symposium just after the summer leadership development meeting in Bloomington July 22-23 (exact dates may change slightly). The Board voted to join the New Media Consortium (NMC – www.nmc.org) so as to make NMC activities and resources more available, accessible and affordable for AECT members. This move, along with our affiliation with the National Technology Leadership Coalition (NTLC; http://www.ntlcoalition.org/) should ensure AECT a continued presence at the national level with prominent educational technology organizations.

The Board is addressing financial issues in a very measured and responsible manner. A financial review of AECT 2009 indicates that the conference will end in the black (the current estimate is a net income of about $15K; not all of the expenses have been totaled). This is less than originally projected and less than we earned in Orlando, but not all that bad given the tough economic times. To keep the conference economically viable, the Board is eliminating one-day registrations and the super early bird registration while lowering the other conference rates for 2010.

AECT has sponsored the International Student Media Festival (http://ismf09.ipower.com/new/) since 1974. ISMF started to become quite popular with state student media festivals in the last five or six years. This year there were about 1200 student entries and a strong program in Louisville – not quite as large as the previous festival in Orlando. The Board’s goal is for sponsorship of ISMF to be revenue neutral, but this year’s expenses exceeded the revenue generated by registered participants and corporate sponsors by about $33K; most of the shortfall was due to the loss of corporate sponsors (tough economic times). The Board decided that ISMF has value, especially to several of our divisions and to our state affiliates, but we also want to avoid future losses, so expenses allowed for 2010 will be reduced by $20 in order to have revenues we can realistically expect to meet known expenses. Otto Benevides has invested a great deal of time and effort in making ISMF successful in terms of student participation and workshops for students. AECT would like to see the festival continue to be a success and is taking a position of continued sponsorship with a careful eye on expenditures to ensure that we do not have another significant loss on the books. I learned on a recent visit to the New Jersey Association for School Librarians (NJASL) annual meeting that New Jersey is planning to introduce the student media festival there. ISMF sponsorship helps to put AECT in a leadership position within the K-12 educational technology community, which is one of our constituencies.

Another issue involving AECT’s role in the educational technology community and our financial situation concerns NCATE (National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education; see http://www.ncate.org/). We pay NCATE $20K every year and spend another $5K sending AECT representatives to NCATE meetings so that AECT can serve as a SPA (Specialty Program Area) accrediting group. In that role, AECT has accredited about 21 programs. This process requires a great deal of time and effort on the part of AECT volunteers in addition to the $20K we have to pay for the privilege of serving as an NCATE SPA. The Board thinks the funding model for NCATE is backwards and voted today to send a strong message to NCATE saying as much. We realize that many people have strong feelings with regard to NCATE affiliation, so we encourage you to give us your feedback, insights and experiences in the next few months while we wait to see if NCATE will take action to reverse the funding model. If there is no response from NCATE, then we will need to have a membership-wide discussion with regard to continued affiliation.

As I tried to convey at the General Membership Meeting in Louisville on October 30th, I believe that AECT is healthy financially and professionally. I think the quality of the conference continues to improve, although we can obviously do better – I am sure that Barbara Lockee will exceed all expectations and provide a stellar conference in Anaheim in October 2010. We have new university, state and international affiliates, and more likely to come. Our publications are doing exceptionally well – the impact factor for Educational Technology Research & Development doubled this year, which is a remarkable achievement – many thanks again to Steve Ross for his long service as the ETR&D Research Editor. You will soon see a new Website and some new features on that Website, including free access to publications not available elsewhere. Life in Second Life is proceeding on course. More webinars are planned that should be of interest. We are moving in positive directions given such indicators.

However, my view is biased. I want to hear more from you. The Board wants to hear more from you. What should we be doing that we are not doing or not doing well? What are we doing well that we should be sure to keep doing well? Let us know.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Mike Spector


  1. Sounds very positive. I notice connecting connections. The one that catches my eye is the New Media Consortium membership and the Second Life activities. NMC were pioneers in Second Life and have a major SL presence. Interesting possibilities there. And making more affordable NMC activities a part of AECT sounds like a great idea.

  2. Right you are, Bill ... thanks and we are looking forward to being part of NMC