My first Educause Conference

rachael-edu-twitter-smallI had the opportunity to go to my first Educause conference this past couple weeks. I’ve worked in higher education for nearly 20 years and this was the first time I was able to get to go to THE higher ed IT conference of choice. So I was pretty excited to experience it. As  well as bummed I’d miss my family for nearly a week. Though, my boss and I did get to go to Disneyland our last evening in town and I’ll write more about that soon.

Educause is a major conference, having about 4,000+ attendees. At one point, someone announced it was about 8,000. I have to say, it was strange being in the the Anaheim Convention Center with a bunch of higher education people when the last (and only other) two times I’ve been in that convention center was for Blizzcon. Not seeing folks dressed up in black or in cosplay was a bit jarring. It was like seeing the convention/shoemaker’s shop during the day before the elves come out to make the shoes at night.

What I liked:

Choices: There were so many tracks to choose from. There was always an interesting discussion to go to. This actually made it difficult to choose my agenda, though the handy app they provided really helped with that.

Lots and Lots of Choices: This conference had absolutely no dead times for discussions. I’m of the opinion that since my employer, pays for me to be at the conference, then it is my responsibility to get everything I can out of it. It always bothers me seeing people who “attend” a conference and then only go to one panel and then goof off the rest of the time as if it’s a paid vacation. But I have to admit, there have been some higher ed conferences I’ve been to where I’ve struggled through some vendor presentation as it was the only option even closely resembling something that might help me with work and where I’ve spent time checking email to try to catch up on what’s happening in the office. That did not happen here. Every session had multiple options available that made it easy to find topics in every area that I had an interest in. And I didn’t even hit all the topics available.

What could have been better: 

educause-anaheim-convention-centerBecause there were so many interesting topics, and the convention center is so large, it was often difficult to get from the end of one topic to another topic on time. And since some of the sessions were so popular, I’d occasionally arrive to find a sign on the door saying the fire marshal said the room was too full. Several sessions were standing room only, which gets tiring after a while. But, even if a session was full, there was always my #2 or #3 choice that I could run over to. Ganted, I was a few minutes late when this happened, but it was nice having the option for the second and third choices there.

Final Thoughts:

I am really glad I had the opportunity to go to my first Educause. Now, I need to fend off all the vendors who keep emailing and calling me. I truly don’t make the buying decisions, people!

One of two very cool 3D chalk drawings by @traceyleestum