By Andrew Youngkin, Emerging Technologies and Evaluation Coordinator, NN/LM, SE/A Region
On January 16-18, 2013, I attended the Educause Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Baltimore. The conference theme was titled “People + Process+ Technology: IT Matters.” Educause, a “non-profit membership organization created to support those who lead, manage, and use information technology to benefit higher education,” organized a dynamic regional conference with session programming that discussed classroom technology, e-learning best practices, advances IT systems administration, cloud computing, educating with social media, leadership development & management, professional development strategies such as career planning, and presentation planning.
With an interest in the “flipped classroom” and enhancing learning with emerging technologies, many of the sessions I attended dealt with incorporating technology into the library or classroom in the form of an iPad lending program or facilitating group collaboration with technologies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Google +. In additional to many sessions on emerging and learning technologies, another session discussed Educause subscription-based research materials that report on a variety of IT trends and topics, in an effort to help educators understand and assess the impact or need for various technologies.
A conference highlight was a general session titled, “Powering Innovation: Top Trends, New Attitudes, and Next Practices” delivered by Jackie Fenn, vice president and analyst at Gartner. Ms. Fenn is responsible for creating the Gartner Hype Cycle, a model of visualizing of the various stages technology experiences from it’s “trigger” through the “peak of inflated expectations” then the “trough of disillusionment” and onto a more stable, healthy “plateau of productivity.” With the “Hype Cycle” as a backdrop, Jackie gave an informative and fascinating presentation on emerging technologies of the future, which in reality for many, have already arrived. Some of the things to keep an eye on include the expansion and affordability of 3D printing, the proliferation of the Internet of Things (ordinary objects connected to various Internet technologies), augmented reality, gesture-based computing, facial recognition, and voice recognition applications. You can find more information about this at: http://www.gartner.com.
It was also exciting to see Educause conference planners seize the moment, so to speak, by offering several concurrent and general sessions dedicated to the discussion of how educators, IT managers, and librarians responded to superstorm Sandy in late October 2012, and how the combined experience of the disaster could provide lessons in the planning and preparation for future events. A discussion of disaster planning with Sandy as a main reference point was appropriately incorporated and well received.