ASTD 2008 Convention Reflections: Final Day

As we are now nearing the end of the morning of the final day, with one more of my eLearning Gallery Live Demos to do, I am finally able to start processing this experience, which is something I will probably do over the next few days as well.

I will offer a few initial thoughts:

  1. I like the setup here at the San Diego Convention Center. The ASTD central area was, literally, centrally located for the conference. The Expo was convenient, with generally enough Starbucks and food options here. The Convention Center is walkable to the Gaslamp Quarter (it is across the street), with numerous options for food and drinks and entertainment (Petco Field, where the Padres play, is also across the street). Even the airport is only a 10 minute drive from this location–what a wonderful convention location.
  2. There was free wifi access in certain parts of the convention center, though not in all the rooms and locations. This was also convenient, especially for people who simply cannot leave work alone for several days. With all this connectivity in areas around the Wifi Wireless Internet signs. The challenge is to find an available outlet in or around the area with the wifi access. I often travel with an extension or multiple-plug adapter, but did not due to space constraints this time.
  3. There did not seem to be the same number of sessions as there previously have been. I have not been to the conference in a number of years, though I seem to recall more sessions last time. The flip side is that with fewer sessions and enough time between each one, there was enough time to get from one end of the space to the other, get coffee, see the Expo (which has been a challenge in overscheduled conferences before), and otherwise connect with people.
  4. ASTD does not seem very Web 2.0. There were not any conference tags (I have been using astd2008), interactive locations for networking, or really any opportunities for encouraging social networking before and / or after the conference. While two of the sessions I attended and liveblogged were specifically on Web 2.0, with both of them encouraging the learning professional attendees to get up to speed ASAP with these possibilities and opportunities, I find it interesting that those sessions were packed with people trying to learn more, yet there seems very little that ASTD is formally doing to help meet the needs and try to catch up with the learning curve. I face people who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that younger learners inhabit and use technology in an integrated lifestyle (as opposed to using technology as a different sort of “thing” as an add-on to whatever the “pure” content is), and even find myself techno-resistant at times without a clear sense of direction or direct applicability. However, our connected and networked world is only going to increasingly alter the “traditional” way of workplace learning and performance, and as professionals in this field, we have to stay current or even slightly ahead unless we will make ourselves seem completely irrelevant.
  5. Networking. I have not done that much networking during this conference. Yes, I did meet some really nice and interesting people with whom I hope I will be able to remain in touch, but I am a bit more reserved when left to my own F2P (face-to-face) devices. I wish I would have taken advantage of the dinner sign-ups at local establishments with others who signed up for a certain location of time. I really think this is a good opportunity, and will have to remember it as something definite to do next time.
  6. I liked showing my work at the eLearning Poster Session. It was a bit tough to do so for three days, but I think it allowed for a couple of great discussions, as well as opportunity to share my work. I really hope they do this again, and next time publicize it better. I also found it interesting that some of the sessions were, like mine, our own work, while others seemed to be more, shall we say, vendors looking to directly distribute their products in a different format? This is the first time ASTD ever tried this format, and I hope they used it as a test so it will be more known about next year to get even more people submitting for it. I have never presented in a poster session before, and in many ways was a rich learning experience and opportunity to develop my own skills as a presenter, researcher, and instructional design professional. 
  7. The gala event at Seaworld was wonderful. Good weather. Great demonstrations, Fun shows. Enjoyable games (I won two stuffed whales for the babies at home!). I even thought the food was good (though I did not eat most of the food, as it was (ironically) seafood) and the drinks spaced enough for the large crowd of us. I took lots of pictures that will be on Flickr in a few days.

I will certainly have additional thoughts about the conference over the next few days, and will probably add more posts about this, as well as upload all the pictures I took with some links to where they will be located on Flickr in the next few days.

As for all the learning I did? That is already beginning to be used immediately, and will (hopefully) become more apparent via my blogging. I also have a few new writing and presentation ideas to start considering. Did I mention I bought a bunch of books?

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