The Conference

On Friday, I was away at a conference. I don't go to conferences often. (OK, so I was away 11 months ago. But I called that a "business trip.") It wasn't a scientific conference--that is, it was not organized by a professional organization like the Association for Psychological Science or the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. (I'd really love to go to one of those conferences--but I've have to cancel a lot of classes. APS is in May, and HFES is in October. It was bad enough that I had to cancel my intro class on Friday. I feel so guilty...)

At a typical scientific conference, a lot of researchers present their findings as talks or posters. Plus, there are opportunities to meet with the researchers and with students. Usually, a notable person delivers a keynote speech. This conference was organized by a publisher (like my business trip last year), but it was filled with scientists (psychologists, mathematicians, and physicists) and people from the publishing company, Pearson. The conference was billed as a "Digital Innovation Summit."

Instead of presenting research papers, people discussed their teaching, with an emphasis on how digital technology is changing pedagogy. There were opportunities to talk with others over breakfast and lunch (I bumped into a colleague who, like me, is teaching in Science 100 this year), so that was nice. And the keynote was given by Professor Eric Mazur, who is on the forefront of innovations in teaching. (He is "author or co-author of 288 scientific publications, 36 patents, and several books" and has contributed to a number of startup companies, like Learning Catalytics.) He was amazing to hear, and I think his talk on changing how we assess students made all of us think about teaching in a different way.

There wasn't a lot of time for fun, but I did get tickets for Flyover Canada with my hotel room, so I checked that out. (Verdict: Fun; much like Soarin' Over California. The older ladies sitting next to me sure had a hoot.) Beyond that, though, there wasn't time for anything else. I had to zip back home for one daughter's soccer game (they won, and are now in city finals, yay!), and another daughter's birthday party. Still, if you're jealous, it rained. A lot. Like a 90-mm-severe-rainfall-warning lot.

Here's a photo out the window of the plane, and a crummy shot of Canada Place, where the conference was held:

Part of the conference was slanted toward the publisher showing us that they are serious about changing education for the better using digital tools, which is good to know. Will going to this conference influence me, making me more likely to pick their textbooks in the future? I try to be objective in selecting a textbook.

Full disclosure: although the conference--including breakfast and lunch--was free, I had to pay for my own airfare, hotel, and transportation. (I didn't have the breakfast.)

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