A Calmer, Less Commercial, and More Skeptical EDUCAUSE 2016?

4 suggestions.

November 1, 2015

Were you among the 7,500 edtech nerds who descended on Indianapolis for EDUCAUSE 2015?

How was your trip home? What do you think was the big theme of this year’s conference? What new ideas and practices are you bringing back to your campus?

My big takeaway from EDUCAUSE 2015 is hope that EDUCAUSE 2016 might be a little more low-key. A little less commercial. A little more modest. A little less over-the-top.

A more circumspect and calm EDUCAUSE 2016 would, I think, fit the personality of both the EDUCAUSE leadership and the EDUCAUSE attendees a bit more closely. A more humble EDUCAUSE would also better align to the real impact that technology has had on higher education.

Here are 4 specific suggestions for a calmer and less commercial EDUCAUSE 2016:

1. Tone Down the Lights and Music at the General Sessions:

Why the loud music before the General Sessions start? Why all the fancy lighting?

Who does EDUCAUSE think is attending EDUCAUSE?

We are a bunch of introverted academics. We would rather be at home participating in a MOOC than going to a club.

Anything that resembles a pep rally for edtech should be avoided. I’m not saying that EDUCAUSE should play funeral music, but maybe some nice quiet classical would be appropriate. Perhaps a string quartet playing calmly on the main stage.

2. Maybe Not Every Square Inch of the Convention Center Should Be Plastered with Sponsored Messages:

I’m no socialist, but the sheer overwhelming presence of corporate sponsorship at EDUCAUSE had me feeling a bit queasy.

Yes, I understand that all the corporate signage around the convention lowers the cost of attendance. Yeah free market. Go capitalism. 

But do we need giant ads posted outside the vendor floor? Do we really need to see posters when going up and down the escalator?

3. Perhaps Less Vendor E-Mail Spam?

I’m thinking that when it comes to EDUCAUSE vendor e-mail that I must have done something wrong. I must have opted-in to some agreement when registering for EDUCAUSE that gave permission for every edtech company on the planet to send me multiple e-mails.

Was this just me? Was your inbox also crowded with EDUCAUSE related solicitation to meet and mingle?

4. Maybe A Bit More Self-Critical?

We in edtech seem to be enormously pleased with ourselves. Each year, we celebrate ourselves at EDUCAUSE.  We are bigger, brighter, and shinier.

But each year a college education seems to get more expensive and less accessible. Higher education seems to be driving, rather than counteracting, the growing levels of economic inequality that characterize our societies. 

We seem to be more comfortable cheerleading for the potential of technology to improve higher education than we are standing up against declining state support.

I’d love to see an EDUCAUSE 2016 where the dominant vibe was worry, caution, and skepticism. 

An EDUCAUSE where we were all a bit more critical of the impact that technology has had on higher education. 

An EDUCAUSE where we enumerated both our shortcomings as well as our accomplishments.  

An EDUCAUSE where we were all a bit more skeptical about the impact of technology on improving higher education.

What would you like to see different at EDUCAUSE 2016?



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