The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Annual Meeting  more than a wonderful conference.
It is a model of why blended learning is the most effective format we have for teaching.
I’ve been absent for a couple of years to this gathering, and after spending a couple days in New Orleans with my learning technology peers and colleagues I have a new appreciation for the value of this face-to-face gathering.
ELI is the right size with the right mix of professionals to offer the maximum conference return on investment. If you work at the intersection of learning and technology and could not make it this year, or are like me and had stopped going, I highly recommend that you find a way to put future ELI events on your calendar.
What do you get from attending ELI that is difficult to get from the other professional development opportunities on offer? The webcasts, the journals, and the blogs? Why is the face-to-face component of the conference so vital?
The advantage that I’m finding to ELI is scale. The conference is just small enough that it is possible to have a continuing conversation with peers from other institutions (and maybe your own institution) over a number of days. The program has just the right amount of unstructured time built in to encourage these conversations.
We come to ELI informed about the issues, and ready to maximize the precious face-to-face time that we have.
If we had not participated in the online discussions or done the reading beforehand than this residential section of ELI would not feel as valuable.
If we had not utilized online and asynchronous platforms to build a community than the face-to-face time would be less impactful.
After getting to know more folks at the ELI conference on a human scale I’m also much more likely to invest time in the digitally mediated opportunities that ELI offers.
What are your thoughts as ELI 2014 comes to an end?
What is your big takeaway from the conference?