As we have hunkered down during weeks of intense cold, I couldn’t help but remember the travel I did this fall to several warmer climates (Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Anaheim) for three very different, yet similar conferences.
These conferences were each convened for three different audiences:
- The Virginia Community College System Conference for Student Development Professionals
- The Southern Association for College Student Affairs (SACSA)
- The Educause conference for Chief Technology Officers and for Chief Information Officers.
These events differed greatly in terms of size, audience, and focus. The Educause conference was by far the largest of the three, hosted in the Anaheim Convention Center and sporting a massive exhibit hall with many vendor-specific learning labs. (The swag was far better than the pens and note pads my kids typically receive upon my return home!)
However, they all had the same goal: for participants to share and explore new ways for tackling the challenge of student success and completion. In fact, the urgent need to increase student retention and completion was palpable at all three events. Those from the Virginia Community College System are motivated by an aggressive statewide strategic plan. The attendees of SACSA are working under increased accountability brought on by performance-based funding and economic development drivers. The attendees at Educause have the desire to use technology to contain and reduce costs, as well as to enhance student learning outcomes.
Participants at each event were intensely engaged and motivated to take away new ideas and strategies back to their own campus. A few strategies and ideas really resonated with me: