Ok, so far off to a bad start. We arrived about 30 minutes early to the massive mini-city McCormick Center and were greeted by a line to register that rivalled an epic rollercoaster line. How can ASCD have such a poor organizational plan that leads to a half-mile line to register? Couldn’t the materials be mailed or registered online? Strike one. After a long walk to my first session I arrived on time, only because I didn’t register. I sat down and asked my friendly neighbor which wireless network we were using, “the wireless is down” she said. I laughed, she was probably joking, so I asked the presenter. He confirmed this unforgivable sin of education technology conferences. No WiF!?! Do they have bathrooms? Really? Strike two (and three?). WiFi was restored by 12:00, but the damage was done.
My first session was Game-Based Learning Design with Andrew Miller (@betamiller). Andrew was a great, high energy presenter with a nice presentation. He took us through the various styles and capabilities of gaming the connection to different learning objectives. My takeaways were the need for more play in education and a few games that might be used in some of my colleague’s classes. I also feel like I have a better understanding of the huge umbrella topic of “gaming in education”. I could have probably learned this from reading Andrew’s work online. We didn’t talk about creating our own games, and I wish we would have discussed gamification more. Andrew mentioned that would be more of a whole day workshop. So far, I’m not impressed with ASCD.
The First General Session was a bust too. After a lengthy address by the president we were introduced to our featured presenter Freeman A. Hrabowski. Although he seemed like a very nice man, I had to walk out when we referred to a hashtag as “pound sign”. I probably should have given him more of a chance, but the first 15 minutes of his speech seemed to be sending me a message that I would be better served at a lunch counter. I also want to mention the Exhibit Floor was a typical disaster of sad faces hocking overpriced technology (such as SMART anything) and content resources that a creative teacher could make on his or her own. Strike Three, I’m out. Hopefully the afternoon will rebound.