EDUCAUSE Connect – Denver

agendaI am delighted to be attending EDUCAUSE Connect – Denver!  This conference follows an interactive format where each session is up to about 50% group discussion/activity.  This allows you to get to know the people at your tables, to discuss shared challenges, and to learn from each other.  We’ve covered so many topics that I’ll only touch on a few.

The past two days have flown by.  I’ve worked on public speaking strategies and learned that I need to practice what do with my hands when presenting.  Fortunately, we were also reminded that the people in the audience are rooting for you, the speaker.  How often do you go to a presentation and hope for the speaker to fail?

I learned from two campus app case studies and was particularly interested in the gamification of an app to encourage student retention.  The app creators found that students were more interested in saving up the game points they earned for large rewards – even if it might take a couple years! – than spending them on small, rapidly obtainable rewards.

The Improve! Improve! session on diversity and unconscious bias was fascinating and required a bit of acting enthusiasm as each participant was placed in scenarios as both a hiring manager and an applicant.  We learned that we all have unconscious biases – it’s part of how our brains work – but the key is to know your own biases and think instead of reacting automatically.

We had a lively discussion of the meaning of a team and came up with the following attributes of a good team:

  • communication
  • shared goal/purpose
  • shared rewards and consequences
  • appropriate size (determined by shared purpose, etc)
  • influence – everyone contributing something meaningful
  • variety of skills
  • interpersonal connection

[Left] My team's spaghetti-tape-string marshmallow support tower. [Right] Laura speaks into a toss-and-catch foam microphone box, debating the meaning of a team.

[Left] Laura’s team’s spaghetti-tape-string marshmallow tower. [Right] Laura speaks into a toss-and-catch foam microphone box, debating the meaning of a team.

We also learned about the PeopleMap System, which is a way of conceptualizing how different people behave/work.  We used this system to design a fictional cross-functional team with a balance of skills and personalities.  I love learning different ways of conceptualizing how people are and work differently – not for the purpose of locking them into boxes or taking any conceptualization as law, but as a tool to improve collaboration and, perhaps more importantly, to guide us in contemplation of how we work best.

The conference wraps up tomorrow morning, and then it’s back to Evanston to join the support effort for Dance Marathon!