A worthwhile conference: 2014 ‘NEELC’

I attended the “2014 Northeast E-Learning Consortium Conference” (04/15 update: previous link dead, changed to conference agenda PDF) last week and found it refreshing. I’m unsure if ‘NEELC’ is the proper abbreviation – I don’t think it’s large enough (yet?) to have an official abbreviation. Their Facebook page (which needs to be a bit more actively maintained) notes it as the ‘NEC’ but that abbreviation is all over the web, and is  officially claimed by the  Nippon Electric Company!

So anyway, I’ll call it the NEELC for now to give it a little of its own panache.

The NEELC is a conference with Blackboard as the historic primary sponsor…and while there were a few Blackboard-specific sessions, I did not find it an overwhelming sales presence by any means.Villanova Conference Center

The member universities take turns hosting each year’s conference. This year it was at Villanova’s Conference Center. Great location and quality services (if not a little tricky to find on a rainy night night).

You can find the agenda at the first link above. Here are the highlights I found most intriguing:

1. The keynote was ‘Dr. Fred’ (Dr. Fred T. Hofstetter) from U. of Delaware. Really insightful stuff from an experienced professor. I’d definitely recommend attending any of his presentations, especially as it pertains to faculty engaging the learner.

2. One sessions presented Socrative.com – which is a neat, currently free, site for creating instant polls. Great idea as an alternative to ‘classroom clickers’ but not as applicable for purely online courses (could be though, if instructors want a way to see how users responded to polls presented in the course).

3. Another session with Russ Lichterman (Wilmington U.) demonstrated ‘Swivl’, a mount for an iPad which tracks an IR/microphone the presenter wears around their neck. This seems a great solution for teachers to record their lectures without calling in the department media team.

4. Andy Petroski presented on structuring an online courses as a ‘game’ – i.e. ‘XP’ instead of grades for assignments, ‘Guilds’ instead of Teams, etc. A bit bizarre and he had variable results, but a neat approach and a fun way to increase student engagement.

Overall, an informative, affordable day-long conference with a specific focus on education. I’ve been to several huge conferences in the past and while they have their benefits, I’m like this smaller, targeted type of setting. I look forward to next year!

Oh, and a bit of a laugh – nice a hotel room still offers hardwired net connections but they really should update their instruction card! 🙂

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