This is not to say that there couldn't be some improvements each year, and I struggled with whether to write and publish this post lest it seem negative. However, as one of our technology spokespeople, I really feel strongly that I need to mention some points that would take this event from a good one to a GREAT one.
These points of course are on message for my blog and in the area of technology, and I thought it best framed a certain way, and in the sense of What it Looks Like at a Conference when Access to Technology is Carefully Considered. So here goes:
When Technology is Open and Carefully Considered at a Conference:
...there is a clear message to presenters that they are free to use their own equipment and devices in order to give the best presentation they possibly can. As a result, we don’t have things like PowerPoints about iPad apps, which limit the power of that technology and don’t give attendees a sense of how things really work.
...we have a user-friendly web-based scheduling application that can be accessed on any device (including mobiles) and allows participants to select sessions, access all information including handouts, and even see which of their colleagues share interest in sessions so that discussions can happen before and after presentations (I have been to several that used SCHED and found this an awesome tool).
...free and accessible wireless Internet is available to attendees and presenters consistently in all areas of the convention center, resulting in (gotta break this down a bit more because I think it is the most important one):
-presenters being able to demonstrate the abundance of resources related to Speech and Language Pathology while making presentations, without having to resort to using personal hotspots or flat screenshots.
-facilitation of the previously made points, particularly access to supporting materials so that attendees do not have to (and this was definitely partly their fault) wait in (long) lines to print out itineraries and handouts.
-instant access to websites and resources, including apps, so participants can explore as they are learning.
-use of QR codes- imagine if at every door, poster and exhibition booth a QR code linked us to a handout, resource or website for further learning.
-finally, greater opportunity to continue the conversation about sessions and backchannel using various outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and ASHA’s new Community portal.
Again, these tips are made with the best of intentions and from experience in attending conferences in which these things are considered, with wonderful results. Given that ASHA is reasonable to attend (admission fee-wise) relative to some conferences, I would be willing to pay a bit more to see these things happen. All meetings are subject to a technical glitch or twenty but if these possibilities were considered, I bet we will have an even better ASHA 2012. I look forward to it!