ISE: Create Real Value From Your Trip

This year at ISE, AVIXA will present a conference called, “What’s Next In Higher Ed.” AVIXA has presented unique sessions like this for the higher ed attendees of ISE for a couple of years, but this year looks like the best one AVIXA has presented yet. It has several well known educational technologists and will cover timely topics.

I had the opportunity to work with the moderator, Dr. Gill Ferrell, a couple of years ago when we presented at ISE. Dr. Ferrell is a thought leader in the area of educational spaces and will bring interesting insight to the group. Dr. Ferrell is joined by six other practitioners in the area of educational technologies. These include people from both Europe and the United States.

There are several reasons I think this conference is a must attend. The first is that every person presenting is a heavily involved in designing, researching and/or using technology in education. Other conferences often will invite vendors to give talks. While that has value in many circumstances, there is also tremendous value in technology managers, and other higher ed administrators hearing from others who “have done it.” They can tell us what works and what does not work, without worrying about specific vendors. You are also hearing real stories of what can be done and what works.

As second reason I think this particular conference is so invaluable is that it gives us a mix of what the rest of the world is doing. Many of us in higher ed don’t get to network with people from outside of the United States or know what type of technologies they are using. This conference will allow you to hear directly from speakers who are using innovative technologies and making a difference. Additionally, in my experience the discussions after are just as valuable. I had the opportunity to connect with several people from Europe, who continue to be contacts to this day, and I continue to learn from them.

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AVIXA will also sponsor another conference, “What’s Next… Enterprise AV Integrated Experience.” This conference takes a very similar approach the the education conference, bringing in industry experts who have experience in the topic, as opposed to providing a sales pitch. In fact, I think that no matter your role (tech manager, integrator, designer), attending both conferences would provide an interesting view of how the technology is being used by the end user.

Finally, the best part of this conference is that when attendees leave the presentation they can to the show floor and start looking at products that support what they just learned about. This combination of things makes attending ISE a valuable conference with a real return on investment. I have not seen AVIXA put on conferences like this at InfoComm, but I would strongly encourage them to.

Previously, I have written about the value of attending ISE, but I still think it is a hard sell for people both in the educational sphere and those in the consultant market. Even though the expense difference is marginal, the idea of leaving the country really makes people question the trip. I think you should take an approach that covers more than just walking the show floor. When I approve travel to trade shows for staff, I always make sure they are putting as much time into training and conference sessions as they are visiting the show floor. Being able to return home and talk about what others are doing, as well as the new technology, provides true value. There is no question that the booths and the products are well covered in the media. And with some of the work that this publication is doing with virtual tours, making an argument for simply seeing the show is truly difficult. You need to be able to get more out of the trip and AVIXA is helping with conferences like this.