professornana (professornana) wrote,

about the magic left behind

Many of you who read my tweets and posts from Orlando know that the course of NCTE did not run smooth (and that is a misunderstatement if ever there was). However, rather than rant and rave once again about what did not work, let me offer some suggestions for improvement. I know how easy it is to be the person sitting on the side complaining and how hard it is to be the people actually doing the work.

First, do treat us as adults and let us know how tough it will be to get from one venue to the next in the 15 minutes between sessions. Some of us would have elected to schedule ourselves into different workshops for the sake of actually making one on time even if it were not our first choice. By Day 2, I think many had decided to stay in either one hotel or the other and take what was offered there. perhaps if some of the sessions had been set in one hotel according to theme or track it would have been simpler?

Two, consider using bloggers and tweeters officially to post out from the sessions others could not attend? Maybe offer podcasts from the ones deemed to be popular (I was in a couple where people were shooed away from the door)? Skype out the sessions? Ask in advance for some idea of the sessions that might draw crowds (do not do tickets like IRA as that just adds another layer of crazy). However, our state library association (which draws at least 3 to 5 times the numbers we had in Orlando) asks attendees to fill out a form indicating their top choices of workshops and them places them in rooms accordingly. Yes, I saw the "counters" come into a room after the sessions had begun. Having numbers then is not as useful as knowing them in advance.

Please do not advertise tickets to the park with reduced admission after a certain hour and then offer workshops at the same time. I was ashamed to see how empty sessions were once those discount tickets kicked in. Wonderful speakers spoke to empty rooms.

Please do something about food availability when we are trapped in a venue like a Disney resort. Boxed lunches, outside vendors, something that permits us to pick uo food and go to a session, please. I spent one day foraging on leftovers from the day before because there was not enough time to grab ANY meal in the transits I had to make between the two hotels several times during the same day. Yes, I can last days without food, but it does not make for happy attendees.

The business offices need to actually be able to conduct business. If not, subcontract somehow. I spent 90 minutes waiting to make a copy of a note I was asked to read at the Opening Session. Maybe NCTE could have a room with some stuff in it for emergencies? I am not suggesting, BTW, anything here that some of the other professional organizations do not provide for similar registration fees.

Finally, EQUIPMENT... REALLY? we get overhead projectors? Is anyone still using transparencies? WHY? Most of us are multimedia by now and we all need projectors. I generally bring my own but was told not to do so as this was a union hotel and it would be a problem. Bigger problem? Having to track down an LCD projector. Internet access is a MUST now, too. Charge me more for it, fine, but give me a signal, please. I used my wifi and modem to take care of what I could. That;s fine. But, if you wnt cutting edge sessions with Web 2.0 (and really, we are already beyond that), we need access in ALL rooms.

If we want to keep the new folks coming back to NCTE as I have for more than 25 years now, we need to be sure they get the experience I did 25 years ago. Mentors, conference pals, all kinds of help and assistance.

Let me end by saying this: JACQUI JOSEPH BIDDLE and CAROL WAGNER rock! They never sit down (actually I did see Carol sit once all the 500 people got into the ALAN workshop). They scurry and smile and do and represent NCTE well. Ditto past and current EC folks. But we need more if we are to continue to grow and be the voice of our profession. Let's make some plans now for Chicago which has its own unique setting and situations (been there 5 times in past 10 years for IRA and ALA). I will be there and I hope those who might still be trapped in Opryland and Disneyland will escape in time to join us.
Tags: ncte reflections
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