Whenever I am at a conference, one of the things I like to do is find a hidey hole with good internet. Oftentimes, that hidey hole is on the floor outside of an out-of-the-way meeting room. At the Pennsylvania Convention Center - I hit the jackpot. Leather cushy chairs!
Even better - I can see the comings and goings of conference-goers. The Grand Hallway is on the top level of the old train terminal. The renovation really is spectacular.
The picture doesn't do the space justice.
What impressed me most is that they managed to do most of the work while leaving the Reading Terminal Market intact.
If my hotel room had a kitchen - I would have probably spent my entire conference cooking rather than attending any sessions.
I managed to get many of my meals from the market - including one of the best milkshakes I've had in years (Barrett's - worth every penny of the $5 I spent for it).
The Amish come into the city today - opening up a whole corner of the market that has been closed since I arrived on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll be able to drag some dried beef and cold cuts back to DC with me.
Last time I was in Philly (about 5 years ago) - the area was......a tad rough. There's still some issues with pickpocketing (I heard about 3 instances during this conference at nice restaurants. Be very aware of who sits behind you and watch your wallet). Didn't feel entirely safe at night (thankfully, I went to this conference with a group). But during the day it was obvious that the city had made great strides towards cleaning the Center City area up and turning it into a destination.
Much of this conference was very technical. Since I am not involved in the configuration or administration of this particular application, these sessions were lost on me. What it did give me was a respect for just how complicated Banner is. Our analysts have their work cut out for them this upgrade.
The other thing this conference has done is give me confidence to start presenting again. I sat through a number of sessions where I found myself talking too much, or shaking my head, or having my co-worker lean over and say "You would have been a better presenter."
I realized that the eLearning blogosphere is still bleeding edge. So many trainers are still stuck on "how many people showed up to my class" as a metric. The longer trainers remain stuck on that metric - the more irrelevant we become.
It's particularly inexcusable when you are training the application that allows you to get more valuable business metrics. Shoot - even a measure as simple as "Did this training improve the data quality in x module / report" has a direct business impact that also translates to $$$$$.
And we know $$$$$ talks.
I also sat through more than one session that talked about the wonders of technology or a new training program with little emphasis on some of the cultural challenges. Presentations that are too "rah-rah" and implementations that seemed to go too smoothly make me suspicious.
Maybe I'm just too negative and jaded.
I think my next project when I get home is to start developing a presentation on how to build a truly interactive software simulation in Captivate and how to use it for assessment.
Because if I see another "a/b/c/d - what form provides Student Demographics" type assessment I will scream.