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Can’t make it to Birmingham? Enjoy the AASLH Online Conference From Home!

by Bob Beatty on

Can’t make it to Birmingham this September? Why not get connected to the 2013 Annual Meeting through the 2013 AASLH Online Conference?

Is our online conference worth your time and effort? Of course, because its high quality professional development allows you to learn and engage with peers from the comfort of your own desktop. But it’s also because of my own experience with online learning.

For many years, I thought the concept was woefully disconnected from some of the key elements of learning, particularly the interaction between teachers and students. I didn’t believe in online learning until I saw a web conference that our partners, LearningTimes, did with AAM back in 2008.

Because I’m a historian by trade, I’ll start with the past. (Some of y’all have heard me say this before and if you have, please bear with me.) I was working for a community college in the early 1990s. At that time, online learning was quickly becoming not only the buzzword du jour, it was also regularly discussed as a “true paradigm shift” (an overwrought term ripe for mocking, I know, but it was true) for these institutions. The problem was, many of these courses were boring and the sites themselves were poorly designed, contained far too much text, and were just flat-out ugly.

But more than that, they weren’t engaging places to learn. Learning and discussion was delayed—not live.

There was scant interaction between students and professors and even less among the students themselves. It was like a giant listserv conversation at best, a series of emails at worst. Where was the true give-and-take so important to good learning? I didn’t see it. And for that reason, I pooh-poohed the concept for almost a decade.

So back to my main point. What changed? 

That very AAM webinar I attended was on the “new” IRS 990 form. Now, you couldn’t get a subject I have less interest in, truly. (In fact THIS was how I felt when I read the title.) But this was so well done and so engaging that I was literally transfixed for the hour or so of the session. It included not only the presenters, but also an image of them (like news channels used to do with their reporters reporting remotely). The moderator introduced participants, followed discussion, and asked probing questions of his own and from the audience. And to top off all that, it had a chat feature that allowed participants to interact with each other in real time.

Together, these elements immediately allayed my fears of implementing online learning for AASLH. And since 2009, we have offered a concurrent live online conference featuring six of the sessions chosen by our Program Committee, just like the onsite conference sessions they choose. We also upload audio from our keynote and plenary speakers and other selected sessions throughout the conference.

This year’s sessions cover a variety of issues that institutions all over the nation currently face:

  • Managing Change: The Keys to Successful Transitions within Historic Organizations
  • Recruiting, Orienting, and Engaging Board Members
  • Small Museums, Big Impact!
  • The Continuum of Excellence and How Your Museum Can Be Part of It
  • Volunteers: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Change
  • Working with Community to Address Things that Matter Locally

So plug in and Get Yourself Connected to the 2013 AASLH Online Conference!

p.s.: Want more information, go here www.aaslh.org/online2013? Or do you want to see a sample session? Just drop me a line, and I’ll set you up!

Post authored by Bob Beatty

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