Need Not be Present to Learn: Distance Learning from #ACPA15

I had a great ACPA experience. I learned a ton, I was challenged, I connected with other student affairs professionals, I debated the merits of ideas in the field, and I widened my professional circle. I supported my friends, asked questions to presenters, connected an awesome SA grad with an equally awesome SA pro, and I already have ideas of how to take my conference experience back to my campus.

The catch is that I accomplished all of this from the comfort of my apartment. I cooked dinner, took my dog for a walk, worked on a blog, called a friend, and in between, grew as a professional. This is all because of the vibrant Twitter backchannel, generous pros who documented their “a-ha” moments, as well as their struggles with the conference experience through blog posts and copious tweets. While I wasn’t able to feel the energy in the room of the annual Cabaret, I caught snippets of Instagram videos and more pictures than I knew what to do with. And you had better believe I will watch every single Pecha Kucha once they are posted online.

The days of in person conference attendance being a requirement for learning are over. There’s no excuse. Can’t afford to go to both national conferences or any conferences at all? So what. Get online. Engage. Ask questions. Critically reflect. I didn’t spend a single dime and still feel like I had one of the most fruitful conference experiences of my career.

Does my online experience take the place of sitting in a session and dialoguing in person? Of course not. The feeling of seeing an old friend, being challenged by a mentor, or running into a faculty member in the hallway will never be recreated online, but learning? Learning is always on the table. It’s up to you whether or not you take a seat. 

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2 thoughts on “Need Not be Present to Learn: Distance Learning from #ACPA15

  1. Patrick Love says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your experience and for modeling unstoppable professional learning and development!

  2. Kristen Abell says:

    Great post, Marci – and I agree with you – the learning is there for the taking. As long as we remember that for this type of learning to take place, there do have to be some people that are willing to attend the conference and share their experiences. I think we need to consider thanking folks more often for sharing in the backchannel when they’re paying for the conference and we’re “attending” for free. I understand we’re probably engaging in their learning, as well, just a thought (although a half-baked one at this point in the day). Thanks for posting!

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