Singing With The Band: HighEdWeb 14

I had the incredible pleasure of spending the better part of a week in Portland, Oregon, last month, as part of the Higher Ed Web Association‘s annual conference.

As I finished up my term as president of the SUNY College Admissions Professionals group last year, I started looking for the next step, professionally. And considering the change in my job responsibilities over the past two years from full-time admissions guy to full-time social media/enrollment communications guy, HighEdWeb came along at just the right time.

The organization is full of people who inspire me: web people, social media people, advancement people… superstars, all of them. It’s a thrill to learn from them, and just as much of a thrill being able to present what I do to them as well. Some highlights:

  • “Let’s Face It: We’re Not Sixteen Anymore,” a look at how Carleton College used student focus groups to shape their web site. Mark Heiman completely blew my mind with this, and his presentation and script are both available online.
  • Dave Cameron from Ithaca taught us how to be “human” at work.
  • Peter Anglea showed us how Bob Jones University is using APIs to personalize their web experience.
  • Jeff Stevens from Florida showed remarkable parallels between biological evolution and the evolution of the web. (All presentations should be as beautiful as Jeff’s.)

My friend and SUNY colleague, Dave Tyler, said it best in a LINK post: this burrito doesn’t have to end. It’s easy to come back from a conference (or any well-executed professional development activity, really) enthusiastic, energized, and ready to tackle the world’s problems. And it’s just as easy to let your real-world issues drag you back to reality and kill all that mojo — but you don’t have to let it.

So how do you do it? Sing with the band, friends.

One of the most fun things I’ve ever done in nearly twenty years of conference-going was at one of the evening social events, when HighEdWeb brought in Karaoke From Hell, a local karaoke band. Karaoke night has become something of a HighEdWeb staple anyway, and this took it to another level, with a live band backing us instead of recorded backing tracks. I can tell you, there’s nothing quite like it. Having the support of real live people behind you, backing you up and singing harmonies, brings your experience to an incredibly high level.

USE THAT ENERGY. Use the community that’s created at conferences and bring that energy to your daily life by staying in touch with those people you met, those people from whom you learned all those wonderful things. Chris Barrows collated a list of HighEdWeb tweeters — Find us! Follow us! Engage us! It’s easy to use whatever notes you may have taken at the conference back home, but it’s BETTER to use the people and resources that you’ve found to help bring your ideas to life.

I’ve already had two HighEdWeb colleagues as guests on Admissions Live, and I’m planning several more. I’ve already reached out to some of the people I met in Portland to help me plead my case for more resources and to help crystallize the ideas I generated there. And I’m putting together a small committee to pitch bringing a HighEdWeb regional conference to Long Island.

There’s eleven-plus months until HighEdWeb 2015 in Milwaukee — but only you can make those eleven months rock.

really great year

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