Eight Ways How Technology Has Changed The World Of Conferences

Eight Ways Technology Has Changed World of Conferences

Technology has changed the world of conferences quite a bit over the last few decades. It wasn’t that long ago that there was little to no digital technology at a typical conference. Now, they are completely consumed by all of the digital wonders. There are many ways to utilize technology to have a strong presence at a conference or trade show. Here are eight ways that technology has completely transformed the world of conferences.

1. Credit Card Payments

For those selling thing at conferences, it used to be a bit of a gamble. Salespeople had to hope that the check or credit card someone was giving them was good. Now, they can instantly swipe a credit card on a mobile reader on their cellphones, receiving their payments instantly.

2. HDTV Displays

Booths have come a long way from the days of simple banners. Now, entire presentations can be constantly broadcast on a display at the booth. This makes it much easier for presenters to get out the information they need to attendees. HDTVs can be placed up high on a booth wall to ensure maximum exposure to the crowds, allowing attendees to see information about a booth from a long distance away.

3. Social Media

It has become so much easier to get in touch with someone that you meet at a conference. In the past, you had to take their business card, and then you would have to try to get in touch with them on the phone or send an email. Now, you can instantly connect via twitter, or facebook and have a way to easily get in touch again.

4. Mobile Event Apps

This is one of the coolest new developments at conferences. Attendees can download a mobile event app that will provide them with everything they possibly need to know about the conference or trade show they are attending.

5. Smartphones & Tablets

There are so many great ways that mobile platforms can help at conferences. People can use them to instantly input contact information of people they have met, take notes, photos, and so much more. They can use them to take video of interesting displays. They can use them to get in touch with their home office or coworkers who are at the event. Many people blog during the event to keep their followers up to speed on what they are learning. The possibilities are endless.

6. Touchscreens

It is possible to set up a touchscreen interactive display that allows interested attendees to quickly find all the information they want. This allows the person manning the booth to really engage with the conference attendees.

7. LED Lighting

LED lighting allows booths at conferences to be lit up in spectacular ways that were never before possible. They can be used to spell out messages. They can also change colors and can move around in interesting patterns.

8. Interactive Exhibits

The typical exhibit of just a few decades ago was a poster board with some information, a few banners and an employee to man the booth. Now, booths are outfitted with computers that people can use to look up information about the product. They are outfitted with HDTVs that constantly broadcast new information about the product. They have been transformed from a boring experience in which attendees were just viewers into interactive experiences that capture the imagination and interest of attendees. This is a great change that makes conferences much more effective.

Colleges are losing pricing power

After years of relentless tuition hikes, many colleges and universities are facing a backlash and more students and parents are looking at value. They don’t want to be stuck with outrageous student loans, and now many private colleges are offering record financial aid to keep classrooms full.

MOOC offerings continue to expand

The trend continues. The old college model continues to be threatened by the new trend of self-education where people all over the world can take advantage of incredible college courses that are free to everyone online. Here’s info on new courses from Case Western:

More than 80,000 people from around the world have signed up for Case Western Reserve University’s first free online courses – and there is still time to register.

The noncredit courses start Wednesday through Coursera, a company that provides an online platform to dozens of colleges for MOOCs, massive open online courses. It is CWRU’s first venture into MOOCs, which have exploded in popularity since Stanford University offered the first one in 2011.

As of Monday afternoon, over 65,000 had registered for a six-week CWRU course, Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence, taught by Richard Boyatzis of the CWRU Weatherhead School of Management. The nationally known professor of organizational behavior plans to teach about how emotional intelligence can complement analytic tasks as well as invoke curiosity and openness in students’ lives.

Check out the entire article if this course interest you.

Evaluating online degrees

We’ve addressed issues surrounding for-profit college scams in the past. There’s also the issue of rising college costs in general, and also the opportunities for self-education for free.

Here’s an excellent article that gives great advice on how to evaluate online courses and degrees. It’s important to use objective resources and guides.

You don’t mention whether you’ve already tried Googling, say, “online degree programs,” but, if so, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with advertising from for-profit schools. The University of Phoenix alone spends over $200 million a year on television and Internet pitches, according to an estimate from Madison Avenue trade paper Ad Age. Nothing wrong with advertising, of course, but in some respects it does make the process of choosing the right online school more difficult.

Here’s why: more than 7,000 U.S. colleges and universities now offer long-distance degree programs — and about 85% of those are traditional brick-and-mortar schools that have expanded into cyberspace over the past few years. Yet traditional colleges don’t have the marketing budgets that the huge for-profit schools have. So unless you actively seek out brick-and-mortar schools’ online offerings, you may never know they exist.

“Prospective students should be wary of Internet ‘guides’ to online education that get paid to promote for-profit schools,” says Vicky Phillips. “It’s called pay-per-lead advertising, and it means the ‘guide’ gets X dollars for each person it steers to a for-profit university.” Traditional colleges don’t have such deep pockets, so thousands of them are unlikely to turn up in such directories at all.

“Not only that, but the for-profit schools have tens of thousands of students, while the online bachelor’s-in-business program at a traditional university can only accept, say, 30 at a time,” she adds. “So even if traditional colleges could afford to pay for online leads, it wouldn’t make sense for them to do so. They’re operating on an entirely different scale.”

Phillips has been researching and comparing online degree programs for 20 years, which is about as long as they’ve existed. She runs a consumer-information web site called GetEducated.com that you might want to check out. The site includes a comparison tool that lets you evaluate and rank schools using 12 different filters. These include type of specialization in your major (business with a minor in finance, for instance); non-profit versus for-profit; secular versus religious (many Christian colleges now offer long-distance learning); and whether the school’s programs are 100% online or “hybrids,” meaning you’ll have to show up in person several times per semester.

There are tons of great options for online education, both free and those that require payments. You just have to do your research and find the solution that’s best for you. Just be careful of any program where you will end up with loads of college debt.

Movement for $10,000 college degree

The value of a college education has been a hot topic, along with the issue of the college loan crisis. With that backdrop, we’re starting to see some momentum behind the movement for what’s being called the $10,000 college degree.

With the cost of going to college already more than $30,000 a year at many California campuses, is it possible to earn a bachelor’s degree for just $10,000 – total?

Assemblyman Dan Logue hopes so.

Borrowing an idea being promoted by Republican governors in Texas and Florida, the Republican Assemblyman from Linda has introduced a bill that would create a pilot program in California for what he’s billing as a $10,000 bachelor’s degree. The degree would be available to students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math disciplines.

Assembly Bill 51 calls for closer coordination between high schools, community colleges and California State University campuses and targets three regions for the pilot: Chico, Long Beach and Turlock. Participating students would earn some college credit in high school through Advanced Placement classes and greater access to community college courses. The bill calls for participating community college students to go to school full-time. CSU campuses, moreover, would be required to freeze tuition for those in the program.

Tuition at CSU right now is $5,472 a year. Books and campus fees cost another roughly $2,000 annually. A statement from Logue said his proposed $10,000 degree would include textbooks. It does not cover living expenses such as room and board.

You’ll note that it’s governors in Texas and Florida, both Republicans, who have started this movement, and it is being embraced by prominent conservatives. I would suspect that Democrats would happily go along, so this could be a significant bi-partisan movement.

Are administration costs driving up college tuition?


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The costs of a college education are getting out of hand. Even state schools are seeing a dramatic rise in tuition, and way too many students are leaving college with a mountain of debt. Something has to give.

Meanwhile, articles like this one are pointing out a potential problem – the explosion of administrative costs at American universities.

J. Paul Robinson, chairman of the Purdue University faculty senate, walks the halls of a 10-story tower, pointing out a row of offices for administrators. “I have no idea what these people do,” says the biomedical engineering professor. Purdue has a $313,000-a-year acting provost and six vice and associate vice provosts, including a $198,000-a-year chief diversity officer. Among its 16 deans and 11 vice presidents are a $253,000 marketing officer and a $433,000 business school chief. The average full professor at the public university in West Lafayette, Ind., makes $125,000.

The number of Purdue administrators has jumped 54 percent in the past decade—almost eight times the growth rate of tenured and tenure-track faculty. “We’re here to deliver a high-quality education at as low a price as possible,” says Robinson. “Why is it that we can’t find any money for more faculty, but there seems to be an almost unlimited budget for administrators?”

Read the entire article and it will probably piss you off. The dean-to-professor ratio is getting out of hand, and hopefully people will start demanding changes.

MOOCs are changing the college game


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What’s a MOOC? More and more people are going to start finding out.

Jonathan Salovitz’s course load sounds as grueling as any college undergraduate’s: computer science, poetry, history, math and mythology, taught by professors at big-name schools such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.

Except Salovitz, 23, is not an undergraduate. His effort won’t count toward a bachelor’s degree, and he hasn’t paid a dime in tuition. Nor have his classmates, who number in the tens and even hundreds of thousands.

Instead, Salovitz calls himself a “guinea pig.” He’s participating in a grand experiment in higher education known as Massive Open Online Courses –MOOCs, for short. Learners of all ages around the world are flocking to them. Top universities are clamoring to participate. And MOOCs already have attracted the interest of some employers, paving the way for a potential revenue source. All in less than a year.

“The industry has operated more or less along the same business model and even the same technology for hundreds of years,” says John Nelson, managing director of Moody’s Higher Education. “MOOCS represent a rapidly developing and emerging change and that is very, very rare.”

Welcome to the self-education revolution. Follow that internal link as we’ll be tracking the progression of MOOCs and other ways you can teach yourself new skills or give yourself a rewarding education. This can also help young kids in high school learn subjects that aren’t taught in their school. It is also a threat to rising college costs.

The possibilities are endless. The true potential of the Internet is now reaching education. Take advantage of it!

Dealing with rising college costs

The issue of rising college costs is a hot topic these days, as young students and families grapple with the issue of how to pay for a college education. Too many young people are saddled with crippling college debt, and as this has gained more attention, it has certainly focused the minds of many Americans as they weigh their options.

Universities are reacting as well, and some of the trends are very promising. Davidson College has created an innovative no-loan policy.

“When I got my acceptance letter and my tuition bill, it told us that everything was mostly paid for,” she recalls. “I had heard something about Davidson’s no-loan policy, but it didn’t make sense because it sounded too good to be true. My mom was like, ‘This can’t be right. We need to go talk to them.’ ” The admission counselor explained that, because of the Davidson Trust, the school was able to cover 100 percent of demonstrated need without loans. Her mother cried. “At the time, I felt kind of embarrassed. When we walked back to my car, she said, ‘I’m so happy. I feel like I should make [the counselor] something.’ ”

Other schools like Harvard are also making it much easier for students to get grants instead of loans in order to lower the student debt burden. Families and students need to do their research, and you have to factor in costs and debt into your decision. Otherwise students will have this debt hanging over them for much of their careers.

You can read more about the student debt crisis and the value of a college education versus the costs here, here and here.

Read all of these materials, and you’ll be much more prepared for the decisions you’ll have to make.

Law school applications plummet


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With all of the recent controversies surrounding the number of jobs law school graduates are actually getting, the idea of going to law school is starting to become less appealing, especially when you start to consider the ridiculous cost of law school.

Now comes word that applications in this admissions cycle appear to be in something like free fall. As of December 7th, they are down 24.6% from the same time last year, while the total number of applicants has declined by 22.4% year over year. These numbers suggest that law schools will have a total of somewhere between 52,000 and 53,000 applicants to choose from in this cycle, i.e., slightly more than half as many as in 2004, when there were 188 ABA accredited law schools (there are 201 at the moment, with an emphasis on “at the moment”).

To put that number in perspective, law schools admitted 60,400 first year JD students two years ago. Since a significant percentage of applicants are unwilling to consider enrolling at any school below a certain hierarchical level, and/or will decline to enroll at certain other schools without receiving massive discounts on the advertised tuition price, these numbers portend fiscal calamity for more than a few schools. But out of that calamity will come the beginnings of a more rational and just system of legal education for the next generation of lawyers.

Things are going to have to change. Students don’t want to do into debt and then end up without a job. The entire notion is silly.

The third year of law school is often a complete waste of time. Law schools should take a serious look at finding ways to give students internships for the third year where they can learn how to actually practice law while making money to pay for their tuition.

Emergence of Massive Open Online Courses

We’ve been discussing the importance of the self-education revolution, with the emergence of free college courses allowing people all over the world to educate themselves. As more universities and start-ups put more college level courses online for free, the media is paying more attention to this trend.

USA Today recently discussed this revolution in a recent article on Massive Open Online Courses:

Jonathan Salovitz’s course load sounds as grueling as any college undergraduate’s: computer science, poetry, history, math and mythology, taught by professors at big-name schools such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.

Except Salovitz, 23, is not an undergraduate. His effort won’t count toward a bachelor’s degree, and he hasn’t paid a dime in tuition. Nor have his classmates, who number in the tens and even hundreds of thousands.

Instead, Salovitz calls himself a “guinea pig.” He’s participating in a grand experiment in higher education known as Massive Open Online Courses –MOOCs, for short. Learners of all ages around the world are flocking to them. Top universities are clamoring to participate. And MOOCs already have attracted the interest of some employers, paving the way for a potential revenue source. All in less than a year.

The articles goes on to describe many of the new courses and companies that are driving the interest here, so it’s definitely worth a read. It also points out how Moody’s Investor Service calls MOOCs a “pivotal development” that has the potential to revolutionize higher education.

Over time, we can expect to see employers start to react. Imagine how impressed you would be interviewing someone who either used these resources to complete a virtual college education, or someone who used it to gain a new skill. Think about a medical professional who decides to go online to get a virtual business or accounting degree.

The possibilities here are endless, and there will be plenty of ways apart from the old grading/diploma system to verify that the student has actually completed the courses and learned the material.

The future in education suddenly looks bright.

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