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Editor's Note

Your Seat on the Steamroller

University Business, Feb 2008

FOUR YEARS DOESN'T NORMALLY SEEM like a very long span, but in technology terms, it's a lifetime. When we launched the EduComm Conference in 2004, we had planned it to explore the convergence of audiovisual technology and information technology. It was a modest approach, sort of an overview of what was beginning to make waves in colleges and universities at the time.

As I look back at program schedules from that first EduComm conference in Atlanta, I'm surprised at how many of the sessions explored things that were "cutting edge" back then but are widely used these days, if not taken for granted. Conference presenters were discussing how fixed overhead wireless projectors could be effectively used in the classroom, and how interactive whiteboards could now connect to the internet and display web pages as part of a distance learning program. They talked about real time videoconferencing as the next big thing.

In 2004, tech visionary Tim O'Reilly was just beginning to explain what he meant by the term "Web 2.0"-when many people still hadn't fully grasped the implications of Web 1.0. It would be another couple years before his "web as participation platform" vision came to be realized. Although terms like "wiki," "blog," and "podcast" sprinkled the conversation of technology mavens, educators would soon realize their value for teaching and learning. It wouldn't be long before people started feeling left out if they didn't have a blog of their own.

Back then "social networking" was what you did after work in the neighborhood pub. These days it has become a valuable tool, and a way not only to reconnect with colleagues but also to discover people who share like ideas, or to collaborate (and sometimes commiserate) with people you might have never encountered otherwise.

Even though the questions may be the same, the answers have changed, sometimes dramatically.

That brings us to 2008 and Las Vegas, site of the fifth EduComm conference, and the first time the show has revisited a city (these days that's something of a milestone in itself). Much has changed since that first conference, but when I look at the program we're developing, I see a few of those early program topics are still on the planned schedule. Why? Because even though the questions may be the same, the answers have changed, sometimes dramatically. For example, those interactive whiteboards I mentioned earlier still look pretty much like their predecessors, but what they can do these days was only imagined back then. We'll have sessions that walk you through those changes and how they are enhancing teaching and learning in colleges around the country. EduComm presenters will explore a wide range of classroom technologies that even four years ago seemed far-fetched.

They'll explore how Web 2.0 applications can help users learn and collaborate in real time across the country and around the world. They'll delve into virtual worlds that enable students to explore and interact with people and places from the confines of their classroom that they couldn't visit in reality. They'll also tell you how to build the best rich media classrooms for your institution that will grow as the technology grows.

Stewart Brand, creator and publisher of <em>The Whole Earth Catalog,</em> has said, "Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road."

Simply put, we believe EduComm is your seat on the steamroller. Join us at EduComm 2008, June 18-20. It will be time well spent. And if you're interested in leading a session of your own, contact me at the address below, or visit See you there.

Write to Tim Goral at

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