I’ve been doing faculty development for over ten years. Yet I’ve never attended a conference on the subject — until now. Last week I went to Houston for the 34th Annual POD Network Conference. The theme was “Welcoming Change: Generations and Regeneration.” And it was a blast.
I attended a number of sessions, including:
- Welcoming the Change of Including Students in Faculty/Instructional Development
- Religious Literacy and Interfaith Dialogue: Educating for Global Citizenship
- Uncovering the Heart in Higher Education: Emerging Understanding and Practice
- Contemplative Pedagogy: Fostering Attention for a New Generation
They were all quite good. It was especially interesting to see how those last three fit together. I’m not sure where that will lead, but it’s interesting to me.
I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that the highlight of the conference was a plenary session by Neil Howe, “Millenials Go to College.” I’ve been skeptical of Howe’s work ever since Generations came out in the early 90s. It all seems quite brilliant but a little too clever, a little too pat. So I had my guard up but found his presentation utterly beguiling. It was also unexpectedly moving, and I was surprised to find myself actually crying, not once but repeatedly throughout his talk. What’s really weird: I’m not sure why. Granted, I’m a softer touch since the events of four years ago, but I’m still not sure what this was all about. Perhaps it’s because I saw myself as standing outside of the march of generations for so long, outside of history in a sense, but now I’m a new father and still coming to terms with what that means. Maybe it was the positivity of Howe’s take on Millenials. Or maybe it was simply the (temporary) release of a long-held skepticism. In any case, much of what Howe said matched up well with my own experience. When he described Silents he could have been describing my parents. His characterization of Boomers reminded me of Xy’s parents. And of course my own skepticism about his theories is part and parcel of the Gen X experience. But don’t call me a believer quite yet. I’m still mulling this over. There’s a critical article in the Chronicle that I’m only midway through reading.
I also checked out a bunch of poster presentations. These are the ones that stick out the most in my mind a few days later:
- Student and Instructor Satisfaction with the First Day of Class
- Midcourse Evaluations: We Built It and They Came
- Women Blog the Academy
That last one was a trip, because I work with a number of profs who blog, but I never noticed they’re (almost) all male. And to think I call myself a feminist. Plenty of food for thought there.
And in fact we did a poster presentation of our own. That’s why we were there — because our podcast was up for a POD Innovation award.
We got a number of compliments on the visual style of the poster itself.
We didn’t win, but we did get a certificate for making it to the finalist round. We even ran into our most recent interviewee, the irrepressible Mano Singham.
All in all I was very pleased with the conference. I was stimulated to think about my what I do in whole new ways. I met some great people like Kat Baker and Nan Peck and the aforementioned Mano Singham. I’m glad I went. In retrospect it seems kind of silly that it took me so long to get there.