Each year from October onwards, I start getting excited about the ASCILITE conference happening late November or early December. This is a place where I can get together with my tribe, lament the institutional politics and hang with a group who are grappling with the same challenges that I am. Sometimes it’s a reality check: seeing where other institutions are up to, what other people at my level are doing, and catching up with what’s what in the sector.

I’ve been going for the last seven or eight years and the regulars have now become my friends. I look forward to catching up with those people who are working in a similar field to me. What have you found? What have you done? And wow, that’s so cool; maybe we should collaborate on that! The conference dinner is a way to let of some steam and embrace another identity through fancy dress. I’ve noticed that the dance floor fills early and stays full to the very end. Blue hair (Dunedin), pink feathers (Adelaide), and pointed ears (Wellington): this is how I’m remembered.

Beyond the social aspects, it’s a great way to present my research. The world of educational technology moves so fast that it can be too long a time from conceptualising a project, implementing it and collecting the data, to writing it up in an academic journal. And that’s just to get it to a journal. From there it goes out to peer review, changes made and so on. Presenting at the ASCILITE conference allows me to get my research out there faster. It also gives my colleagues a chance to look at what I’m doing, give me some great suggestions, and stop me from heading down some unproductive rabbit holes. These are also the people who will celebrate my wins!

There’s no doubt that seeing what else is happening in ed tech in the sector is worth the price of admission. This is how you see what’s going on, get new ideas, blah, blah, blah. But for me, the most important aspect of the conference is the networking. I’m now doing a funded project with someone I met at the Dunedin conference. I’m co-editing a special issue of the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET) with someone I only catch up with in person, once a year. (‘Sure,’ I said over a glass of wine: ‘how hard can that be!’) The person I write with most is someone I met at the conference (well her and about 45 of her closest friends!). The real value lies in who’s there with you.

So, please do think about coming along and please do come and introduce yourself to me. We could become co-authors, collaborators or just someone to chew the fat with once a year! There’s a nice vibe, a friendly atmosphere and always some laughs to be had.

There’s no better way to get institutional support for your ASCILITE attendance than getting a paper on the program. Check out the call for participation or make your submission now!