Building Bridges Conference, March 12-13, 2015.   

The aim of this conference was to Build Bridges between educators and technologists. There were some wonderful presentations on using technology to maximize student success.

by Barbara Oldham, Wenatchee Valley College

Recently I attended the 1st annual Building Bridges Washington State Higher Education Technology Conference. According to the website there were conference participants from across the northwest: 4 States, 54 institutions, and over 350 attendees. They have an interactive map to play — it was targeted to “all technology users.” http://www.buildingbridgeswatech.com/  This conference was sponsored in part by Eastern Washington University and The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and I hope there are many more to come.

The aim of this conference was to Build Bridges between educators and technologists.  There were some wonderful presentations on using technology to maximize student success. The first session I attended was called Beyond Portfolios which was all about getting a student to manage their identity online. AJ Barse from Western talked about getting the students early in their professional development to generate an online presence.  In this way, by the time they graduate students can showcase more than their diploma. Having a web-presence is equally as important as a solid resume and cover letter. He reviewed tools and services that technologists and educators can use to help students create their unique online presence. I though it seemed like a good idea.

There were many good sessions presented by librarians, including one from City University of Seattle, talking about how they turned the library into the center of everything, literally. A few sessions showcased 24/7 Ask WA. Chris Ewing from Eastern showed how the classroom in JFK library has been retro-fitted to become a totally wireless teaching environment for BYOD. There were also some sessions on turning your campus into an Open Education Resource campus and saving your student lots of money.

A very interesting concept was presented by EWU, which employs a hybrid model for faculty shared governance of IT resources.  Both faculty and administrators engage in direct dialog on IT issues. The hybrid committee that advises the university on technological resources that support scholarly activities at EWU act as a bridge to the rest of campus. The committee has improved communication and buy-in of tech projects.

All in all it was an excellent conference. I highly recommend you look for the 2nd annual Building Bridges Conference and plan on presenting or attending.

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