I have been an active member of CUE since 2015 and have attended numerous events affiliated with the organization. For those unaware, CUE (formerly Computer Using Educators) is an organization formed in 1978 to further the use of technology in education and is based out of California, with affiliates all over the state, as well as Oregon and my home state, Nevada. However, over the last few years, the organization has widened its scope into many more areas of education, including but not limited to leadership, equity, eSports, and more. Another organization, similar in scope to CUE, is TCEA, the Texas Computer Education Association. I have been wanting to attend their annual conference for a long time, and this year, I was finally able to do so!
This year's conference was held in San Antonio, a city that I have always wanted to visit but had never had the opportunity. When looking at the weather report in the days leading up to the conference, I packed for weather in the 50s and 60s with a slight chance of rain. The day before the conference, a Sunday, I arrived to sunny skies, thick humidity due to a rainstorm earlier in the day, and a temperature near 80. My instant thought was that I did not pack for warmer weather, but Monday morning brought me back to reality and then some.
|The colder weather "forced" me to go
buy a hat to keep my bald head warm!
So through a cold drizzle, I worked my way to the convention center on Monday morning for the opening of the conference. I made sure to get there early just because of the sheer size of the convention center, hoping to get my bearings before sessions started and minimize the amount of time trying to find sessions. I had done my homework ahead of time, selecting sessions and adding them to my calendar with locations so I could move between the sessions quickly. I noticed right away a lot of things about the schedule that I really liked, especially in comparison to other conferences that I had attended in the past:
- Session start times were staggered at half-hour intervals, allowing attendees to go to a session, figure out in the first few minutes if they wanted to stay, and if not, find another session to attend without having to wait nearly an hour for the next sessions to start
- Rather than having keynote speakers, a series of "featured speakers" were scheduled for each day, much like a keynote. In addition, other sessions were scheduled during the featured speaker time if attendees didn't want to attend the "keynote"
- Session lengths were varied, from 60, 90, 120, and 180 minutes; most conferences that I have attended tend to stick to the 60 minutes or less format, with a few exceptions
- To enter a session, a conference volunteer scanned your badge before entering the room to ensure that there was still room in the session to sit. If you're like me, you have walked into sessions only to find out that there wasn't any room, thus forcing you to leave
- The convention hall was open on Sunday for attendees to check in, minimizing the amount of time needed on the opening morning, and sessions started as early as 7 AM and lasted until 5 PM starting on the first day, giving attendees an entire day of learning for 3 days, plus sessions that lasted until 2 PM on the fourth day
- And while I did not partake in this particular feature, the exhibitor hall had a traveling beer cart where attendees could purchase a beverage to enjoy while checking out the various vendors and their products!
|Clockwise from the left: me, Stevie
Frank, Debbie Tannenbaum, Andrea
Cook, Melody McAllister, and Jaki
Thomas enjoying the one day of
|Casa Rio on Commerce Street in Downtown
San Antonio was definitely worth the stop!