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My not so comprehensive guide to attending a conference in the age of social media

July 25, 2012

I can’t tell you excited I am to be attending the AAPT summer meeting in Philadelphia this year. It’s the first major conference I’ve been to since really getting involved in social media and building a network of physics teachers across the world that I can’t wait to meet.

But it’s also gotten me to think about how I prepare for conferences, and to do a lot more than just make sure I’m not packing a device that will shut down the Philadelphia airport like has happened in years past. Now I’m thinking carefully about how I’m going to capture the great stuff I find at the conference, and perhaps even more importantly, how I will connect with the colleagues I’ve never met but who mean so much to my learning.

Here are a few tips and ideas I’ve had for how to attend a conference in the age of social media:

  • Build a twitter archive for the conference hashtag: This idea comes from Chris Goedde, who used the awesome service IFTTT to create a recipe that automatically appends tweets with the hashtag #aaptsm12 to a text file in your dropbox. I found myself following this hashtag for the winter meeting pretty carefully last January. Even though I couldn’t attend the conference, I found it was a way to attend 3 or 4 sessions thanks to awesome tweeps like @arunduist and @bauerphysics who live tweeted most of the sessions they attended.

  • Use a collaborative google calendar to meet up with colleagues: Again, I can’t take credit for this idea, since it comes from Andy Rundquist, but how easy and awesome is it to create a google calendar and share it with the world to arrange meet ups and point out sessions worth attending. AAPT for GPD is live, and please let me know if you’d like admin access to be able to add events or manage sharing.
  • Recruit speakers for the Global Physics Department: I’m somewhat introverted, and I have a pretty hard time just going up to speakers and starting a conversation with them after their talks. That’s part of why I decided to create these invitations to speak at the Global Physics Department which I plan to give to interesting speakers I meet (I hope you try this too, and maybe we can fill the GPD calendar for 2012).
  • Make time for tweet ups: this should go without saying, but I’m imagining that many best things to come out of this conference will come from the conversations I have with people I haven’t met before, but have already gotten to know quite well through twitter. If you check the AAPT-GPD calendar, you’ll see we’ve already set up tweet-ups for Sunday and Monday nights (join us!), and I’m open for many more.
  • Share your schedule: I’ve seen a few folks like Dan Meyer post listings of sessions that look good to them. I think this is a fantastic idea, since it will help me to plan out my days, help people to know where to find me and probably generate some suggestions for things I’m missing. So see my next post for my schedule.
  • Bring a camera and a microphone: I’m not sure if I’m really going to use them, but I’m trying to bring along a nice camera and microphone to do a few interviews of vendors and other interesting people I meet. Could this be the start of a podcast? Who knows, but at least I’ll have some interesting stuff to take away from the exhibit floor other than a stack of paper.
  • Blog and tweet as much as you like: One thing I’ve really enjoyed this summer is reading the many daily reflections from molding workshop participants at workshops around the US, like those from Jenn Broekman and Gary Abud. I think these posts must also be immensely helpful for the participants themselves, since they’ll be able to refer back to them throughout the year, so I’m hoping to be able to do something similar myself.
One Comment leave one →
  1. July 25, 2012 10:59 pm

    Awesome!! I can’t wait to see your tweets! We (my family and I) are going to be on our first days of vacation, and I’ll have to sneak peaks at twitter when I can. I really don’t want my husband to feel like he needs to be doing work, lord knows he REALLY needs a break. I’m sure your tweets are going to be so informative. I’m really excited.

    So if you get a chance to get someone from the University of Washington to talk about the tutorials for the global physics department, that would totally rock! I LOVE these, and they mesh so well with the modeling curriculum.

    Have fun!

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