Last week, 15,000 educational researchers descended on Chicago for the AERA educational research conference.
As a first timer, I’d gotten many great pointers about handling such an enormous gathering. However, having now been there myself, here are a few more tips for attending massive conferences:
1. Go very big or very small
While the Buddhist philosophy of taking “the Middle Way” applies to most parts of life, it may not apply to big conferences. Colleagues had advised me to avoid the “big name” sessions, which are generally bursting with attendees dying to meet their academic idols. Others told me to ONLY attend such sessions, because smaller ones can be “hit and miss” in their quality.
I actually felt I got the most bang for my buck by either going HUGE or tiny. I actually found the the more medium-sized sessions–generally paper presentations grouped by themes–were still small enough to vary by quality, but still too formally structured with too large an audience to really get to interact with anyone. Continue reading