By Angela Dick, 2014 Symposium Program Chair

As the 2014 TLT Symposium Program Chair, I’m excited to share the many great components of this year’s event. We will continue the the tradition of last year and yet again have two dynamic keynotes. Our theme this year is “Engaging the Future and the Culture of Teaching and Learning with Technology.”  In the spirit of our theme, you will see sessions that embrace new engaging ideas and approaches to create innovation in teaching and learning. It is important to note that the Symposium will be changing and expanding over the next few years and you will begin to see what we hope are great additions to this year’s event.

We are extremely pleased and excited to have Daniel Pink as our morning keynote. Daniel is the author of five provocative books about the changing world of work, including the long-running New York Times best seller A Whole New Mind, and the #1 New York Times best seller Drive. His books have been translated into 33 languages. Pink’s articles on business and technology have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, The Sunday Telegraph, Fast Company and Wired. He has provided analysis of business trends on CNN, CNBC, ABC, NPR and other networks in the U.S. and abroad. He also advises both Fortune 100 companies and startups on recruiting, innovation and work practices.

A free agent himself, he held his last real job in the White House, where he served from 1995 to 1997 as chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore. He also worked as an aide to U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich and in other positions in politics and government. The Symposium committee really feels that his message is an extremely great fit for what the Symposium represents when it comes to technology for teaching and learning.

Our second keynote will be held at the end of the day instead of during lunch this year. Based on the results from the post symposium survey, we heard that our attendees would much rather have lunch to network and debrief from the morning sessions instead of a formal keynote presentation. The second keynote will be Dr. Robbie Melton, associate vice chancellor of mobilization and emerging technology. Dr. Melton will close the Symposium with a high-energy keynote that will take a unique look at the role of mobile technology in education. Throughout her forty years in the field of education, Dr. Melton has received numerous teaching and technology awards and acclaims. Dr. Melton has published and presented around the nation about the impact and value of mobilization for education and the workforce. She has even acquired a new moniker as an “Appologist”, due to her study of the pedagogy and best teaching practices with mobilization, quality standards for the utilization of mobile apps, and for her creation of the Mobile App Education and Workforce Resource Center.

With the RFP deadline closed, our initial reviews of those submissions has begun and I’m truly inspired by the work our Penn State community has been doing over the past year. As in many past year’s, the selection process will be difficult, and that means many great presentations that you will not want to miss! In addition to our traditionally great overall program, we will also be introducing informal discussion sessions this year that will take place in addition to our normal concurrent presentations. The informal sessions are just that–small group sessions driven by discussion that will cover topics that will sure to impress those that are interested in attending. These sessions will be facilitated but the small audience will drive the discussion so be prepared to participate! Stay tuned as we release the topics that will be offered during these sessions.

We have also partnered with COIL (the Center for Online Innovation in Learning) for this year’s Symposium. This means you will be able to attend a COIL track all day long that highlights the best of COIL sponsored RIGS throughout the entire day. This is a great opportunity to see the amazing research projects happening here at Penn State.

You will also notice that we have expanded the total amount of sessions that we will have this year so we are able to accept more great proposals. In order to have the ability to do this, we will be hosting sessions on both the first and second level of the Penn Stater. We will continue to highlight services in the break area on the second floor but there will also be services on the first floor break area. In reviewing additional information from our post-Symposium survey, we have heard our attendees want opportunities to network so you will find in the break areas a more comfortable setting to help facilitate these informal discussions while enjoying those great snacks from the Penn Stater.

Lastly, you may also see some new faces this year. This is the first year we have decided to open up registration to a limited amount of attendance spaces to our fellow CIC (Committee on Institutional Operation) institutions. These folks will have an opportunity to participate in the Symposium and see a great presentations given by our own Penn State community.

As you can see, the Symposium Program team has been busy and will continue the pace while we proceed reviewing the proposals. We hope the changes to this year’s event will enhance your already great experience at the Symposium!

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