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POD 2009

I’ve been doing faculty development for over ten years. Yet I’ve never attended a conference on the subject — until now. Last week I went to Houston for the 34th Annual POD Network Conference. The theme was “Welcoming Change: Generations and Regeneration.” And it was a blast.

Window Box

I attended a number of sessions, including:

  • Welcoming the Change of Including Students in Faculty/Instructional Development
  • Religious Literacy and Interfaith Dialogue: Educating for Global Citizenship
  • Uncovering the Heart in Higher Education: Emerging Understanding and Practice
  • Contemplative Pedagogy: Fostering Attention for a New Generation

They were all quite good. It was especially interesting to see how those last three fit together. I’m not sure where that will lead, but it’s interesting to me.

I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that the highlight of the conference was a plenary session by Neil Howe, “Millenials Go to College.” I’ve been skeptical of Howe’s work ever since Generations came out in the early 90s. It all seems quite brilliant but a little too clever, a little too pat. So I had my guard up but found his presentation utterly beguiling. It was also unexpectedly moving, and I was surprised to find myself actually crying, not once but repeatedly throughout his talk. What’s really weird: I’m not sure why. Granted, I’m a softer touch since the events of four years ago, but I’m still not sure what this was all about. Perhaps it’s because I saw myself as standing outside of the march of generations for so long, outside of history in a sense, but now I’m a new father and still coming to terms with what that means. Maybe it was the positivity of Howe’s take on Millenials. Or maybe it was simply the (temporary) release of a long-held skepticism. In any case, much of what Howe said matched up well with my own experience. When he described Silents he could have been describing my parents. His characterization of Boomers reminded me of Xy’s parents. And of course my own skepticism about his theories is part and parcel of the Gen X experience. But don’t call me a believer quite yet. I’m still mulling this over. There’s a critical article in the Chronicle that I’m only midway through reading.

I also checked out a bunch of poster presentations. These are the ones that stick out the most in my mind a few days later:

  • Student and Instructor Satisfaction with the First Day of Class
  • Midcourse Evaluations: We Built It and They Came
  • Women Blog the Academy

That last one was a trip, because I work with a number of profs who blog, but I never noticed they’re (almost) all male. And to think I call myself a feminist. Plenty of food for thought there.

And in fact we did a poster presentation of our own. That’s why we were there — because our podcast was up for a POD Innovation award.

Poster Presentation

We got a number of compliments on the visual style of the poster itself.


We didn’t win, but we did get a certificate for making it to the finalist round. We even ran into our most recent interviewee, the irrepressible Mano Singham.

All in all I was very pleased with the conference. I was stimulated to think about my what I do in whole new ways. I met some great people like Kat Baker and Nan Peck and the aforementioned Mano Singham. I’m glad I went. In retrospect it seems kind of silly that it took me so long to get there.

Published inThe Ed BizTravel


  1. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    I need go and try to gain the Positive energy you-all are putting into these things.
    B….I say Mr. B….as a cynical paranoiac, I urge you to preserve ALL of your
    works, especially instructional materials you’ve made like Powerpoints, videos,
    etc. in as Durable and Multiple copies as possible, Ideally asking others to do so
    as multiple “off-site” storage for emergency worst-case contingency.
    I stood up and spoke at a scholarly communication conference a few years back.
    I referenced a Popular Science magazine blurb about how this electronic-boom
    era may actually end up becoming the WORST-documented time, assuming we
    do have some continuity of human culture, because of Reliance upon these
    Magnetically-vulnerable media.
    I told them that those of us in Earth Sciences can tell you that you are making a Huge assumption that Taken-for-granted Power-grid will always be there.
    You see, the leader of this particular conference was pushing for the
    cooperation-standards-setting for the new world of Electronic Journals, with
    How that’s all going to be paid for, the access and copyrights and fair use and
    all of that, speaking to how Universities are going to be expected to de-emphasize the printed word!!! Pretty damn scary.
    So, some of us dusty field-work Indiana-Jones types were there arguing for
    making sure we have Hard copy libraries always. Stuff that can be dug out from the rubble of post-apocalyptic recovery.
    We can have Solar-flare activity which could FRY every electronic device, and
    as I commented, we have electronic “Alexandria”.
    I brought up the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (see it again B! ),
    about how the kids left over from the survivors of the “Pocky-Clypse”
    are left with a legend and lore, and a carving in the wall done by their parents,
    which is the only writing they know, and have ritually memorized.
    The “Witch Doctor” of the kids crew has his magical 45-rpm record suspended
    on his magic-wand, and his magical headphones….
    The kids are left to raise themselves in isolation.
    THIS is what we face for our real future.
    Please preserve your work so that it can be Utilized for the instruction
    of this very-likely future: No power grid.

  2. […] as I said, not the stuff of dramatic revelation, nor did it bear fruit rapidly. Looking back on what I wrote at the time, I can see the profundity of the experience was not immediately evident. It took some months to […]

  3. […] don’t think POD 2010 will prove as transformative for me personally as POD 2009 was. How could it be? This is not a real disappointment nor a criticism, just a statement of fact. […]

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