Nashville: National Association of Elementary School Principals – NAESP

NAESP  is the National Association of Elementary School Principals.  School principals, superintendents, teachers, and decision-makers from around the country gathered in Nashville  to learn about the latest ideas and best practices.  A misconception exists that raising standards will improve student achievement, we were told. However, raising expectations through standards without addressing instructional practices will only widen the existing achievement gap.  A keynoter presented structures that can ensure every student acquires common core skill sets, communications, collaboration, and critical thinking.  Other well-attended sessions looked at Challenges and Opportunities — Why Poverty Matters and What Schools Must Do, and Flipping Professional Learning to Impact Student Achievement.  Serious stuff.  Except that the “flipping” thing sounds a little… well… flippant, no?  #naesp14

Boston: Electrical Apparatus Service Association – EASA

EASA is the Electrical Apparatus Service Association, and it positions itself as the “Electro-Mechanical Authority”.  So what do electro-mechanical authorities talk about when they get together?  Well, since you ask, things like Understanding O-rings in the Submersible Pump Maintenance & Repair Process, selecting the correct bearing seal, common misconceptions about how to dry wet motors, and (here comes the big question…) when it comes to motors, how hot is hot?  Talking of hot topics, there was keen debate about motor base support and alignment, with delegates anxious to secure “a basic understanding of frame construction that can help minimize motor vibration”.  (A clue:  when motor vibration problems occur, we heard, the magnitude and direction of the vibration can give a good indication of where to look for the cause.  Oh, and don’t forget to check the soleplate… #EASA2014

Atlanta: ISTE – International Society for Technology in Education – NECC

ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education, and the conference took as its theme the idea of “connected learning, connected world”.  ISTE 2014 featured sessions in several different formats to accommodate a variety of learning styles. Professional learning sessions focused on the development of leaders and training in leadership among teachers.  There were further sessions focusing on the technology, resources and policies necessary to build the infrastructure for effective teaching, learning and administration, plus original research papers investigating the use of technology to enhance education.  Among keynoters was the comely actress and activist Ashley Judd, who, we heard, has visited grassroots programs around the world carrying a message of empowerment and equality to heads of state, donors, the private sector and the media. Unlike a certain ex-president, Ms. Judd did NOT ask “Is our children learning?”… #ISTE2014

Calgary: Global Petro

“This extensive showcase of technology driving the petroleum industry”, we heard, “features rigs, drives, casings, muds, fracturing, perforating, downhole, measurements and more”.  The SPE Heavy Oil Conference Canada, was held in conjunction with GPS, and explored revolutionary ‎technological innovations and challenges through its tailor-made conference program, offering in-depth discussions and lively debates.  There was probing of technical topics related to heavy oil, including the application of geology and geophysics, reservoir characterization, incremental recovery, drilling and completion, market access, and footprint reduction.  The delegates (from twenty countries) were typically managers, business analysts, design, development or drilling engineers, technicians, exploitation or facilities engineers, reservoir or structural specialists, wellsite geologists…  Who knew it took so many disciplines to make a gooey black hole in the ground?

Las Vegas: National Charter Schools Conference – NCSC

Charter schools, we heard, are “unique public schools that are allowed the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement”.  The core of the charter school model is the belief that public schools should be accountable for student learning.  NCSC is the National Charter Schools Conference, and it is the largest gathering of the charter school movement. The stated mission is to lead public education to new levels of academic achievement for all students, by fostering a strong charter sector. The National Alliance provides assistance to state charter school associations and resource centers, develops and advocates for improved public policies, and serves as the united voice for this large and diverse movement.   4,000 participants from around the country came to learn, connect and share ideas on education.  What they learned was an education in itself…  #NCSC14

Las Vegas: InfoComm

InfoComm International is the trade association representing the professional audiovisual and information communications industries worldwide.  InfoComm bills itself as the largest professional AV (that’s audio-visual) trade show in the industry, featuring the latest technologies for audio, video, display, projection, lighting and staging, digital signage, conferencing, digital content creation, networking and signal distribution.  InfoComm has more than 5,000 members, including manufacturers, systems integrators, dealers and distributors, independent consultants, programmers, rental and staging companies, end-users and multimedia professionals from more than 80 countries.  In back of it all is the InfoComm University, which specializes in audiovisual education, with a variety of tracks for installation professionals, designers, networked AV professionals, technology managers, sales/executives and live events professionals.  Okay, sound-check, people…  Testing… One… One…  #infocomm14

Paris: Eurosatory

Eurosatory 2014 was the Land and Air-land Defence and Security Exhibition, held in Paris, France. This was an exhibition of international dimension, a fact emphasized by the presence of six new countries.  Eurosatory is positioned as the premier global meeting for land and Air-Land defense. The exhibition also confirmed it’s now-established involvement in the areas of homeland security and civil security, with the presence of several Interior Ministry office-holders.  Over 50% of exhibitors were offering security solutions.  With a wide selection of materials and systems on show, an unrivaled number of exhibitors and the widest exhibition area, Eurosatory reinforced its position as an international defence leader, and emerged as a major event for new products and innovations. From year to year Eurosatory has improved its already comprehensive cover of the Land and Air-land Defence and Security industries, imposing itself as the industry’s event of reference.  Wait.  Did that sound… well… defensive…?