Koen Daeren’s journey from Belgium to ACU for the ConnectED Summit was anything but short.
The senior research engineer for the global communications company Alcatel Lucent traveled by train from Brussels, Belgium, to Paris, hopped on a more than 10-hour flight from the City of Light to Dallas and finished with a less than 40-minute flight to Abilene.
But Daeren said the transatlantic trek was worth the jet lag; the ConnectED Summit was the perfect environment to show off his company’s latest software projects and find possible partners in the higher education arena.
“It was the smallest plane I ever took,” Daeren said about the jet he sat on to Abilene.
More than 400 people from four continents, eight countries and more than 30 U.S. states convened at ACU for the ConnectED Summit, a two-day conference built for collaboration between corporations and educational representatives and organized for ACU to share its experience in establishing a mobile learning initiative.
While on campus Thursday and Friday, conference attendees – faculty, IT professionals, developers and administrators from a myriad of universities and schools – listened to speeches, participated in workshops and attended sessions all focused on using mobile devices in an educational environment.
ACU faculty, staff, administrators and students also shared and fielded questions about how ACU’s Mobile Learning Initiative took shape and the logistics of implementing and maintaining the initiative.
“The one thing we heard over and over was that it’s so great that ACU has been willing to be so open and share this,” said George Saltsman, director of the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning.
Saltsman said the ConnectEd Summit would not have been possible without the effort of several ACU staff members and the people who worked under them. He said staff members and the people who worked under them. He said planning for the event began in October, and ACU hoped to create a conference where other educational facilities could find the tools and help they needed to implement a mobile learning initiative on their campuses.
“When we were planning for the conference, we [asked ourselves], what are questions did we have and what kind of conference do we wish we could go to,” Saltsman said.
Saltsman said more than 90 percent of the participants who filled out an online survey about the conference said they would return for similar conferences in the future or recommend it to a friend. Although those numbers only include more than one-fourth of the more than 400 people who attended, Saltsman said the response he has received has been warm.
No plans for a future conference have been set, he said.
“I was so proud of the people that put this together,” Saltsman said. “ACU really pulled this off.”
Ken Thothero, coordinator of external and special projects at the University of Texas, was hoping to see if ACU’s Mobile Learning Initiative was simply a gimmick or an effective use of Apple’s mobile devices for learning. He said Thursday evening he had his doubts, but was open-minded to the use of mobile devices in education.
“That’s what I’m here to see,” Tothero said Thursday evening at the beginning of the conference.
On Friday after the final speech of the ConnectED conference, Thothero said ACU’s openness and conference showed him this private Christian university knew what it was talking about when it came to mobile learning.
“I was impressed,” Thothero said.
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