Wednesday, April 13, 2011

AERA 2011

I was dreadfully remiss on blogging during AERA, in part because I had mixed feelings about the conference. I went to sessions that should have been a draw (big names, topics people claim to be interested in) and the attendance was terrible, whereas my K-12 colleagues reported standing-room only at some of their sessions. On the other hand, the roundtables were far too crowded.

But nevertheless, there was some interesting stuff. That included a session on getting research funding that was helpful, a good session on "values, governance, and consumerism," a session of papers on "national organizations" that featured three good papers that really had nothing to do with each other, and a session on preparing to go up for tenure (planning ahead, that).

The coolest thing I saw was not related to my research at all, however. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History had one of their Discovery Domes set up. It is essentially an inflatable igloo with a projector inside, creating an immersive educational environment. Students can tour an archeological site, for example, by "driving" a vehicle and completing various tasks. As this was an educational conference, they weren't just showing the dome off - they were also presenting some research on how student learning compared with doing similar games on a computer. The biggest difference was (in non-technical terms) how "into" the task they got.

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