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Insanely Cool Conference?

The ASAE & the Center Professional Development listserv has been buzzing about conferences the past couple of days.  Two main topics are about how to go paperless / be more green and how to decide how many concurrent sessions to run.  While interesting, I think Jeff De Cagna asked a more important question on his blog, which is "What's the most insanely cool conference you've attended?  What made it insanely cool?"  He says the last insanely cool conference he attended was in 2002 and I commented that while that is sad, what is even more sad is that I have NEVER been to an insanely cool conference!!!!  Via Twitter conversations, Ben Martin agrees that while he's been to some good ones, and maybe one great one, he's never been to an insanely cool one.  Have you? (ahem, and that includes the ones you're planning!)?  Head on over to Jeff's blog and please comment if you have attended or planned such an event because we would all definitely love to hear about and learn!

Now, some of you may ask what insanely cool really means and what's that got to do with learning and/or customer satisfaction of conferences.  Of course insanely cool has no real definition because it would mean something different to everyone.  However, I'm pretty sure each of us would know it when we saw it.  And we would remember it.  And we would be excited about it.  And we would talk about it with others.  And we would definitely go back again next year! 

An insanely cool conference to me would focus on learning and connecting, and getting everyone engaged and motivated in fun and new ways.  It would focus on conversations rather than presentations.  It would use technology in innovative ways to enhance my learning - not just at the conference, but before and after.  It would push me to consider things I'd never considered before.  It would have high-level, hands-on sessions that allow me to learn about and discuss subjects in depth.  It would allow plenty of time for me to connect with other people who have the same interests as I (and it would provide me the way to find these people). At the end of an insanely cool conference, I'd be exhausted yet re-energized and motivated to take what I've learned back to my office to apply it (and I'd have the know-how and tools to get started)! 

What's your vision of an insanely cool conference?

Association Social Technology Survey

I keep forgetting to remind all you association execs to respond to the first ever Association Social Technology Survey!  The survey will close on Monday, June 30 at 11:59 pm PDT so don't delay.  A free executive summary of the results will be available in mid-August, and the full report will be ready for purchase this fall.

The survey is being conducted by Principled Innovation LLC and sponsored by Omnipress. This is the first time anyone has tried to capture detailed data about how associations are using social technology (blogs, wikis, podcasts, online communities, etc) so I'm told the survey is long, but it is sooo important.  Please take the time to respond on behalf of your association, or if you're not the appropirate one to respond, forward this on now to the one who is.

ASTM E36.20 Committee on Standard Terminology for Personnel Credentialing

ASTM International is developing a standard called "Standard Terminology for Personnel Credentialing."  I'm currently at the committee meeting to discuss the latest feedback on the document (some time in the future I'll cover the standard setting process and steps - or likely have a guest blogger from ASTM or ANSI do so).  Overall, an issue we've uncovered is that the document is heavily weighted towards certification - and it needs to be more balanced to other types of credentialing, including licensing and certificates.  But that's not a big challenge to overcome...so overall it's proceeding smoothly.

ASTM E36.20 Terminology for Personnel Credentialing

The committee to discuss the (still draft) credentiaing terminology standard is meeting tomorrow 8:30 - 11 mountain and I still plan to live blog from it.  My secret plan to appear quite disinterested and make no eye contact until after a note-taker is identified!  ;-) Not really, this group has a secretary so I think I'm safe (famous last words...).

I heard from the chair today that there have been comments/concerns expressed regarding some of the terms in the draft so I can't wait to hear more.  I wanted to link to the draft but now I can't find it online.  I'll ask first thing tomorrow if it's available and link to it.  You can read some background here.  Until tomorrow...

ASTM E36.30 Meeting on Certificate Standards

I'm sorry that I was unable to live microblog via Twitter or blog here from the ASTM International meeting, as I promised I would.  I somehow got talked into taking meeting notes since a secretary hasn't yet been appointed...which didn't even afford me the chance to check my e-mails much less formulate a blog post (so I also apologize to those who e-mailed requesting status updates that I left hanging!!).

To be honest though, there wasn't much to report.  To my and others' disappointment, there was no draft standard to review.  Well, kind of.... The meeting started out with a presentation by NOCA's Jim Kendzel on their draft standard...which left attendees confused (the content wasn't confusing, the context was).  It was the understanding of many at the table (including me) that NOCA and ASTM were progressing independently in their standards efforts (impressions admittedly based primarily on the grapevine but also on public statements) so hearing the presentation of the NOCA draft standards at the meeting's onset raised a lot of questions.  Then came the announcement that ASTM and NOCA are still discussing potential collaboration and that it looked likely.  So, that provided the rationale for the presentation, but still left us with the dilemma of how to proceed. 

Should we start from scratch in case the collaboration doesn't occur...or start with the NOCA draft in anticipation that it does?  We settled on a hybrid.  We started out talking about key attributes we'd like to see in the standards (using some past ASTM minutes as the base of our discussions).  Then we looked at the first couple standards as drafted by NOCA and noted where we agreed (or not) or felt further clarification was needed.  We only got through the first couple standards and as a group, I think it's fair to say that of the ones we covered, there wasn't much disagreement, but there were a fair amount of areas we felt needed clarified or tightened up.  The general feeling was that there would likely be disagreement with the standards related to certificate assessments (that we didn't get to).

One thing we all agreed to was that we had to get more active involvement on the committee from all stakeholders in drafting the certificate standards.  While the process is an open one and anyone is welcome to comment on draft standards, we want to be more proactive in ensuring they're at the table initially.  I encourage anyone who has an interest or stake in the certificate standards to become a member of ASTM and this technical committee.  Everyone is welcome and we need your input.

So now, to my and others' great frustration, it's back to a waiting game...waiting to see if ASTM and NOCA come to agreeable terms.  It's been 8 months of negotiation already during which ASTM put its certificate standard development on hold (despite my frustration with the timeline, I commend ASTM for its its collaborative spirit and I do understand why the decision was made to wait). 

Now, do I think the two will ultimately collaborate?  Honestly, I don't know. I'd still give it 50/50 odds even though official reps from both party say it's likely.  Do I think the two should collaborate?  Again, I honestly don't know.  I definitely see the value of having one standard.  The last thing we need is to further confuse the public (and other stakeholders) with two sets of standards.  Yet, I believe there are very different philosophies of what a quality certificate is, and it's going to be quite a process to get consensus on one standard.


Today I am attending the Certification Networking Group's meeting on certificate programs and I thought I'd live blog a bit.  The presenters include Roy Swift from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Jim Kendzel from the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) and Christian Smith from Learning Resources Network (LERN).  Both ANSI & NOCA plan to offfer accreditation of certificates, so I anticipate a lot of discussion about the potential standards for accreditation.  More to follow. 

Update:  In December of 2008, Jim Kendzel indicated that NOCA is now unsure of whether they will offer accreditaiton of certificate programs.

Certifications go Social

Check out all these certifications on YouTube!

PAMA Certification Overview

CompTIA Certification Testimonials

National Coaching Certification Program (Canada)

Hostage Negotiations Certification

Online Auto Glass Certification – National Glass Association

National Board Certification (teachers) testimonials 1 2 3 4

Here's an example of what NOT to post - bullet-point heavy and seriously, Hawaii Five O music in the background!  Network Security Certificate – university-based