Roundtabling at DML 2014 Boston (College Knowledge LA)

This blog post was written by College Knowledge LA team member, Christopher Perez.

At the beginning of this month, I had the opportunity to attend the DML conference in Boston, MA. The Digital Media and Learning Conference sought to connect scholars and practitioners in the field, creating interdisciplinary and participatory dialogue and linking theory, empirical study, policy, activism, and practice. The conference began with a plenary discussion.

The discussion brought researchers from DePaul, Stanford, and New York University together to share large-scale research efforts and the challenges and lessons learned. During the discussion, various screens were placed alongside the ballroom to show the activity feed on Twitter regarding the conference. Various professionals were tweeting quotes, questions, and thoughts about the research presented, while engaging in conversation among their tables. It was pleasing to see users from around the country sharing their points on view through social media.

My purpose for attending the conference was to promote the web application I’m helping create. Our app, College Knowledge LA, seeks to connect students to local resources and events regarding college information and preparation. Using a database to help track events, users can see what organizations are hosting events designed to help members of its own community learn about the college process. The DML conference had a roundtable discussion session designed for informal conversations about up n' coming projects, like the one our team is working on in the CRUNCH incubator.

A roundtable discussion designates an ‘open house’ of DML projects, ideas, and current research. Upon getting situated, I immediately had two visitors eager to hear my presentation. One was from a marketing firm, while the other worked with children with Autism. It was great to be among such a diverse group of conference attendees. After presenting my project to both of them, both seemed excited at the idea and commented on how practical College Knowledge LA was. One of the attendees suggested using a youth radio station to help advertise our project, with the intention of having youth reporting on something designed to assist other youth. When they left, another visitor came my way.

After presenting to him, he revealed that he does outreach to high school students in Pennsylvania. He saw the practicality of our project, discussing how students need tools like College Knowledge LA to help point students in the right direction when it comes to getting educated about the post-secondary pathway. He also talked about students not coming from the best communities, and not having mentors to help guide them.

Overall, the conference was hugely beneficial in considering the direction College Knowledge LA can go. Hearing everyone’s excitement and acknowledgement of how practical our idea is really made me feel like what I’m doing is going to change the way people are exposed to higher education resources. Being at my first professional conference as a presenter was a bit nerve-wrecking, but meeting professionals in the field of technology and learning about the myriad ways we can synthesize technology and education made the entire experience worth it.

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