This past weekend I attended my first AERA Annual Meeting. I had some background knowledge about the conference from my adviser and other professors that attended in previous years but nothing could prepare me for the experience. First, I have to say that having the conference in San Francisco was a big plus. I had never visited San Francisco so I was also excited about the location.
My AERA experience started with a 6 hour flight from Washington DC to San Francisco. I was a little jetlag but not enough to keep me from starting my AERA experience. Saturday morning I pick up my registration package. The AERA program was massive! Thankfully, I had browsed through the online program and downloaded my schedule to the mobile app before my arrival to San Francisco. It was good that I had an idea of my schedule in advance. That afternoon I was chairing a roundtable session. I was glad to share the table with other instructional design and technology colleagues. I really enjoyed the experience.
Sunday was a fairly busy day with poster sessions and paper presentations. One thing I noticed in the poster session was how well attended the session was compared to poster sessions that I attended in other conferences. The level of interaction between the presenters and the audience was fantastic. I also gather some ideas for future poster presentations (i.e., created handouts, have business cards, etc.). Sunday was also a good networking day. I met faculty and graduate students from all over the world, who are doing research on emotion in education. I also met education research with other types of research interest.
Monday was a meetings day. I met with a graduate student who is doing research on Afro-Latin American women. She wanted to talk about my experiences in higher education and the academic world. I also met with my AECT colleagues to discuss the Research & Theory Division webinar series. I think the conversation served to brainstorm and to create a plan of action. On Monday, I visited the exhibit hall. I was very curious to look at books that I could use in the courses that I am teaching this Fall. Let’s just say I found what I was looking for and more!
Another great experience at AERA 2013 was my hostel experience. I stayed at Hostelling International Downtown San Francisco and it was great. The price for a private room with a bathroom and breakfast included every morning (a nice surprise!) was amazing. I did not have high expectations but I was impress with the hostel. I would recommended it to others. It was also good that other guests were also attending AERA. Every day for breakfast the conversation was about education and it helped me meet other education researchers.
I feel like I lost a few pounds walking between the hotels (between sessions) in the hills of San Francisco but it was worth it. If you are an graduate student in the field of education, AERA is a conference you should plan to attend. There are so many topics and ideas. I hope to return to AERA next year!