What Delegates said...

Prof Hugh Burkhardt, University of Nottingham

It is 20 years since a few of us conceived of the need for ISDDE, for giving identity and praise to talented designers and the groups that turn research-based creativity into ambitious well-engineered tools for important educational purposes. The quality of the work presented and of the discussions here in Galway represent an outstanding validation of that vision.

And the model of individual responsibility for each of the Society’s activities (I called it 'consultative dictatorship’: “If I don’t have any comments back within a week, we shall ….”), with its administrative simplicity, still seems to work well. Tony and Cornelia have challenged future conference organisers in a way that has become the norm. Thanks to you and the NUIG team. In January Jacquey will become the latest in the line of Executive Chairs who have led us so nicely-but-firmly: Lynne (2017-18), Susan (2015-16), Chris (2011-15), who followed me - if I have the dates right**.

Here’s to Pittsburgh.


** Our institutional memory has so far been what Daniel, who has been Secretary of the Society throughout, put in the website. Our academic memory is Educational Designer, which he made a reality. Thanks Dan, from us all.

Suzy Loper, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley

Galway was my fifth ISDDE, preceded by Oxford, Berkeley, Utrecht and Berkeley again. I think this conference sticks in your memory in a way that other conferences don’t, because ISDDE is such a unique and intimate experience.

The most important part of the ISDDE experience, of course, is the rare opportunity to be in close quarters, for several days, with other educational designers. In particular, “strand time” (also known as “working groups”) is a chance to spend several hours engaged in extended conversation with colleagues. Strand time can be hit or miss, but for me ISDDE 2018 was a “hit”, as our small but mighty group had stimulating and productive discussions about how to design for local adaptations. We even came up with a framework, the “Broccoli Model of Adaptation” (look for a future note in Educational Designer to learn more!)

A big part of ISDDE, however, is the fun: time spent eating, drinking, walking and socializing with old and new friends. Galway was a perfect site for this and our hosts did an amazing job, right down to arranging the perfect weather for us. One particularly satisfying memory: as my colleague Mac and I sat outside a bar enjoying an after-dinner drink, we saw what appeared to be a parade go by: it was the Executive group, on their way from dinner to try to see some music in a pub. Unfortunately, because of the large size of their group, they were turned away from the crowded pub. But since Mac and I were only two, we capitalized on their misfortune and slipped in, enjoying some wonderful Irish music that we wouldn’t have known about had it not been for the lucky chance to stumble upon the Executive parade.

Learning from colleagues in a friendly and stimulating environment, that is the beauty of ISDDE! See you all, I hope, in Pittsburgh!

Solana Lee, Callahan Consulting

I first joined the ISDDE community at the Utrecht, Netherlands meeting in 2016. As an elementary math specialist with a master’s degree in literacy, I was particularly interested in designing engaging assessments and activities that blended math and literacy and gave students the opportunity to problem solve and write mathematical explanations to communicate their reasoning. Immediately upon arriving at that first meeting, I was struck by the sense of collaboration and purpose that drove the conference as a whole; a gathering of great minds towards great aims. Over the last few years attending, I have found that one of the most beautiful things about ISDDE is the opportunity to put your design work before the eyes of brilliant designers from across the globe. This work is impossible to do in isolation and ISDDE has certainly set the foundation for a productive network of designers to share, give feedback, ask questions, pose problems, and attempt to solve them; all critical components that drive this work in educational design forward. I consider myself lucky to have been able to share our recent design work with such a prestigious audience and am grateful for the conversations, inspiration and connections I have made through being a member of this wonderful community. Looking forward to Pittsburgh in 2019!

Dr Jonathan Singer, University of Maryland

I don’t think bananas are native to Ireland but the banana juice was well worth the trip.

As I started preparing for my trip to Galway for the ISDDE conference, I had mixed thoughts about wanting to go. The conference was occurring toward the end of UMBC finals and the conclusion of the academic year. I had grades due, a faculty job search to finish negotiating and a 1001 nagging departmental administrative chores. I was deeply stressed and really did not know what to expect from an organization that I really did not know a lot about.

I left the States and started my journey hoping for the best. The flight (via Aer Lingus) was uneventful although having the armrest of the chair next to my seat fall off during take-off did not enhance my general level of anxiety. Landing in Shannon was incredibly easy and my interaction with the Irish Custom official was extremely helpful and friendly, providing me directions to the bus stop and how to catch the direct bus to Galway. One of the commons threads of my visit was how exceptionally friendly everyone was. Thank you, Tony for the travel tips.

Fast forwarding to the opening reception. I walked in to the event and immediately could tell that the ISDDE organization was a close-knit community. Not knowing anyone I did feel awkward and was somewhat reserved in making introductions. I believe Lynne made a point of recognizing my plight and then took it upon herself to introduce me to various members. Once again another point indicating the communal environment of the general organization. The evening ended with me meeting several members and sharing some polite conversation regarding research and interests.

The ABSOLUTELY best part of the conference and the event that really caused me to fully engage occurred during the small group Strand time. I was a little torn initially regarding whether to join the curriculum or the professional development strands. I do work in both areas, which, I think was probably similar to many of the members in this session. A possible thought for future strands may be to have an option that specifically targets the intersection of these two broader areas. The strand sessions provided a comfortable environment to learn about projects related to my interests that allowed for sharing of ideas and thoughts that went beyond what you could learn from reading a manuscript. During my post-doc experience one of my mentors use to talk about “banana juice.” I would classify that a lot of what was discussed during my “sitting on the bench” strand time, focused on banana juice. For those of you not familiar with the term it refers to critical information or craft knowledge that is necessary for carrying out a project but not always suitable for publication.

My biggest missed opportunity was scheduling my return flight too early and missing the closing day of the conference – most importantly the final meeting of the professional development strand and the small group of fellow “benchers.”