Posted March 2, 2011 by Jeff Pelletier 

Taking Your Experience Back Home

As I sit in the midst of one of my favorite conferences, I am reflecting on just how many workshops, retreats, conferences, institutes, and drive-ins I’ve been a part of over the last few months. Anyone who thinks our students go into hibernation during the winter months has probably not spent more than their fair share of weekends on campus, or in an “off-site” location, going over learning outcomes, officer transition documents, or sitting in on an educational session hoping to pick up the next great idea for your activities or programs.

I try to make it a point to share the learning taking place at these off-sites, so that the knowledge doesn’t stay off-site. It’s easy to overlook this important step: as you return from your conference or retreat, you may drop that folder full of handouts on a desk or in a drawer, only to be forgotten in place of e-mails, funding approvals, and homework that have piled up in your absence. Soon, that golden nugget of information you jotted in your conference notepad may not have the same meaning it did when you initially scrawled it. As conference and retreat planners, we should also be ensuring our student participants are charged to go back to their own organizations with fresh ideas and a different outlook, so that their time in workshops and training can benefit the entire membership.
Fortunately technology has helped us disseminate information faster, and has given us a place to store it for easier access later on. I attended a session on Evernote and OneNote, two great programs that allow you to take notes on the go, and easily access them later, or even share them with others. Conference goers have been sharing tidbits of learning via Twitter, Facebook, and of course other posts in The Commons (click next or previous post up above to read them!). Document and content-sharing via internet-based solutions is not only more sustainable, but also allows information to be spread to more than just the attendees in the room. As one colleague put it earlier today—technology almost literally allows us to be in more than one place at the same time!
My charge to you then, fellow ACUI attendees, is to take this experience back home with you. Keep in mind that it’s more than just handouts and presentations: you’ve learned something from the colleagues you’ve met before and after sessions, the fabulous vendors you chatted with in the Expo, the friends you haven’t seen in a while, and even the co-workers who joined you in Chicago. Learning seems to take place around every corner, but don’t let it stop here. Recap your notes and thoughts for yourself, your colleagues and your coworkers. Region 7 believes in the concept of “Bringing It Back Home” so much that we’ve chosen it as our theme for this year’s regional conference. As you pack your bags on Wednesday night, don’t forget to bring your learning with you!

Jeff Pelletier

Jeff Pelletier is the Director, Ohio Union Operations & Events at The Ohio State University.

Jeff oversees building operations including event production, audio-visual, shipping and receiving, and office administration in the Ohio Union. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Boston College, a master’s in higher education and student affairs from Ohio State, and is completing a master’s in business operational excellence also from Ohio State. He has been a volunteer forACUI at the regional and international level since 2003, currently serving on the Board of Trustees. Jeff is active on social media, developing his digital identity alongside the students, colleagues, and mentors who aren’t bored with his posts and updates. When not tweeting, Jeff is often seen running the streets of Columbus training for the next half-marathon or 5K.


Great comments/insight, Jeff. I look forward to hearing about what people learned when the return!
Eric Heilmeier
Comment posted 03/02/2011 2:39 PM
Jeff's post hit the nail on the head. One thing that I do after I attend a conference is usually go through all my notes and write up a conference debrief with someone of the major ideas that I hope to implement or use in my office. This is also a great way for me to provide a conference recap to my supervisor who did not attend the conference. Just take an hour out of your busy day to reflect your conference experience and think about all the valuable information you gained during your time in Chicago or where every you might have been. It will be worth it.
Clifton Johnson
Comment posted 03/02/2011 5:59 PM
Great point, Jeff. My best debriefing sessions with my staff usually occur in the airport as we wait for our plane. At Midway - we all decided we are all going to hand write a "Thank You" to our Vice President and share one take away from the conference. The thank you notes will make her smile.
Suzanne Halpin
Comment posted 03/04/2011 12:37 AM
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