Today all the $$ fell in place and I was able to submit my Early Bird registration for the 2013 FGS Conference. Thanks to Kroger and the fact that five of my grandkids were born in July and August, I was able to take advantage of the gift card special and saved a bunch of money at the pump yesterday! My savings are now resting in a little FGS Conference envelope in my safe to be applied later to the cost of transportation.
After I completed my registration for the conference, I just about fell off my cushy office chair when I found out that I could do all my session planning online. I have been doing this for years with office supplies and a printed syllabus. Don't tell anyone but I was so excited that I actually got my toes tangled up in all the computer cords under my desk.
When I went to my first ever conference in 2005, the syllabus was in printed form only. I spent my first afternoon and evening in my room "indexing" my syllabus. I would write the session number on a Post It tab and attach it to the edge of the corresponding page. When I was finished the book would have a bunch of little wings going up and down its side. When I needed to figure out where I was going next, I would just check the tabs. I used this method for many years.
My 2007 FGS Conference syllabus.
with Post It tabs
But this year we are going high tech! Well, granny high tech. I will be using the FGS Conference website to plan my conference. If you have registered for the conference, you know by now that you can create an account that you can access from the Conference home page. Once you log into your account you can do three things. You can add to your registration, you can add another person, and you can plan your itinerary. However, you cannot cancel an event from this location.
The site is extremely user friendly. It is uncluttered and easy to understand. You will love it. You click on Plan Your Sessions and the first day of the conference comes up. Since (as of right now) I am planning on heading to Fort Wayne on Wednesday morning, I most likely won't be able to attend any sessions before noon. I have an hour and a half drive plus check in time at the hotel that will take up the morning of the first day. So I scrolled down to the afternoon and checked the boxes of the sessions I want to attend. And, viola!! My Wednesday schedule is complete in a matter of minutes. However, just in case I decide to head for the conference and some extra research time at the library on Tuesday, I did create a morning schedule. Once you have your Wednesday schedule set up, you can continue on with the rest of the conference days.
You will not see any descriptions of the sessions, so you will have to be familiar with the content of your conference booklet before you begin to plan your schedule. Normally I will read all of the information in the conference booklet and place a check mark beside each lecture that applies to my research. Then I go back through a day or two later and begin the process of elimination. If you have several sessions that you just can't miss and they are all scheduled at the same time, you will have to decide which one you will attend. This is not always easy. I have a few of these schedule conflicts so I will have to wait and take a look at the notes in the syllabus to see what I can attend and what I can miss. Since the sessions are usually taped, I may be able to purchase a recording of the sessions I miss.
All of this can be printed out and you can use an old fashioned pen or pencil to make notes on the printed copy! At this point you need to take a look at your schedule to see if you made any mistakes. Also. make sure that you left blocks of time where you can fit in library research, rest, exhibit hall, and food.
1st draft of my conference schedule
The exhibit hall will be open immediately following the keynote session on Thursday and will stay open until 7:30pm. I expect both of these times to be crowded, but that won't stop me. I live for the exhibit hall!! Remember it closes at 5pm on Friday and 3:30pm on Saturday, so you won't miss out on those last minute purchases. If the conference layout is the same as the 2007 layout, the exhibit hall will be on the same floor as the majority of the lectures rooms. This means I will be able to pop in and out of the exhibit hall between sessions.
My number one rule for the exhibit hall is: Do not buy anything on the first trip around the hall. This cuts down on impulse buying, especially at a conference of this size where it is easy to be overwhelmed with goodies and gadgets. After all I don't want to max out my credit card so I can't go to another conference. Once that first browsing trip is behind me, I decide what I need and figure out when I can go back and buy it. Like I said I pop in and out of the exhibit hall a lot.
As for library research, I know from experience that the library will be crowded. It will be open til 9pm on Thursday. On Friday the library will be open til midnight, but you must purchase a $10 ticket for this event. So my library time will be after 6pm on those two days.
I always stress the importance of rest. Conferences can be physically exhausting. If you aren't used to walking, this is a good time to begin a walking program (and keep it up afterwards)! I will be taking my FitBit with me to keep track of my steps, distance, and calories burned. This could be a conference first. Should be interesting. I will keep everyone informed each day of my stats!!
Also, be aware of information overload. One lecture on top of another can be mentally exhausting. If you feel tired and you are determined to fit in one more session, sit near the back by the door so you can leave quietly when you begin to fall asleep. I don't know which is worse for a speaker - having someone fall asleep or leave. Probably 50/50. After looking at the printout of my schedule, I can see where I might need to forgo something for a little more rest. I'm not as young as I used to be!
I usually bring my breakfast and lunch in the form of donuts and other healthy snacks! I eat breakfast in my room before the day begins; this way I can sleep in! For lunch I head back to my room for some peanut butter & crackers plus some fruit. By doing this I get a little rest time and it is easy on my budget. But I can see right now looking at my schedule that I am on overload towards the end of the conference. Much as I don't want to I might have to miss something. Remember I have to drive home.
Over the next month and a half I am sure I will make adjustments to my lecture schedule and having it available online will make this a lot easier.I will print out the final version and place it inside my printed syllabus. I am a book person; I like the feel of a book. Yes, there are still some of us left. Gotta have my printed syllabus.
As for everything else, it will go on my new iphone 5. I will make sure I have a map of downtown Fort Wayne at my finger tips. All of my events, workshops, library time, and maybe even nap time will be on my iphone calendar. If I need to escape for a few minutes, I have a Conference Playlist on my Music App. When I am at the exhibit hall I will use my phone to make a list of what I want to buy and narrow it down to what I really need. And, I am sure that over the next few weeks I will find more apps I can put to use on my phone to make my conference life easier.
So there you have it: Computer + Printed Syllabus + iPhone5 + FitBit = 2013 FGS Conference!! See you there!