On Tuesday I straggled back to Richmond late after attending the Effective Transitions conference in Providence, Rhode Island. This is the first year I’ve been to this conference, sponsored by the National College Transitions Network (NCTN). It has grown from a regional (New England) gathering into a national conference, with over 400 people from over 30 Effective Transitions in Adult Education conferencestates attending this year. I had the privilege of presenting on my work on the PlugGED In curriculum during the two mornings of the conference. Both sessions were well-attended and I got some rockin’ feedback, but it did mean that I had two less opportunities to attend other presentations that I was very interested in. Oh, well.

The Conference
What really struck me about this conference is the number of years that educators in New England have already devoted to the issue of transitioning, while in Virginia at least, the issue has only recently gotten any serious attention. It is clear by the large number of attendees from outside of New England that college transitioning finally has some national mojo, and that the pioneering work of adult educators in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other northern states is going to come in handy for the rest of us Johnny-come-latelys. These issues are urgent, and need immediate attention from our field. Hopefully by next year’s conference we will see significant progress.

I know I have quite a bit of catching up to do on this issue. Even though I have been working on a career pathway-slash-college transition project for the past year and a half, the curriculum that we produced was developed more from a foundation in workforce rather than transitioning research. Additionally, the technology plan for adult basic education in Virginia that I will be developing during the next two years will definitely need to correspond with Virginia’s transitioning efforts. So, time to brush up.

Here are a few other random thoughts about the conference:

  • Kudos to the conference organizers for providing an easy way for attendees to recycle their conference swag: the name tags & neck pouch-things, the noxious little tote bags (I have approximately 4,000 of them hanging on a doorknob in my office), and the glossy conference programs.
  • Having inflicted an untold number of poorly planned and ugly PowerPoint presentations on my audiences over the years (and having endured my share, as well), I decided to make this presentation different. Rather than simply present information, instead I told a story. I used humor,  along with fun, engaging images that I acquired from Flickr’s Creative Commons collections. The responses I received were extremely positive and, it seemed to me at least,  that I was able to hold the audience’s attention for the entire session. Yes, it was quite a bit of work, but it should be!  It was also quite a bit of fun to create. There’s ust no going back to those dreary, bullet-riddled slides. Like the first time I tasted a good microbrew, I just couldn’t stomach that Black Label swill anymore.
  • There is no getting around it: Providence is quaint. I mean that in the best way, of course. I am happy that I made the decision to stay at a hotel downtown instead of at the conference hotel 12 miles away in Warwick. While I didn’t have too much time to see much of the town, I did get to go to the RISD museum, eat at Fellini Pizza(the white pizza made me squeal like a girl) and Cafe Noir, drive through Federal Hill, and walk around the very compact and scenic city.