Blog Written by Pat Cassella, President, U.S. Distance Learning Association
This will be the 32nd year of the United States Distance Learning Association and our first conference ever in Music City.
Much like Digital and Distance Learning has been the fabric of our Association, music has long been the common thread in Nashville, connecting people to both the life and soul of the city in cultural, business and social capacity.
I recently visited the Hilton Airport Nashville, the site of our 2019 conference, to get a first hand look at the layout, meet the staff and best understand how to leverage the location for four days in May.
Upon meeting Keith Glad, Hilton Manager, I immediately felt at home and a strong connection. Keith waked me through each of the 6 rooms where we will hold our concurrent sessions, introduced me to supporting staff, explained the history of the hotel (it was an old Holiday Inn just a couple of years ago) and showed me the ballroom where we will have our keynotes and Awards dinner. Once business was finished, we continued the bonding over a great meal at the on-site restaurant, complete with a glass (or two) of wine.
As I reflect upon the visit, it’s this type of connection that many attendees over the years have told me they felt with their peers upon attending their first (or tenth) USDLA conference. In fact, when we poll attendees after the conference, they indicate that networking is one of the primary reasons for attending and that the intimate, family environment is hard to find in other conferences they attend in the DL space.
This year we are committed to continuing this trend of quality networking along with some new and exciting topics within the AI (Artificial Intelligence) space and how this is currently (and will continue to) impact the world of digital and distance learning. The three keynote speakers we have signed on will bring significant experience to the conference, yet are all very approachable for small group and personal conversations regarding AI, Mixed Reality, IoT (Internet of Things) and other 21st century learning topics.
To keep your mind and body in balance, we also have a variety of events planned! We kick off Monday night with a nice opening reception, complete with a local musician. Tuesday morning, we will keep you in shape with a Yoga class, courtesy of Hope Gibbs, a very talented Kundalini yoga instructor and entrepreneur while the evening round table dinners will allow you to network with your peers on Broadway with courtesy (free) roundtrip transportation. Wednesday morning, we will meet in the lobby at 6AM for a nice walk/jog/run to celebrate the life of Bill Jackson, past USDLA President and friend who left us all too early followed by an incredible evening of Award presentations to those who have made significant achievements within DL community.
I hope you share my excitement and I’d be honored to have you at the conference this May 21st-24th in Nashville. Visit https://usdla.org/2019-national-conference/ to learn more.