Tuesday, January 19, 2021

My thoughts on the 2020 AIRC Annual Conference (Virtual) held November 30-December 11, 2020

I was invited to attend the 2020 AIRC Annual Conference which was held virtually due to COVID-19.  This was my first AIRC conference and I was not disappointed! Following is a brief summary of my thoughts on the 2020 AIRC Annual Conference.

Like many things in the field of international education, I watched with much interest the establishment of the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) and have paid attention to each of their annual conferences via Twitter ever since. I have always wanted to attend the AIRC annual conference but it was never in the cards for me to do so. AIRC reported that they welcomed a record of over 580 participants to the conference this past year. I think the challenge for AIRC (and all international education organizations hosting conferences) will be how to work in virtual components to their in person conferences. AIRC's 2021 annual conference is scheduled to be held in Miami!

While the conference was held virtually I found it to be an incredibly informative and a very well run conference. The conference was held over a two week period from November 30th to December 11th which I found to be a very strategic plan as it allowed me to maintain my work schedule and work the few sessions per day into the mix. I didn't have to block out 2-5 solid days to attend session after session. While there were a few sessions I was unable to attend due to work conflicts I could not reschedule I was able to work almost all sessions into my work schedule. I also found the quality of the sessions to be top notch and incredibly informative. I thank all of the presenters for their time and knowledge as I learned much! What I found to be incredibly helpful and a great add on to the conference were the daily Roundup emails from Jennifer Wright that were incredibly detailed summaries of the day and sessions! You can read a summary of the major conference themes here.

AIRC was also going through a transition during the conference with the retirement of AIRC Executive Director Mike Finnell and the start of Brian Whalen's term as the new AIRC Executive Director during the conference! I've known Brian for many years and before his time as President and CEO of the Forum on Education Abroad. Brian did an excellent job leading the conference with his AIRC colleagues and AIRC is in good hands under Brian's leadership!

In sum, I thought the 2020 AIRC annual conference was fantastic and I was not disappointed! I fully recommend to everyone in the field and especially those whose work focuses on international admissions and recruitment. If your work focuses on education abroad but you want to expand your knowledge in the field I recommend registering for the 2021 annual conference as well as the other AIRC events!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Happy 40th Anniversary to ECE!

I'm a big fan of Educational Credential Evaluators or ECE as many in the field may refer to them since I began working in the field in 2000. To be sure, they are based in Milwaukee so I'm a little biased but the impact that ECE has had on the field cannot be overlooked. I'm also friends with some really good people who currently work or previously worked at ECE and they also add to my admiration for the company!

ECE is celebrating 40 years and they created a fun webpage dedicated to this milestone anniversary and to their founder James Frey (see below for a snippet of a chapter I wrote about the influence that James had on study abroad in the late 1970s). I visited ECE several years ago and was amazed at the library they have built. It was truly impressive and a few off their duplicate materials are now part of my Bury Book International Education Library & Archive!


I'm a huge fan of James Frey and the influence he has had on international education and what he has built at ECE! As a side note, in my co-authored chapter "Qualitative Standards and Learning Outcomes for Study Abroad" in A History of U.S. Study Abroad: 1965-Present edited by William Hoffa and Stephen DePaul, I included James' work and task force leadership into my chapter. Following is that part of my chapter:

Since the matter of program quality and the award of academic credit for overseas study was of great concern to campus registrars, in 1977 NAFSA opened a dialog with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) by setting up the joint AACRAO-NAFSA Task Force on Study Abroad (ANTFOSA). ANTFOSA was established to focus specifically on the problems of study abroad program evaluation. In 1979, ANTFOSA published Study Abroad Programs: An Evaluation Guide through NAFSA. This Evaluation Guide was originally developed by James Frey (Chair of ANTFOSA) from his doctoral dissertation; then it was refined and tested by ANTFOSA, with assistance from the Associate Directorate for Educational and Cultural Affairs of the International Communication Agency through the NAFSA Field Service Program. The Evaluation Guide is based upon a “systemic analysis of the major components of study abroad programs by use of carefully phased questions about each component” (ANTFOSA). The major components for evaluation were grouped under the following headings: 

1. Basic information 

2. Academic aspects 

3. Interaction with the host culture 

4. Administrative aspects 

For this Evaluation Guide, ANTFOSA requested, as a means to refine the guide, copies of any reports that were produced from using the guide. ANTFOSA also solicited other observations and/or suggestions that users of the guide wanted to make. Conversations within AACRAO have continued annually, usually taking place at the AACRAO national conference. 

 *Frey, J.S. (1976). "The Development of a Criterion Instrument for Evaluating Agency-Sponsored Study Abroad Programs". Doctoral Dissertation, Indiana University.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

My Thoughts on the Forum on Education Abroad's 5th European Conference #EuroForum2020


It's been three weeks since I attended the Forum on Education Abroad's 5th European Conference. I'm delayed in posting my thoughts due to some personal/family obligations and matters as well as a busy work schedule and I thought posting during International Education Week seems appropriate!

I attended the first five Forum on Education Abroad conferences (Santa Fe, Miami, Austin, Boston & Portland), the 2013 conference in Chicago and their 4th European conference in Prague and now their 5th European conference originally scheduled in Milan but moved to a virtual platform due to the Coronavirus.

Like many, I've attended many virtual events in the field from webinars to conferences and I'm starting to experience "virtual/zoom fatigue." That said, I really enjoyed the Forum's European Conference and I am extremely happy that I registered! There were times when my day job at Columbia College Chicago and parenting and monitoring the remote learning of my children overlapped with sessions and to problem solve I did not join the breakout discussions during some sessions as I had to multi-task...the downside of a virtual event I guess as I would have eagerly participated in all session discussions had the event been held in person and I found myself in Milan!

Congrats are due to the Forum on Education Abroad staff and to our colleagues who served on the conference committee to provide a wide selection of great sessions. It was a typical Forum conference with two or more sessions per time slot that I wanted to attend so tough choices needed to be made. I also think the Forum staff and colleagues at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (conference host) did a great job in finding a virtual conference event platform that was functional and easy to navigate and use as I'm not the most tech savvy person despite my blogging and tweeting! The hard work of everyone involved made for a great conference! I really can't highlight a favorite conference session as each one I joined held different professional and personal needs and interests for me. To be sure, I missed out on great discussions with colleagues when I didn't join the breakout parts of sessions to attend to work matters or assist my 12 year old son with his math. I always appreciate interacting with and the perspectives of my colleagues. These discussions have always been a hallmark of Forum on Education Abroad conference sessions and I was pleased that they continued in this virtual format!

In many ways, the Forum on Education Abroad's 5th European Conference was perfectly timed for me and the work I'm doing at Columbia College Chicago. Beyond the great conference sessions it was great to see and connect again with long time friends and colleagues but also to meet new people and to learn from them! The conference fully met my needs and expectations and I'm very glad I attended! We don't know how long the Coronavirus will last and the impact it will have not only on sending students abroad but on how we as professionals interact, connect and learn from each other. If you are able to attend the next Forum on Education Abroad conference or their other training and events I fully recommend working them into your budget and calendar! Their 17th Annual Conference will be a virtual event and is scheduled for March 1-5, 2021 and you can learn more here.

You can see the Twitter backchannel conversation and posts from the conference via #EuroForum2020.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Marie Royce Delivers Remarks on International Education Week #IEW2020


Thursday, October 29, 2020

When you are trying to focus on research and writing but 6th grade saxophone practice must happen in the next room! :-)