A listener who works in HigherEd recently learned about EDUCAUSE Annual Conference and wanted to know if they should attend next year. It’s a great question, especially since in 2023 AVIXA started working together with HETMA to officially bring HigherEd AV professionals to the InfoComm.
1) Educause and InfoComm are -very- different shows.
EDUCAUSE is all about higher education, with 100,000 higher ed professionals (and their industry colleagues) working together to “lead the way, advancing the strategic use of technology and data to further the promise of higher education.” It doesn’t focus specifically on AV or UC. Looking at the session titles brings this home: “Cyber Threats Impacting Higher Education Institutions,” “Practical Tips for Gamifying an Asynchronous Online Course,” or “Student Engagement in Online Classrooms: How to Measure It and Act on It.”
InfoComm is part of AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. While there is an IT element, its traditional focus is on pro AV, both corporate and live events, and the ‘black boxes’ that power them. It’s massive: over 30,000 attendees and nearly every vendor in the AV industry shows up on the show floor. Training is run across a vast array of (mostly) AV subjects, and while you might run into a fellow higher ed pro on the show floor, you’re more likely to find enterprise IT and AV professionals.
2) Everyone at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference is in higher ed.
All 7,000 attendees at the Annual Conference are either in higher ed or provide services or products to colleges and universities. That’s 7000 people that understand completing integrations and updates over summer or winter breaks, or the challenges, er, joys, of professors and students. There’s a show floor full of software vendors targeting higher ed and a few major AV companies, but your fellow attendees are the real attraction. They represent the experience of a vast group of colleges and universities.
That makes it a prime opportunity to discover what works and what doesn’t from folks using it on campus. (We’re not saying enterprise AV or IT differs from higher ed… except it often does.) To hear how other folks do it, from the bleeding-edge efforts at schools with massive endowments to more modest programs working to upgrade aging tech. The learning is everywhere, from the formal sessions or casual conversations on the show floor to organized tours of colleges near the event.
3) How focused on AV are you, and will you stay in Higher Ed?
If you’re laser-focused on AV and want to learn what’s at the industry’s bleeding edge, InfoComm is it. As the largest pro AV technology exhibition and conference in North America, all the major vendors are in attendance. And while AVIXA and HETMA are formally (finally!) bringing folks from higher ed, it is still very much a corporate AV event. (That also makes it a prime place to make contacts outside of higher ed.)
If your technical work on campus goes beyond AV, whether blended with IT or another field, the EDUCAUSE annual conference offers a broad range of sessions that target almost any field you might find. And, frankly, no other event can surround you with this depth of college and university expertise. That makes it a fantastic place to network with your peers.
Ideally, we’d all get to attend every trade show we’re interested in. Very few of us have that budget, much less the time in our schedule. Hopefully, this article makes it easier for you to decide, and, please, check out EdTech, our monthly HigherEd podcast!