New Experience for the Annual Conference

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Anyone who has attended the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference knows that the host city can become part of the fabric of the event. In an effort to create a different experience, however, the program committee for the 2018 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference sought another kind of venue. The committee decided to hold the event outdoors—specifically, at Furnace Creek, in Death Valley National Park. Also breaking with longstanding tradition, the 2018 annual conference will take place in July, when classes aren’t in session, making it easier for people to attend.

Furnace Creek (population 24) hosts the park’s Visitor Center and sits at an elevation of 190 feet below sea level. There is a resort at Furnace Creek, but it is too small to host the annual conference and, as a four-diamond resort, can’t provide the kind of environmentally immersive experience that the program committee has in mind. Instead, the event will take place in the Furnace Creek Campground. (Attendees who bring their own tent will receive a $50 discount off the conference registration fee!) While it’s true that the record high temperature for July is 134 degrees, the average high is just 116.5. 

The opening general session will be a 13-mile Fun Run. The course features an optional 0.1-mile finishing loop for attendees who want to earn the Half-Marathon Digital Badge. And because the air is denser below sea level, the run will only feel like 12.7 miles.

For the remaining three days of the conference, the breakout sessions will be held in a series of temporary yurts and will cover a single theme: “Doing More...with Nothing.” In this highly participatory program, using only the portable electronic devices they’ve brought with them, attendees will build and launch an accredited online college, offering both two- and four-year degrees. Internet service will not be available.

Following the annual conference, EDUCAUSE is offering a new executive leadership seminar for established IT leaders and those who believe they have the temperament to represent IT at the executive level of a college or university. Applications are now being accepted for this special leadership opportunity, which will be held at Burning Man, August 26 to September 3. Separate registration fees will apply (scholarships are available!), which will include admission to Burning Man. Your registration fee will also include transportation from Death Valley to Black Rock City, Nevada, aboard a 1973 Greyhound bus without air conditioning that has been transformed into a rolling version of the Starship Enterprise. William Shatner will drive the bus—dubbed the Starship Eduprise—for the 450-mile trip, which is expected to take four weeks.

This article is part of EDUCAUSE Special Coverage for April 2017.

Copyright: © 2017 EDUCAUSE. The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.