To SIG or Not to SIG...
Mike Caskey, Stanislaus County Office of Education
To SIG or not to SIG... That is the question! Or, maybe, It is better to have SIGed and lost than never to have SIGed at all. How about, "You've got questions? SIGs got answers". What is a SIG? No, Warren (and other cigar lovers), a SIG doesn't originate in Cuba. So what is a SIG, really?
SIG abbr. Special Interest Group. Simply put, a SIG is a forum for the exchange of ideas with your K12 Technologist peers. The format was standardized this year to resemble the MIS Manager's SIGs of previous years. Attendees build and prioritize the agenda at the start of the meeting and the SIG chair, another CEDPA board member, or a local host then moderates the meeting.
The variety of topics and discussion items is limited only by the time available and by the attendees themselves. Wireless communications, router options, CSIS projects, Virtual Private Networks, NT Security, and hacker attacks are just a few of the topics discussed at this year's SIG meetings. The coffee was hot, and the discussions were lively. More than one attendee left the meeting with an idea or a solution to a previously unresolved problem. Those in attendance found the SIG meetings to be informative and useful. When polled, the attendees recommended the continuation of the SIGs in the current format.
In past years, SIGs were well attended. However, continuing a trend of recent years, attendance at this year's offerings of SIG meetings was sparse. Why? This is the question your CEDPA board has been trying to answer. Is it the format of the SIG meetings? Is it the SIG meeting locations? Should vendors participate in the SIG meetings? Should SIGs employ a pre-set agenda? Do SIGs, or can SIGs, provide a useful service and venue for the CEDPA membership?
Naturally, there are many permutations and combinations of possible solutions to the question of continuance of SIGs. The few possibilities presented here are not exhaustive and are not in any particular order. They are only presented as a starting point for discussion.
One possible scenario is to establish a specific and topic oriented agenda for the morning session, followed in the afternoon with an open agenda to be determined by the attendees. Another possibility is to encourage vendor presentations at some or all of the SIGs. On-line forums have also been gaining in use and popularity, recently. What do you think of the idea of having a "one-day mini-CEDPA conference" in the early spring? A mini-conference could have a couple of tracks with a set speaker program in a few morning sessions and a couple of afternoon sessions.
We present these ideas for your input and direction. Do you, the CEDPA members, want the SIGs to continue? Or, would you like to see SIGs continue, but with a different format? CEDPA exists for the purpose of providing information to K12 Technologists. SIGs have been an important part of this information flow. (Have a look at the "CEDPA Information" column inside the front cover of this DataBus.) Please let the CEDPA board know whether to continue this long-standing tradition, or to pursue other means of periodic dissemination of information and exchange of ideas among you, the members. You can reach any of the Board members via snail-mail, e-mail, and/or telephone. Board members names and contact information can be found inside the front cover of every DataBus, and on the CEDPA web page at cedpa-k12.org.
Please join the discussion at the fall conference SIG meeting and help shape the future of YOUR K12-TECHNOLOGY ORGANIZATION!!
To SIG or not to SIG... That is the question!!.