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Making the Annual AECT Convention Affordable

Posted By Tonia Dousay, Monday, September 23, 2013

AECT is one of the premier organizations in the field of instructional technology. As a professional organization, membership and active participation in AECT is unique in that it is comprised of scholars, teachers, and leaders who are extraordinarily accessible and open to working with students. All of those names you read in research articles and books? They attend AECT and don’t mind chatting with students.

For example, at my first AECT convention in 2009, I attended a roundtable presentation for a research project on motivating mathematics students in online classrooms. The only people who attended the session were myself, a student colleague, and John Keller. Yes, John Keller, the man behind the ARCS model of motivation. When the conversation turned to John asking the other student and I about our research interests, the presenters did not mind the "hijacking” of their session at all. That 45 minutes forever changed my life as I had an intimate conversation with a leading researcher in our field. I still have the pages of notes I scribbled while he spoke, and those notes provided me with the literary foundation for my dissertation.

As graduate students, however, attending the AECT convention can seem like a daunting and expensive possibility. So, here are a few tips from a former pro:

  1. Register early to be a conference volunteer. The volunteer program for students is an amazing opportunity to see behind the scenes. It’s also a great way to make the registration fee more affordable. Full time volunteers (12 hours of service throughout the event) only pay $45 for the convention. Part-time volunteers (6 hours of service throughout the event) pay $125 for the convention. Either option is a significant savings over the $195 registration fee.*
  2. Find 3 of your new best friends and get a room together. One of the biggest expenses related to conferences is that of housing. So, start a discussion with your friends or other students in the program. Need to look outside the box? Post on the AECT Graduate Student Assembly Facebook Group that you need roommates. Splitting a $600 hotel bill four ways is definitely the way to go.
  3. When eating out, split an entree. It may sound simple and it may not be for everyone, but it’s a good idea. Conferences generally mean eating at restaurants for most of your meals. Your hotel room may or may not come with a mini-fridge and microwave. So, you can’t always expect to be able to eat leftovers. Plus, you may not have the time to run back to your room to eat. Consider eating with a buddy who has the same tastes. That $15 entree gets cheaper when you split it. Alternately, order a bunch of appetizers for the table, split the check, and everyone gets a little something different.
  4. Don’t be afraid to approach faculty. I add this tip with a caveat that there are no guarantees in life. However, approaching faculty who are working in your areas of interest may have multiple benefits. First, and foremost, there is nothing like asking the expert about your own ideas and getting constructive feedback. Secondly, there’s a decent chance that they’ll invite you to attend their next session or the chat they’re about to have with another leader or (even better) lunch/dinner. It doesn’t always happen this way, but I can vouch that at least one of my meals while attending AECT as a graduate student has been paid for by a faculty member in the field. The free meal was nice, but the conversation and memories are what made the experience amazing.
  5. Look for travel reimbursement opportunities. Every institution is different, but many offer travel funds for students who present at conferences. Check with your department, college, and graduate school (if there is one) to see what opportunities may be there. In most cases, you still have to cover the expense yourself, but that reimbursement check after you get back comes in handy. Also consider applying for one of the many AECT awards. It’s a bit late for this year. However, getting in your application for next year’s awards means receiving a check at the next convention. Get recognized for the awesome work you’re doing and get money to help pay for the trip? Yes, please!

*Conference Volunteering: if you decide to register as a volunteer, I urge you to take the responsibility seriously. Failing to meet your commitment will result in your advisor being notified of the incident and potentially being denied the ability to volunteer at subsequent events. That aside, volunteering is an amazing experience.

  • Working Registration is a great way to meet everyone and put faces with names.
  • If you want to work Tech Set-up, skim through the program and identify sessions you want to attend/presenters you want to meet. This kills two birds with one stone and provides you with the opportunity to talk with the presenter.
  • Try to work all of your hours early in the week or late in the week to allow time for attending sessions. Keep in mind that your schedule is provided to you based upon a survey that you’ll complete prior to the convention. So, checking the online program before submitting the survey is very important.

I served as a conference volunteer for 1 year and a conference volunteer supervisor for 2 years as a graduate student. So, if you have questions or concerns, just drop me a message.

Tags:  Convention 

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Top 10 Reasons to Join AECT (as a Graduate Student)

Posted By Tonia Dousay, Monday, May 13, 2013

As a graduate student, part of your education should include learning about more than just theories and research. Connecting with other students and meeting the leaders in our field provides you with opportunities to grow personally and professionally. And here in AECT, we are fortunate to have some amazing people. We're also a small enough field that it's fairly easy to get to know these individuals. These experiences allow you to help refine your own research ideas, create opportunities to collaborate on projects, and open doors for your future career.

If you aren't aware, AECT is conducting a membership drive this year called "1 You, 2 New." As a graduate student, you have the power to help bring other students in to our organization. Not sure how to do that? Or maybe you just want to share how amazing we are. In either case, this presentation from our Communications Officer and AECT Board Rep, both graduate students at Nova Southeastern University, can help you spread the good word.


We encourage you to share this presentation with your classmates, new students, and friends on social networks. If you (or anyone) has questions about AECT or GSA, please send them to, and we'll be happy to address them or point them in the right direction.

Tags:  membership 

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2013-14 GSA Leadership

Posted By Tonia Dousay, Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It gives me great pleasure to announce the new GSA Leadership Committee for 2013!

  • Past President: Ayesha Sadaf - Purdue University
  • President: Tonia Dousay - University of Georgia
  • President-Elect: Firat Sarsar - Georgia State University
  • AECT Board Representative: Megan Murtaugh - Nova Southeastern University
  • AECT Chief Openness Officer: Micah Modell - Indiana University
  • Communications Officer: Holly Marshburn - Nova Southeastern University
  • D&D Board Representative: Yvonne Earnshaw - Florida State University
  • International Board Representative: Asikaa Cosgrove - Drury University
  • ITFORUM Representative: Jenny Wakefield - University of North Texas
  • Multimedia Production Board Representative - Aysegul Gok - Georgia State University
  • Professional Ethics Committee Representative: Sylvia Rogers - University of South Alabama
  • Systemic Change Board Representative - Ashley Scott - Syracuse University
  • T&P Board Representative: Ken Eminian - Ohio University
  • Teacher Education Board Representative: Missy Ball - Georgia State University

If you have questions, concerns, or ideas about the GSA, contact GSA President, Tonia Dousay at

Tags:  leadership 

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GSA Highlights October 2012

Posted By Administration, Saturday, October 20, 2012
Updated: Saturday, November 17, 2012

With the AECT 2012 conference only two weeks away, I hope you're all ready! The GSA is hosting several exciting activities and sessions this year at Louisville. The events include informal sessions with our AECT PresidentElect Steve Harmon, the editors of ETR&D, advice for the job hunt, secrets of grant writing, what is the future of our field? and more. Social events include Wednesday GSA/D&D on the town, Thursday international event and bowling/dinner, and Friday membership meeting & luncheon.

Be sure to participate in Flickr with the Stars (FWTS) to win cash prizes along with Camtasia and Snagit software packages. FWTS is intended to provide you with an opportunity to meet and chat with the prominent researchers and leaders in our field. Track down the individuals who appear on the FWTS list and snap your photos. Then upload your pictures to Flickr with the tag #aectgsa. You have Oct. 31, 8:00 AM to Nov.1, 11:59 PM to snap and upload as many different pictures with the stars as you can (1 entry per person per star). At Friday's GSA membership lunch, we will award prizes to the 3 individuals who uploaded the most pictures. You can find more informationabout this event and the FWTS list on the GSA website:

GSA is very pleased to offer the GSA Conference Mentoring Program as a new opportunity for graduate students to connect with one another during the annual AECT Convention. More advanced graduate students have the opportunity to volunteer to mentor newer graduate students, meeting with them during the conference and providing advice on sessions and socials to attend. If you haven’t applied already, please fill the form by Tuesday, October 23, 2012:

If this is your first time at AECT, I encourage you to listen to Dr. Monica Tracey’s GSA Virtual Conference keynote: How to Make the Best of Your Conference Experience at Also, to get an overview of what to expect in Louisville at the AECT 2012 Annual Convention, watch GSA virtual conference recorded sessions at

GSA is very excited to host our last two webinars before the AECT 2012 with this year’s convention keynote speakers Dr. Yong Zhao and Dr. Daniel T.Willingham. We look forward to your participation in these webinars.

World Class Education: EducatingCreative and Entrepreneurial Students
Dr. Yong Zhao
on Friday, October 19, at12:00 EDT

Register at:

When Can You Trust The Experts?
Dr. Daniel T. Willingham
on Friday,October 26, at 12:00 EDT

Register at:

Be sure to check our facebook page ( and website ( for more up-to-date information about GSA activities at the convention. As always, feel free to send me comments, questions, and suggestions anytime at! I am looking forward to meet you at the 2012 AECT International Convention in Louisville, KY!

Ayesha Sadaf, Purdue University

GSA President

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GSA Highlights: July 2012

Posted By Ayesha Sadaf, Saturday, July 28, 2012
Updated: Saturday, November 17, 2012

On September 21, GSA will host its first Virtual Conference to introduce the AECT 2012 Annual International Convention to be held in Louisville, Kentucky via the University of Georgia’s eLearning Commons. The conference will feature keynote addresses from Dr. Marc Childress, AECT President-Elect, to introduce the major conference events and a second keynote by Monica Tracey on how to make the best of your conference experience. Furthermore, there will be sessions spotlighting AECT divisions and the events hosted at the 2012 AECT annual convention by their division leadership. Sessions will begin at 10:30 AM and continue through 6:30 PM (EST), including a lunch break and general session chat with door prizes. GSA executive officers, including Tutaleni Asino (Past-President), Tonia Dousay (President-Elect), and I (President) will close out the event with a panel discussion highlighting GSA sessions and activities to be held at the convention. The conference will be open to the public, and there is no fee to attend. Registration for the GSA Virtual Conference will open on August 1. Please join us to get prepared ahead of time and plan for a successful AECT 2012 conference experience. For more information, visit the GSA website.

Tonia Dausay (GSA President-Elect) and I are heading to Louisville, Kentucky for the summer leadership conference held from July 15-17. We will attend the AECT board meeting, leadership development workshops, and participate in reviewing/updating the AECT Strategic Plan. We will also spend time reviewing our GSA goals and strategies to make sure we align our efforts with the AECT Strategic Plan. Moreover, we plan on finalizing the AECT convention program based on the feedback received from the graduate student survey. Thanks to all those who completed the survey and provided suggestions in helping us plan an exciting GSA program that caters to the needs of our AECT graduate students. More information about the GSA program plan at the AECT convention will be forthcoming next month.

Please keep an eye on the GSA website and Facebook page for more information. As always, feel free to send your comments, questions, and suggestions to me anytime at Have a wonderful rest of the summer!

Ayesha Sadaf, GSA President

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GSA Highlights: March 2012

Posted By Ayesha Sadaf, Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Updated: Saturday, November 17, 2012

Our GSA leadership team is working hard on making 2012 an exciting and productive year for our graduate students. We are currently working on several goals and initiatives of 2011-2012 year. These include providing opportunities for graduate student members to get involved with AECT and GSA, revamping GSA website to improve communication with our graduate students, planning webinars in collaboration with several divisions, and planning for GSA activities at the AECT 2012 convention. To actualize our initiatives, however, we need many active and interested graduate students to get involved and help GSA in our efforts.
To increase our graduate student involvement, GSA has begun to forge a network of graduate student liaisons across national boundaries to help disseminate important information to fellow graduate students on their campuses. The primary task of the liaison will be to assist GSA efforts to increase graduate student awareness of both AECT and GSA, disseminate information that is relevant to graduate students, and post flyers on their campuses informing about GSA activities, such as webinars, opportunities (awards, scholarships, etc) for graduate students, and news about the convention program. Campus liaisons will be recognized for their work at the GSA membership meeting at the 2012 AECT international convention. If you would like to volunteer to become a liaison, please click the link and fill out the form with your information:
Planning for graduate activities at the 2012 AECT international convention is also underway. I will be sending out information to get input from our graduate students for making decisions on GSA convention sessions and social events in upcoming months. Please keep an eye for announcements on our graduate listserve and Facebook page ( As always, feel free to send me comments, questions, and suggestions anytime at

I wish you a very Happy Spring!

Ayesha Sadaf, Purdue University
GSA President

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Get Involved

Posted By Ayesha Sadaf, Saturday, March 17, 2012
Updated: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Dear graduate students,

Would you like to get involved with AECT Graduate Student Assembly?
To increase our graduate student involvement, GSA would like to establish a network of student liaisons across national and international boundaries to disseminate important information to fellow graduate students on their campuses. The campus liaisons will help facilitate communication between the GSA and AECT’s graduate community of scholars.

The primary task of the liaison will be to assist GSA’s efforts to increase graduate student awareness of both AECT and GSA on their respective campuses. The responsibilities include:
  • Disseminate information such as AECT resources and opportunities relevant to graduate students through email or campus listserves
  • Post flyers advertising upcoming GSA events and webinars
  • Publicize news about the AECT GSA’s annual convention program and activities
Campus liaisons will be recognized for their work at the GSA membership meeting at the 2012 AECT international convention. I highly encourage you to get involved and consider becoming a liaison today. Please click this link to complete the form and submit your information:

I look forward to having many active and interested graduate students across the globe becoming involved and helping GSA accomplish our initiatives. It is my absolute pleasure to serve a highly enthusiastic community of graduate students. Please do not hesitate to contact me at with any comments, questions, or suggestions.

All the best,
President, AECT Graduate Student Assembly

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