MADLaT President's Report:Larry Danielson Annual General Meeting, May 09 2008
"e-Learning Comes Together" marks our 7th annual conference and the ongoing growth of our MADLaT association. I extend a special thank you to members of Conference Committee who have made time in the midst of busy schedules to contribute in many ways to MADLaT 2008. I also wish to recognize Desire2Learn for its ongoing support as a Gold-Level Sponsor. It is your generosity as volunteers and corporate sponsors that allows us to provide each year high quality workshops and sessions.
MADLaT has many strengths. An independent organization focused on distance and distributed learning, it brings together a diverse network of educators-secondary, post-secondary, and business training. It has a well used listserv with more than 500 recipients, an up-to-date website with basic information for association members, an annual conference website with an effective on-line registration system, and documented protocols and templates for our conference production. Very significantly, our association has financial stability that helps to insure continuity as we plan for the future.
As our association has matured, we have sought to build on these strengths and to develop new ones. In 2007, we partnered with CADE / AMTEC (now CNIE) to present the conference in Winnipeg May 12-16. MADLaT's experience with pre-conference workshops and invited presenters helped to enrich the programming.
Looking forward to MADLaT 2008, we benchmarked two excellent conferences: the Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning in Ochos Rios, Jamaica (Oct. 30 - Nov. 3, 2006) and the Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning in Madison, Wisconsin (August 10 - 12, 2007). MADLaT members attending those conferences identified features that might help to improve our work here in Manitoba. As a result, MADLaT 2008 had a more flexible structure, a more international perspective, a Call for Papers stream, and an increased use of Web 2.0 technologies. I encourage the Conference Committee to continue these initiatives as it plans for our next conference.
Like any active organization, we also face challenges. The CADE / AMTEC Annual General Meeting in 2007 was held on the same day that many of our MADLaT members attended. After exploring a variety of options, we decided to extend all memberships for a two-year duration and to continue board positions until the 2008 conference. In the interval, we have lost a couple of board members and operating without full strength has been at times burdensome.
MADLaT is also transitioning from the leadership of its early founders. It is natural that those who have given much to the development of our association find themselves ready to move on to new commitments. Yet it is vital that we manage this change so that the strengths and achievements are not compromised.
I have two recommendations to aid this process. First, in the weeks ahead, I encourage members of the Conference Committee to continue to document the protocols and templates that are used for conference production. We began this process in 2005 and these practical tools help to keep us on track and to provide continuity. Secondly, I recommend that our Association Bylaws be reviewed and revised to insure they reflect our organization as it has evolved. Like most start-up organizations, MADLaT borrowed its Articles from other organizations. Seven years later, we have a more defined identity and established way of doing things. If the Bylaws are focused to reflect our current practices and outlook, it will help new leaders not only to build on the strengths and success of the association but also to take it to new levels.
MADLaT is an organization of learning, and it is also a "learning organization." I have learned much by working on various committees and on the board during the past five years and I have been impressed at the willingness of participants to try new things. I appreciate the productivity and conscientious efforts of the many volunteers I have met, and I am confident that our association will continue to grow, melding people, knowledge, skills and resources in a very special way.
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