It has been a busy year bringing NARST more current with modern tools of communication. Since our last newsletter our Board, our Committee Chairs, our President, and even some of our members have used video conference tools and live [and asynchronous] webcasting tools to conduct some important business. Most notably, President Mary M. Atwater with the Presidential Team (Valarie Akerson and Mei-Hung Chiu) led an effort to approve the bylaws with a 50% +1 positive total vote of the membership. With the Presidential Team, some Board members, and two outside consultants, I helped set an improved standard for our electronic presence by hosting two live International Town Hall Meetings to discuss proposed changes with the assistance of Communication Director with interested NARST members. Bylaws with proposed markups and explanations of color-coded changes were made available through a third party vendor. Through this novel implementation, all members from around the world were given access through a secured link on the web where they could comment on and ask questions of the NARST Presidential Team regarding proposed changes. The window for comments was open for 10 days prior to the International Town Hall Meetings where many members took the opportunity to voice their concerns, questions, or support for the proposed changes. Despite the less than 50 percentage voting attendance of members, we consider this electronic effort a big success in launching a new way to collaborate and promote participation from a larger representative sample of NARST.
As you all probably know, the Annual Meeting Program will be made available in electronic form this year as it has been in the previous 2 years. If you want a traditional hard copy of the program, you will need to order it in advance when you register for the conference. Last year it was available in multiple formats—the most popular being the full-featured iBook. This year it will be made available to the membership 7-10 days prior to the conference. Because of unpredictable download speeds onsite, we recommend members download it prior to arrival. By doing so members can also use their electronic devices to plan their attendance at specific events and make contact with other members to coordinate meetings in such a tight time venue. Again, thanks to all Program Committee Members, PODI employees, general members, and volunteers who are involved in compiling the official program as we speak. They are carrying out the larger task of organizing, compiling, and formatting the program for such a big and complicated event.
We have had several requests for copies of the electronic program from our last Annual Meeting held in Chicago. Some of these requests were related to the embedded live links for pre-published papers while other requests were simply for travel and participation documentation purposes. Though the link is still live, we cannot offer the more than 100 papers linked within the program. We currently can legally only offer papers and abstracts online for a week prior, during, and a week after window of access. While the program itself can be made available year round, its scholarship legally cannot. You may, however, request them directly from the authors using their contact information which is located within the program.
Members will also find all Presidential Addresses and plenary sessions from our last Annual Meeting in Chicago recorded with slides and composite video available at the YouTube Channel for NARST. I want to thank Michael Radosta of SUNY-UB for also raising the quality of our recordings and broadcasts from our Annual Conference. If you would like to share with your students, colleagues, or politicians any of these talks, they are available free to the public at this link.
The NARST Board, Presidential Team, Committee Leadership, and I are excited about upgrading our tools of communication and working towards a more open and collaborative environment. We value your feedback as well and hope you will participate in efforts to provide feedback and guidance that will direct our future efforts.
NARST, Director of Electronic Communications