BICSI to test tracking system at upcoming conference

Oct. 25, 2005 - System will monitor just how often conference attendees attend classroom sessions.

BICSI plans to test a tracking system which will monitor attendance at conference classroom sessions at the upcoming 2006 Winter Conference in Orlando, F.L.

Through the system, attendees who come to the conference to seek Continuing Education Credits (CECs) will be monitored via a Radio Frequency Identification (RFI) chip which will be placed in their conference nametag badges. The chips will provide an electronic record of each time an attendee enters a conference hall to attend a session.

"We will put a radio chip in your badge and see how many people go to a session," said Christine Klauck, director for BICSI's (www.bicsi.org) U.S. Northeast Region. Klauck talked about the test during BICSI's Thursday U.S. Northeast Region Meeting in Sturbridge, M.A. "It's important to us."

The RFI system will inform BICSI just how often conference attendees attend conference sessions designed to teach them about cabling installation and maintenance. The credits enable attendees to retain their RCDD status, among other things.

The system is being described as a "first-run assessment" for tracking attendees at conferences. According to an early press release from BICSI, the RFI technology system is designed to ensure that individuals who come to the conference to achieve CECs will receive CECs "that correlate with actual attendance."

The test will help BICSI become accustomed to the practice. After the information is gathered, BICSI may produce a report that would indicate the number of CECs that would have been awarded based on conference session attendance. After the test in Orlando, BICSI will determine if it will use the tracking system at additional conferences, Klauck said.

"This is just a trial, to see how it works," agreed Edward Donelan, treasurer and president-elect for BICSI.

The planned study has touched a nerve with some regular BICSI members and conference attendees.

"I feel it's important to further my education, but I feel this measure is invasive," said Carol Everett Oliver of Everett Communications and chair of BICSI's Exhibitor Advisory Committee.

But others said this test represents a positive step for BICSI. Craig Joyce of the contracting company Joyce Sales Group LLC (www.joycesalesgroup.com) attended the meeting in Sturbridge. Joyce said it is time for BICSI to mandate that attendees come to the classes.

"I think it's a great idea," said Joyce. "If they don't do something quick to qualify being an RCDD, it will become watered down.

"You can get 15 credits just to fly to Orlando," Joyce continued. "There's a lot that attendees should be doing that they are not doing, and I'd like to see that if they are going to get education credits, they have to be in the classroom."

Klauck said BICSI decided to look into the RFI system following disappointing attendance levels at the fall BICSI conference held last August in Nashville, T.N. Klauck said a large number of people registered for the conference, but a surprisingly small number of attendees actually attended the show's conference sessions. "It (the conference hall) could have been fuller, as far as we were concerned," said Klauck. "After that, we decided this would be a step we would look into."

Klauck said BICSI is still very much in the experimental stage of this project. It remains to be seen just what BICSI will do with the information that it gathers.

"We are not yet definitive as to how the collected information will be used, it is still too early to tell," said Klauck.

But one thing seems certain: BICSI wants to explore how session attendance could be tied with an attendee's ability to receive CECs for a given conference. Klauck said other professional organizations, such as medical or engineering associations, have had similar programs that track conference session attendance. "This is just a new technology that will make it simpler," said Klauck.

"This will bring credibility to being an RCDD," Klauck said. "You have to do something totally different than network. It will give you more credibility, and make the organization more credible."

BICSI plans to launch an aggressive communication effort which will inform members about the upcoming test. Members will be notified about the process through BICSI newsletters, e-mail broadcasts, the BICSI Web site and conference confirmation letters.


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