PIDT Conference Sparks New Ideas
Richard West and BYU students helped host the annual conference in Colorado
The Professors for Instructional Design Technology conference (PIDT) allows professors and doctoral students to learn, share ideas, and network professionally. Recently, Rick West, a faculty member in the Department of Instructional Psychology and Technology, and four doctoral students hosted the PIDT conference in conjunction with the University of Wyoming.
This conference has been held for the last 26 years, and Brigham Young University has been involved in hosting it annually for the last four. Since BYU has been working on PIDT, the conference has been held in the state of Colorado. The PIDT conference introduces graduate students to the professional world of instructional technology. It gives professors and department chairs time to collaborate and compare programs from various universities. Students and professors learn and grow in ways not possible at traditional conferences. “This ‘unconference’ emphasized everything traditional conferences are not, including a priority on discussion, interaction, networking, mentoring, and action,” West said. Annual topics of discussion include publishing, job applications, curriculum structure for graduate and undergraduate programs, and practice and theory in instructional design.
West wrote a review of this year’s conference, starting with historical information gleaned from interviews with long-term attendees. The PIDT conference started in 1985 when a group of instructional systems technology professors decided to form a conference unlike any other. The conference has been held every year since, with the exception of 1997. It has been held in several locations, finally settling at Estes Park, Colorado, where it has taken place for the last eight years. Over time, the conference started to include students. “Eventually, attending PIDT became an honor for many graduate students lucky enough to be chosen to attend with their adviser,” West said. The first edition of the Handbook of Educational Communications Technology originated from the work done at the PIDT conference.
This year’s conference had 40 attendees. A variety of topics were presented including instructional design principles, the diffusion of innovation theory, and social network analysis within the field of design technology. “[PIDT] is the place I go to center myself . . . I come away energized to start something or do something,” said Sharon Smaldino of Northern Illinois.
“The PIDT conference is where the first ideas of the field were discussed,” West said. “The field and professionals have grown from PIDT, and it is an honor that Brigham Young University was asked to host this significant conference.”