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AAA Annual Meeting Mobile Application: A Brief Survival Guide

Before we begin, a little bit about myself: my name is Andrew Russell, and I began working for the American Anthropological Association in early August.  I came from an anthropological background, and will be the first to admit I had no idea what really went on at the AAA on a daily basis. Now that I’ve stepped “behind the curtain” I am amazed by how efficient and passionate the AAA staff is. Now in my third month, I realized it might be a good opportunity to take a journey with the many members of the AAA, and anthropologists in general.  What does it take to run an academic association? What goes on, on a monthly basis?

As you can imagine, with the November Annual Meeting looming over us, October is a hectic month for the meetings department. Anything that has been waiting to go wrong, has been waiting for October.  But fear not— your trusty meetings department at the AAA is on the case.

October marks the finalization of the program and abstract.  In recent years AAA has sought to bring a more holistically green approach to the meeting, one way is to cut down on the amount of printing we do(It also saves you money). I can assure you, however, we worked tirelessly to make these behemoths the best quality they can be.  That means, putting together a cover design that both represents the wonderful city we are guests of and the meeting itself.  This year we went with the iconic lion statues of Chicago. No offense to Bean lovers, but it’s a good fit, lacking in what I had assumed might come off as regal iconography.

But what is to replace the program?  A mobile application of course, a feature which will hopefully be recurring for meetings to come.  For those of you who have been coming to these events for a while, you may recall (try to forget for us) there was a mobile app a few years ago.  This is certainly not that mobile app, and its features are vastly improved.

The mobile app will be available for Android and iPhone/Pad users, downloadable from their respective stores for free. But what will be included in it, you might wonder. The simple answer is: everything. Everything you might need for the conference at least.

The mobile app is broken up into six sections which I will go over briefly here.

screenshot_1Agenda: This menu will display list of sessions for each Date, as well as a Program sorted alphabetically. Selecting a date will list the sessions for that data. Selecting a session will navigate to the session details screen. The session location will link to a floor plan provided by AAA. After viewing a session, you can add it to your schedule, which will store it on the mobile app. And of course, you can share session information amongst anyone else who has the mobile app— sending a message to their registered email.
Exhibitors: while this might not affect many folks, it’s important to note that a huge reason the AAA is still able to develop these meetings is because of support from exhibitors.  They often come to the Annual Meeting to show off the latest in technological advances and ideas.  The exhibitor section of the mobile app will provide you with names, dates, and map layouts of where to find exhibitors.

Attendees: This will display a list of attendees. This list will display attendee name (first, last) and company name, attendee name sorted alphabetically on last name.  Sorry— you can’t stalk your professor, attendees’ email address and phone number are not displayed until the attendee has turned on display of email address and/or phone number under his/her privacy settings. A search will be available on the attendee list to search for attendees within name and company. That being said, the mobile app will act as a messaging device within the meeting. You’ll be able to send a message via the attendee detail screen.  You can also request an appointment through a similar manner.
Information: Here is where you’ll find the FAQ for the meeting.  Ideally, this will answer every question you could possibly want to know about the annual meeting. The questions were collected from our staff, so I’m sure we’ve missed a few things.  During the meeting, we’ll provide you with an email address to send further questions— who knows, your question might be confusing enough that we put it up on the FAQ.  FAQs thus far include, getting to the meeting, workshops, installments, student Saturday, and an in-depth explanation of the mobile app itself (hey you never know).

Announcements: Announcements will be a quick and easy way for the AAA to get information out to you.  This could range from a fire alert to free pizza— so make sure not to ignore these notifications.

screenshot_2My Meetings: The nexus of everything to mobile app has to offer.  Here you can view appointments and sessions added to your schedule and remove items from said schedule; this included free form additions.  Your schedule will also be updated periodically based on information you have provided the AAA. This section will also include appointments, where you can view appointment requests and approve or deny requests and also view status of your own requests.  For those of you who might be a little more disorganized (or who just like to be really on top of things) we also provide you with a To Do List. Here you can view the exhibitors added to your To Do List and remove items from the To Do list. As with the appointments, this can be free form items.  My Meetings will also include the messaging system used to contact anyone else with the mobile app. Last but not least, you will also have access to
“My Profile.” Where you can control which email notifications you receives (appointments, messages, announcements). Ability to view email address and phone number is turned OFF by default.

Hope this clears things up. The mobile app is currently available for android and iPhone users and can be picked up at the iTunes store here: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=692800377&mt=8

Of course, this is really our first go at the mobile app experience, and it’s an evolving process– so feel free to suggest corrections by sending them to aaameetings@aaanet.org.

The Annual Meeting is only a few weeks away, come prepared!

25 Responses

  1. Thanks for having an app. Kudos for it syncing with the “personal schedular” on the website. However the design is awful. On my iPhone 4 fully half the screen is taken up with banners, copyright statement, navigation elements and “chrome.” The actual information is not well laid out: there is no view which shows an overview of the day in one screen, the layout of the text treats all information equally and provides information duplicated elsewhere in the interface (the date is in the top, so why should it take up so much space in the description), etc. Also, it only seems to show scheduled events, not bookmarked events, nor is there a bookmark function like on the website? In short, I think it is easier for me to export to iCal and view this information there than to use the app, simply because my calendar app does a better job displaying the information on the screen.

    • Thanks for the comments Kerim, you are truly on the front line of making this a better application for the Annual Meeting! As I mentioned, there are many elements we are still working to iron out, these next twenty days are something of a “beta” before the annual meeting. Some of the elements aren’t going to change. This app was entirely funded by generous sponsors, so the banners are a necessity (and as a note, within the realm of every association mobile app I’ve taken a gander at this year). The copyright statement, also, isn’t going anywhere as we didn’t make the application– you sign your papers, Bravura signs its app. After measuring it out on my iPhone 4, I found it’s closer to a third, but again this comes from our desire to give credit where credit is due.

      Stepping away from the more cosmetic concerns, we have logged the “bookmarking” issue and will hopefully have something for it. This mobile app won’t meet all of your daily needs, so it’s great that you’ve been able to incorporate iCal. iCal, and all the applications developed by Apple certainly do have a strong infrastructure built in place. The Annual Meeting app, however, provides inter-connectivity options you won’t find in iProducts. These will be more useful as the meeting begins.

      Thanks Kerim for downloading and commenting!

  2. I should have said “ICS” instead of ical. I actually use Google Calendar and Fantastical to read the calendar on my phone. Here are instructions: http://backupminds.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/create-an-aaa2013-google-calendar/

  3. I was pretty unnerved that, while the personal scheduler on the website requires my AAA credentials, the application requires only my email address. Essentially, anything that I bookmark or store in the system is available to anyone with my email address.

    I’m curious: Why does the AAA outsource its web development? Wouldn’t it be easier and more efficient to get what is desired if it was handled in-house?

  4. Where do we access the personal schedule on the Website? I don’t have an Ipad/Android, so I have to result to using the computer. I seem to be having trouble finding things, not sure if it’s just me.
    Thank you for the help!

    • Lidia,

      From the main AAA page go to “Account/Member Profile LOGIN” at the top of the screen. Once you’ve logged in you’ll see a screen with a tab at the top labeled ” 2013 Annual Meeting Proposal & Personal Scheduler | Add Annual Meeting Workshops/Events” Clicking on the left link will get you there. Hope that helped!

      Another option is to go to the Meeting’s main page and go to the right hand column where it says “Other Meetings Links” There is a link that reads “Preliminary Program | Personal Scheduler” Click on the Personal Scheduler link.

  5. I’m totally confused – I used the computer to add stuff to my schedule and none of it is showing up on the app or in my calendar. Also why is there no search function on the app?

    • As others have mentioned anything that you manually type into the personal scheduler on a computer now won’t translate onto the mobile app. There are certain limitation to the mobile app, and this is one of them. This is our first functioning mobile app, and it provides many features– and it is efficiently working towards a more eco-friendly annual meeting. We didn’t make this mobile app in-house, and we didn’t work that into the contract. You should look at the app more as a program 1.5 rather than a personal scheduler. There are free personal schedulers with a much larger infrastructure, whose sole purpose is to manage your day. That isn’t the main focus of our app. With your feedback, we will have an even better app next time around. Hopefully this clears up your confusion and leads you to a more efficient annual meeting!

  6. I’d like to download the Android version of the app. Can I do that from iTunes store? Unless I’m misreading things, it seems that it only has the iOS version and I can’t find it in Google Play. Thanks.

  7. How do you sync the app with the personal scheduler online? I used that first and now want to use the app but non of the session I chose show up on the app.

    • If you have saved sessions and meeting events, those will appear on your app, upon synching. If you manually add personal events, those will not transfer over.

  8. Is the app working for non AAA members who have purchased conference registration? Also – I’ve noticed that many of the papers are listed as being on different days than the panels that they’re in – will the content of the app be updated to correct those date/time errors? Thanks!

    • Yes, it will work. Any errors are being corrected for the next app update.

      • Thank you – I have a non-member colleague who has purchased conference registration, and has tried to log in several times to the app, but it doesn’t recognize his email address. He has logged into AAA and checked that it’s the right address, and it is. Who should he contact to get access to the app?

        • The mobile apps registrant list is updated at noon and five PM every day once the annual meeting begins. If your friend has registered after Friday he will not show up until the next cycle of updates.

  9. Hi Andrew. Sorry, you may have answered this already — but just for clarification — my iphone app isn’t syncing with the “personal scheduler” from the website — where I have selected various sessions, etc. any suggestions? thanks. Laura

    • Laura, On the “Home” bar there will be refresh arrows. When you tap on that it will bring up a menu of synchronization options. Select sync now and it should bring in your selected sessions from the personal scheduler. -Joslyn

  10. It is saying login failed when I attempt to log in with the email I have registered on AAA. Help?

    • Sarah,
      The mobile app’s registrant list is updated at seven, noon and 1700. If you registered after that you will not have access to it until the next synch. I have looked through the registrant list this morning and you should be able to utilize the app now.

  11. The email address I originally registered for the meeting with is now defunct, so it appears that the AAA website will only take my new address, while the app will only take my defunct address, so the app won’t sync. Any work around?

    • Yes, ask one of the staff onsite to direct you to me, I update the attendee list as often as possible but it’s a bit tricky with the annual meeting in full swing. I’ll take down your new information and make sure it synchs properly with the next update.

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