The following is an excerpt from an article published by Rick West in Educational Technology in 2012. Read the PIDT article in Educational Technology.
A focus on balancing structure with informal conversations is a tradition that lives on in the PIDT meetings, which have been held annually except for 1997. The group originally called themselves Professors of Instructional Systems Technology, which reflected the direction of the field at the time, but which formed an awkward acronym that only persisted for a few years before becoming PIDT. Sleeping in cabins that for the first few years did not have indoor plumbing or heating, and meeting at a rustic retreat at Shawnee Bluffs in Indiana, on the banks of Lake Monroe, the original group met to discuss curriculum, research, and the emerging directions of the field.
“We were a new enough field that maybe people wanted to share information,” Rhonda Robinson, of Northern Illinois, said. Robinson added that PIDT especially provided a way for female professors, who were fewer at the time, to associate and mentor each other.
The meeting was so successful that they continued meeting annually in Indiana. Eventually, the conference was moved to a rotation system, typically held at either Estes Park, Colorado, or Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, while occasionally being held at other locations. Wherever the meeting is held, the emphasis has always been on locations where recreation merges with business, allowing participants to begin conversations in classrooms and continue them on a hike or in a canoe.