I have yet to meet a single academic who finds these meetings useful, interesting, or helpful.
Some of these sessions, I understand, are necessary -- we have to be trained, yearly, for instance, on ADA requirements, and when else to do that? -- but some of it, you know, not so much.
To give my school credit, they have cut the back-to-school conference down from the four or five days of endless blatherskate we used to have to sit through (with people being brought in and being paid tons, I am sure, to talk at us for hours at a time about perfectly useless bosh) to what is now an almost painless two days worth of meetings.
The thing is, we're in there, all of us, academics all, from 8 to 5:00, with only a few breaks, and every time I look around, what do I see?
Almost no one is paying any attention to the speakers.
Everyone is on their phones and iPads and devices, or else working away on syllabuses and in planners. I, for instance, plan to take Thomas More's Utopia with me, and Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier. These are the first two books I'm reading for my Popular Lit class (Utopian/Dystopian Lit) and my Working Class Lit class. I'll be working out assignments and then getting started on the reading for each.
If I have time after that, I'll work up my first Fiction Writing assignment.
Everyone else will be doing much the same.
So, you know, it will be a useful few days. Though not exactly in the way the conference planners expect.