MiABA’s Tech B Conference To Feature Robot-Delivered ABA Services

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

President, bSci21Media, LLC

I recently had a chance to chat with the great people at the Miami Association for Behavior Analysis about their revolutionary Tech B conference, coming up on April 9th and accessible in-person or online.  Our conversation is below.

Tech B — What’s with the name and who is putting it on?

Tech B is a conference that is powered by the Miami Association for Behavior Analysis (MiABA).  Tech B stands for Technology for the Advancement of Behavior Change and is the first conference of its kind combining technology and behavior analysis to be broadcast live all over the world.  We played around with different acronyms and short terms in attempt to come away with something that wasn’t too lengthy or difficult to pronounce.  We unanimously liked the sounds of Tech B and have since created a bee logo as a sort of word play to go with the name of the conference. 

Tech B seems to be a follow-up to the previous Business B conference.  How was Business B received and how did it lead to Tech B?

Well, it was actually the other way around!  MiABA hosted the first Tech B (where Hi-Tech meets behavior analysis) in March of 2015, but mainly targeted attendance to local behavior analysts in Miami, FL.  Following the success of our inaugural conference and the incredible feedback we received from attendees, it was clear that our presentation topics and guest speakers were too awesome to keep to ourselves.  In an effort to engage behavior analysts throughout the globe, we secured live streaming capacities for our second conference Business B (where business meets behavior analysis) in November of 2015.  We were able to double our attendance numbers and capture the interest of behavior analysts across 11 different countries! 

If you could give the field of behavior analysis a “report card” grading its use of technology through its history, what would it read and how will Tech B fill the gaps?

Embarrassingly enough, we would have to give the field of behavior analysis a “C” for its use of technology.   Let’s face it, most practitioners use little more than their e-mail and Microsoft Office to get their day-to-day work done.  Some are using iPads and simple apps for data collection and for generating reports, others use Skype for remote supervisions, but again nothing impressive there.  These simple technologies may have been acceptable in the past, but we are firm believers that our science needs to keep up with the emerging technologies of the 21st century.  Tech B seeks to bring technology to the forefront of our ABA practices with the use of robotics and other highly advanced agents of behavior change.

What’s with the robots?

The robots are coming!  We have 4 different robots making their presence known at Tech B this year, showing off their effortless ability to implement ABA techniques to not only bring about socially significant behavioral changes in our clients, but also to support professional staff members.  NAO, who made his debut at Tech B 2015 and was a huge hit, will be returning to Tech B 2016 to show us what he’s been up to in the past year.  Milo, another humanoid robot, will also be joining us this year as he guides us through his journey of teaching social skills and emotions to children on the ASD spectrum.  Finally, two telepresence robots will leave all behavior analysis consultants wondering where on earth they have been all our lives.  In all, these 4 awesome robots will solidify to all conference attendees just how badly behavior analysts need to step up their technology game for the benefit of our clients, our own practices, and our field at large.

Tell us about the speakers and types of presentations.

We have an impressive lineup of speakers for Tech B 2016!  We will be kicking the morning off with Dr. Aaron Fischer who will be presenting on behavioral teleconsultation in schools with the use of telepresence robots.  He will be followed by Dr. Moataz Eltoukhy and the NAO robot who will be presenting on their work promoting healthy eating habits and physical activity for school-aged children.  Dr. Kyle Bennett will then take the stage featuring his work on video-based instruction for children on the autism spectrum.  Dr. Andre Maharaj’s dynamic presentation style will be sure to keep things interesting as he guides us on the use of the Kinect motion sensing system to target motor stereotypy.  Dr. Carolyn Garver and the Milo robot will take over from there on how to facilitate the learning of social skills and emotions in children with ASD.  Tech B will close out with a bang with an interactive livewire session on practice management software systems.  All in all, Tech B will provide 6 engaging sessions and the opportunity for behavior analysts to earn 6 CEUs for the day.

Where is the conference located and how can people attend?

Thanks to the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), Tech B will be hosted at the beautiful University of Miami Alumni Center in Miami, FL on Saturday April 9th from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.  We want to encourage behavior analysts from all over the world to come to Miami, not only to meet the MiABA staff and the robots in person, but also to escape for a little bit and enjoy our warm weather, trendy nightlife and gorgeous beaches.  For those who are unable to fly down, Tech B will come to you by way of a live worldwide broadcast.  Please visit www.techbconference.com to sign up!  Whether you would like to attend on-site or on-line, if you will be needing CEUs or not,  Tech B has many different registration packages individually tailored to meet your needs.

Is a third conference in the works?

The MiABA team is very ambitious and actually have a fourth and fifth conference in the works for 2016!  We are currently striving to host 3 conferences on a yearly basis:  1) Tech B (where hi-tech meets behavior analysis; http://www.techbconference.com), 2) Education B (where education meets behavior analysis), and 3) Business B (where business meets behavior analysis; http://www.businessbconference.com).   We encourage everyone to check our websites periodically and to connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to remain up-to-date with whatever we happen to come up with next!  You can also e-mail us at info@mi-aba.com to be added to our mailing list.  We would love to hear from you!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com.  Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues.  He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at todd.ward@bsci21.org.

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