Conference as place of participation, not just attendance

by Lee Hopkins on October 28, 2008

in academic research,public speaking,tools

Can I twitter or live-blog here?

My fellow Adelaidian — she’s also a septic but we forgive her for that :-) — Kerry raises a really good point about how presenters at education conferences around the topic of IT consider it highly rude if you blog or tweet during their pontification.

This is despite the much-spoken-of desire and "talkfests" being about how to ‘engage’ students and encourage learning in the new communication landscape we are now in.

Kerry asks if there are any upcoming conferences where attendees are given a set of ‘learning/discussion’ materials before the conference so that the actual conference can be focused on interaction, not just dull presentations with atrocious powerpoint.

I ran a workshop in June of this year for the PRIA in Sydney where, for the Strategy component, attendees were asked to watch some pre-selected YouTube videos and read some material.

I’m not sure, because I didn’t check, but I don’t think anyone gave the background material a good look, because some of the questions asked showed a lack of basic understanding that the background material would have answered.

I’m guessing that at the Australian Virtual Worlds Workshop in late November the presenters will be expecting audience feedback (well, at least they should be), and I’ll also be attending the ASCILITE Conference where I will hopefully catch up with Kerry but won’t be expecting much in the way of audience participation if my experiences of academic conferences are anything to go by.

But I will also be an invited speaker at the IABC World Conference in San Francisco next year and the idea of again giving the attendees to my session some background material in advance really appeals to me. Much as I love being the centre of attention and having the whole stage to roam around on ("moi?") it is far more fun for this humble presenter when the audience knows a lot about the subject matter too, so that genuine ‘knowledge sharing’ and ‘advancement of the craft’ can occur, rather than — as Kerry and her colleagues so aptly put it — didactically presenting to empty vessels who passively wait to be filled.

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