Okay, I've been sitting on this for a while because I have been trying to get my head around it. As I mentioned in my little rant last week (see Why AECT? Why?
), I think that the concept of having members go in and rank how likely they are to attend a session and to give the presenter direct feedback prior to the conference so that they can ensure that they address why you showed up into the room (let's see if it actually makes any difference), but what else can be done.
I believe it was Trey, over at the Teachable Moment
that started this with his entry on How do we improve AECT Conference session quality?
Then Nate, of Cognitive Dissonance
fame, got involved with a post of the same name - see How do we improve AECT Conference session quality?
Finally, Mark (a member of the Electronic Services Committee) got involved with Improving AECT conference Session Quality
In thinking about this, my attention turns to one of my own presentations that I am involved in - these new Blogtracks (I'm actually involved in two, but the one that Nate is leading that is roughly around the idea he expresses in his entry Why Web?
hasn't got off the ground yet). For those of you who aren't familiar with the idea yet, basically you get a group of people together and for the month leading up to the conference, they blog about their topic, at the conference they blog about sessions that they attend that relate to their topic, and at the end of the conference they get together in an actual session and talk about what they have learned and the big ideas from their blogging over the previous months. To see what one looks like that has started, check out our feed at Emerging Trends in Online Learning Research
I like this idea because it allows conference goers to interact with conference presenters over an extended period of time. I mean let's face it, if the real value of the conference presentation was the content of the actual presentation, we'd all be better off reading the better crafted proceedings paper. The real value of the conference presentation, for both the presenter and the member of the audience, is the interaction that takes place. Granted, it is easier to have a conversation when both you and the other person/people is/are physically present, this could easily be the next best thing (and I would argue has been the sole reason why academic blogs have become more and more common).
So, if this opportunity for an extended conversation - even if that conversation is mediated by technology (in this case a blog) - is the real value of the conference presentation, then I think that my colleague Rick West asks the right question: Ideas for a successful BlogTracks?
(Note: This is a question that one of my other colleagues, Ernise Singleton, has taken a first stab at with What does it mean to be “blog-ready”?
So, let's assume that the extended conversation with the opportunity for a face to face session at the conclusion to tie things up is the way to go, how do we get the most out of it? More specifically, I would ask the following specific questions:
- How far out do you begin the conversation?
- How does one start such a conversation (i.e., what is the most effective way?)?
- How formal/informal should the conversation be?
- How often should people participate in the conversaton (both the presenter and the audience)?
- Should that participate increase as time gets closer to the actual conference (again both the presenter and the audience)?
- Should the presenter try to continue the electronic conversation during the actual conference?
- How do you logistically provide opportunities for the audience to participate in the electronic conversation during the actual conference?
- What format should the final face to face session utilize?
Tags: AECT, AECT 2006, blog, blogging, blogs, graduate student, graduate students, graduate school, higher education, education