Last weekend I attended the 16th Annual Korea TESOL International Conference. I also presented and I’d like to publicly and not so quietly, detail the Good, the Bad and the Ugly…..
First off, I really appreciate the chance to network at this conference and so whatever I may say — I still think it invaluable. However, I am for the idea that if you are going to do something, do it well or step aside ……. I have presented and attended at many Kotesol events and so my comments also don’t apply to these efforts. Each branch and area is different. My comments are directed to this conference alone.
* The location is excellent. Central in Seoul and modern/clean. Easily accessible.
* The variety of lecturers / presenters and directions to and fro. Not so difficult IMO, to find the rooms/locations.
* Cost. Not bad considering you get membership which comes with a nice journal published quarterly (highly valuable).
* a website that was down most of the time just prior to the conference. Ugh…. I didn’t even know my presentation room location until arrival. Registering online is not efficient and is really a pain.
* informing members about the little things. Like, where is the banquet? I never got any notification (and I paid for it) about where this was held. So I decided to not go..you can’t go somewhere you don’t know.
* no tailoring of presentations with rooms. Some dolt couldn’t even figure out that I was presenting on Text to Speech and would need a room with basic technology! At the same time I presented, someone was using the main hi tech room to give information about their college. Go figure? Same with many other presenters stuck in dirty , horrid rooms which fit barely 20 people and which WE PAID FOR THE PLEASURE OF PRESENTING! They dropped the ball here — I sat through a lecture on using videos and couldn’t even hear or see the screen of the presentee… (Sat. morning)
* this was a conference about “Responding to a Changing World”. LOL! Sorry but I’ve been to my share of educational conferences and this one is in the stone ages…
* There was no video streaming, podcasting. No conference site which offered user feedback and social networking. No use of technology by the “leaders to be” of this conference…pitiful. Please KOTESOL check out this Shanghai conference and see how a site could be set up to give teachers a full on, community and interactive, professional development experience. Where can we watch the conference presentations online? Where can we discuss them as teachers and share? UGH….
* promotion of the event for teachers and not profit. Unfortunately, KOTESOL in my opinion is catering to the publishing crowd and the business end more and more. I see this grow. Even a member such as myself, if I’d want a chair to promote my writing/book/website, would have to pay??? How is this helping the teaching community? There is no place for members to freely advertise or do their own thing.
* no or little open forums for all teachers to participate. There were few breaks in the schedule to allow for networking, this should be changed. Also, there were no open forums where all teachers could participate, gather, share ideas about teaching…if there were, I wasn’t informed. I did go to the wonderful extensive reading workshop which was somewhat along these lines with many mini presentations and teachers circulated every 10 min.
* I had to bring my own sound equipment! Yeah, so much for a conference about the Future of Learning!!! I mean, come on now. And then when I requested they provide it (I paid $132 (including membership dues) for the room and equipment), I was told that I had only requested a computer. That I should have written “speakers” under “other” on the forum…..And they argued and argued that I should not expect anything but a computer if they said they’d provide a computer for the room. So they finally said, all would be okay. WASN”T. I carried my own large speakers, my own laptop just in case and good thing! What a fiasco, further, the room was a pig stye, reprehensible and horrid. I felt like this…..
* A teacher who will remain anonymous, at the Extensive reading workshop was selling FREE stuff! Yeah, I thought that was against the law, to copy what is free online and then sell it. What balls! He had a huge stack of copied CDs of free Gutenburg audio books. Charging teachers $5 a pop and he was racking it in! Totally wacko and unethical and I’ll write to KOTESOL about this one – you bet ya.
* Paying your dues to a personal bank account. This is just horrid. A professional association which still keeps track of funds like this? I paid with my Paypal account, through email transfer. It was sent to the personal email account of the Financial officer. So all the money is in his name????? This is just crazy!
I will continue to support KOTESOL and continue to do workshops, promote on EFL Classroom 2.0 etc… But still, I think a lot could be done better. Us teachers deserve it!