Conference commentary …..

tempphoto-2I used to go to conferences often as a presenter.  These days, though I still sometimes present, I’m most often on the other side of the podium – an attendee.

It’s great and over the last 4 or 5 months in my role as Director of Education at EnglishCentral, I’ve been to quite a few conferences. I recently returned from one and have some thoughts I’d like to share, thoughts fresh in my head.

I see the same problems that nag at me, over and over at each conference.  They bother me, I guess I’m too much a judge, a referee.  Forgive me in advance but here’s a quick list and your comments are welcome.

I do wish that we in ELT would go to a more “unplugged” or “flipped” conference style. Where we professionals come together instead of being talked down to by sluggish elites (but that’s another post – see one already written on this topic here.)

I wish conference presenters ….

1. Would stop using the term digital native. It’s been discredited and isn’t very useful.  Almost all the presentations on tech I’ve been to have used this term – they should stop.  David White’s “digital resident/visitor” is much more accurate.  As an aside, too many presenters talk about the “flipped classroom” as synonymous with blended learning. It’s confusing to most lay teachers and we should just be talking about blended learning in ELT. However, jingoism reigns supreme.

2. Would stop with their bullet laden, text driven powerpoints. Ugh…. All 3 of the last conference plenaries did this – and they are supposed to be mentors, leaders?????  Speak to us, we already know how to read.

3.  Would stop asking us to turn to a partner and discuss ……  I like interactive conference sessions and I know this can sometimes be useful but it could be set up in a much better, more practical way – not just as an add on and so the presenter can fill time and get a drink of something …..

4.  Would slow down, pause more often.   I was amazed by the presenter commenting that teachers need to pause more and give students more time to process language/thoughts while zooming through her presentation. Go figure.  Another apologized for going so fast but said he had to cover everything – go figure.

5.  Would not seem like they just studied up on the topic the last few months in preparation for their talk. I know this sounds elitist but I want veterans, I want experts, I want to hear from people up to date in their field. Not someone who thought of a conference topic, wrote a blurb, got accepted and then started to study up ….. Last conference plenary, had a woman speaking about educational technology who even admitted that she was “catching up” for the talk – and came up with the excuse that it’s ok because, “technology is changing so rapidly”.  Go figure.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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