Tips for presenters and keynotes – add your best ideas!

So after sharing my pain about a not-so-great presentation (The bad dress rehearsal) the other day, Allanah King commented:

For the first time in my life I have been asked to keynote a conference and almost balked at the thought of it. The whole ball game changes when you are the person at the front rather than than the tweeter at the back!

I have decided to give it a go and hope that I will be up to the task.

Apart from backing everything up twice and bringing a stand alone electricity generator have you got any tips for me??

So I think the best thing to do is to crowdsource this – what are your best ideas for presenters and keynotes? Please share in the comments!


Tinkering Towards Educon

I’ll be heading to Philadelphia later this month for the Educon conference. This is a terrific small conference held at the Science Leadership Academy about education and change. Educon is famous for having “conversations” not “presentations.” This means that the wisdom of the crowd gets shared as we explore one topic in depth.

This year I’m leading a conversation on Tinkering Towards Technology Fluency

Conversation Description: Tinkering is a time-honored educational practice, focusing on a learner exploring a subject or problem without clear goals or time constraints, using objects or tools at hand, driven by passion and curiosity. Seymour Papert used the word, “bricolage” to describe a way to solve problems by trying things out, testing, playing, and trying again. This stands in direct contract to the way we teach students to use analytical methods (such as the scientific method) to solve problems. Current digital tools would seem to support this method of learning, with the rapid ability to build first drafts and easy to use editing tools. When mistakes and prototypes were expensive and time consuming, it certainly made sense to carefully plan your attack on a problem. However, this is no longer the case. In industry, the methodology of production planning has been revolutionized by rapid design tools. Accepted practices of design and planning have completely changed over the past 25 years, with linear “waterfall” planning completely replaced by new “spiral” design methodologies, especially in the design of digital products.

Beginning questions for the conversation are:  How can tinkering influence our understanding of technology literacy as a set of skills to be mastered? How might this influence classroom practice when teaching analytical problem solving in any subject? How can tinkering fit in today’s structured classroom environment? How does a teacher maintain a schedule and series of learning objectives that result in learning, not just fooling around? Is anything a student does tinkering? What role does judgement and content knowledge play in tinkering?

If you are considering attending Educon, I hope you join the conversation!

Related posts:


It’s Take Your Students To Conferences Month!

OK, not really. I just made that up.

But this is the time of year that many educational conferences ask for educators to submit ideas and proposals for sessions at state and regional conferences to be held next spring.

Going to conferences is a great professional development experience for educators. But why bring students?

Reason #1 – It’s good for the students. Students presenting and sharing their work is a great learning experience. Expanding the audience beyond their own teacher or parents can spur students to reflect on the needs of their audience, be a little more serious about their role, and put more energy into practicing and performing.

Reason #2 – It’s about walking the talk. If you are considering presenting a session where you talk about what your students do, how empowering that is, and the benefits of this, wouldn’t it be that much better if actual students were there to drive that message home?

Reason #3 – It’s about building your classroom learning community. Working with students on something that’s a stretch for you creates mutual respect, shared commitment, and purpose — all hallmarks of a vibrant learning community. You should see these attributes seep back into the classroom in unexpected ways.

If any of this sounds enticing to you, I hope you will download this PDF called, Sharing Student Voice: Students Presenting at Conferences. It includes:

  • Top Ten Tips for Student Presenters
  • Balancing the needs of the audience with the needs of students
  • Research on student voice, 21st Century skills and student empowerment
  • How to plan and submit sessions with student presenters
  • Maintaining student ownership and authentic student voice
  • Logistics tips for bigger conferences and exhibit halls
  • The crucial role of the teacher as part of the presentation

You’ll notice that this is not all happy talk about how precious the little darlings are and every word out of their mouths is a pearl of wisdom. It’s never fair to inflict amateurish, unfocused presentations on an audience not composed of adoring parents. Honoring student voice is a two-way commitment, and both sides have to contribute their best.

I hope you get something out of the article, Sharing Student Voice: Students Presenting at Conferences. And if you have some great student presentation advice, add comments below!


Does peer review work? Thoughts on conference session selection.

So here’s something interesting from my inbox!

Only 8% members of the Scientific Research Society agreed that “peer review works well as it is.” (Chubin and Hackett, 1990; p.192).

“A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision and an analysis of the peer review system substantiate complaints about this fundamental aspect of scientific research.” (Horrobin, 2001).

Horrobin concludes that peer review “is a non-validated charade whose processes generate results little better than does chance.” (Horrobin, 2001). This has been statistically proven and reported by an increasing number of journal editors. (full text and references)

I got this email from the International Symposium on Peer Reviewing: ISPR being organized in the context of The 3rd International Conference on Knowledge Generation, Communication and Management: KGCM 2009, which will be held on July 10-13, 2009, in Orlando, Florida, USA.

I assume that I got on their mailing list because of my post from almost a year ago, Conference 2.0 – changing how sessions are selected. In that post, I mentioned the KGCM conference and how these experts are investigating how people learn at conferences and are questioning how conference sessions are selected.

In the past year, I’ve read many blogs wondering about conference sessions and the selection process. Many use a form of “peer review”, meaning that people who are presumably peers of the paper author or conference session presenter rate the submission and determine whether or not it gets selected. Academic journals use peer review as a means to claim that their articles are superior to those found in lay magazines, books, or other sources. And many conferences use this same technique to select sessions, whether or not there are academic proceedings that result from the conference.

So this research not only calls into question the methodology of selecting conference sessions, it questions that whole academic tradition of journals representing the highest level of publishing and “truth” about current research in any field. They find that the principle of peer review is well-regarded, but that the methodology and implementation is flawed. Doesn’t that sound familiar…

If peer review is a flawed process, what does that say about conference session selection? You have to ask yourself, would a completely open selection process, where everything is out in the open be more in keeping with the principle of fairness and making sure best practices and research are shared to benefit all?

Would an open selection process for conference presentations be more or less prone to favoritism, self-promotion, populism, and cronyism than the current process? Is that just throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

If you are interested in joining a conversation about improving conferences, check out this social network created by the Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education (AACE) — Spaces of Interaction. They are having an online conversation Feb 18-20 with interactive live sessions.

And by the way, what does this say about school librarians who insist that students use only peer-reviewed journal articles for their research. Do they have a leg to stand on anymore?