Tony Gurr

Some THUNKS on Giving a Conference Paper (from GUEST BLOGGER Laurence Raw)

In Adult Educators, Conferences, Guest BLOGGERS, Research on 23/10/2014 at 5:33 pm

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One of the essential aspects of any academic (or educator’s) existence is the need to give papers at conferences.  This not only demonstrates a commitment to research, but provides an opportunity to share one’s insights with others in the field.

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Unfortunately things seldom work out like that.  I have been to many events where academics and graduate students simply come in, deliver their papers as fast as possible, answer a few questions and then leave.  One more notch on the résumé; another step accomplished in the search for a better job.

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Best way to be BORING (Voltaire quote)

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Even if delegates do stay, their style of presentation often prevents listeners from understanding precisely what they want to say.  Even in these days of unlimited technical innovation, the majority of presenters still choose to read aloud from printed sheets of paper and/or the iPad without actually looking at their audiences.  They also fail to grasp the fact that a paper written for academic readers is fundamentally different from a conference paper; in a conference the watchword is simplicity of style, enabling the interlocutors to understand precisely what the presenter is saying.  While reading a paper aloud is quite permissible – especially for those who are unconfident about speaking in public – but it should be read in such a way that listeners can understand what the writer is trying to say.  Gabbling one’s words just induces boredom.

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For the last few years or so, the popular vogue amongst presenters has been to summarize their arguments on PowerPoint presentationsFair enough; but care needs to be taken as to how they are constructed.  Each slide should have as few words on it as possible, and such words should be printed in a font that enables everyone to understand them.  Images should be simple yet powerful, and support what the presenter is saying; it’s no use simply summarizing the content of one’s presentation on slides, and expecting audiences to understand it.

Death 028

I could go on at length about the so-called ‘guidelines’ for conference presentation, but I’d rather prefer to turn the argument round and look at the issues facing anyone confronted with the need to present their work in public.

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Yesterday I had to give a piece to an audience of learners and senior faculty members.  My voice is not really powerful enough at present to project to the back of an oblong-shaped hall, so I used my microphone – or enhancer – as an aid; I feel rather like one of those presenters on a television quiz show, with the microphone hanging over my ears and the speaker close to my mouth.  Entering the hall at eleven o’clock gave me a few butterflies; I had to entertain an audience of fifty-plus people with an age-range from the late teens to retirement-age, all looking at me (or not looking at me) in expectation.  The only means I had to sustain my attention were my voice and a few images (if I wanted to use them).

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I experienced the feelings shared by every conference presenter at every event: how can I cope with the forthcoming ordeal?  The only way I could deal with this was to imagine myself like a high diver jumping off the board into a swimming-pool (or creek) several feet below me; I had to jump and subsequently trust in my own abilities to land safely.  If I failed, I would hurt myself (mentally, at least).  This was precisely what I did: armed only with a small notebook with a few ideas scribbled down, I began to talk.  To try and maintain audience interest, I kept looking at them; my head moved from side to side, then to the front and back of the hall.  If I saw someone’s eyes moving away from me, I made my best efforts to rescue their interest by glancing briefly at them.  Sometimes the technique worked; on other occasions I knew the task was beyond me.  Or maybe I was wrong: someone once told me that people’s listening strategies are often very different: when they seem outwardly uninterested, they are in fact taking note of what is being said and trying to make sense of it.

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Twilight Zone 01b (TG edit).jpg

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As I warmed to my argument, so my confidence grew.  I departed a little from my prepared script and illustrated my speech with anecdotes.  Some of them worked (in the sense of drawing a reaction from the audience); others fell flat as a pancake.  Nonetheless, I kept going; whatever my audience thought of my presentation, I was enjoying myself.  I had dived into the pool and was now swimming happily.

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The presentation ended, and the audience applauded.  There had been a few laughs; indeed, some of the audience had exchanged banter with me, which proved most satisfying.  At least I had appealed to their sense of fun.  I was sweating with excitement – I felt beads of perspiration on my brow – but at least I had done what I was expected to do.

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What did this experience tell me about delivering papers? 

I think I realized once more that audiences react in unpredictable ways: when they appear not to be listening, they might be interested; when they look at me, they might be thinking of something completely different.  To deliver a presentation not only involved speaking abilities but body language too: looking at your audience is of paramount importance.  Hence I’ve avoided reading papers verbatim for several years now.  If you, as the speaker, feel you’ve done your very best to communicate your enthusiasm for the topic under discussion, then your paper has been a success.

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REFLECTION 06 (Socrates quote)

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Enthusiasm” is an important term here:

…just doing a conference paper for the sake of it is a waste of time!

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And, above all, if you can try to deal with your inevitable nerves and realize that conference papers should be FUN, for yourself and for your listeners, then you’re well on the way to becoming a good speaker.  At least, I hope so anyway.

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Laurence Raw (aka @laurenceraw on Twitter)

Baskent University – Ankara, Turkey
Editor: Journal of American Studies of Turkey
http://baskent.academia.edu/LaurenceRaw
http://www.radiodramareviews.com

The 2014-15 EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 2.0 (…the “UPGRADE”)!

In Conferences, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 23/10/2014 at 2:05 pm

OK – this is the first serious upgrade

…how many differences can you see – from Ver 1.0?

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I’ve decided to make a few tiny, tweeny-weeny changes to this year’s Conference Calendar!

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Betting against canım Türkiyem

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Yes, that image is the first one – heck…if Warren Buffett can say something outrageous about the States (and 1776), I thought I’d just borrow his words a wee bit (and apply them to our conferences here in canım Türkiyem)!

“Bizim konferanslar”, here in Turkey, have been getting a pretty good reputation over the last few years…and this year is shaping up to be the same!

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The second change is that I am not kicking off with the International “big boys” this time around. Yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an “international jolly” (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the “shop”)!

You can find all the major international events at the end of this post.

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The third change was not really up to me!

With the events this year (well, the ones that have been confirmed thus far) we are starting to see a bit of a “shift” towards…more and more joint events (this is good…cool even!) and a lot more EdTech Conferences (but not as many online or UNconferences as perhaps we should).

For this reason, ’tis no longer just the ELT/ELL Calendar

…but rather the EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Calendar!

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As usual…big, bad İstanbul dominates the calendar but word has it that a couple more are in the pipeline for “mother Anatolia” (a few schools are still being a bit coy about publishing their dates) – I’ll update this post as and when we get more information on these…I think we got up to Version 6.2 last year!

So, without further ado…here we go:

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  • I. Eğitim Kongresi (1st Education Congress – Turkish) – 21.Yüzyılda Bir Eğitim Felsefesi Oluşturmak Ve Özel Okullar
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 November 2014
  • INTCESS15 – 2nd International Conference on Education and Social Sciences
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 2 – 4 February 2015
  • LIF2015 (Language in Focus) – Contemporary Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Praxis in ELT and SLA
  • Caddadocia, Turkey
  • 4 – 7 March 2015
  • GlobELT 2015 – Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language (with Hacettepe University)
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 16 – 19 April 2015 
  • edtechİST 2015 – International Educational Technology Conference in Istanbul
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 18 – 19 April 2015 
  • AGUSL15Blended Learning into Autonomy
  • Abdullah Gul University (AGU) – Kayseri, Turkey
  • 24 – 25 April 2015
  • ICEFIC 2015 (International Congress on Education for the Future: Issues and Challenges)
  • Ankara University (Faculty of Educational Sciences) – Ankara, Turkey
  • 13 – 15 May 2015
  • UDES 2015 (1st International Symposium on Language Education and Teaching)
  • Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli Üniversity – Nevşehir, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 May 2015
  • INGED 2015 (17th International INGED ELT Conference)
  • Çankaya University – Ankara, Turkey
  • October 2015 (UPDATE Coming Soon)

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ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)8

As promised – the International (and Regional) “BIG BOYS”…

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  • LeWeb
  • Paris, France
  • 9 – 11 December 2014
  • BETT
  • London, UK
  • 21 – 24 January 2015
  • TACON2015 (21st TESOL Arabia International Conference) – Teaching and Learning in the Digital World
  • Dubai, UAE
  • 12 – 14 March 2015
  • TESOL 2015 Crossing Borders, Building Bridges
  • Toronto, Canada
  • 25 – 28 March 2015
  • IATEFL 2015 – 49th Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition
  • Manchester, UK
  • 11 – 14 April 2015
  • BALEAP 2015 - EAP in a rapidly changing landscape: issues, challenges & solutions
  • Leicester, UK.
  • 17 – 19 April 2015
  • ISTE 2015 Connected Learning. Connected World.
  • Philadelphia, USA
  • 28 June – 01 July 2015
  • BAAL 2015 The British Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference
  • Aston University – Birmingham, UK
  • 3 – 5 September 2015

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AND, a little bit of “sauce”:

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  • LAL4 - 4th Language Arts and Linguistics Conference
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 25 – 26 October 2014

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As ever, please forgive me if I have missed any (just let me know and I’ll fix it, promise)…if you are still planning an event at your institution, get your skates on and let us all know (with a comment).

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Take care…sevgili hocalarım!

How to KILL Creativity!

In Our Schools, Our Universities, Technology on 25/08/2013 at 10:23 am

Creativity (Sir Ken quote 01)

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You might not know this…

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BUT, there’s a reason why I have never invited Bill Gates to do a guest-post on the ‘ole blog:

Bill Gates on constructivism (ver 02 TG)

OK – there’s more than ONE!

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However, I think not having a clue about allthingsLEARNing…is a pretty good one!

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To be fair, he did say this way back in 2011…he’s probably LEARNed a great deal since he started throwing more money than God at his pet” “educational” “projects (not quite sure where to put the quotation marks there)!

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When we think about it though – really think about it. It’s kinda funny that one of the “giants” of the IT industry, an industry that prides itself on creativity, should say something like that. I mean Bill has an Education degree (a masters even) and has been in the classroom for well over 20 years, yes?

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Come on! It’s not as if he “bought” his seat at the “educational reform” table!

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Steve Jobs on Bill Gates

What if Steve was right?

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I couldn’t say!

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But, let’s assume…for a minute…that he is – what was it that “killed” the creativity in Bill Gates?

He came from a good family…got the best education money could buyBUT lost something along the way.

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Well, I overheard a conversation on the Metrobus yesterday (who says my posts are based on gossip and hearsay?). It seems Bill Gates was part of the group of kids used in the longitudinal study carried out by George Land and Beth Jarman (a fair few years back).

This study (among others) tells us that only around 2% of adults are “creative geniuses” (after the age of 25) – but, surely that’s better than our kids, yes? We can all learn to get more creative as we go through life…

Study (Land and Jarman 1998)

Ahh…now it all makes sense!

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Yes, me and my dogs…all thunked the same when we saw those numbers, too!

Creativity and My Dogs

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You see:

Creativity (Sir Ken quote 02)

BUT…but…but…

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Steve Jobs (and Margaret Mead’s grandmother) had the solution:

Margaret Mead and her Education ver 02 TG

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BUT…but…but…

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What about the kids already in school? What about the teachers? Do we have nothing to help them out?

Research?

Real, recent…research?

The type not overheard on an İstanbul Metrobus?

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Well, let’s have it, baby!

Creativity Study 01

Creativity Study 02

Creativity Study 03

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MmmmTRANSformation…sounds like one of those “commie plots” my dad told me all about…more like a REVolution!

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Creativity Study 04

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Oh, OK…not too shabby!

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You mean, it’s just that easy?

Let’s get on that! Hey, yes…all you Ministry of Education bods!

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Yeah, right!

…till then – I guess it falls to us TEACHers (again):

Creativity (Einstein Quote ver 03)

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BUT, there is one last question:

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How exactly did Gates become a Master of the Universe (two universes, actually…it would now appear)?

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If you want some “BEDtime READing” – check out Tony’s CREATIVITY Library

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