I have never been to a fully on-line conference before. As part of an assignment through my OLTD 502 class, I had to attend one and blog about it. The conference I choose was the Global Education Conference 2013. The platform was collaborate.
Initially I was very apprehensive about attending. I have participated in many face-to-face conferences and quite enjoy them. Really, I was only attending this one because I had to! I decided to start my journey with a keynote session. The topic was “How to go Global – Lead, Learn, League” by Julie Lindsay.
I found myself missing seeing the presenter’s face and expressions. As the hour progressed and we delved in to the topic, I missed the video less. The slides were interesting and informative. There were a lot of ideas that I could pick and choose from, just like at a face-to-face conference. One difficulty I faced was becoming distracted easily. Not only was my home life calling to me, but there were many links posted throughout the talk that I could click on and search through. A few times I was paying more attention to the internet than to the presenter. My verdict at the end of the hour? Try another and see how it goes.
What I found, just like in an in-person conference, is the skill of the presenter makes all the difference. The presentation that really resonated with me and sold me on e-conferences was Frédéric Kastner’s (@grenouillelibre) session on “The OER movement: Inspiring global Teacher & Student Participation and Creation”.
In his presentation, the lack of video was never an issue as the slides were informative and interesting. Because of the pace, I would write down or bookmark links so I would not miss the next one. I managed to make one tweet about a resource I wanted to share (Goorulearning.org, a learner’s search engine) but I was too busy to be distracted. I am excited about what I discovered.
Each time a session is presented, it is unique as the presenter has the ability to respond to their audience in a way that wasn’t possible before. Questions can be responded to without breaking up the flow, as they can be typed or tweeted directly. This also allows for other individuals to participate in a meaningful way, rather than passively listening. Stevens and Dudeney (2009) noted that each one is unique, conferences cannot be repeated because of the way they are created. Also they noted that e-conferences, while having room for improvement, do away with some of the difficulties associated with in-person conferences such as travel and expense.
Overall, I would attend another e-conference.
Stevens, V., & Dudeney, G. (2009). Online conferences and teacher professional development: SLanguages and WiAOC 2009. TESL-EJ, 13(1).