March 2010

INTED 2010: Day One

Today was my first day at INTED 2010 conference in Valencia. I was very tired (could not sleep last night – 9 hour time difference is a lot). So may be I was not focused enough. However, I was able to do some quick math. I had to listen to 20 Power Point Presentations today (I skipped 4 as I could not bare it any longer) and 3 introductory talks by the organizers. Most (80%) of the presentations and talks were boring, irrelevant and poorly done (in my view).  This was too much. Out of all these talks, I think, only 3 were well done (each one was supposed to be 12 minutes long). Most of the presenters made all the mistakes I wrote about in the previous post. In addition, many of them did not take into account the audience (so Leo’s comment about being relevant was just to the point). People made slides filled with up to 15 lines of text and then they read it. Imagine, that most of the presenters had problems with English, so listening to them reading the text from the slides a few minutes after we more or less read it was not fun. This is so strange. It just tells me how much WE NEED TO EDUCATE OUR GRADUATE ON HOW TO MAKE A PRESENTATION AT A CONFERENCE. It does not come naturally to most of us (it doesn’t come naturally to me for sure – I just feel fortunate to have a husband who made me rehearse it and who listen to many of my talks critically (of course not without a huge resistance on my part). It is a conference on Educational Technology and this is how it is taking place. What a strange thing! May be I am so tired that I am missing the point?

Yet, there were a few good talks that I benefited from (all from the English speaking folks, so may be it is an issue with the language and may be I am really biased now?). Two of them were about Serious Games and how to use games. One presenter was the owner of the company called “Distant train”. Her name is Fiona Passantino. I think she does a very interesting work with games. I was happy I got to know her and will share her info with my students. This was truly interesting. I wish we had more time for these talks. I think at a conference some talks SHOULD BE GIVEN MORE THAN 12 minutes. Here, they did not have any invited talks, so we had lots of short talks and no plenaries (may be it is good after all – with the way they present here).

I also was able to see how much the presentation styles of Europeans and North Americans differ. North Americans try to take the audience into account and try to make it relevant and interesting. May be I should not be generalizing but it is typical of the conferences I have attended. Yet, it felt like for Europeans, the audience didn’t matter at all. And then at then end, when they were asking each other questions, they would always start with “Congratulations on your wonderful research, etc…”. I was really surprised since I didn’t see that much research in the presentations we listen to and we are used to ask much more specific questions without endless praise. Anyways, before going to a CONFERENCE PRACTICE, PRACTICE and PRACTICE and remember, people sitting there will be tired and may be jet lagged and will NOT BE FROM YOUR PARTICULAR FIELD. Oh yes, and please DO NOT USE ACRONYMS all the time. Here there were so many of them even in the title of the talks. I often wanted to interrupt them and ask to translate it. I hope tomorrow it will be a better day! I also hope I do not sound angry. It is another learning experience after all and the city of Valencia is beautiful – so this is special by itself. I am just too focused on my work (certainly a North American trait).

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Anyways, may be I am too tired. I am sure there is lots of great stuff going on in Europe (I know about Germany – the University of Essen – an amazing place in Education where they are doing very advanced things). I also know about the Free University of Berlin – amazing things are done in Physics Education there – Computer Screen Animations of famous physics experiments, and I am sure there are many other places…

Valencia, however, is beuatiful and the conference is very well organized. I will make photos and will create a Facebook link. So I am looking forward for a better day tomorrow.

1 Response to INTED 2010: Day One

  1. daevans

    Hello Dr M.

    Your blog posts are honest and refreshing. I like the way you give us a sense of who you are through your posts, an attribute that also makes it interesting to read. Your observation that many presentations are boring is encouraging to us educators who look to further the communication abilities of our students, and ourselves, through effective technology use.
    I will make sure to check back often,

    David Evans

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