Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting Back to Basics

I had a chance to present at the Region 10 ESC Technology Planning Conference last week and had a great time meeting new folks and learning some new things. My presentation "Twitter? Really" Show me why and how!" was received well, but I learned a lot in the middle of my presentation. When I asked who had questions a woman raised her hand and asked "So what is the difference and the importance of the "@" & the "#"?" I quickly applied the brakes and we slowed down to address the question at hand. Along with that were several other questions that were all about basic tweeting.

So what did I learn? No matter where and when we are presenting are we taking care to make sure that we are reaching out to those who are just starting to dip their toes in the water or maybe those who are eyeing the kool-aid stand but not sure they really want to buy the drink itself? I wondered how many walked down the hallway and went in to the presentation which I would have loved to be in titled "Tweeting Out of the Box" and were lost as to what was going on?

I know sometimes I have been so immersed in what I have been doing and have become so very comfortable that I forget new people come to the well each and every day looking for ways to communicate and finally willing to try something different. My hope is that those in my session feel that once they left they could contact me and ask questions at any time.

How do you handle the new folks when you are confronted with those questions when presenting? We talk about how students learn in different ways and at different times but are we taking the time to make sure those adults who have come to learn are getting the same attention?

So much to learn and so little time.


EdTechSandyK said...

Paul, these are great reminders for anyone who provides professional development. When I was a campus technology facilitator, I knew my audience pretty well and knew for the most part where I needed to start with a topic based on my teachers' experience.

Presenting at a conference like you describe in this blog is a whole different ballgame. We have to be ready to backtrack, just like you did, even if in the end we don't get as far as we hoped.

We talk about scaffolding for students. I think it's important to do the same for professional development participants. Assume little or basic knowledge, even if the attendees of a session are told it has prerequisite knowledge. If it's important to get from point A to point B during your time frame, provide some "basic terminology" resources and show the participants how to get to them early.

Another thought, if the audience can handle it and they have access to digital devices, is to open a "backchannel" through TodaysMeet (http://todaysmeet.com/) and have them ask questions as they come up. If you have a co-presenter who can monitor the channel, that's helpful. They can stop you when clarification is necessary. If presenting alone, you can take short breaks periodically to check for questions. I attended a TCEA session this year that used TodaysMeet, and the questions asked and information shared in the channel enriched my experience and helped the presenters tailor their presentation to the audience.

Thanks for this post, Paul! We all have to remember when presenting that although we are comfortable with the topic, the very reason the audience is there is because they have less experience with it than we do.

Jaime Vandergrift said...

I want to present something similar at Ed Camp Lewi.. At our LISD trade day I did a very similar presentation and really felt like I was ten steps above many in my sessions. I think stepping back and saying "Here is how an educator can use social media" is the direction to go.", over "Look at how much you can do with your PLN and social media opportunities." I would love insight into how you went about this!