Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody knew how good you were at your job?
In teaching this is particularly relevant – people are very quick to point out your shortfalls, question your “long” holidays and short working week”. The majority of those people in my opinion do not know the half of what goes on in a classroom and to be honest I have given up trying to explain myself them. However I would like more of my colleagues to know what I’m doing. An ideal way to let your colleagues know is through presenting posters and papers on your work at teaching and learning conferences. There are a variety of great conferences in Ireland, three excellent conferences that spring to mind are those organised by Learning Innovation Network (LIN), Irish Learning and Technology Association (ILTA) and the National Academy for Integrated Research into Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) respectively. For those not familiar with these type of conferences they normally consist of a keynote speaker and then the audience is usually given the option of three of four parallel sessions, i.e. three or four speakers presenting simultaneously in different rooms. You make your choice of which parallel session to attend based on two things – the title of the talk and the abstract associated with that talk
I recently had the experience of presenting at an international conference in Barcelona, Edulearn 2011. For all you Twitter fans #edulearn11 will give you an indication of the activity over the few days. With over 600 delegates from across the world and boasting six parallel sessions this conference was extremely informative. I was fortunate enough to present my work to nearly 150 of conference participants, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I have been at conferences in the past where I have had only 20 people in the room and although you can never predict who you are going to be “up against” presenting in the room next door I believe the number of people willing to attend your talk does not boil down to pot luck. Two key factors are your abstract and more importantly your title. With an array of talks to choose from, yours has to stand out. Most conferences produce a timetable containing a spreadsheet of all of the talks and the presenters. You have to have a title that catches the readers’ eye and ideally contains keywords related to your topic of choice. Once you’ve got them hooked on the title, most readers will glance at your abstract, normally in an accompanying conference brochure. This is your make or break moment. Your abstract has to be just right. I had the privilege of attending a module in DIT recently presented by Dr Roisin Donnelly. I have no doubt that Roisins advice helped me and I would encourage anybody interested in presenting at a conference to invest time into writing a decent title and abstract, otherwise “nobody will know how good you are at your job”