UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

The Plenary Talk as an Opportunity for Hands-on Activities

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 May 2014

Traditional Lecture must DIE!

10 reasons to ditch lecturesThe “Traditional Lecture must DIE” argued Phil Root in a (err) TEDx lecture in September 2012. In the video he cited research which suggested that students learning is more effective when active engagement techniques are provided (5 minutes into the video).

Last Thursday an article in the Guardian’s Higher Education Network gave “Ten reasons we should ditch university lectures“.

Currently there have been 367 comments made to this article. If you have an interest in the relevance of lectures in teaching you may wish to contribute to the discussions. However my interest is in the effectiveness of plenary talks at conferences. A question I’d like to address is “Can we make use of interactive techniques in large-scale lecture theatres?” including conferences used for professional development.

The Plenary Talk as an Opportunity for Hands-on Activities

At the UKSG 2013 conference I recall a plenary talk by Laurel Haak on ORCID: Connecting research and researchers. As flagged at the very start of the video recording of the talk Laurel invited those who had a mobile computer with them to register for an ORCID ID during the talk. “Here is the challenge to you” Laurel said 2 minutes 50 second into her talk “Anyone who has a computer and you don’t already have an ORCID identifier please take about 30 seconds to register for one“.

I have used this approach myself when talking about researcher IDs. Last week I spoke at the CILIP Wales 2014 conference and used this approach again, but this time to encourage participants to sign up for a Wikipedia account.

I was pleased that during the talk one delegate announced:

Inspired by to create Wikipedia account!!

I had announced that the talk would provide an opportunity for a CPD activity – I was pleased to be able to see evidence that this activity was successfully completed by at least one conference delegate.

Further Approaches for Encouraging Take-up of Wikipedia

Storify summary of cilipw14 twets about Wikipedia talkIn the opening talk at the conference, John Griffith, the Minister for Culture and Sport in the Welsh Government told the audience of the importance of the importance of gathering evidence of the ways in which librarians are engaging with their communities. He also encouraged Welsh librarians to “Make yourself heard!

Although I had planned the Wikipedia user registration activity, the inspirational opening talk made me wonder how I could adapt my presentation to relate to such political considerations. The theme of the CILIP Wales 2014 conference was “Making a difference: libraries and their communities“. In my presentation I argued that librarians who supported their users in use of Wikipedia, which included creating and updating Wikipedia articles would be a way of engaging with communities in an effective way in light of the popularity of Wikipedia. A show of hands confirmed that Wikipedia was not only popular with the users: the vast majority of the audience made use of Wikipedia with only one (brave!) lady admitting that she had never visited Wikipedia.

Gathering Evidence of Take-up of Wikipedia

But how might we gather evidence of use of Wikipedia by librarians, which might be used as evidence of how librarians are engaging in a rapidly changing information environment? In my presentation I suggested that after spending about 60 seconds in creating a Wikipedia account the next step should be to create a Wikipedia profile page and I gave examples of a simple profile and a slightly more advanced profile which might provide inspiration for a profile page for new Wikipedia editors.

Since the majority of the audience were librarians working in Wales I showed the Wikipedians in Wales page and highlighted two examples of profile pages: one in which the user is willing to share their interests and one in which the user chooses to remains anonymous. I noticed that the Wikipedians in Wales page currently contains 136 entries. Looking at the history of this page it seems that the version of the page in July 2005 also contained 136 entries. It seems that embedding the relevant [category] tag in user profile pages hasn’t taken off. If the hundred of so who were present on the first day of the CILIP Wales conference were to sign up for a Wikipedia account, create a user profile and include the following line in their profile

[[Category:Wikipedians in Wales]]

we would have significant evidence of take-up in Wikipedia in Wales.

Furthermore the Wikipedian librarians page currently contains 267 entries. If you are a librarian and have a Wikipedia account, why wouldn’t you add the following to your user profile:

[[Category:Wikipedian librarians]]

Reflections

I have created a Storify archive of tweets related to my presentation as this enables me to reflect on comments made. I particularly welcomed the comment:

absolutely agree with , if so many are using , it can’t be dismissed by info professionals, realise & engage

Audience at IWMW 2013I have given a number of Wikipedia sessions for those who wish to know more about editing Wikipedia. However such sessions are likely to attract only those who are already convinced of the value of Wikipedia. Of more importance, I feel, is being able to persuade sceptics or those who have not previously considered getting a Wikipedia account and updating Wikipedia articles or the reasons why updating Wikipedia articles is of particular relevance to information professionals and then to convert that moment of inspiration into actions: investing sixty seconds in creating a Wikipedia account and even spending a few more minutes in creating a user profile.

Traditional lectures won’t die, I feel. Especially as in today’s networked environment they can provide opportunities for the audience to be active during the lecture. And, of course, you don’t need mobile devices, Twitter and a WiFi network in order to interact with large audiences. As can be seen from the accompanying image taken at the IWMW 2013 event, you can engage with your audience in more traditional ways!


View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – [bit.ly]

 

About these ads

2 Responses to “The Plenary Talk as an Opportunity for Hands-on Activities”

  1. ronmader said

    Brian, as a fan of your work I’m particularly pleased to read and respond to this essay. The plenary talk needs reinventing and you make a terrific case for the opportunity we have in the digital era to connect the speaker and audience.

    I’ve attended too many conferences in which the organizers pretend not to notice that the audience is occupied with their own laptop computers and smartphones and giving the speaker perhaps half attention. Participants are polite enough, but it’s obvious that the focus is elsewhere. I’ve just returned from a conference in which I had to instruct the communication experts that needed to visually remind participants of the event hashtag … and that they needed to lead by example. Otherwise we are in a room where everyone is minding their own business and politely paying some attention to the speaker and meanwhile the opportunities for connection and learning are squandered.

    What would I like to see? Lectures combined with livestreaming video AND the dedication of a Google doc where a transcription of the presentation could be made simultaneously. Bonus points for the events that organize a team of transcribers ahead of time and extra bonus points for the events that figure out a way to translate the transcription into other languages. Events that have an international audience or reach could make good use of live video, transcription and translation.

  2. Hi Ron, thanks for your comments. I’m pleased you find the blog useful.

    Back in 205 I wrote a paper entitled “Using networked technologies to support conferences” which had the following abstract:

    The increasing availability of WiFi networks in conference venues is an opportunity to provide additional services for conference delegates and to enhance and enrich the learning experience. This paper reviews experiences of use of networked applications in a conference environment and outlines a number of potentially useful technologies. The paper addresses potential concerns over use of networked technologies including dangers of disruption and distraction, legal and copyright issues as well as the danger of being over-fixated on the technologies themselves, rather than the uses they can provide. The paper concludes by summarising the issues which need to be addressed when considering the provision of networked services in a conference setting.

    It seems, 14 years later, not everybody has yet appreciated the value :-(

    I agree that large conferences should be pro-active in exploiting a variety of technologies, along the lines you suggested. However even at smaller events with limited budgets there are simple approaches which can be taken, such as audience use of smart phones and tablet PCs to share their thoughts on talks. And if you have a tripod people can use their smartphone to record or stream talks. We should be doing more of this, I feel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: