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Conference standards?

September 23rd, 2009 by Graham Attwell

The conference season is in full swing. Next week I am off to Vienna for the European Conference on Educational Research. We will be working with the VETNET network to organise a series of podcasts fromt the conference in our ongoing Sounds of the Bazaar series (if you will be there and would like to come on the programme just send me an email).

One of the problems with the big conferences (ECER will have over 2000 delegates) is what to go to. I find the printed programmes almost impossible to follow without a lot of pre-study time. Online programmes like Crowdvine, as used at Alt-C  allow relatively easy browsing of the programme and the ability to develop a personal conference timetable. This is a great step forward – though sadly EERA is behind in developing such applications.

However this is only half the problem. The bigger issue is understanding the type of session and the content. Traditional abstracts are not helpful and titles are often more obscure. All too often sessions turn out to be different than expected.

In response to an earlier post Seb Schmoller from Alt asks “What is it about a session that you need to know to make a decision about whether to go to it? Inclusion of a micro-abstract – 140 characters max? Themes addressed?
Type of session (demo, workshop, symposium, etc)? Level of experience aimed at? Where on tech/learning spectrum it lies?
Extent to which it has a strong data or numerical component? Just musing here, he says, but I’d be interested in your response.”

I think Seb has a pretty good starting list here. The level of experience aimed at is something I particuarly miss. I am interested in the use of social sowfatre in education. However, often I will go to a session, only to find it is an introduction to different social software applications and how they might be used in education. There is nothing wrong in such presentations – far from it. We need more of such presentations But I know this already. I need some way of knowing the level of the presentation or to whom it is addressed.

I suppose Seb’s comment raises another question. Should we be trying to develop a standard in this area to allow the easy interchange of conference metadata. Would this be helpful or just another bureaucratic exercise?

I’d be interested in people’s views on this.

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3 Responses to “Conference standards?”

  1. John Popham says:

    I have an idea, which I will probably never have time to write-up, for a permanent conference radio station which covers a different conference everyday, live audio streaming sessions and carrying interviews with speakers and delegates. I know you do a bit of this, but I would like to see a permanent fixture. I would certainly welcome such a facility which would allow me to follow a conference remotely when I am on the move.

    Some (and only some) conferences do a very good job with video, both live and archived, but hardly anyone does anything with audio, there is an obsession with video, but audio is more convenient when you have variable connectivity and don’t want to / can’t sit staring at a screen.

  2. Graham, glad you found CrowdVine useful and I hope we start popping up at other events that you go to. We attract almost all of our new events through word of mouth. Sometimes it’s just a matter of you sending the conference organizer a note. Many are very responsive to attendee suggestions.

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