Thoughts on Sharing and Conferencing

This post is a response to Prompt 2 from the @ONE Reflective Writing Club:

Discuss the role of conferences in your professional learning and how you share what you learn after attending a conference.

I have held many types of positions in higher education in my career and each has granted me different types of access — from no none to plentiful — to conferences.  My experiences as a part-time faculty made me very aware of the lack of funding that contingent instructors receive and it disturbs me. In the United States, we have a model of higher education that was designed for full-time, tenure-track faculty yet, today, only three out of ten fall into that category.  As I write this post, I am thinking about the thoughts shared by Laura Gibbs about conferences and I acknowledge how they’ve shaped what I write here (she is also a fox lover and influenced the featured image I selected for this post).

When I first considered my response to this prompt, I started to filter through my experiences with conferences. I thought about how diligent I used to be about writing a blog post after a attending a conference. I searched my blog for the word “conference” and retrieved 14 pages of posts (!) and even found a series of 3 blog posts documenting my attendance at a 3-day Sloan-C conference nearly ten years ago. I began to feel a bit shameful about how my conference-related blogging has diminished, but I recognized that I’m sharing and learning differently than I was ten years ago.

Laura’s post made me realize that I should credit the live tweeting I do at conferences as sharing. It is a practice that helps connect those not in attendance with the resources, ideas, dialogue, and people on-site at the event. So learning can happen without travel. It’s funny because I know that — and I regularly benefit from those who live tweet. I love following conference hashtags on Twitter when I’m not at a conference. Yet, for some reason, I did not value my own tweeting as a sharing practice. That’s interesting. Thanks, Laura. 🙂

When I am fortunate to speak at a conference, I make an effort to share my slides publicly (with a Creative Commons license) and tweet a link to them. Over the years, I’ve done this in various ways — uploading my slides to Slideshare and sometimes making a blog post or a page on my site with the slides and resources. But I also keep an ongoing list of my speaking (which includes all types of speaking engagements, not just conferences) with links to my slides.  I do this for several reasons: self-promotion, sharing, and it helps me to remember what I’ve done over the recent past. It’s so easy to lose track of these things. Last summer when I applied for my current position, I was so grateful to have this list already in place!

Secretly, I long to start making sketchnotes of my conferencing experiences. Sketchnotes are visually-oriented notes that are, well, super cool. I met Bethany Smith last week in New Orleans at the ELI Conference and she created a sketchnote of every session she attended then tweeted an image of the visual. See below for an example. Cool, right?

I asked Bethany if there are other ways she shares what she learns after a conference (as I had the seed for this prompt already planted in my mind). She said that she collaborates on a blog post with other colleagues who also attended the event. They write the post, noting key take aways, and publish it on their academic technology/center for teaching and learning blog (not sure if I described their blog adequately there, but you get the point). I would love to see my organizations give faculty/staff a place to share what they’ve learned and a blog seems like a natural fit. Imagine how it would become a growing, public repository for peers on and off campus to learn from.

Do you have access to a campus-supported blog to share what you learn at conferences? I’d love to know!

3 Comments to “Thoughts on Sharing and Conferencing”

  1. I LOVE the idea of having a campus-wide blog for sharing what we learn! When we apply for travel funding, one of the questions asks how we will share what we learn. Providing blog space for faculty to share conference experiences would be perfect!

    1. I love it too. Nancy, I hope we can work together to spread these ideas and generate more understanding of and support for blogging throughout our system to support sharing. I’m curious, does Hartnell have a designated person who supports faculty/professional development?

      1. We do have a faculty special assignment position that serves as a co-chair on the professional development committee and does the record-keeping for faculty flex requirements. We will be discussing travel grant applications at our next meeting, maybe I’ll mention this idea!


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