The 2017 TCC Worldwide Conference was one of great importance to me. Where I have spoken at a few conferences prior to this one, this particular conference was of particular importance. This conference was to represent the end of my master’s program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. However, where it was of great importance to my success in the program, it did not pan out to all my desires of a conference, and before I speak of sessions, I wanted to give an overall opinion of the experience.
Where I agree that online conferences are a great resource to individuals and schools in terms of professional development and deepening self-improvement, there are some downfalls to the events. First, when I attend face to face conferences I am in a sense forced to participate. I took off work, I went to the venue, I enjoyed the food and I attended sessions. With the online conference, the flexibility is almost a double-edged sword. Yes, it was great to be able to pick and choose my sessions and attempt to multi-task. However, we all know multitasking is a myth. I did not take off time from work for this online conference and due to the nature of my job as a teacher, I was not able to sit and watch as many sessions as I wanted. The only sessions I could really put time and energy into watching and participating in were the student presentations at the end of each day.
But even with only being able to see student presentations, I was able to participate in the award winning presentation from Sokunthearith (T) Makara, a Master’s student in my own cohort. There were many things I enjoyed about his presentation and in turn the idea of online conferencing. The idea of community was intense during the student sessions as, even though it was a requirement for a class, you could tell that everyone in the room wanted to be there to show support. At one point before T began his presentation an audience member wished him luck and he was then able to have a quick conversation with that person. This, in my eyes, is one of the powerful things about online conferencing. We, the audience, are able to give our support to the speakers as well as ask questions and (actually) receive answers. During his presentation, T did use a few techniques to gain audience participations, such as some polls in the beginning. In addition, the material in which he was presenting was extremely interesting which also made it easy to follow and enjoyable to watch.
Through participating in T’s presentation I was able to gain a few insights for online conferencing. First, is practicing. I know T personally and I know he took the time to script out his presentation and practiced it several times. All of these practices were obvious in his presentation. His timing was well thought out, his pace was comfortable, and his material was put together in a way that was easy to follow. I also gained insight into the graphic choice when it comes to presentations. T was able to create slides that acted as visual aids to his presentation instead of the heart of the presentation. His graphs and figures fit perfectly into the flow of his presentation and even his icons tied everything together.
If you missed T’s award winning presentation you should check it out here. He really was awe-inspiring!