After the great IATEFL conference a couple of weeks ago I held off blogging about it. This was partly because I wanted to calm down after the huge rush of enthusiasm we all felt. I had already blogged about Twitter enthusiasm after the ISTEK conference in Turkey, and I knew that an early response to IATEFL would be over keen and perhaps not too thoughtful.
And anyway, others blogged happily and convincingly about one the great IATEFL conferences I have attended – and I have been to quite a few over the years. Gavin Dudeney had great fun celebrating the ‘triumph’ of technology. Nik Peachey praised some of the women who presented so effectively about technology-related issues. Ken Wilson expressed his huge enthusiasm for what had gone on, and Karenne Sylvester added her views about Twitter (and about me!) . Those were just a few.
For me, I felt a bit low too after all that fun and socialising – and after some wonderful sessions that I went to, and the Twitter rush. But of course there is still the wonderful IATEFL site to go to (Thanks British Council and all the wonderful IATEFL team) where you can see talks and interviews and lots of stuff.
So I thought I would wait till the dust settled before I added my comments. And I contemplated a visit to Turkey for my next conference with some trepidation because apart from a much looked-for meet-up with Scott Thornbury, and some lovely friends, I feared a lack of Twitter buddies and huggers, and so predicted an anticlimax.
But the dust didn’t settle. It rose high high up into the air, and suddenly there was no going to any conferences anywhere.
I don’t want to relate a really difficult situation for millions of people and businesses to any personal experience – or question, as the airlines are now doing, whether the fly ban was necessary – except to write a quick post about a new presentation experience for me – and the questions it raises.
When the ash cloud rose into the air it seemed possible that I would still be able to get to Anadolu university in Turkey. With Pearson’s help and encouragement I tried everything (well they did most of the trying) because it was an important date for me. But in the end we were defeated just like everyone else, and I went back to Cambridge, chastened (but quite pleased, in reality) not to be back in an airport.
We did one of my plenaries via Skype instead. I got up early in the morning in Cambridge. I dressed in a suit just as I would have done for the real thing, and sat and delivered my session to the camera at the top of my laptop screen. Over there in Turkey they turned their computer round so I could more or less see the audience, though there was a slight time delay and some pretty blurry vision.
Meanwhile I had sent my powerpoint over to Pearson. They set up a separate computer and projector and showed it on a separate screen with me telling them when to change slides (though I couldn’t see that second screen, so occasionally had to confirm which slide they were looking at).
It seemed to go all right. At least we tried. There was (as far as I could hear) an enthusiastic response. And when it was over I went back to bed!
Which leaves me with a number of questions:
1 is this the way of the future? I could cut my carbon footprint right down (and not just because of volcanic ash). Many more people could ‘attend’ conferences (as they did at/for IATEFL) from their offices and living rooms?
2 Would a combination of tweeting and watching a filmed presentation be a satisfactory substitute for the general melée of conference going? What would we gain? What would we miss? What would we lose?
3 Would giving presentations be anything like as scary and potentially rewarding as it is now? I was pretty wound up by the session in Turkey, but then it had been very stressful to get the whole thing up and running. But i couldn’t quite judge the audience reaction – which made the experience both more and, perversely) less relaxing.
4 Will technology soon be good enough so that skype live images, for example, are less clumsy. Is the low-tech ‘techiness’ of skype better than more vulnerable and better systems?
oh, and while we are about it…
5 Is the no-fly ban really necessary? Will we all be safe when we head up into the troposphere? Will I ever get to Moscow (Chekhov’s always there when you need him!)?
Do you have any thoughts (well of course you do, but I mean about this)?