SLANGUAGES2008 SL CONFERENCE FEEDBACK AND REFLECTIONS


FROM THE SLANGUAGES2008 site 'thats slife':(gavin the conference organiser speaking about the conference and feedback and goodday's reply)
"http://slife.dudeney.com/?p=47#comment-54

Looking at the feedback (35 people so far), I think we got an awful lot right this year, with a few improvements which can be implemented for the next one. What is immedaitely obvious is that this is now a ‘proper’ conference with a large number of people attending and speaking and is going to need a lot more people next time to guarantee it can continue to grow and serve the language learning and teaching community. We may even be looking for a third or possibly fourth sim on which to run it next year. Here I’d like to look at some of the feedback and comment on it:

1) Technical Support
Having said we would not be able to provide technical support on the day (the team was just too small) we inevitably ended up with a lot of new SL users and quite a few with problems. The biggest problems were not knowing how to deal with notecards and landmarks, and not having configured voice. I think we did what we could, but frankly if voice has worked for someone before and isn’t working at the time, then there’s little that can be done. I advised people with voice problems (provided they had used it before) to exit and come back in-world and that seemed to work most of the time. SL behaved amazingly for me for 24 hours and I only had to exit twice during that period. Next year we may need some technical support staff on hand.

2) Timetable
This year we scheduled talks over a straight twenty-four hour period and tried to get people to speak twice in order to guarantee a spread and a decent choice. One of the questions at the end was whether it might be better to have two twelve-hour days. My response was “twelve hours for whom?” As with a f2f conference, you’re never going to be able to see everything, and if we divided it into two twelve-hour days, we would have to do something like a ‘European’ twelve hour slot and an ‘American’ twelve-hour slot. And, to my mind, that makes… um…. a normal day! I’m not sure if the 24 hour model can be improved on, but suggestions are welcome in comment.

3) Variety of talks
I’m not sure if this is an SL thing, but people going to a f2f conference usually expect plenty of PowerPoint and a lot of talking, followed by (if they’re lucky) some discussion. In SL this is often criticised as not making good use of SL, but I’m wondering why SL is supposed to be different??? We did have a lot of PPT sessions followed by discussion, but we also had four field trips, an ‘introduction to building’ and a couple of other sessions. I guess I’d like to ask the person who said that it was dull to watch presentations in SL what they would do - and if they’d be prepared to actually come along and do it next time. Having said that, I think more workshops would be good. What’s holding that back is, of course, the skillset of a lot of the participants. I managed to get sixteen people with no experience of building to produce a notecard giver, but that’s hard work, and risky - people can get disappointed easily.

I think those are some of the more important issues, and there are things to do to improve on the event… Things we definitely got right were the sign-up process and the support website (thanks Howard!), the clear timetable, the social events and the variety of speakers. I think it’s now time to sit down and see how we can take this conference to new heights next year.

It’s all worth it, however, when you get feedback like this:

* I guess it’s been perfect from my point of view. Very carefully thought, organized, varied, etc.
* It was awesome! Two days non-stop educational conference? Where else???
* As an ESL teacher in Canada I know that this would just rock my colleagues.
* It’s been the best organised conference (in RL or SL) that I’ve been to all year!
* I think this is THE conference for language educators in SL.
* I learned more about SL in the few hours I was in this conference than the whole of the rest of my time in SL so far. In fact I signed up in SL to have just these types of experiences, so I finally felt that I got what SL was all about (finally)!

So, pretty good, I reckon. Lots to improve on - the one area I think we could definitely work on is getting next year going sooner with more information for speakers and presenters, and building the interest earlier. The other area is obviously more practical sessions - more building, more design, etc.

Time to start planning SLanguages 2009…

1. goodday tomorrow Says:
May 27th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Hello-yes I agree with the post and the comments-slanguages2008 was a great success and I thank you for your hard work in organizing it.I appreciate the time and effort that goes into the preparation of the event and its well worth it; again well done.
It was I who criticized the use of ppp/ppt(power point presentations)-’death by powerpoint’as my mentor on the Post Graduate Certificate in Education described it–the vast majority of presentations on that course were also done in the same way as at the slanguages conference, and yes, I made the same criticism on the feedback form for that conference. One of the speakers-head teacher I believe-also spoke along the same lines during his presentation. I feel it is a valid point but I do apologize because I can see that after such hard work negative comments on the feedback form is a bit of a kick in the teeth;most unwelcome.However it is offered, it is my opinion.
What can be done and will I volunteer? Yes I will volunteer to lead some sessions-my lame excuse is that during this period I do exam marking and so cannot dedicate the time necessary to participate-this was my reason for not volunteering to led a session-I now see that its a chickensh*t excuse and I will be participating actively in the next conference-broadband access permitting as I will be teaching in Africa.
Ideas for alternatives to ppt- why not a quest? we had many sessions about quests couldn’t we do one? Yes its a lot of time and effort to set up.
A session of machinima(videos made in sl) videos-a how to session-there was a lot of interest expressed in this area by participants.
The trips to see teaching areas in SL were very successful and could be expanded and organized beforehand (the cancellation of the trip to one school without notice or explanation because one participant had a different preference was badly done)preference.
I agree with the need for ‘introduction to SL-to the vocabulary etc is a great idea-I have started preparing my session now.
OK well Gavin I give thanks to yourself and the team who made Slanguages possible and I will give you an opportunity to give me negative feedback at the next conference-I expect a good kicking and I will deserve it!But its true what you said-if I am gonna be negative in the feedback i should be prepared to step up to the plate as it were.
The avatar with the black cloud hanging over him muttering to himself in the corner–also known as
Goodday Tomorrow

4 comments:

Graham said...

Hi Goodday, I agree with you too - with so much that SL offers, it was a a shame that most of the sessions were "sit down and look at the slides" sessions (I am guilty of this too). However, with so many people it's the easiest thing to do and also the easiest type of session to prepare. When thinking about how to present our sessions on quests, our first idea was to actually do it as a quest, but the practicalities of doing this (time, object placement, object creation, etc) meant that we had to discount it as an option.

Still, I think it's worth thinking about for the future and I'd definitely like to set up a language learning quest in the Main Grid sometime - hopefully before next year's SLanguages!

BTW, I've put together a review slideshare of the event: http://www.slideshare.net/bcgstanley/slanguages-2008-433956

Goodday Tomorrow said...

Yes I think the limitations will always have us sitting in front of ppt, for ever and ever, until the end of time........
lol
yes I know how much preparation sl can take-and you never know what will go wrong;-(
nice slideshow thankx for the link

reetajenet said...

Looking at the feedback (35 people so far), I think we got an awful lot right this year, with a few improvements which can be implemented for the next one. What is immedaitely obvious is that this is now a ‘proper’ conference with a large number of people attending and speaking and is going to need a lot more people next time to guarantee it can continue to grow and serve the language learning and teaching community. We may even be looking for a third or possibly fourth sim on which to run it next year.
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