School & District Management Opinion

Pitching A Great EdTech Conference Session

By Justin Reich — August 31, 2014 2 min read
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This Thursday at 4PM Eastern, I’m hosting a webinar with EdTechTeacher called Tips and Hints to Pitch Your EdTechTeacher iPad Summit Proposal. Every time EdTechteacher hosts a conference, we like to have some of the sessions come from participating teachers and educators, so we run two or three calls for proposals (CFP) every year now. Our next CFP is due on September 14, for our Boston iPad Summit in November. In the webinar, I’ll share a few of the insights that we’ve developed from years of reading hundreds of submissions. Here’s a teaser for a few of the ideas that we’ll discuss:

Keep the focus on learning: As much as possible, we hope that all of EdTechTeacher’s learning experiences start with student learning goals and then examine how particular technologies or approaches can help meet those learning goals. As you think about your title and description, stay focused on how you can help improve student learning, rather than focused on any particular piece of technology.

Explain what participants will do: Participants want a chance to play, interact, and practice during sessions. Explain how your session will incorporate opportunities for participants to get involved and connect with fellow educators.

Bring the voices of students: All of us who are educators want to hear directly how students experience their learning. If you are local to a conference, obviously the best thing to do is invite students to be part of your presentation! If that’s not feasible, include examples of and links to student work or videos of student process. While it’s often easier for teachers to curate links to resources, lesson plans, tutorials and other teacher-produced, teacher-facing materials, many of the most memorable moments and conferences come from the chance to directly encounter student learning. Think about how to weave student voice into your proposal.

Serve a wide audience by being specific: I’m not sure that every one of my co-reviewers agrees with me on this one, but I’m much more partial to presentations that tackle something narrowly scoped. At iPad Boston 2013, we had sessions on supporting introverted learners, multimedia student journalism, and creating online exploratory and problem-based homework activities for science class. Those are all more specific than differentiating learning, teaching in the humanities, or teaching in the sciences. Often times, being more specific allows a short presentation to be more tractable, and ultimately more useful to a wide audience.

Have a highlight reel ready: We invite submissions to include links to presentations, websites, and videos, so we can get a sense of what people are like as presenters. Reviewers will be looking at many of these very quickly, so think about how you can make it as easy as possible for people to see your best work. Think about creating a webpage or dropbox folder that acts like a highlight reel a student-athlete might have: a five minute clip of you presenting, your best slide deck, links to some of your most polished follow up resources or examples of student work. You might have additional other links to everything you’ve ever done, but make it easy for rewiewers to quickly find a few key examples of your work as a teacher-educator.

We’ll have more time to discuss these ideas on Thursday, so please join me!

For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my papers, presentations and so forth, visit EdTechResearcher.

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