When I posted the link to my blog post on the Twitter, I did get this response.
Would it be such a loss if people stopped studying for 3hrs and instead just sat, stared into a flickering candle and contemplated life for a bit? Isn't time to reflect part of the learning process anyway..?
But more importantly, what's your contingency plan for coffee making?
I don’t disagree with people spending three hours staring at a flickering candle, but it would be nice if students had a choice about how to spend that three hours. It did though get me thinking, could I last three hours without coffee? Should I get a camping stove and use my stovetop espresso maker?
People in England, Scotland and Wales are braced for the possibility of rolling power cuts this winter after a warning on Thursday from National Grid. The electricity and gas system operator has said households could face a series of three-hour power cuts
So how it would work is as follows:
… consumers in different parts of the country would be notified a day in advance of a three-hour block of time during which they would lose power. Households in different areas would then be cut off at different times or days, with the frequency rising depending on the severity of the supply shortage.
As a result if this is how it happens, then students probably would get notice that when they would lose power, that would given them time to charge up devices and download activities, resources and other content.
Of course the risk of this happening, according to the National Grid, is low, and dependent on a range of circumstances. Or another way of looking at, it will happen, and probably happen more often than is being reported. Or is that my just being a little too cynical?
I was away the whole week, firstly in Manchester for ALT-C and then Leamington Spa for our away day. Of course the end of this week was dominated by the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
On Monday I headed off to Manchester, stopping at our Bristol office to pick some stuff up, as well as participate in an online meeting. ALT-C was kicking off at 9am on Tuesday, so wanted to be in Manchester rather than travelling and missing the start of the conference, especially as I knew I would miss most of the sessions on Thursday.
I planned some travel, as I am in Dublin next week. The last time I had the opportunity to visit Dublin was in 2016 when I was a keynote speaker at LILAC 2016. I am looking forward to making a return visit.
It was interesting to return to Manchester for ALT-C. The last time I attended ALT-C in person was in 2018, in Manchester. I missed going in 2019 in Edinburgh. I would like to have gone to ALT-C in Edinburgh, alas I didn’t go that year as I needed to be close to home as my youngest started secondary school, and as most people know, transition is a challenging time for all. In the end there were very few issues, but I am glad I stayed behind. Of course, due to the pandemic, the 2020 conference in London was cancelled and the 2021 conference was purely online.
This was a hybrid conference, so the first part of day one was online with the in-person sessions starting after lunch.
I did feel warm and nostalgic attending the conference, it reminded me of conferences past. However, there was still something new about it as well, which I enjoyed.
I am intending to write up my thoughts on the various sessions in future blog posts.
I did one sketch note of a keynote on ethics in educational technology, which was liked by people.
I did have a bit of a challenge as my iPad battery died before I had finished the sketch. So I kept listening and took some photographs on my phone. After the keynote I headed out to Caffé Nero to both refresh myself with a coffee and use their power sockets to charge my iPad. There was certainly a dearth of power sockets in the conference venue.
Leaving Manchester on Thursday I realised how exhausting attending an in-person conference is, I haven’t done this kind of conference for a while.
Pleased to see a tweet about the Social Media In HE Conference. Every year when I see this is happening, I say to myself I should attend that, but then forgot the following year to book. This year I am planning to attend.
We had an away day in Leamington Spa, in which we looked at the current sector landscape, planning for next year and just getting together in-person, which is something we rarely do as a geographically distributed team. It was a lunchtime to lunchtime away day.
After the sessions for that day I went to my room and made a coffee. I was so glad I had taken my coffee machine with me to Manchester and Leamington Spa.
As I read Twitter, it was announced the Queen had died. I went off for a drink before dinner in the bar.
Friday was the second half of our away day and then it was a lengthy journey home.
I have written conference packing posts before, I did a post in 2009 and wrote an updated version in 2018. Actually the last time I attended ALT-C in person was in 2018. So here we are four years later and I am off to ALT-C once more.
So here are some suggestions on what to pack if you are attending the conference in-person. It might have been a while since you attended an in-person conference, so hope you find the suggestions useful.
Six-Way Gang – I still think a six way gang is an useful thing, instead of fighting people for the power sockets, you can immediately make five friends! Having such an adapter is also useful in the hotel room when you want to charge everything up for the following day and you have limited plug sockets. When I mentioned the previous article on the Twitter someone told me about the USB charging stations you can now buy. With so many devices reliant on USB charging then these could be useful, but then I have a laptop that needs a proper plug socket. If you are coming from outside the UK, then a trick I do (going the other way) is to bring a extension gang and then you only need one UK plug adapter.
Power Bank – Though in normal usage your phone might last the day, I have found if you are using your device for photographs, using the Twitter, accessing the conference Discord, checking e-mail, and so on; your battery will be hit hard. A charged power bank can be used for restoring those battery bars on your device.
Coffee – I don’t drink instant coffee and usually that it is what is only available in hotel rooms. Some hotels these days have Nespresso machines, which is nice, but most I find still rely on sachets of instant coffee. In the past I have taken a cafetière mug or coffee bags. I have been thinking as I now doing a lot more travelling, about getting a portable coffee machine.
Of course if you drink a specific brand of tea, then take some of those, you can’t always rely on Twinings being in the hotel room.
It’s also useful to take the time to see what independent and local coffee places are near to the venue, which can be used instead of queuing for that awful conference coffee.
Snacks – I also bring a few snacks with me as well, as that solitary small pack of biscuits you usually get is never enough! These days though I have found that the increase in (small) supermarket branches means buying snacks locally is much easier than it use to be. Of course if your conference isn’t in Manchester, then pack some snacks.
Chargers – Don’t forget your chargers, expensive to replace, difficult to borrow, make sure you pack yours. The other thing about power is investing in a higher powered adapter (or borrowing one from a friend). As Apple says here
Using an Apple 12W or 10W USB power adapter charges some Apple devices and accessories faster than a 5W power adapter.
I find that when charging my iPhone using the adapter that came with my iPad Pro and it charges the phone so much faster, which is an useful thing to know for a conference. This means you can do a quick “supercharge” of your iPhone ready for the next keynote. Also useful to know that the 5W power adapter potentially can charge your iPad Pro, but only if you aren’t using it for eight hours or more….
Photography and Video – I use to take a camera to conferences, today I use my phone. If you take a lot of photographs then check you have a lot of storage space on your phone, or at least one way to take the pictures off. I try and remember to empty my camera roll before I go to the conference. However if you like to take a lot of video then I personally would take a separate additional video camera.
Connectivity – I am sure that the WiFi at the conference venue will be fine, however what about at the hotel, the dinner, the train… Technological changes means that connectivity is more important that in the last few years. Yes there is a plethora of places to get free wifi, but there are some security considerations to take into account. I normally use tethering on my iPhone and make sure I have enough bandwidth to do that. Other options could include some kind of MiFi device.
Display cables – If you are presenting, then ensure your laptop can be connected somehow to the projector, you can’t always rely that the VGA adapter you have will be good enough. I now take an HDMI cable with my too. I also take my Lightning to HDMI adapter so in theory I can present from your iPhone or iPad. It also means I can connect to the hotel TV and watch what I want on the big screen.
USB Stick – In a world of cloud storage, you might think why would you need an USB stick. I have been caught out and needed to quickly move my presentation to a presenter machine. Despite the proliferation of the cloud or potential sharing solutions, I find sharing via an USB stick is quick and easy.
SD Card – If using a device with an SD Card I usually carry a couple of spare SD Cards, just in case I lose one, or fill one of the others up.
USB Cables – Due to the differing sizes of USB, normal, micro and mini, I now carry three of them! I also carry a couple of Apple lightning cables too.
Paracetamol – some of those presentations do give you headaches…
The last time I attended ALT-C in person was in 2018, I missed going in 2019. I would like to have gone to ALT-C in Edinburgh, alas I didn’t go that year as I needed to be close to home as my youngest started secondary school, and as most people know, transition is a challenging time for all. In the end there were very few issues, but I am glad I stayed behind. Of course, due to the pandemic, the 2020 conference was cancelled and the 2021 conference was purely online.
Here we are three years later, and four years since I went and I am off to Manchester next week for the conference.
Having probably spent time and effort securing the funding to go to a conference such as the ALT Conference in Manchester, it makes sense to spend some time preparing in advance of attending. Last minute rushing and chaotic flipping through the programme on the day of the conference, means you are probably not getting as much out of the conference as you could. I think this year with the hybrid nature of the conference, it makes even more sense to do some planning.
My first ALT conference was in 2003 in Sheffield, this was also one of the first “proper” conferences I had attended, I wasn’t well prepared and came away a little disappointed, but you can read about that in my ALT-C journey blog post.
I have attended many conferences here in the UK and abroad, but probably not as many as some people. I have attended as a delegate, a presenter, an invited speaker and have had the pleasure of delivering keynotes at various big conferences.
High case numbers in the early autumn have led some to conflate the second wave with students and universities. For David Kernohan, the data doesn’t show that.
This was an interesting article that looked at the data behind the second wave and how some people have been conflating the wave with university attendance and blaming students.
I spent a good part of Monday working on some internal documents for various projects, as well as some presentations for future events.
Tuesday I was on a panel session for the QAA looking at academic integrity. I don’t mind online events, but it can be really hard to read the audience compared to being on a panel at a live in-person face to face event.
On that note there was a discussion on Twitter about the term we use for that compared to online sessions.
I responded about how Jisc used the term in-person in their recent LTR report.
In the most recent Learning and teaching reimagined report https://t.co/jZZMtEOjxh we have been using the term "in-person". Language is always changing and we recognise that no single term fits all needs and practice. We try and ensure clarity in our communications.
Personally looking back over my recent blog posts I have been using the (slightly clunky) term physical face to face For some it is a real issue and in some cases how it is interpreted by employers and the press. I personally think we might be spending a little too much time over thinking this.
Made my first visit to a cinema at the weekend, which was nice, I went to see The Empire Strikes Back which was amazing to see on the big screen, I never saw this at the cinema in 1980, so it was nice to see it where it was meant to be seen.
But what will the university experience be like for “freshers” at what should be one of the most exciting times of their lives? Swansea University said plans to keep students safe include “bubbles” among flatmates, which means a ban on parties or having people over to stay.
The student experience this year will not be like it was last year. I still think one of the challenges will be the potential chance of a second wave of infection and another full lockdown, but the more likely challenge will be a local lockdown. Universities will need to plan for that kind of eventuality, these local lockdowns are likely to be weeks rather than months. Will courses have the flexibility to be able to respond and change as the local situation changes? That kind of planning is challenging enough with the added challenge of planning a curriculum that needs to take the requirements of preventing the spread of the coronavirus through bubbles and social distancing. As discussed before the real challenge is the uncertainty out there.
So do you check your stream and post to theTwitter whist you attend events and conferences?
Do you look at the Twitter during meetings?
When you get into work, do you check the Twitter first, before checking your e-mail?
When you are cooking at home do you check the Twitter as things cook?
If you are watching TV, do you look at the Twitter, instead of watching the programme? Do you engage with others about the programme you are watching with a hashtag?
What about when you go to bed, is the last thing you do before you go to sleep is to look at the Twitter?
Is it the first thing you look at when you wake up?
Do you decide on where to have coffee based on the free wifi so you can check the Twitter?
When you bought a new phone, was the fact that it could run a Twitter app one of the main reasons for purchase?
When handing over contact information do you say @user rather give the person your email address?
Maybe a more important question is could you give up the Twitter?
Or do you want to leave a comment saying it not’s called the Twitter it’s just Twitter?
So could you stop using theTwitter? Not for ever perhaps. Maybe just over the holiday period? Or the weekend? Why would you do this? What is the point?
Or is it not about stopping using the Twitter, but thinking about the importance of Twitter in terms of everything else.
Personally for me the Twitter is about the coffee. It’s the conversations you have with colleagues over coffee in the morning, it’s the conversations you have at a coffee break during a meeting or an event, it’s the conversations you have over coffee at a conference between the sessions. It is a conversation without the constraints of geography and in some ways time.
For me though it does not replace all those conversations, it adds to them, it enhances them, but in the main I still have those other conversations. I don’t use theTwitter to avoid those or instead of them.
Of course lots of things are said during those face to face conversations, mundane things such as the quality of the coffee, talking about articles and programmes, people we’ve met, people we’ve seen, the quality of the presentations, keynotes and sessions.
There are also people we avoid during those conversations, those that only talk about themselves, those that only promote what they do, those that have opinions about everything: in other words those that don’t listen and talk all the time.
With conversations over coffee, one of the aspects is that you don’t hear all the conversations, and you don’t necessarily hear the beginning or the end. You dip into conversations, you join in, add, converse and leave. Of course if you don’t join in that conversation, rarely will you be missed, people may talk about you, or things you do, but generally you won’t be missed and you probably won’t even be thought about.
Which brings us back to using the Twitter.
If you start using the Twitter instead of real conversations then you may want to think about how you are using the Twitter. At the end of the day the Twitter stream is not important. It doesn’t matter if you miss any of it, you don’t need to check it all the time.
If you feel you need to take a break from the Twitter then you probably do. It doesn’t matter if you don’t, even if someone else does, and then tweets out how they are taking a break from the Twitter.
For me the Twitter is an important tool that I find very useful, there is a great community on there, however I can say the same about casual conversations over coffee. However like any casual conversation it’s not important to hear the whole and every conversation. You dip in and you can dip out. When you go away to events or on leave you will miss conversations at work, but generally you don’t need to hear them, important stuff will get to you if required.
I know that if I don’t engage with the Twitter that most people won’t notice and for me that doesn’t matter.
Monday I was off to our Bristol office. There was quite a bit of disruption across the city with Extinction Rebellion demonstrating across the centre.
I was into the office to deliver some training on Jira for personal use. Though Jira and Confluence make great tools for projects I have been using it myself over the last few years to manage my work and individual projects.
As the main focus was on productivity, we did discuss manging e-mail and tasks. I use an Inbox Zero approach that I discovered back in 2007 when listening to a podcast.
I recently wrote two blog posts on Inbox Zero on my tech stuff blog, the first I discuss how I deal with e-mail.
Confluence is a wiki platform for creating documentation and some companies even use it for their actual website. Jira is an issue tracking system. You can embed macros in Confluence that can show details about your Jira issues.
I did manage to get out of the office and get a coffee at a new coffee place that has opened this year.
This week on my technology stuff blog I published a post about a QR Code which failed to work ten years ago with a specialised QR Code reader on my iPhone 3GS, but worked fine with the in-built QR Code reader in the iPhone 8 camera.
In the next few weeks I have a fair few meetings in London, so I have been booking travel and hopefully it will be slightly cooler than recently, as travelling in this heat is a real nightmare.
Last week I followed my colleague, Lawrie, on Twitter as he attended an event on Microsoft Teams.
“ #MicrosoftTeams is not a VLE/LMS replacement – why would we replace like for like” my reading? “We want to be something different, but we think we are a learning environment.” Just my feeling about what I am hearing and seeing.
I could argue various points, but these are my early thoughts. I’m remaining engaged with Microsoft Teams, I’m looking to see if this can be a “Digital Ecosystem” as we envisaged during the Co-design work.
I have always seen the VLE as a concept more than an individual product and I do like the term “Digital Ecosystem” as it kind of describes that viewpoint. If you say VLE or LMS then people think of products such as Blackboard, Canvas or Moodle. For me the VLE was something more than an individual product, it was a series of ways of working online using a range of online tools and services that were inter-connected. Teams is one such tool that can be connected into such a VLE concept.
Facial recognition was again in the news, this time the The House of Commons Science and Technology committee expressed their concerns on the technology.
The police and other authorities should suspend use of automatic facial recognition technologies, according to an influential group of MPs. The House of Commons Science and Technology committee added there should be no further trials of the tech until relevant regulations were in place. It raised accuracy and bias concerns.
Also this week everyone was talking about FaceApp with lots of different news outlets reporting on the app and concerns people had about it. There was concerns about the biased algorithim that the app used to make people “hot” was in fact racist. There was worry over privacy and security over the use of images and even if there was Russian collusion! Of course some people thought it was all a bit of fun!
My top tweet this week was this one.
With the introduction of the new @GWRHelp IET trains we now have these wonderful HST 125 trains as our local commuter services around Bristol and North Somerset. Ace. pic.twitter.com/R2fjBrVavo
The week started off in London with a day looking at and thinking about next generation learning environments. Before I got there, as I sat on the train I thought and reflected about what we even mean when we say next generation learning environment. Are their generational changes in learning environments, as in big changes from one generation to the next? Or do they merely evolve gradually over time? Could we enable these big shifts? Do we even want big shifts?
In London we discussed a range of challenges and issues in relation to next generation learning environments. What is the future of education? Will teaching be transformed? How can create personalised adaptive learning? How do we re-imagine assessment? How do you enable a merged digital and physical learning environment? What are the foundations that need to be put into place before you can start building the infrastructure, the design, the staff development required to enable those future challenges?
In order to understand what needs to happen, we framed some questions independently, so see what commonality there was and what differences there were. This is an useful exercise when deciding that question needs to be answered.
Some of my questions included:
What does adaptive learning look like from the view of students and staff?
Is personalised learning possible? Is it desirable?
How do you enable a merged digital and physical learning environment?
What are the differences between the student experience of 2020 and that of 2030?
Wednesday morning, after some coffee, I was in the office and had an initial discussion was had about possible themes for Digifest 2020, though this event won’t be happening until March 2020, like most big events the planning started almost after the last one finished (if not just a bit before).
The afternoon was off to the University of Bristol for a meeting about the One City Bristol project, elements of which are very much in the realm of the smart city. In my previous role I did do some initial research into the various smart city initiatives across the UK and we published a smart city use case on the Intelligent Campus blog.
The interdependent challenges of growing an inclusive, sustainable city that both breaks down our social fractures and inequalities and reaches carbon neutrality sit at the heart of the future we must deliver. They are stitched throughout the plan.
In the plan there are six themes, one of which is connectivity.
The lifeblood of Bristol is connectivity. Our connectivity is considered the template for contemporary city living. Whether our people connect in person or in virtual spaces, whether they connect in their physical communities or their global communities, our city infrastructure helps bring them together. Bristol connectivity means multimodal connectivity – we designed our infrastructure around the human condition. Anchored yet free, our people are able to draw on the experience of others in their communities and peer groups, and live independently and spontaneously.
Connectivity is synonymous with productivity and Bristol is the regional epicentre of productivity. The South West Economic Region grew on the back of investment in transport and digital connectivity.
The Bristol-Cardiff high speed, high frequency rail link benefits both cities equally – time and travel no longer impinge productivity as they once did. Talent, ideas, energy and enthusiasm flow between the cities and across the region. High-speed rail links connect Bristol with other cities and when the mass transit system was completed in the 2030s, connections between Bristol, Bath, Bristol airport and North Fringe and East Fringe were complete. Our traffic management has cut congestion times and many of our deliveries are made by driverless freight vehicles.
Throughout the 2020s ultrafast broadband was rolled out without exception to social housing, businesses, in public spaces and through city Wi-Fi services. Tactile and immersive virtual and augmented realities reduce the need to travel and are commonplace at work and at home. They also bring together like-minded communities for shared social activities and entertainment.
Our city has managed bus lanes, cycle lanes, congestion controls and programmes to educate school children about safe travel. More than half the city cycles and active travel is the preferred mode of transport for many commuters. Domestic deliveries often arrive by drone. Nobody has been killed or seriously injured as a result of an avoidable road traffic accident in Bristol for years.
We strategically removed the obstacles and barriers to people connecting. The city moves on renewable energy, our people are free to create their own pathways, connected in person or virtually. Our lifeblood flows locally, regionally and globally.
This certainly is an aspiration that hopefully will come to fruition.
Following a request, based on my experience of working on the Jisc Digital Apprenticeships project, Thursday saw me working on some desk research on the current provision of Digital & Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeships across the UK.
One thing that was apparent was how “popular” this degree apprenticeship is.
Chartered manager and digital and technology solutions are the two most implemented standards across each English region, with at least 43 and 33 institutions, respectively, providing them.
You can find more information about this specific degree apprenticeship on the government’s apprenticeships website.
One of the key requirements of my role is engaging with the Office for Students and the funding they provide Jisc to support higher education. As a result I attend and participate in various meetings that enables us to demonstrate value for money for the OfS, as well as how Jisc is supporting their strategic aims.
I spent some time this week reviewing the Office for Students Strategy 2018 to 2021 and their business plan for 2019-20 in preparation for a meeting on Friday morning.
One thing that I noticed was the target to Launch and oversee a ‘what works’ centre, Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education.
The Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO) will use evidence and evaluation to understand and show how higher education contributes to social justice and mobility. TASO will exist as an independent hub for higher education professionals to access leading research, toolkits, evaluation techniques and more, to help widen participation and improve equality across the student lifecycle.
It made me think about how this could be done, how it will probably be done and what the actual impact will be.
I tweeted out about the Jisc Futures R&D quarterly learnings webinar for summer 2019
R&D quarterly learnings webinar – This is the third in a series of update webinars for Jisc members to discuss the progress of our R&D work and share what we are learning during our projects.https://t.co/lG7XoFZ7g5
We had a debrief about the Agile Implementation Workshop I helped run last week. One outcome from this workshop was to run a knowledge call or workshop on using Jira for projects and business processes.
I spent part of Friday, clearing the inbox, reviewing my scrum boards and planning work for next week.
Having probably spent time and effort securing the funding to go to a conference such as the ALT Conference in Manchester this September, it makes sense to spend some time preparing in advance of attending. Last minute rushing and chaotic flipping through the programme on the day of the conference, means you are probably not getting as much out of the conference as you could.
My first ALT conference was in 2003 in Sheffield, this was also one of the first “proper” conferences I had attended, I wasn’t well prepared and came away a little disappointed, but you can read about my ALT-C journey in an earlier blog post.
I have attended many conferences here in the UK and abroad, but probably not as many as some people. I have attended as a delegate, a presenter, an invited speaker and have had the pleasure of delivering keynotes at various big conferences.
Now when attending a conference I make some preparations that will ensure I have a productive, informative and interesting time.
Attend it all…
Going for just a day may be all that is possible in your current role and organisation, but I would recommend attending all the days of the conference if you can. This is so you can fully immerse yourself in the experience. It will also provide the time to do everything you would like to do at the conference. It gives you time to meet and get to know people. You can reflect on the earlier sessions as you attend later ones.
Try to arrive before the conference starts and don’t leave until the end, as in the very end. There is nothing more frustrating and stressful than arriving late for a conference and sneaking into the back of the opening keynote. Wondering what you missed and probably a little flustered having rushed from the station and needing a decent cup of coffee.
Likewise, plan your travel so you don’t need to leave early and miss the final sessions and keynotes. Nothing is more soul destroying when presenting a session at the end of the conference and to find three people attending.
I do recognise that the realities of life or travel options can mean you need to leave early, but planning in advance to attend all of the conference means that usually these can be avoided. You may miss something really useful and relevant. Staying to the end helps complete the experience. This year I am planning to be there to the end, but unfortunately the realities of life means I will probably miss the start.
Don’t bring your work to the conference. You may be away from the office and you may have stuff to do, but a conference is not the most conducive environment for working. You have paid a fee to attend, it makes sense to use that time for the conference and not catching up with stuff. A conference is quite a tiring affair, so even if you decide not to partake in the social side of things and get work done in the evening you may find that this isn’t that productive. I once struggled to finish an urgent report at a conference, it was a horrible experience as I struggled with poor wifi connectivity, phone calls and focused writing. The report seemed to take twice as long and was half the quality of my usual writing.
My approach is to block the time out in the diary, ensure and deadlines are either before (or well after) the conference. Ensure everything is done before I go and I have achieved Inbox Zero. I also avoid taking things on just before the conference. I also ensure everyone knows I will be away and will say “no” to things that I know I won’t be able to complete successfully because I am at the conference. I also put an “out of the office” notification on my e-mail account, so people will realise they won’t get a response from me.
There is a flip side to this as well, when you’re in the office and a colleague is at a conference, let them get the most out of the conference, don’t send them e-mails, requests, etc…. Wait until they are back! Actually wait until they’ve been back for a few days. You will get a much more coherent response from then as well.
Plan your days
Do try and review the programme in advance and find stuff you want to attend, make a note of it and write it down (or use the conference app, add to your calendar). There is almost a separate blog post discussing what sessions to choose, so will focus on the planning side of things. Having reviewed the programme I make a note of not just the title of the session, but also which room it is in. If you want to move between parallel sessions, it is useful to check the distance between them, nothing worse when wanting to see two interesting sessions, but missing one of them as you hiked across to the other room.
Some sessions will be very popular, so make sure you arrive on time (or before). I have delivered some sessions where there was standing room only.
Prepare for the sessions
At the very least read the abstract, but take the time to find out more than just the title. I sometimes find titles can be misleading. I also note down the things I want to find out, and what I hope to take away from the session.
If you are going to take notes using a laptop or live tweeting during the session, then ensure you are fully charged, and if you need a power socket then get to the session early.
In the sessions
I like to be engaged with sessions, this can be simply by using a notebook and pen and make notes.
I sometimes use the Twitter and sometimes I don’t. If I use the Twitter then I use it to post questions and thoughts, I try not to tweet what is happening, unless I think it’s something that others (who are not in the session) will find interesting and useful.
You could live-tweet the session, but I feel if you are doing this, you need to do it properly and live-tweet the whole thing, ensuring you link to the biographical details, the session link on the ALT-C website and if available the abstract and the paper.
Whatever you do with the Twitter, use the hashtag #altc so that others can find your tweets even if you have only a few followers. I never apologies if I am at a conference and fill my stream with #altc tweets, if you don’t like it, then unfollow me, or mute me.
If you have questions about the session, write them down, otherwise you may forget them. You probably won’t get picked to ask your question in a popular session, so why not post them on the Twitter or on the relevant session page on the conference website.
After the session
So that was a good session. What do you remember? What do you want to take away from it?
I sometimes forget to do this, what did I learn from that session? What actions am I going to do next? Who am I going to tell about this session? What do I want to read as a result of attending the session?
Prepare to chat
If you are shy and retiring like me, (seriously I am) it can be challenging to engage people in conversations. I think it’s worth coming up with strategies to do deal with this. In sessions I always try and make the effort to introduce myself to the other people on the table, ask them where they are from and what they have enjoyed about the conference so far. Also come along to the ALT stand in the exhibition area where there will be ALT Trustees and valued members, who are more than willing to talk and chat (and make introductions if necessary).
Also engaging on Twitter before and during the conference can also make connections for good conversations and chats. Don’t forget the hashtag #altc to, so people who don’t follow you, but do follow the hashtag can pick up your tweets, especially useful if you don’t have a huge following on the Twitter.
If you like decent coffee then for most conferences be prepared to be disappointed. Most conference coffee has been made in advance of time and left to stew for a while. It may have been made from instant coffee, or possibly filtered. Whatever way it was made it will taste like mud!
Rather than try and guess where I can get a decent coffee from, I now do a quick search around to find somewhere I can go either before the start of the conference day, during a break or afterwards. These coffee places can also be great locations for ad hoc conversations and chats. You also don’t need to stand in that everlasting queue for coffee.
At the venue in Manchester there are quite a few good choices close by, there is the wonderful Christie’s Bistro, but the Museum is pretty nice too.
So how are you preparing for the ALT Conference.
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