Sometimes I catch a vibe that I’ve developed something of a reputation in certain KOTESOL circles. Perhaps I’m seen as a bit of a thorn in their side. Or an outspoken critic. Or a family member who airs dirty laundry without going through the proper channels. Or a whiner who complains without doing anything (probably by those who don’t know or care that I was Associate Editor of “The English Connection” for nearly 3 years and co-founded one of the more successful and active SIGs). Or a keyboard warrior with grudge. Or someone who doesn’t appreciate all the opportunities I’ve been given. I don’t think of myself as any of those things. I think I’m just a straight-shooter who calls ’em as he sees ’em.
I believe being a straight shooter means not always saying positive things. I think here on this blog (as opposed to at the pub) I’ve attempted to be as fair possible. My most critical piece was posted as a page and not a blog post so as to only share it with just those who would have an interest (and not the wider ELT blog world). I even typed the org’s name as K0TESOL a few times so as to prevent my less positive pieces from appearing in search engines.
*Waits for applause*
I am not saying I’m a hero. But, like, if you said it I might not disagree too strongly. Anyway…
Last year on this here blog I got myself in some lukewarm water when I wondered if KOTESOL, and the whole field in general, was too focused on practical takeaways. I fear my message was slightly misconstrued as being an attack on a specific strand at a particular event. It was not intended as such. I think 10 minute talks are a wonderful thing and to be quite honest I think I prefer them to longer ones. I guess lately, in general, I haven’t enjoyed just sitting and listening to someone talk for an extended period of time. It could be my decreased attention span (damned smartphone) or my desire to talk and learn with others rather than just be talked at. I’m not sure how many 50 minute plenaries I will attend in the near future.
Speaking of the near future, the main point of this post was to share two cool (IMO) things happening in KOTESOL this year. The first is actually this weekend. Seoul KOTESOL is hosting an Un-Conference, which sounds fun, interesting and exciting. The write-up states, “The idea of the Un-Conference is to give voice to participants by exploring their ideas, concerns, and suggestions in various small groups that each have a different focus.” I think it sounds great and hope this is a trend that picks up some steam. It is nice to such innovations trying to meet the needs of members. Bravo.
The second thing that caught my eye in KOTESOL channels lately was a line in the Call for Presentations for the 2017 International Conference. In that document, a new session type was listed, the Dialogue. Here’s what is said about this session type:
- This is a peer-to-peer discussion about a hot topic or question relevant to ELT.
- The facilitator should have a strong knowledge of the designated topic and be able to engage the audience in the discussion.
- Audience participation in the discussion is expected.
This sounds both interesting and exciting. I like the emphasis on discussion and the idea of learning from peers. I hope these will be successful and a model for future conferences. Hooray.
I don’t want to read too much into these two things but I feel like these sessions could be harbingers of a more audience-centered world. Am I too optimistic? Am I too simplistic to assume more audience interaction is necessarily a good thing?