Been there, done that, didn’t like it

I’ve been timid about writing this post.  Or rather, I’ve not wanted to share it with a wide audience lest I be considered old-fashioned,  “old school,” or whatever similar label I could conjure up.  You see, on the heels of presenting at Vermont’s Dynamic Landscapes conference last week came an email appeal for proposals for the fall 2012 conference and I think you can count me out.

Why?  Because as much as I enjoy sharing through presenting I was not prepared for the lack of interaction I experienced last Friday.  There were probably 12-15 people in my workshop and during that hour I think maybe two made eye contact with me.  The majority were on one device or another, seemingly disinterested.

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised;  this was largely a tech conference after all.  And, to be fair, there were technology glitches (my worst nightmare and no I.T. support in sight!)  But I still had plenty to share, and truly we could have had some great discussion instead.

This is not sour grapes.  Honestly.  I’m the last person to be anti-technology.  I get that we are in a connected world.  Heck, I’ve spent the last five years re-inventing myself as a librarian and trying to learn all I can about how to harness the power of web tools to facilitate and enhance learning.  But after spending many hours preparing a presentation it felt like a lack of professional courtesy to be looking at attendees looking at keyboards.  When I attend a presentation, even if I bring along a computer, I try to engage with the presenter and connect as a person.

Help me out here.  Am I totally off base on this?   And for those of you who present a lot–if this is the new reality, how do you deal with it?  What am I missing?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathleen
    May 22, 2012 @ 11:14:51

    Do you think your workshop attendees were simply taking notes on their “devices.”?? I know that’s what I did on my laptop during the workshops I attended at this conference.


  2. Christine
    May 31, 2012 @ 13:33:36

    I can understand your experience, Kathy. I feel sometimes people use technology as an excuse to be lazy about their social manners. We expect eye contact because it show someone is listening and interested and if we don’t get that, it feels like we’re talking to a bunch of people watching TV (mentally engaged in another world). Taking notes by hand requires looking away from the speaker too–actually more than keyboarding does–but there would still be pauses, eye contact, and a level of social signalling that the audience member is mentally present and engaged. I think this is something we need to model for students as well.


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