I was happy to see the program (PDF) for our upcoming state librarian and media specialist conference in Oklahoma, “Encyclo-Media,” that I am listed (on page 7) as a “featured speaker.” This may not sound like a big deal, since I have had the opportunity to keynote and provide spotlight presentations at various conferences the past several years, but this is the first time I’ll be “featured” at a conference in my new home state. My presentations at Encyclo-Media this year will include:

Last summer as I planned professional development workshops for the fall, I anticipated my session on safe digital social networking would be a “hot topic.” It was, and I am continuing to share sessions on cyberbullying prevention and Internet safety, but I am planning to title many of my conference session proposals for the fall and spring with less trendy words and acronyms.

It’s not that I want to go back to teaching about web 1.0– I don’t, but I have been amazed by the tremendous difference a presentation title makes on attendees at a conference. This hit home strongest last October, at a regional technology conference in Wichita Falls. I shared three or four sessions, and my second session was titled “Effective Internet Search and Research Strategies.” There were about 700 educators attending that conference in all, and I had over 100 in that session. The very next session, which was titled something like “Blogs, Wikis, and RSS” had less than 10 people! The lesson and takeaway? Jargon is intimidating, and many teachers as well as librarians are most comfortable working in an email dominated, “let’s research on the web” sort of world. Web 2.0 has a vocabulary which many either find intimidating or confusing, so they are unlikely to attend sessions about these topics. Recently I had a 3 day workshop on wikis cancel in the Tulsa area for lack of attendee sign-ups, but I heard another 3 day workshop on “Basic Web Design” was packed with teachers!

I’m not wanting to bait and switch conference attendees with my session titles, but I do plan on more carefully crafting presentation titles and descriptions to include less jargon in the coming year. I’m very honored to be included as a speaker at Encyclo-Media in my home state, and am REALLY looking forward to meeting and working with more Oklahoma educators on our state digital centennial project as well as other initiatives. In my experience, librarians and media specialists can be some of the most informationally literate and motivated digital, adult learners in schools. I’m sure that will be the case again at Encyclo-Media 2007! Hopefully, the session titles and descriptions I’ve submitted will be adequately “jargon-free” to not intimidate teachers from attending!

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One Response to Featured speaker at Oklahoma Encyclo-Media

  1. tom says:

    Wes, I agree about what you call a presentation. I’ve had similar things happen and have learned to tell people the benefit up front, then they pay attention. Then the opposite: just a couple hours ago I had two friends sit with me at the computer to learn about del.icio.us and rss as research tools. One friend is an entrepreneur, the other a social activist. They probably would have run for the door if I hadn’t told them first that I could guarantee results that were at least 3 times better than Google – richer, evaluated products of a learning community – in less than half the time. They each had a current topic that I could use as examples, and they were hooked in no time. I think it’s definitely OK to use good sales tactics when you know your customers need your product.

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