by Dr Jack Yensen
Chief Senior Editor
Yensen, J. (2013). Flipped Presentations for Effective Conferencing. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 17 (1), Available at http://ojni.org/issues/?p=2390
There have been many articles and studies done for the flipped or reverse classroom (Foertsch, Moses, Strikwerda, & Litzkow, M., 2002; Lage, Platt, & Treglia, 2000; Ronchetti, 2010; Strayer, 2007), but very little can be found about flipped presentations, where the concept is applied to the presentation itself rather than to the reversal of a classroom experience in the form of a presentation.
Anyone who has ever attended a conference will know and recognize that many, if not most, of the conference sessions are in the form of presentations, where speakers usually using PowerPoint as a backdrop or visual scaffold deliver their ideas to an audience. This has been a traditional model for many years, but perhaps the time has come to explore new ways of optimizing conference presentations such that they are both cost-effective and can contribute to the greater good of community and social learning. I am proposing that conference organizers consider flipping all or parts of their conferences such that conference registrants receive links to all or most of the presentations, as advance organizers. This means they have the opportunity to review the presentations in advance and be prepared to attend selected sessions for a much more interactive experience between the audience and the presenters. Instead of parallel sessions where attendees are forced to choose between competing presentations, each person could choose sessions based upon questions and comments related to having previewed the presentation and desiring further interaction with the authors and audience. I thought about most of the conferences I have attended and realized I was almost as interested in the audience as I was in the presenters, since I wanted to meet and know anyone who had similar interests to mine. Nobody would ever have to miss competing sessions again, as they would have previewed all of the presentations of interest before the conference.
Conference organizers would still have registration, vendor, and sponsor revenues, but would be multiplying the exposure of conference attendees to presenters, yet still retain the capacity to publish conference presentations after the event for an extra source of revenue. For attendees, the implications are significant. Each conference registrant would have access to all of the conference presentations, and still be able to attend sessions with individual presenters, where such interactive sessions could be recorded. This would lead to a much more cost-effective form of learning and knowledge sharing and generate many more opportunities for collaboration. Instead of attending “sage on the stage” (one to many) presentations, conferees would have unique living workshop experiences that would support collaboration, sharing and networking of a much higher order (many to many) than the traditional model ever allowed. Suddenly, conferences would leverage all of the advantages of the flipped or reverse classroom to their proceedings without any significant downside. Avenues for deep learning would be a realistic outcome for the flipped conference. In this age of sensitivities around our carbon footprints, we owe it to our planet to make conferences much more learning intensive than they are. A natural corollary of this kind of thinking would embrace the idea of virtual attendees too, since they would have the opportunity to access the same kind of interactive experience as attendees physically present. It will not escape your attention that the flipped conference will allow and encourage virtual presenters too.
If you allow this concept to float around your mind for a while, you will see other interesting implications too. For example, the contemporary practice of conference organizers harvesting presentations in advance of the conference so they can be compiled and collated to allow for an orderly, controlled sequence of moderated presentations would be deliberately and creatively disrupted and allow free flowing and creative interactions, entirely at the whim of those present. Sessions would become more spontaneous and no longer, like Macbeth, “cabined, cribbed, confined.”
If any of you reading this are involved in professional conference organizing, I challenge you to consider flipping your next conference. You might be the first, but certainly will not be the last to innovate this way and join the ranks of early adopters and earn the reputation of highly effective conferencing.
Foertsch, J., Moses, G., Strikwerda, J., & Litzkow, M. (2002). Reversing the lecture/homework paradigm using eTEACH® web-based streaming video software. Journal of Engineering Education-Washington,91(3), 267-274.
Lage, M. J., Platt, G. J., & Treglia, M. (2000). Inverting the classroom: A gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment. Journal of Economic Education, 31(1), 30-43.
Ronchetti, M. (2010). Using video lectures to make teaching more interactive. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (iJET), 5(2), 45-48. doi:10.3991/ijet.v5i2.1156
Strayer, J. (2007). The effects of the classroom flip on the learning environment: A comparison of learning Activity in a traditional classroom and a flip classroom that used an intelligent tutoring system. Thesis, Ohio State University, 2007. http://etd.ohiolink.edu/view.cgi/Strayer%20Jeremy.pdf?osu1189523914