Is My Blog Killing my Conference Experience?

A speaker proposal form for the upcoming ETAI conference has been sitting in my inbox for over a week.

By Gil Epshtein
By Gil Epshtein


I don’t know what to write on it.

In the past I presented at many conferences. It was my chance to share the things that were on my mind, the projects I was working on or materials I had created.  I usually attended one a year (occasionally two) so I basically had a whole school year’s worth of experience to use for my talk. Very few of the people I met on a daily basis were interested in what I was doing so these opportunities were meaningful.

Now everything flows directly from my classroom to my blog (successes and failures).

Don’t get me wrong! I am under no illusion that everyone who attends our conferences reads my blog, far from it! But consider these examples:

* I thought of a talk presenting ideas for using short videos without dialogues. That’s something I am very involved in. However, all the videos I have created activities for are up on the blog and have had a lot of hits from viewers from Israel. I assume that teachers who could use these activities in class have access to computers and are more “tech minded”. These teachers are usually the ones who would have seen my postings on our mailing list.

The solution would be, of course, to offer some new video-activities, and create a mix of old and new. Unfortunately, I don’t create “on demand”. When I find something that fits in with what I need at a particular time, I create, try out in class and then share. I don’t know if I will be creating any (or how many) video-activities before April.

* The link to my COMPLETE presentation at RSCON4 conference, on the topic of homework as a tool for individualizing learning for struggling teens and adult,s is available at the conference website (linked to from my blog). The term “complete” means that not only is the slideshow there, you can hear the entire talk. In addition, homework is a “less” powerful tool when you have (as many of my colleagues at the conference do) 5 classes of 40 students per class. The underlying power of the system is based on the assumption that the teacher actually checks the tasks. Even when they are created “properly” (as in “easy to check”) this is no simple matter with very large classes. I did it for three courses, (ONE course at a time!) when I taught  adult classes of 38 students and it was demanding indeed. So I rejected this topic too.

To make a long story short, all my presentations from recent years (including the ones in Hebrew!) can be found online.

Perhaps I should forget about presenting for now.  My blog lets me share all year around, 24/7.  I”ll just go to the conference, enjoy some lectures and volunteer at the registration desk.



10 thoughts on “Is My Blog Killing my Conference Experience?”

  1. Naomi

    You share so much, that perhaps a conference presentation/workshop helping those who don’t already know, how to access your work online, other things teachers are sharing, and how they can share themselves.

    This is the focus I have taken to conferences or other face-to-face PD lately – helping others to help themselves! I still come across a lot of teachers who haven’t discovered the masses of support and resources online yet!

    But really, perhaps you could give yourself a break and sit back and be a participant this time. I’m quite sure you will be an active participant!


    1. Lesley,
      Thanks for undertstanding how I feel. There are some teachers who do a great job of introducing teachers to tech tools, for the moment I don’t think I’ll enter that niche.
      Maybe I’ll be adventureous and creative when the summer conference comes around but I’m tempted to be just a participant this time.
      Updates to come!

      1. Hi Naomi
        I hadn’t meant that you should teach people how to use tech tools, but rather show them how they can connect with teachers and find and share resources and ideas, just like you do. That is, things like following #ELTchat on Twitter and Facebook, and reflecting and sharing by blogging, etc. And not even showing them how, just pointing them in the right direction to start developing their own PLN and connecting. Sharing your own passion for learning and sharing online 🙂
        I agree with the other comments here. You can get a lot from presenting live, it doesn’t have to be a one-way thing. And maybe it’s your turn to sit in the audience and enjoy what others have to share. As someone else said, I also agonise over my own upcoming performance and find it easier to enjoy a conference after I’ve presented.
        Best wishes and thanks for all you share online!

        1. Wow Lesley, thanks for coming back to clarify, I really hadn’t thought of that.
          BTW, I think most of us enjoy conferences more after our presentations are over!
          Thanks for all you share too

  2. Hi Naomi
    There’s something about presenting that enlivens the experience of going to a Conference. The energy of giving is a battery charger and recycler.
    Plus, as Lesley says, your in-person-ness as you speak about what you’ve been blogging, makes everything more touchable, doable.
    You add your own insights and as you look into the eyes of those in the audience, you will see what is clear and what isn’t.
    Q&A time is also invaluable. Who knows what someone might say or ask.

    If you feel like it, do it!
    If you truly want to sit down and listen to others’ offerings – go for it.

    Does blogging kill that luscious enthusiasm of sharing? Perhaps it has put the damper on things, but it’s only one level of sharing. The face-to-face thing is an opportunity to share on another level.

    Glad to read you!

    1. Judih,
      The face to face meeting, the questions, have always been incredibly thought provoking. It usually inspires me to create something that fills some gap that came up during my talk). Like you said, that experience is INVALUABLE!
      But at the moment I’m stumped – I can’t even think of a topic.
      Maybe I will sit this one out.
      Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Hi Naomi,
    Your post strikes a chord with me in a way! But in reverse… I’ve deliberately been avoiding posting about certain things learner autonomy-related until after I do my webinar on it on the 19th. Not that they are any great shakes, but just that I’ve very much felt that if I post all about it then I’ll have nothing new left to say in the webinar.
    I think attending conferences is as good as presenting sometimes? I’ve attended IATEFL twice as an attendee non-presenter only, and thoroughly enjoyed both occasions. This time I will be talking, which I am looking forward to, but will also be very nervous until I’ve finished so won’t be able to enjoy so much until I’ve finished. (Though as fate will have it I won’t be there for much time before I present)
    I think if something comes to you to present, then do it, if it doesn’t, then just enjoy going anyway – you’ll have a good time either way! It’s an interesting balancing act – the blogging/presenting thing though, glad you’ve raised it, meaning I’m not the only one to feel conflicted! Hope you enjoy the conference 🙂

    1. It’s so interesting they way you have phrased it Lizzie, I think I just realized what my problem is at the moment. Even if noone read what I posted I already feel that I have said all I can about whatever it was. Thanks for helping me realize that!

  4. Hi Naomi,
    I agree with the other comments here about your decision to present being up to you, but I really think you have so much to offer. What about talking about some of your blog posts and showing how the process of blogging has influenced your teaching? A sort of ‘highlights’ talk, where you can share a couple of activities, as well as the benefits of blogging. I find that kind of personal presentation inspiring to listen to, and even if noone starts blogging then and there, you’ll get people thinking about it.
    But if you want to relax and enjoy other presentations, then go for it!

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