Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Value of Audience Feedback

I've had the pleasure of presenting on Google Apps for Education three times in the last three months, and after each session I've been able to refine my presentation based on the feedback and participation of my audience.  While some elements remain consistent across presentations (Google's Custom Search Engine has elicited Oohs and Ahhs every time), I've come to view my presentation as a learning opportunity, something that grows and changes with each iteration. This blog post will serve as a running list of the most valuable feedback I've received:

  • Share both everyday and professional uses: Many of the Chrome extensions I present are helpful to educators, but they're also tools I use in my personal life. Workshop attendees want to know about how the same tech tools can benefit them both in and outside the classroom. 
  • Variety of Relevant Classroom Applications: There is obvious value in covering a variety of tools and apps in a single presentation, but when organizing a recent full day workshop, I had the opportunity to invite fellow teachers to present on their own use of GAFE in the classroom. Attendees really seemed to enjoy hearing curriculum examples that spanned grades K-7, a range I generally don't cover in an hour-long session. Moving forward, however, I'd like to make mention of the work my colleagues shared, to ensure that all of my attendees hear examples that are relevant to their own teaching. 
  • Unconference: Again, this arose out of a day-long workshop as opposed to an hour-long session, but anyone who has given a professional presentation knows their audience has much to add to the conversation. During the last hour of my NYSAIS workshop, I invited participants to ask questions or share ideas, and it led to a vibrant and engaging discussion. The conversation became broader than GAFE, but after 3+ hours on that topic, I think people were eager to hear about other tech tools like Twitter and RSS readers. The chance to network and share what you already know seems like an obvious addition to any PD opportunity. 


  1. Great post Jenny! Lately, I've been doing a lot of presentations as well. Your post mirrors a lot of what I've learned these past few months. Having that "unconference" discussion at the end enriches the session, and opens us up to learning from the audience. I recently did a Chrome Extensions session as well, and it IS important for the teachers to see how you use the extensions to make you more efficient with Chrome.


  2. I agree when presenting I have found that the audience has a lot of great information to share.In fact when I attend sessions I always love to hear what others are doing in there schools. I also agree that sharing any tools that can help save people time and be more efficient is very appreciated. Excellent post!

  3. I always learn something new when I present. Coincidentally, while presenting at a recent GAFE summit I even commented to my "audience" about this. I said "This is one of the reasons I love presenting! I always learn something new!"

  4. Thanks for all the comments, folks! I'm glad to know others are having similar experiences. Interesting too that in my classroom I expect to learn from my students, but at presentations to other educators it's not automatically part of the agenda. Well, it will be now.

  5. Hey sista!

    Listen! Great post! I have so many things here I agree with. First of all, presentations you give will always get better and evolve, but one thing that struck me in your post is the idea of sharing too many things. Personally, I am so tired of a "Sit and get" style of presentation. If possible things need to be made more interactive and give TIME for people to try it. Particularly with Google the interactive piece is easy! The unconference conversation style is my personal favorite. Just because you are the presenter doesn't mean you are the "guru" of all things. I think many presenters tend to think they are better than everyone else and act as if they can't learn something from someone in the crowd or don't want to be "upstaged" by someone. I say embrace those folks, give them an opportunity within your presentation to shine just like you would kids!
    Rock on Rockstar! Miss you!

  6. I recently tried that 'sandbox' model, attempting to build in a chunk of time for people to fool around with the tools I'd shown them. However, I feel like only a small percentage of the attendees really used the time the way I'd envisioned it. Some checked email and a few headed out, assuming the session was essentially done. Any ideas for how to structure that play time more successfully?

  7. Perhaps embed it within earlier points and throughout the presentation with a timer up and showing on the projector so folks no they have 5 min let's say. It is a serious shift in the typical way presentations are given and the truth is people are so used to the "sit and get" that they don't know how to act.
    Another thing I have done is make Docs or Spreadsheets for example that are preset and posted somewhere so everyone within the session can easily access them for that play time. In essence still controlling the play time.
    Trying to incorporate the crowd or giving them time to play is a very difficult thing to do!