Blog Post

How Conference Attendance Expands Your Thinking

I recently attended the Association for Educational Communication  & Technology (AECT) conference in Jacksonville, Florida. One of my presentation was on the " Video gameplay and the literacy practices of African immigrants students" at an institution of higher education in the U.S. At the end of my presentation, I received complimentary comments, and questions. However, in this blog post, I would like to discuss one of the questions  that got me thinking, and prompted this post.

A history professor in the audience  shared the challenge she has to engage African students in her class. According to her she's done everything without success, and was wondering whether I had some suggestions or strategies. I used my data as well as experience to suggest some techniques or strategies she may use to reach that student population in her class. A first glance at my topic could make me argue that the question had nothing to do with my research, but a critical and reflexive look  at the same topic highlights the connection between the question and the topic I was discussing. This question prompted me to reflect on the following questions, and even sub-questions: Why discuss literacy practices? What insights can my findings on the literacy practices of African students playing video games give us about learning? What do these literacy practices tell us about African immigrant students in the U.S   learning approaches/strategies? Or how can my findings inform teaching and learning? These questions ensue from the history professor's question, and more  questions will certainly result from each  of these questions as I continue to critically reflect on my research. The number of African students at U.S  universities is growing, and this increase will certainly make more visible challenges that need to be addressed! This also means that my research on this topic will certainly be shaped by this experience and the questions that resulted from my interactions with the audience at AECT.  Conferences expand your thinking about your research!

Presenting  or attending any conference has the potential of pushing you to think beyond  your research, to think outside the box, and to make your research relevant for a diverse group of researchers or practitioners who may not be from your field of study or discipline. To some extent, I could argue that conference attendance/presentation prepares you to speak to different audiences about your research! 

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