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Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications

Alyssa Arbuckle, Alison Hedley, Shaun Macpherson, Alyssa McLeod, Jana Millar Usiskin, Daniel Powell, Jentery Sayers, Emily Smith, Michael Stevens, Authors

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7. Roundtable

We’ve managed to cover a bit of ground this semester. The purpose of your final presentation—which assumes the form of a collaborative roundtable or panel—is to at once reflect on that learning and exhibit what you’ve done (including how that work relates to your final proof of concept).

The presentation should be professional in character (e.g., as if you are presenting at a conference), well prepared and rehearsed, and simultaneously concrete (e.g., about what you did or made) and suggestive (e.g., what could have or will be done differently). A balance of the concrete and suggestive allows you to manage several things. First, you can point exactly to what’ve you done but also underscore the trajectories of your research (e.g., your next project or essay). Second, it allows you to (if only tacitly) acknowledge what you don’t know or haven’t done but that you’re aware it needs some doing. Third, it can enact a co-presence of theory and practice.

Learning Outcomes

For you to:

  • Practice presenting your work in an academic setting, translating it from the screen to an embodied audience,
  • Receive feedback on your proof of concept prior to its submission,
  • Effectively collaborate with your peers in the organization and articulation of a panel or roundtable theme (i.e., its “through-line”),
  • Persuasively combine various modes of presentation within a fixed timeframe,
  • Demonstrate meta-cognitive reflection on the work you’ve done this semester, and
  • Anchor that reflection in evidence.

What You Should Include in Your Presentation

Each collaborative roundtable or panel should:

  • Be twenty-eight to thirty minutes in duration, followed by fifteen minutes of Q&A,
  • Consist of three students, each of whom presents for roughly the same amount of time,
  • Collectively blend modes of communication (e.g., reading from a paper, slides, oral communication, and object/handout circulation),
  • Be organized around a central, clear, and tangible issue—say, a particular problem, concern, theme, or method, and
  • Be uploaded (at least in part) to our Scalar book (e.g., include slides, handouts, screen grabs, and papers).

By “collaborative” roundtable, I mean its design and implementation should be collaborative in character. How you present (including content, style, and technologies used) is up to you. However, please keep in mind two things: (1) you should reflect on and assess what you learned during the entire seminar (meaning the presentation is not solely about your final proof of concept), and (2) everyone participating in the roundtable will be given the same mark (meaning collaboration and communication are key).

Since your presentation is more or less a mock conference presentation, please assume your audience is not familiar with the particulars of your work. For instance, they may know about electronic literature, but they may not know the work of Deena Larsen. Or, they may have heard about distant reading or deformance, but they may need your interpretation of it.

A few pro tips:

  • Rehearse the thing (as a group, if you can),
  • Determine what needs to be presented or read exactly as it appears elsewhere (e.g., screen grabs and quotes),
  • Memorize what you can (even if it’s written directly in front of you),
  • Point to influential work and projects in the field,
  • Spend some time on your slides but also avoid whiz-bang effects (e.g., a slew of animated transitions),
  • Save the presentation materials in various locations and formats,
  • Give all of your materials a dry run (if only to make sure there are no technical hiccups),
  • Unpack and interpret your visuals for your audience,
  • As you present, note what can be elaborated in the Q&A (if need be),
  • Early on, give people an overview of what you’ll be presenting,
  • Toward the end, a recap of what you said might be necessary (especially since you are presenting for thirty minutes),
  • It’s okay to repeat key points,
  • If you are including dynamic content (especially video or visualizations on the web), then practice using them beforehand,
  • If you are navigating your audience through a web-based project, then avoid moving (e.g., clicking, scrolling) too fast,
  • If you’ve been to an academic conference, then recall whose presentations left the strongest impression on you and determine why they did,
  • Don’t forget a thank you gesture (e.g., a slide),
  • You know this stuff well, but you’re audience may not (e.g., explain your terms, give quick overviews where necessary),
  • Have fun and be creative with it, and
  • For the Q&A, have a few spare materials (e.g., extra slides, a bonus paragraph, or even a handout) handy. Keep something persuasive in your pocket, especially if it’s something that will address a question your work tends to spark.
Be in touch if you have questions or want to run an idea by me. Please do not be late for the presentations, and also please take notes during them (so that you have a question or two prepared). Thanks, everyone! I’m really looking forward to these. And again, let me know how I can help.

Author: Jentery Sayers
Word Count: 843
Original Prompt: "Roundtable"

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