Initial Conference Meeting

  • Initial meeting about conference
  • Work-flow was discussed
  • Created Terms of Reference
  • Put out call for Advisory Committee
  • Agreed on high use of Tutela, but mindful of the closed community
  • Desire for Openness

(note – post originally written on May 30th)

Towards the end of May 2013 Briar, Natalia and I had one of our initial chats about the details of the conference. I had just started working at English Online (EO) a few weeks before, so I was getting used to the atmosphere and getting a better sense of exactly what we were looking at on our horizon. We three English Online conference committee members needed to decide a few basic things, and I felt like this was the point when things got rolling.

The main backdrop for the meeting was the Terms of Reference document that we needed for the Advisory Committee that would form the following month. Discussion digressed into a basic discussion about our work-flow, and this actually took up most of our time. We were bringing together three people’s visions of how the Advisory Committee would work within the overall conference structure – and both were still just concepts that we hadn’t really discussed out in the open yet. One things was clear: a shared goal to keep it simple for everyone involved.

We all eventually agreed on a commitment to openness (hence this blog) however we did realize the need for privacy on certain issues. One main decision was to form a Private Forum Group for Advisory Committee communication. The private form enables us to minimize any additional forms of communication (email, sub-committee forums, separate platforms, etc) and it also gives us a place for holding synchronous meetings.

From here, several other work-flow objects fell into place: the community of Tutela would serve as the platform for content related discussion, and the English Online Conference Page would include most of the basic information. Outside the closed walls of the Tutela community, we would also use various Social Media technology, hopefully employing them as they fit with our participants and as time will allow. The closed barrier of Tutela, we noted, was something we would need to continually consider in conference planning.

Another important topic was the committee member selection criteria. In order for it to diffuse among the community, the call for volunteers needed to get out soon. The criteria had pretty much been set prior to this meeting. One change that I lobbied for was the inclusion of a potential International Committee member. Just as language learners don’t exist in a vacuum, the country of Canada is also not without its greater context. An outside perspective should be welcomed and would be needed. I was happy that it was included.

Next, and immediately after the meeting, we concentrated on writing the ‘job posting’, focusing on wording issues to ensure a fair and fruitful selection process.

The topic of openness took up considerable discussion. We all seemed to felt strongly in favor of complete transparency, although we didn’t know how to operate in such a way without compromising some of the privacy of some of the conference participants. It’s a thin but important distinction that can hopefully be pushed further in future.