I’m rarely asked to talk to fellow academics. I’m not sure why that is, but I can only assume that my thoughts, presentation skills or general persona is not actually suitable. I have done some presentation in the past, early on in my career as an academic, and my talks then were either met with complete dismissal or, after the talk, complete avoidance. Yes, that’s right, the whole group of people avoided me. It actually reminded me of my ‘Insects will rule‘ story I told in a previous blog post. Due to these previous experiences, I quickly refuse any invitation now to present now but, in a moment of weakness, or not listening and saying yes when I hadn’t heard the question, I found myself having to present to a group of academics at my institution 9 am in the morning. Luckily the wrong information was given out and after the first academic presented some left for ‘prior arranged’ appointments, leaving just a few in the room. And so I started to deliver my presentation – ‘Are we robot-proof?’
In this blog, I’m going to focus on who I am and an ‘expanded’ introduction to the presentation. In future posts, I’ll start to engage with certain elements of the presentation. Maybe, by the end, you will get a feeling why I am rarely asked to present as an academic!
I am never sure what to call myself. I’m definitely not an academic and since I do more than just ‘teach’ I have always been on a personal quest to find a title which I like and which I feel represents me. I am not keen on titles at all, feeling that they are often used to authenticate whether you should be taking what the person is saying as ‘valid’. I am trying my best not to give a huge list of titles and awards when providing an explanation in meetings as to who you are. When this does happen I tend to introduce myself just with my name.
But trying to find a job title which I feel represents me is not because I would like to use it when meeting people or introduce myself in meetings. It is more about my own self-identity to provide myself with some authenticity and something which I truly think represents me.
With ‘academic’ not really being appropriate for myself, I have started to use ‘content creator’ more. I’ve decided that I create more content than just digital content, so I dropped the digital some time ago. Interestingly enough, I wonder whether this is why people never ask me to present – would you really want to the title of ‘content creator’ on your advertising for a talk! – maybe you are starting to see through my cunning plan!
With the title of ‘content creator’ firmly established, it is important to recognise what my passions are. I have a triad of interests being teaching, learning and technology. This triad actually stretches across my professional and personal life. This actually rises the point – is there a difference between my two lives, but that is definitely a theme for a future blog post. Having introduced myself as a ‘content creator’ and establishing my triad of interests, I decided to, to the shocked group of onlookers who were still reeling from my personal title, to let them know what my talk was about.
What I read about…
When my teaching, marking and admin work has been completed, I like to bask in the current literature about how education and learning should be changing in order to embrace the future. I often feel that I am alone with this since one of the hardest things to actually change is probably how people teach within any academic establishment. With few people to discuss the new literature, I thought I would share my thoughts but camouflage them as a reflective journey. Rather than saying this is what I believe – I said that this was a reflective journey and I would welcome people’s views. When they all turned around and said I was thinking a whole load of rubbish, I would have saved face because I could just say – “That’s what I thought as well, I just wanted to be sure.’
To add to the ‘academic-ness’ of my presentation, I even went with the idea that I was actually not sharing my views, but those of three books I had read – clever or what! So even if everyone disagreed with me, I could then just blame the authors of the books and save face once again. Secretly I was hoping that everyone would think I was just talking rubbish and never ask the crackpot content creator to talk again!
And so I started…
With all that shared with my audience, yes the amount of time left for the presentation was getting less and less, I wanted to establish how nervous I was about speaking to academics so I spoke about how I had contacted Twitter for advice before I started! Someone actually replied, although later when they asked what I did, I think they felt a bit disappointed. So as I finish this first section of my talk – the introduction, I’ll leave you with his wise words. Next time, I’ll start by looking at the current position of education and learning which was the starting point for whether we are truly robot-proof.