Congratulations on being a presenter at this year’s CSCL conference. We look forward to an exciting, high-quality program, and thank you for your efforts to ensure that it is a success. Each room will be equipped with an LCD project and screen. Presenters are responsible for bringing any adapters needed to connect their laptops. We are working to secure portable speakers if needed, but you may be asked to bring you own if you plan to include audio in your presentation.

Below you’ll find guidelines are intended to help you to prepare for your presentation.

  1. Guidelines for discussants and chairs
  2. Session structure for paper sessions
  3. Poster dimensions
  4. Suggestions for presenters about creating your slides and tips for networking.

Guidelines for Discussants and Chairs

Session Chairs

As a Chair for the paper sessions, you will introduce the session and the participants and help keep them on time. It is important that you familiarize yourself with your section’s structure (short or long paper session). It will also be useful to prepare a few questions for the speakers if there are none from the audience.

Session Discussants

Discussants should be prepared to draw on their expertise to point out strengths for each paper, to connect central themes to relevant work that may have been missed. Discussants should push the authors to consider other ways to think about their work or think about important questions/considerations they may want to explore, such as the impacts of their work on theory or practice.

You won’t be able to address all of these things in 10 minutes, so pick those which seem most relevant to the speakers and audience.


Session Structure Details

The sessions are structured to provide a short break between talks for questions and discussion and for conference participants to move between sessions if needed. Each type of session has a different structure and time allotment for presenters, so please make sure to look at the correct session. All session participants should plan to arrive 15 minutes early and bring presentations on a flash drive.

Long Paper Sessions

Presenters will have 15 minutes for their talks; discussants will have 10 minutes. The chair will introduce the session and explain the structure in the first 3-5 minutes.

For sessions with four papers:

Brief Introduction/Overview 3-5 min
Talk 1 15 min
Talk 2 15 min
Questions 5 min
Talk 3 15 min
Talk 4 15 min
Discussant 10 min
Questions 10 min

For sessions with three papers:

Brief Introduction/Overview 3-5 min
Talk 1 15 min
Talk 2 15 min
Questions 5 min
Talk 3 15 min
Discussant 10 min
Questions 10 min

Short Paper Sessions

Presenters will have 10 minutes to present if there are six papers in your session or 12 minutes if there are five. Short paper sessions do not have discussants.

For sessions with six papers:

Brief Introduction/Overview 3-5 min
Talk 1 10 min
Talk 2 10 min
Talk 3 10 min
Questions 10 min
Talk 4 10 min
Talk 5 10 min
Talk 6 10 min
Questions 10 min
Audience/Speaker time 10 min

For sessions with five papers:

Brief Introduction/Overview 3-5 min
Talk 1 12 min
Talk 2 12 min
Talk 3 12 min
Questions 10 min
Talk 4 12 min
Talk 5 12 min
Questions 10 min
Audience/Speaker time 10 min

For sessions with four papers:

Brief Introduction/Overview 3-5 min
Talk 1 12 min
Talk 2 12 min
Questions 10 min
Talk 3 12 min
Talk 4 12 min
Questions 10 min
Audience/Speaker time 10 min

Poster Dimensions

Poster dimensions should be no smaller than 23.4 x 16.5 inches (A2) and no larger than 48 x 35 in (A0 or ANSI E). Poster stands and materials for mounting will be made available in the poster room at the Sheraton hotel.

Suggestions for Presenters (adapted from ICLS 2014)

Preparing Your Talk

We are grateful to Jenna McWilliams of Indiana University for assembling this advice that was originally provided to presenters at ICLS 2014 and now adapted for CSCL 2017.

Geoff Pullum offers five “golden rules” for giving academic presentations; these rules are elaborated here and summarized below:

  1. Don’t ever begin with an apology. “Everyone has seen speakers beginning a presentation by apologizing for how unworthy they are, how little of their work is really conclusive, how they hope people will forgive them and so on. No one has ever seen a case in which this improved the reception of the paper or the mood of the audience.”
  2. Don’t ever underestimate the audience’s intelligence. “There are many worse things than a difficult and demanding lecture, and a patronizing and superficial lecture is one of them.”
  3. Respect the time limits. “It is sad to be cut off when you are just about to make your major point. Or even a minor one. Plan your time, and don’t let it happen.”
  4. Don’t survey the whole damn field. “Assume a reasonable amount of background, and then present something that can be delivered in a reasonable amount of time.”
  5. Remember that you’re an advocate, not the defendant. “This isn’t about you (that’s why you shouldn’t begin with an apology: that’s about how you feel). It’s the ideas that are going to get scrutiny. If those ideas don’t survive after today, too bad for them. You can’t work miracles. But for today, you’re there to do as fair a job as you can for them during their twenty minutes in the spotlight.”

The author of Get a Life, Ph.D. offers five tips for giving “a fabulous academic presentation.” Those tips are accompanied by some helpful and specific strategies; these are included below and can also be viewed here.

Tip #1: Use PowerPoint Judiciously
These days, most good presentations make some use of visuals. The extent to which you should use visuals will vary a lot depending on your field. Nevertheless, there are a few basic things you should know if you will be using PowerPoint or another method of showing visuals.

  • Never use less than 24-point. If you use a smaller font, people will not be able to see your information and you will have too much information on the slide.
  • Use bullet points. PowerPoint slides do not need full sentences, and should never have a paragraph full of information. However, bullet points should be short, 3-4 per slide is a good rule.
  • Use images effectively. You should have as little text as possible on the slide. One way to accomplish this is to have images on each slide, accompanied by a small amount of text.
  • Never put your presentation on the slides and read from the slides.
  • Do not have too many slides. A good rule is to aim for one slide per minute of presentation.

Tip #2: There is a formula to academic presentations. Use it.
Once you have become an expert at giving fabulous presentations, you can deviate from the formula. However, if you are a newbie, you should follow the formula. Again, this will vary by the field, but here is an example:

  • Introduction/Overview (This is your hook: what are you doing and why is it important)
  • Background/Literature Review/Framework (how has this been studied and how are you looking at it, what needs to be known)
  • Research Question (what will you be investigating)
  • Methodology/Case Selection (how did you investigate)
  • Findings (what did your investigation reveal- just the facts)
  • Discussion/Conclusion (How do your findings answer your research question and what do they mean)-This section is one of the most difficult to do well, but there is good advice from

Tip #3: The audience wants to hear about your research. Tell them.
One of the most common mistakes I see in people giving presentations is that they present only information I already know. This usually happens when they spend nearly all of the presentation going over the existing literature and giving background information on their particular case. You need only to discuss the literature with which you are directly engaging and contributing. Your background information should only include what is absolutely necessary. If you are giving a 15-minute presentation, by the 6th minute, you need to be discussing your data or case study.

Tip #4: Practice. Practice. Practice.
You need to practice your presentation in full before you deliver it. You might feel silly delivering your presentation to your cat or your toddler, but you need to do it and do it again. You need to practice to ensure that your presentation fits within the time parameters. Practicing also makes it flow better. You can’t practice too many times.

Tip #5: Keep To Your Time Limit
If you have ten minutes to present, prepare ten minutes of material. No more. Even if you only have seven minutes, you need to finish within the allotted time. If you will be reading, a general rule of thumb is two minutes per typed, double-spaced page. For a fifteen-minute talk, you should have no more than 7 double-spaced pages of material.


Networking

If you are new to CSCL, it can feel overwhelming in lots of ways. Too many learning scientists in the same place, too many interesting sessions at the same time, and NOW people are telling you that you’re supposed to be networking for goodness’ sake.

Here is some advice on networking at academic conferences:

  • The first set of tips comes from The Guardian. Jeannie Holstein, a doctoral researcher at Nottingham Business School, suggests that you treat conferences like military operations and meet people you haven’t already gotten to know. See Holstein’s five tips here.
  • Over at Scientific American, Pete Etchells offers tips for Ph.D. students on how to pick a conference and what to do when you get there. It’s worth a read for his advice on “the dark art of the ‘Nametag Glance’,” which comes complete with helpful visual aids. Read his tips here.
  • You need an elevator pitch. Do you have your elevator pitch? Imagine you’re standing there, minding your own business as you wait for the elevator, and Dr. Famous Academic, whose work you’ve been reading for almost three years, walks up next to you. Dr. Academic says, out of the blue, “Tell me about your work.” What do you say? WHAT DO YOU SAY?
  • If this all feels overwhelming, the new member session on Monday, June 19 from 2:00-3:00 PM is a good opportunity for you to introduce yourself to a smaller group at the beginning of the conference.

For help developing your elevator pitch, go here, here, and here.