Tag Archives: conferences

The Keys to a Successful Conference Submission Process: Part Two, Choosing a Topic

Steven V. Cates, DBA SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Purdue University Global Professor, School of Business and IT

In our first discussion, we looked at the value of doing research and presenting our findings at a conference. We also began to think about how to get started. Now we are going to look at how we go about picking a topic to concentrate on.

First of all, always pick a topic you really have a lot of passion about. Otherwise, you will not have the drive and focus to commit to doing the work necessary to complete this research project. Conducting a research project takes time, energy, and effort. There are no shortcuts to completing good sound research projects. So, you must commit yourself to practicing sound time management and spending time daily in working on your research.

So, what are the “hot topics” in your field of specialization right now? Where do you find these “hot topics”? You can start with the journals, trade publications, magazines, webinars, seminars, blogs, and any other forms of forums and media in your field. What are authors saying are the “cutting edge” issues that are being discussed and problems surrounding these topics? This is a great place to pick a “hot button” that has not been researched extensively.  This will allow you to do research and then provide solutions to those problems and issues, which is your starting point.


You also might want to join and attend associations that represent your field of study.  Some meetings and conferences are held locally, regionally, nationally or globally. At each of these you will hear presentations made on the “hot button” topics, as most presentations will be on issues that are current and presently being discussed in your field.

Another great way to get your research started is by networking with your academic and professional contacts. You may find that you have similar interests with a colleague on a given research subject. This could lead to a collaboration on a great research project.

Next month, in Part Three of this series, we will begin to construct a research paper and look at the specific parts of that paper.



SOAR Symposium: The Value of Research and Presentation

Dr. Tamara Fudge, Purdue University Global in the School of Business and Information Technology


Purdue University Global’s second Student Online Annual Research Symposium (SOAR Symposium) is slated for this September 13 and offers our students and our alumni a great opportunity.

Imagine the chance to delve into meaningful career concepts outside of the classroom,  hone research, analytical, and organizational skills, create meaningful visual elements, exercise verbal communication, and take a leadership role within a webinar atmosphere.  It will take time management and communication skills to get it all done, too!  What is even better is that the SOAR Symposium offers both professional experience and a way to enhance the participant’s resume.

There are a few different ways students can  participate in the SOAR Symposium.  They can present with a PowerPoint presentation in an Adobe Connect room live session or develop a “poster” (an infographic).  Optionally, the participant can prepare a paper to go with his or her topic that may be suitable for professional publication.

These methods of information sharing have significant value. They require research, which in itself is good critical thinking practice for the workplace.  As Lipowski (2008) notes, “continuous assessment of policies, procedures, and programs [in the workplace] is necessary because science and technology can render them obsolete.”

Additionally, visual representations such as infographics and PowerPoint charts, graphs, and images aid attendees in understanding, processing, and remembering information (Parsons & Sedig, 2014). We can see that it is not just the participants, but the attendees who benefit from the Symposium.

It is also a leadership experience: presentations are a demonstration of assertiveness. This professional competency is also validated in participants’ preparedness to answer questions (Berjano  Sales-Nebot, & Lozano-Nieto, 2013). This public speaking experience is powerful on a resume.




Berjano, E., Sales-Nebot, L., & Lozano-Nieto, A. (2013). Improving professionalism in the engineering curriculum through a novel use of oral presentations. European Journal Of Engineering Education, 38(2), 121-130.

Lipowski, E. (2008). Developing great research questions. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 65(17), 1667-1670 4p. doi:10.2146/ajhp070276

Parsons, P., & Sedig, K. (2014). Adjustable properties of visual representations: Improving the quality of human-information interaction. Journal Of The Association For Information Science & Technology, 65(3), 455-482. doi:10.1002/asi.23002


Writing Workshops with Erma


Lisa Gerardy, Writing Center Specialist

In my spare time, when I am not wearing my Academic Support Center Specialist hat, I’m a humor blogger.  I blog under my maiden name so as to avoid any confusion with any academic writing I do.  As an academic, I attend conferences relating to pedagogy in online education and other such serious matters. As a humor writer, I recently had the opportunity to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.  It truly was a writers’ workshop and not just a humor writers’ workshop. Not only did I receive humor writing tips, but I also relearned the value of freewriting, and I was reminded of what makes a good conference presentation.

I really enjoyed most of the workshops I attended at the Erma Bombeck conference.  My favorite by far was “How to Uncover Your Voice and Get It Down on Paper.”  The speakers, Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff, taught us how to set a kitchen timer and just write without editing or judging ourselves.  This method seems like a common sense practice, but many writers never allow themselves the freedom to write without editing as they go. As a writing professor, I have known about free writing for years, but I had never really allowed myself the pleasure. Kathy and Cindy gave every participant a kitchen timer along with a picture and a list of prompt questions. We did a lot of writing during the workshop.  We also did a lot of laughing when we shared the stories we had written using this method.

During the last five minutes of the workshop, someone told me that Kathy Kinney played the character of Mimi on the Drew Carey Show.  Since I’m not someone who is very interested in celebrities, I had not realized that.  I just thought that she and Cindy were awesome writers and workshop leaders.  At the beginning of the workshop, I had already followed them on Facebook and liked their page Queen of Your Own Life.  Now, I receive daily reminders to stop judging myself and just write. This was by far the most productive session I attended.

While there were plenty of worthwhile sessions at the Erma Bombeck conference, there were also those that I could have skipped.  Even the not so great sessions ended up being educational, though. I learned how to give a good workshop by learning how NOT to give a workshop. For example, I saw one of the original Saturday Night Live writers speak at two different workshops.  Since Saturday Night Live was my favorite show and a career aspiration in my twenties, I had high hopes for this speaker.

The first workshop was a panel discussion called “Let’s Talk about Success.”  The Saturday Night Live alumnus talked about being discovered by Lorne Michaels in a comedy club and having his career take off from there.  It was an interesting story, but not really helpful.  Then, I went to his solo session called “Is There a Secret to Writing Funny?” I never found out if there was a secret or what the secret was because he basically gave the same story.  The only thing I got out of it was “have your best work ready” and “write.”  Other than that both presentations were filled with stories from his fabulous life writing funny scripts for television shows.  Again, for a Saturday Night Live fan, this was interesting, but it wasn’t as productive as the other sessions I attended.

Overall, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop was well worth the time and money.  I made many great connections with my fellow writers and presenters.  I spent a lot of time at the conference actually writing, which is something I never seem to have enough time to do at home.  I came home from the conference with ideas and the energy to keep writing.  In addition, I also learned that the next time I give a presentation, I will be sure that there are some tangible takeaways for anyone who attends.  Sometimes learning what doesn’t work can help us discover what does work

Presenting at a Conference Near You: The KUWC at ECWCA

Lisa Gerardy, Kaplan University Writing Center Specialist and Chrissine Rios, Kaplan University Writing Center Tutor

You might expect to see the Kaplan University Writing Center represented at online professional conferences–from Kaplan’s own KU Village online to the TCC Worldwide Online Conference, staff and leadership of our online Writing Center regularly present virtually. However, KUWC staff and leadership also travel and present at national and regional conferences on-ground, and this year our presentations celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

In March, 2014, staff and leadership from the Kaplan University Writing Center met at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio to present at the East Central Writing Centers Association conference. Not only did the team travel to present at the conference, but some team members made the trip to meet their co-workers in person for the first time. The Kaplan University Writing Center is entirely online, so the faculty and staff who run it work from their home offices in different states.

The group did two presentations. The first group, which included Kyle Harley, Amy Sexton, Melody Pickle, Kurtis Clements, Chrissine Rios, and Lisa Gerardy detailed the history of the KUWC and its changing use of technology. Because the KUWC has been around for a full decade now, each member of the presentation team was able to show how much the technology has changed for each part of the Writing Center. The part of the presentation that interested the audience most was when tutor Chrissine Rios joined the panel remotely to present on our tutoring platform via the Adobe Connect KUWC tutoring room itself.


KUWC Writing and ELL Support Tutor, Chrissine Rios presents via the Internet.

The KUWC leadership team did the second Kaplan University presentation. Director and Chair, Michael Keathley began the presentation with an overview of the Writing Across Curriculum program, the Writing Center, and his role as leader. Next, Assistant Chair Kurtis Clements, Writing Across the Curriculum Specialist Melody Pickle, and Writing Center Specialist Lisa Gerardy each discussed how their roles play a part in the success of the Writing Center.


Kyle, Amy, Lisa, Kurtis, Mike, and Melody at ECWCA

The ECWCA Conference was a great opportunity for the entire KUWC team. Even those staff members who could not travel to Miami University will benefit from the knowledge gained from those who did attend the many sessions offered at the conference. Where will you be presenting next? Whether regional or national, online or on ground, be sure to check the program for the Kaplan University Writing Center team. There’s a good chance we will be presenting, and we would love to meet you!

Learning to Adapt – Lessons from IWAC 2012

Learning to Adapt – Lessons from IWAC 2012

Last week, I posted about how driving in the City of Savannah, site of the 2012 IWAC Conference, reminded me of some of the challenges faculty face in engaging students in WAC projects and initiatives. 

This week, I had intended to blog about some of the lessons I learned at IWAC and I will in the very near future.  However, what actually took place during our session reminded me that, as educators, the unexpected is never far away and we have to be ready to take hold of it and turn it into something positive.

We’ve all been there. We set out the details of a seminar or an assignment and something goes wrong.  You have to learn to adapt, but IWAC has me thinking in all new directions.

Our panel, which I describe here (will link) started off as four educators from three institutions. Along the way, our community college participant had to drop out.  We’d hoped for a live participant from the Office of Letters and Light, the group that sponsors NaNoWrimo, but with a new Executive Director and Camp NaNoWrimo running, that wasn’t going to happen.Still, my sister, the director of first year composition at the host university, Georgia Southern, stepped in and we felt good about our panel.

When the session was accepted, we were all quite excited. Not only did we have data on the development of NaNoWrimo from 21 participants in 1999 to 250,000 in 2011, but also we had a wonderful case study from Kerri Augusto of Becker College on using NaNoWrimo in a Psychology course and the amazing impact it had on her students.

However, due to budgetary issues, Kerri found herself unable to make the trip. Selflessly, she did her part on the presentation and we went over the data together.  We had three panel members in place and data from a fourth, so things were looking up.

Enter a nationally known airline I will not name here. Sheryl was due to fly from Minneapolis to Atlanta late Friday, June 8, and then connect to Savannah.  It was a connection from various points that probably a couple of hundred passengers made that evening, except Sheryl never left Minneapolis. 

So, by Saturday morning, it was just my sister and me – and technology.  We booted up an Adobe Room that Sheryl had presenter rights in, we set up the power point, tested the speakers, and tried the webcam (then promptly decided no on that idea).  Within minutes, it was like Sheryl was in the room. She could hear our parts of the presentations through my headset (which I shared with my sister), we could hear her and see her slides through Adobe Connect projected into the room, and best of all, the attendees could interact with Sheryl through my headset. She could hear them from across the room and respond through the speakers.

By the end of the session, I was truly energized.  Inadvertently we had illustrated two important things with our presentation. First, when you’ve planned a NaNoWrimo type project, stick to the path even if things seem to be running of the rails. Our goal was to present this session, and we did it.

Second, Adobe Connect can be a wonderful tool to bring colleagues together under difficult circumstances. It can also be a great tool for use for NaNoWrimo to hold virtual write-ins. Since we mentioned that in our presentation, we were very glad to illustrate it.

Our NaNoWriMo session now has parallel lives. It will live on in its original state as we add data and hopefully present again, maybe at KU Village or in 2013 at a couple of conferences we are considering. Also, we’ve already talked to the wonderful team at CTL about bringing our story of using technology to salvage our presentation to the greater Kaplan community.

My final thought is this. When presenting at a conference in one of the most haunted cities in America, never say “I think things are going very well, don’t you?” because that is the apparent cue for disaster.

Until next week!


IWAC 2012 – How driving in Savannah relates to WAC

Last week, I attended and presented at the 2012 International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference in Savannah, Georgia.  I have many thoughts about the conference itself and about the presentation I gave with my colleague, Sheryl Bone, and my sister, the Director of First Year Composition at Georgia Southern University.

For now, I have to share a thought I had – and tweeted from @teachertkelly – about driving in the city of Savannah. I promise that this thought relates to WAC. If you’ve never been to Savannah, put it on your bucket list. The city dates back to 1732, was spared the ravages of the Civil War, and has a rich cultural and culinary history.  It is also a prime example of what can happen when post-secondary institutions and the communities they serve come together for the common good. Many of the buildings in the historic district are owned by and have been diligently restored to their past splendor by the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Savannah is a planned city, meaning it is mapped out around squares.  This also means a large variety of one-way streets that were never designed to handle large SUVs let alone delivery trucks.  I love Savannah. My parents lived there until right before I was born, and my grandmother lived there for almost thirty years, but I hate the process of driving through and around the city.

So, what is the relationship to WAC? As we bring writing into more and more parts of the curriculum and continue to advocate for WAC, we will encounter students who love the product of a well-written paper or project, but hate the process of getting there.

I gave up after a day of trying to navigate the city in the dark and the rain. I started using public transportation, one of the tools at my disposal.  Having been to Savannah, I knew about their shuttle system and free alternatives to the garish tour trolleys. 

Our students have tools, too – especially the KUWC. Part of WAC is getting those that need the tools to toole.  Once they use them, they are much more likely to come back and to become more confident in their writing.  At the very least, knowing there are alternatives for them will relieve some frustrations.

Even before I came back to Composition for a term or so, I actively advocated using the KUWC in my classes.  I posted a copy of the recorded tour and touted the features in seminar. In the interest of fairness, I do the same for the Kaplan University Math Center.

This is something I encourage all of you to do. Actively engage your students with what is happening in the KUWC. They will thank you as much as I thanked the shuttle driver who got me to my presentation on time with my having to so much as look at a one way street.

Widening the Pedagogical Net: Upcoming Conferences and Twitter Chats

Net amid the wide blue skyHello, dear readers! ‘Tis Kella, your friendly writing center Resource Specialist, and I’m super excited to spend the next 2 weeks blogging on a Wednesday-Friday schedule this week and a Monday-Wednesday schedule the week of Thanksgiving. There’s so much to share, learn, and think about, so please keep your comments coming. We would love to hear from you!

In today’s post, I wanted to draw your attention to some wonderful conference opportunities and calls for proposals.

Lastly, for those of you who enjoy Tweeting or are Twitter-curious, there are some outstanding writing-and-education-related Twitter conversations happening on a weekly basis. To get a primer on some of these super fun electronic conversations, please read Erin E. Templeton’s excellent ProfHacker article (January 24, 2011), “Enrich Your Teaching Through Social Media.” I just took part in the #FYCchat (First-Year Composition Chat) on a Wednesday night (9-10 pm ET) last month, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ideas and excellent teaching tips that the participants from across the nation were freely sharing. For details, check out Lee Skallerup’s awesome First-Year Composition Chat blog compendium: http://fycchat.blogspot.com/

Other cool Twitter conversations include:

And more!

So, what are your favorite ways to use social media to widen your pedagogical net? We’d love to hear your ideas, so share away!

Kind regards,

Michaella Hammond

Michaella Hammond