A month or so ago, a colleague from within Editorial at Routledge asked me to do a presentation on Open Access to the rest of her team together with their US equivalent team, using video conference. Somehow, the date for that presentation flew right around, and I gave it this afternoon.
The complex world of Open Access – that is, making academic research freely available and accessible to all online – falls loosely within my remit as a Digital Product Manager on the Digital Publishing and Development team inasmuch as I have been involved in drafting some policy documentation and How To help guides for our internal Editorial staff. I find it fascinating, but also quite confusing, since lots of the policies in different regions seem to contradict each other. I always wished I had more time in my job to devote to understanding it, so this was a nice challenge to collate my accumulated knowledge over the past year.
As I am shortly leaving the company, I have been running around like a headless chicken for the past few weeks, frantically trying to triage emails out of my inbox and get stuff done! I therefore had less time to spend on my presentation than I would have liked, but I managed to pull together 15 Powerpoint slides offering our Development team in the UK and US a brief overview of the Open Access landscape. It wasn’t a snazzy Prezi, and nor was it learnt off-by-heard, but I did give it a good bash!
It was a funny experience, though: sat in what is one of Routledge’s swankier boardroom-style meeting rooms, in the middle of a large wooden table, trying to present to both the five people in the room, as well as to the webcam pointed at my face from the wall under the TV screen! Due to the less-than-ideal preparation time, I had also not gone through my slides and accompanying notes as thoroughly as I would have liked, so I did find myself reading definitions here and there – particularly as Open Access is a tricky concept to get your head around anyway.
However, despite having to read off my crib sheets in some instances, I did still find myself projecting my words mainly at the Americans who were being beamed onto the wall, which was probably very odd for my colleagues in the room!
The whole experience just got me wondering about what kind of teacher I will be: that’s now two stand-in-front-of-the-class moments I’ve had in the last week, if you include my volunteering day as well. Part of me really enjoys the buzz, and the other part of me is in constant fear of how the beginnings and ends of my sentences are going to become friends in mid-speech, and whether the words escaping my lips actually make a single iota of sense!
I’ve read a lot in my ELT geekery recently about how the teacher should stand and present him/herself in a classroom situation: that the classroom shouldn’t always be the traditional image of the teacher preaching to an arch of interested (or not!) students, but rather that mingling and varying seating formats should be encouraged. If I had more time on my presentation, I’d have liked to include some more audience interaction, as I always feel pressured to hurry up when other people are being forced to listen to my droning voice and my voice alone!
So it was certainly a valuable experience – if I had stayed in my job for longer, I would have had the task of researching, collating and delivering a presentation on our customers’ changing habits with regard to online learning later this year, and that would have been a real challenge because that presentation has to be given to all sorts of executive staff! But my new challenge is teaching, and I hope I’m able to silence the nervous internal monologue in my head which pops up when I’m the centre of attention, and just get on with it! Watch this space…
Teeny little update, the next day:
I was really chuffed to receive six emails from colleagues who heard my presentation, telling me how useful it was 🙂 Not bad when only about 9 people were listening anyway! One main theme was that it helped them understand the difference between Gold and Green Open Access and, as that’s a fairly major component of the movement, I consider that a small victory!