PanelPicker Evaluations Progress Report: 40 down, 30 to go

30 more presentation proposal evaluations to complete for the SXSW Edu Advisory Board, that is.

In my role as a member of the SXSW Edu Advisory Board, I review and evaluate proposals for next year’s conference’s presentations. I’ve got 70 proposals to evaluate this year, up slightly from 65 last year. So far, I’ve reviewed 40, so I am more than halfway through, but still have a significant number of them to look at.

As described in my recent blog post, the PanelPicker process has 3 components: open public voting, staff selections, and Advisory Board evaluations. Each proposal in the Panel Picker contains a summary description (500-character max), learning objectives or takeaways, and, additional resources to explain the proposal, usually a short video. Additionally, they can supply other resources, often links to longer videos (TED-type talks, for instance), articles, and websites. As an evaluator, I also see brief bios on the speaker(s) and moderator.

I am then asked to answer 3 questions on a 5-point Likert scale: quality of speakers, creativity of proposal, and relevance of proposal. Then, a simple yes/no question: “Do you see this as part of our event?” To complete the evaluation, I must also provide a written comment.

My observations so far this year: the quality of proposals seems to be up quite a bit from what I reviewed last year. This year, I’m seeing a broader variety of proposals rather than several specific trends, as in the past (VR/AR, storytelling). I do like the number of proposals focusing on transitioning from K-12 to higher education to work with an emphasis on alternative approaches matching skills to needs.

As an evaluator, I am a softie, an easy mark. So far, I am voting most of the proposals up, almost 2 out of 3. I remember struggling a bit with this high “acceptance rate” last year, but deciding that it is not my job to eliminate any proposals, but to evaluate each individual proposal. So, I might reject them all or accept them all, but I need to respond to each one honestly on those limited questions. And so far, most of them look like something I would want to go to next spring.

Out of the 40 proposals I’ve reviewed so far, here are a few favorites I’ve found:

Making Connections: Your Brain on Creativity (Future20 format) — I saw this presenter, Amelia Bachleda of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, this past spring and she packed a powerful punch into the fast-paced Future20 format — can’t wait to see her do it again next spring!

Fostering the “Grit” in Student InteGRITy (1 hour talk)  — I want to hear more about this program. From the description: “How do we design environments that empower positive failures and spark innovation? We created Street Teams, student-run collaborations. We partner with nonprofits to solve organizational challenges. Students have real-world learning experiences while giving back to the community.”

Immigration and Healing through Cross-Media Education (2-hour workshop) — this team will provide hands-on guidance in using multiple media to examine the complex and emotional topic of immigration through “a methodology melding education, ethics and aesthetics.”

Anyone can vote for any proposal they like via the public portion of the PanelPicker. You do need to register in order to vote, but it’s free and easy, so please jump right in and help us select next year’s presentations.

Which brings me to my plug for my proposal, The Quest for Future-Proof Superpowers. Please take a look and help me return to the SXSW Edu podium as a presenter once again.

Well, time for me to get back to work on those final 30 evaluations that I have to complete by next Friday.

About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
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