Friday, 28 January 2011

Willing to share but not willing to pay for the privilege

I’ve sat on this post since yesterday as I feel quite strongly about the issue and didn’t want to rant too much. However, this is something that I feel needs to be discussed so you’ve been warned: time to ruffle some feathers!

feathers

Ruffled feathers complete with head in the sand (or grass). Image by ucumari

As I mentioned previously, my experiences of blogging and tweeting over the last several months have been really enlightening and motivating. Having the opportunity to share my thoughts and benefit from the ideas of others has really helped me as a teacher and as a student. As Cecilia discussed on her blog recently, sharing is (or at least should be) an important part of every teacher’s ongoing development, whether with our immediate colleagues or with other ELT professionals we connect with online or at conferences and seminars.

Another great benefit of being active on Twitter is that I’ve heard about upcoming conferences in Turkey that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. In the past, I’ve only ever given workshops at my school’s own conference and I was excited about the possibility of sharing and interacting with other teachers outside my usual surroundings.

I duly applied to four different upcoming events and was delighted earlier this week when one of them got in touch to say my proposal had been accepted. I was asked to confirm I would be available, which I promptly did, and was then directed to the presenters registration page. I filled in my personal details but then came to a screen asking for a fee of 75 Euros. I thought it must be an error and I had been sent the regular attendees link by mistake. However, after contacting the organisers, it turned out I was expected to pay. Admittedly, my experience of doing workshops at such events is limited to my own organisation’s conference but it had never even occurred to me that I might have to pay. After all, I’d be the one going to do something for them

I then checked the other conferences: one is my own school’s event so nothing to worry about there; another asks for no fee for presenters and even offers free accommodation; but the third was asking for a whopping 120 Euro fee from the presenters! Surprised smile 

money

Is this enough for me to do a workshop for you? Image by Public Domain Photos

Now, I don’t expect to be paid - I am not a big name in ELT nor am I an experienced presenter at such events. Nor do I expect all expenses to be covered - my school has said they will cover any travel costs for conferences I attend outside of Ankara. Accommodation is not really an issue - I would have no problem paying for that and besides, I have friends or relatives from my wife’s family in pretty much every major Turkish city. But why should I pay to present? It’s not really the expense that’s the issue - it’s the principle. As anyone who has presented at conferences will know, planning and preparing workshops takes a lot of time and effort. On top of that, I would need to arrange time off work, possibly having to re-arrange classes for my free hours and I would be away from home for up to 3 days. Considering that commitment on my part plus the fact that I would be adding something to that particular event, I simply don’t see the logic in being asked to pay a fee.

Granted, conferences are expensive events to run - flying in plenary speakers, arranging the venue, equipment, refreshments (even then, coffee is an area where corners are obviously cut!) but surely that can be covered by non-presenting participant’s fees and sponsors. After all, what are the sponsors for if not to cover the costs of running the show and bringing the presenters in?

Perhaps I’m being somewhat naive. Is this the norm for most conferences? What about you? Do you agree with me or would you happily pay the fee even when you are giving a workshop at a conference? Are there any conference organisers out there who can explain the logic in asking people who are giving up their time for the benefit of your event to pay for the privilege? I would really love to hear from you!

66 comments:

  1. Hi Dave. As you know, I'm also lined up to present at the same event and I'm kind of bummed that you're not going to be there now. I was looking forward to a decent tweet up.

    I totally understand your disgruntlement and, now that you mention it, it really does seem a bit unfair that the conference is basically generating revenue partly by having you share your expertise and yet you're still expected to pay for the privilege (why has this never bothered me before?). Nevertheless, this is pretty much the norm out there in conferenceland and it's something you generally have to get used to.

    While I'd like to think that most conferences are mainly aiming to cover costs, I think there should be more effort made to accommodate those of us who are helping put on the show. I guess the likes of you and I will have to serve out our rites of passage and hope that one day someone wants us badly enough to 'show us the money'. Until then...

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  2. Hi Dave,
    I sympathise with your sentiments, but yes, in some organisations, this is the norm. I guess the rationale (and I'm neither defending or attacking it) is that the presenters are paying to attend all the other sessions and activities that are part of the conference. I guess most presenters are sponsored by their institutions or by publishers, but quite a few freelancers, or presenters whose institutions won't sponsor them, have to pay their own way, and yes, it comes to quite a lot for e.g. IATEFL UK when you tot up the fee, the travel and the accommodation. So, why do we do it? I guess I see it as an investment in my professional development, it gives me the challenge and motivation I need to explore, reshape, rethink, clarify certain aspects of my work and profession. I might not actually attend if I wasn't presenting. It's a kind of external commitment. But then, that's probably just me! I also present in conferences where the fee is waived for presenters (TESOL Spain for example)- and very much appreciate this fact. So, paying to share? paying to present? well, not really, paying to be part of the conference, yes - and whether that's fair when you're a presenter, I don't know.

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  3. Unfortunately, David, this is indeed the norm for most conferences. Even my local TESOL does this - although they actually never dare to ask the big names to pay a membership fee!

    The only conferences so far where I have not been asked to pay as a presented, and I have truly appreciated this, were TESOL France and ISTEK Schools Conference in Turkey.

    I agree with you on the principle that it is the presenters who make the conference worth going to.

    The most painfully expensive one is IATEFL International, where you don't only have to pay your annual membership fee but a conference fee as well.

    At the end of the day, my feeling is that it is not the big organisations which will worry about paying for someone to represent them. It is teachers and teacher educators like you and me who are not actually in the big money making league who end up NOT going to as many conferences as we could go simply because it is turning out to be a sport for the rich and famous.

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  4. And think of the poor people who have to pay and NOT even get the privledge to present.

    Oh my! Just wait until you pay and then get to your room and its a disheveled mess of chairs and soiled cushions in a basement!

    Part of edubusiness. Part of the celebritilization of knowledge. Ask yourself how you've participated in this - nobody is able to cast the first stone.

    I've discussed this ad nauseum over the years. Nothing changes. A few will holler but they still participate, they still pay. If I know one thing about life - it is that so few live by their own choices. Most live through "default" (and this is a valid and growing socio-economic theory too, not just me ranting).

    David

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  5. This is interesting. I've not heard of any presenters having to pay to present at an EFL workshop/seminar before. Admittedly, I've never done any workshops accept for my school. I would also not expect to pay to present, as you, quite rightly mentioned, you are providing a service for the organisers. Perhaps more experienced EFL professionals could confirm if speakers must pay a presentation fee for the IATEFL conference.

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  6. Fiona Mauchline28 January 2011 23:41

    Alas, most conferences organised by teachers' associations expect speakers to pay the regular conference fee (cheaper if you're a member). If a publisher is sponsoring you, obviously they pay that fee, but otherwise..... TESOLSpain asks speakers resident in Spain to be a member, which costs about 30€, and you get your mags for that, so.. But try conferences like the BESIG one! The problem is, these things are expensive to run (VERY) and membership rarely covers the cost of a full blown do in a decent venue. It's a bummer but if you're serious about TEFL, getting your name out is worth it in the medium/long run. Believe me.
    Fiona

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  7. Hi David,

    I believe that there are two things going on. First, unless you are an invited speaker, you will be expected to register for the conference, like everyone else. Having said that, I've never heard of a speaker having to pay for the privilege over and above the regular registration fee. Second, for a lot of teacher organisations, the annual conference is the, I mean THE, annual fund-raiser. I used to think that the 'special' hotel rates for delegates at the TESOL Convention, for instance, would be specially low. Wrong. They are specially high. Go figure.

    And hey, you sure are one tekno-talented blogger.

    Best,

    Julian

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  8. Ok here goes. All the conferences where I have attended as a speaker I have had to pay and it is the first time I have heard of not paying a fee as a speaker. I have been teaching for 16 years and going to various conferences and my colleagues are going to conferences as well and we have always had to pay to speak. As for sponsorship, this only covers the pleanary speakers in most cases and non of the admin and advertising. For us we have to fund everything ourselves from food to transport, publicity, conference programmes etc. The list is endless. No profit is made on the conference and all the conference organizers work for free for over two years in their spare time without any payment. It all depends who the backer of the conference is. Even IATEFL charge their presenters they just get an early fee. I think you are in a very lucky situation and I will be checking out your conferences in future. For us we have tried to reduce the cost through group discounts, sponsorship of MEB teachers, reductions to students (which would have applied to you as you are doing your MA)and day fees as we know this will be an issue. There is more behind the scenes than you have realized an it is not a simple as paying or not paying as a presenter. Also possibly your institution does not cover your fees to speak and this is a shame.

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  9. Hi Dave,

    This is an interesting one. I think like you, I'd be happy to cover my own costs in order to present at a conference but I wouldn't be happy paying a fee of any kind and certainly not one of 75 Euros.

    It's one thing that they don't pay you, but another to expect you to pay a fee. I'm going to TESOL Spain in March and I'll be paying a conference fee as I'm not presenting.

    Stick to er guns bit cheeky methinks!

    Leahn

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  10. Hi Dave,
    I hear your cry of injustice! The big yearly conference in Toronto, which hosts over 2000 participants altogether, is also the umbrella governing body for all TESL accreditation in the province, for which yearly dues of $90CDN must be paid by all. Then when it comes to presenting at the conference, if accepted, that's free. BUT, if you wish to attend other workshops or plenaries at the conference too, you must pay $260CDN for the three days! Outrageous! For the last two conferences, I've simply come in, presented at my time and left. What kind of camaraderie and community building is that, I ask.

    At my affiliate conference, which is substantially smaller, presenters are paid an honorarium and encouraged to attend any other workshops they like, for free. The payment is nice, but it'd suffice to just be allowed to share in the learning and conversation as a thank you for presenting.

    I've planned to boycott this year's provincial conference. It's just not worth it.

    Cheers,
    Tyson

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  11. Wow. Pretty surprising that you have to pay to share your expertise... :(

    I know conferences might be expensive, but, then... so are surgeries. Are doctors paying to perform their services?

    I feel like this kind of honest feedback should be on their radar too. Have you expressed your "discontent"? :)

    cheers, brad

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  12. I had exactly the same experience last year David, when I applied for the Harrogate IATEFL conference. I was delighted my proposal was accepted and then I couldn't believe my eyes I had to pay the steep fee!
    But I was a rookie then. I realized this is what everyone is doing unfortunately. I agree with you it is kind of unfair but in big conferences like IATEFL half the population was presenting so I guess they can't wave the fee.
    Maybe they could consider a discount though!

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  13. @Martin Sketchley

    You'll have to pay for the international IATEFL event and it'll be in the region of 150 pounds, more if you need extra equipment like a projector.

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  14. I have to say that I'm pretty much with you on this one, Dave...

    Although some speakers who pay to attend conferences will able to claim back the cost of registering for conferences from sponsors, publishers, employers etc, many others are not in such a fortunate position and will have to stump up for the cost of registering themselves.

    As a freelancer with pretty shallow pockets, the conferences I'll be looking to submit to this year are the ones where speakers aren't expected to pay a registration fee to attend.

    Leaving personal interests aside, I also feel that that charging speakers to attend conferences puts yet another barrier in the way of giving educators from poor countries and less developed parts of the world the opportunity to present and on the basis of that, it gets a big thumbs down from me as well.

    Part and parcel of the edubusiness it may be, as David says, but should we just passively roll over and accept it? Maybe not.

    Playing devil's advocate for a moment, if your motivation for presenting is primarily to share and pass on knowledge, then you don't need to attend conferences to do that any more. Thanks to social media, educators have a global audience that they can tap into from their bedroom, 24/7.

    Although I've seen some wonderful talks and presentations at conferences over the past year, some of the online workshops and presentations I've attended have been just as good and I'm sure I've learnt as much from them, if not more.

    A bit of food for thought for conference organisers perhaps, methinks.

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  15. Wow! I wasn't quite expecting such a response. I guess I've opened a can of worms to go along with the ruffled feathers. ;) I'll try to answer most of the comments above together here. Must admit I'm starting to wish I had one of those nice Wordpress blogs that let you reply directly to each comment!

    So, it seems this situation is more common than I at first thought. I stand by my initial reaction though - I don't think it's fair or right that workshop presenters are asked to pay.

    One arguement in favour of making us pay is that we also attend the event and get to see the other speakers. I'll be honest here - my interest in presenting at most of these events has been selfish as getting more experience at giving workshops is my main goal rather than benefitting from attending other sessions. Moreover, when I look at the confirmed plenary talks, I don't see much that would be on benefit to me as a teacher of young learners. In fact, my perspective as a YL teacher is one of the things I felt I would be adding to the event.

    The other arguement is about costs. I'm just making up numbers here but let's say 500 people are expected to attend with 30 workshop sessions scheduled. Sure, 30 x 75 euros is a lot of money to waive but why not just ask the regular attendees to pay 80 euros then? (You would actually get a little bit more money that way).

    Another angle to be examined is the kind of organisation that is running the event. Obviously, an association of teachers has limited forms of revenue beyond membership fees, SIG events and the conference itself but a school/university has other sources of revenue and the possible advantage of being able to provide its own venue. In this latter case, surely the professional development benefits of the conference extend to the institution as well as the individual teachers.

    Perhaps there is the expectation/assumption that the employers of the person set to give the workshop or individual sponsors will pay. If that's the case, I feel that makes the events a bit of a 'closed club' in that you can only join if you know/work for the right people. Freelance ELT professionals and regular teachers either have to cough up or stay at home. At the end of the day, it's the conference's loss as they miss out on the 'view from the classroom'.

    Let me close this lengthy comment with some more detail about how my own employers do things. The organisation I work for, TED, has schools in more than 20 different cities in Turkey and each year, one of these schools will host the event. The sponsors and publishers cover the plenary speakers and nearly all of the workshops are run by TED teachers. As for the attendees, roughly 50% of them are also teachers from different TED schools. The TED organisaiton waives the fee, covers travel costs, provides accommodation and gives a stipend to cover taxi fares, evening meals and other expenses to ALL of its employees going to the event, whether they are presenting or just attending. I asked one of the organisers via email if this meant they ran the event at a financial loss. His reply summed it up for me: "We do nott view it as a loss but as an investment in the development of our teachers and the promotion of our name in ELT in Turkey." That's the spirit!

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  16. I don't know how to react after reading others' responses... seems like the situation is more complicated than I had thought, and that paying for a conference center and "celebrity" speakers makes it quite expensive.

    Many of you are probably aware of web conferences like BaW where it's free for participants and the moderators or speakers are volunteering their time. I don't think it'd be far-fetched to say that we'll see more and more of this, and fewer high cost "non-virtual" conferences. Haha... non-virtual.

    Many people used to go to such conferences for networking and social media these days have made that easier too.

    Will the conference be the next dinosaur or drive-in theater? :)

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  17. I agree with Brad, I think that is the way that it will go but will plenaries still stream for free as they currently do now. But coming back to you Dave your TED situation seems interesting. It is also not usual. I have a genuine question. Why are the workshops mainly only conducted by TED teachers. Doesn't this mean that TED keeps it's monopoly on the situation? How about the other 50% who come if they wanted to present is it by invitation only or an open proposal submission.

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  18. Hi Sharon,

    The 1st TED event mainly had speakers from outside but a lot of teachers gave feedback after the event criticising the lack of relevancy to our teaching context. The decision was therefore taken to involve more TED teachers directly in the event for subsequent conferences. If anything (seeing as charging presenters seems to be the norm), TED loses money rather than saves it by doing this.

    As I said, the plenary speakers all come from outside TED and some of the double up by giving workshops as well. I don't see it as a monopoly, just a representation of who we are and what we do.

    The deadline has passed now but workshop proposals can be submitted by all comers I'm not involved with the organisation side of things in anyway and the full line-up is yet to be announced so I can't comment on how those submissions are viewed against the internal ones and how many of them are accepted at present but I'll try to get back to you on that. :)

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  19. I'm with you on this one, David! While it may be true that in many cases the cost of a conference is so high that conference organisers may be forced to charge presenters as much as (and occasionally even more than) they charge other participants, what I find really disturbing is that the same conference organisers are often quite happy to pay certain other speakers very steep "honoraria". So at the end of the day the less well known speakers not only contribute to the success of the conference by presenting and sharing their ideas and work, but also subsidise the "big names," most of whom merely repeat the same presentations that they have given elsewhere, which may also have been repeatedly tweeted about, blogged about and even broadcast on youtube, slideshare, etc.

    In effect, we are talking about a de facto apartheid policy, which I am sure is not a fully conscious decision on the part of conference organisers, but it is nevertheless highly ideological. Especially given the fact that the "big names" do not necessarily contribute anything more original or more useful than everyone else: what they do do is attract more people to the conference by virtue of the "size" of their names; in practice, then, the conference organisers' actions bow to the principles of marketing rather than supporting teacher development and the sharing of ideas!

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  20. Time to address some of the individual comments.

    Adam - a shame I won't be there. If you don't mind me asking, will you be paying your own way or covered by your employers? I assume in most cases, it's the latter and many individual teachers are out off even applying to present by the expense.

    Ceri - If we talk in terms of an 'investment', the question of when we see a return has to be asked. In financial terms, that may never come. You may get noticed and encouraged to present elsewhere but what if you are asked to pay a fee there as well? In terms of PD, these days we can engage in that in so many ways beyond conferences so is it worth it?

    Marisa - For me, this is the main problem. If regular teachers and people outside the 'elite' feel discouraged from presenting, then who are the conferences really for?

    David - It's always the same with these things isn't it? As long as enough people are willing to pay and present, the organisers will continue to charge and ignore the one or two who pull out (and never know about the others who would have applied but didn't). With regards to the condition of the venue, I will say this about conference oragnisers in Turkey - they know how to put on a good event in nice surroundings!

    Martin - I guess we are approaching this from the same starting position! I was shocked to here exactly how expensive IATEFL is though! :o

    Fiona - As I said to Martin on Twitter, getting my name 'out there' isn't really the point. I just wanted to get some experience and share knowledge/ideas away from the usual crowd. Why pay for that?

    Julian - Thanks for dropping by! I appreciate that teacher associations have more limited sources of income but I wonder why other institutions want their conferences to be self-sufficient. You've obviously 'been there, done that' on the conference circuit. How long were you paying to do sessions before reaching 'plenary status'? (at which point I assume the situation changes) Looking forward to learning from you again this semester (does this blog count towards EDUC 70130? :p)

    Tyson - Pretty shocking that you end up literally just coming in for your session. Do you have to walk through the venue blindfolded to avoid catching a glimpse of the pay-per-view event? :p Good call on boycotting it this time.

    Leahn, Anna & Brad - Like you, I've been surprised by how normal this situation seems to be but undertsand that the number of workshops can be an issue. At least by expressing my discontent here, Sharon has answered the call from the organisers side (check out her post if you haven't already).

    Sue - Again, I think it's a shame that great educators such as yourself have to miss (or at least pick and choose) events carefully because of the costs. That also represents a loss for the event itself as they are potentially missing out on great additions offering first-hand, relevant and recent classroom experience. You're spot on about the increasingly important role of social media as a platform for teachers to share and discuss. However, I feel online events lack the interactivity you can get at a face-to-face workshop and that's what I was hoping to get involved in. I still will, just at one or two events instead of four or five.

    George - Not sure 'apartheid' is the right word and from what I gather, sponsors cover most of the 'big names' and thier fees, but marketing definitely sounds right. I think some (not all!) conference organisers need to ask themselves why they are hosting such an event? To contribute to the education community? For their own teachers' professional development? Or to promote their own name?

    All good food for thought. Thanks guys!

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  21. Yes, indeed--TESOL and the major state TESOL (ELT) organizations in the US require presenters to pay. This often means $100-175 for what's essentially a two-day or two-and-a-half-day conference (one day if you can't get off Friday and have to travel on Sunday). Volunteers are expected to pay as well, less a discount. When I was on the board of directors of a major state-level organization, several of us raised our concerns that students, underemployed professionals (of which there are many in this state!), and others would be discouraged from presenting or volunteering because the discounts were too minor to make a difference. We were informed that it is a professional obligation and a privilege to participate in these events, and furthermore, that we did not understand the meaning of the word "volunteer." Well, maybe there ought to be a better word for it, but nonetheless...

    I have never had any institution pay for my attendance (except when I was a member of the board, oddly enough!), which is increasingly common at US colleges and other institutions. And of course, many teachers are no longer associated with one specific or any institution. In talking with grad students, entrepreneur-teachers, and long-term adjunct teachers, many of us feel that the leadership of various organizations inside and outside the US are fairly out of touch with our realities. It's reflected in these fees, in the $25 box lunches offered at these conferences (really--and it's essentially a sandwich and chips, and if you don't buy it you miss the special annual group meetings), and in the questions when you join the organization that are completely non-reflective of our teaching situations. There are indeed a handful of grants for attendees, and a couple of special slightly reduced attendance categories, but none of them apply to me or most of the other people that I know who are weighing whether to go to the next event.

    If we, as presenters and volunteers, make up the core of the event, I think that the event organizers ought to honor this. There would be no conference if not for the presenters! (And yet they make up a small percentage of the attendees.) However, in the US, these events are fundraisers that support the organizations' activities throughout the year, in most cases, so I suppose they have little motivation (in addition to their problematic believes) to change their practices.

    As for me, I'm waiting for a chance to go to an unconference on any topic of interest to me so that I can see how it's done. I think that kind of event may be more accessible and certainly more financially feasible. I just don't want to plan one when I've never seen one in action. I love online conferences, but I still think that there's merit to meeting in person. It's time for us to completely rethink these expensive "expense account" conferences. If “the conference is so expensive that we can’t afford to allow in for free the small percentage of attendees who are presenters,” then REDESIGN THE CONFERENCE. Redesign it. Start over. Bottom up.There has to be a better way. People are being left out, excluded, and barred--we are skewing the face of ELT.

    (Yes, this IS a subject I feel strongly about!)

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  22. Dave, a lot was already said but I will add my part. I'm fairly new to the conference world (and twitter) so I don't have a lot of experience. I just know that conferences are expensive so, like many others, I choose the ones where I don't have to pay to present (and can afford a flight to the venue) or where I can apply for a grant (e.g. IATEFL). I'm a freelancer so there is no institution backing me up...I love the idea of sharing with others and as I'm not good at all tech things I prefer face2face workshops. And that's how I like to run mine. So I think about those conferences as a treat for myself - a kind of (very) pricey educational holiday;) AniaMusielak

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  23. I don't know, David, the more I think about it the more appropriate the term apartheid seems to me. Think about it: the one "race" (or stratum, or caste, or whatever you want to call it) have to (1) submit proposals; (2) submit proposals for original presentations; (3) go through an approval or rejection process; (4) pay for the privilege of presenting if approved; (5) be content with whatever slot they are given; (6) participate in as few conferences as their personal budgets will allow them.

    The other "race," who no conference organiser would dream of asking to pay to participate, (1) are not asked what they will be presenting; (2) are not subject to scrutiny but rather the object of much gratitude; (3) are allowed, and indeed encouraged, to reiterate the same content in the same manner over and over from conference to conference; (4) not only have their travel expenses paid but are also paid for their time, whether by sponsors or conference organisers; (5) rarely, if ever, have to even ask to be given the best slots; (6) freely go to as many conferences as they like, even though they only attend the few sessions the agressivité liée à la relation narcissique allows them to attend.

    As for the conference organisers, I fear, in most cases, their agressivité is also fundamentally narcissistic; in other words, they are, of course, promoting themselves!

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  24. Great post David!!

    A Brazilian teacher wanting to present at IATEFL will spend around: 1,250 pounds. A 6-day holiday pack from Brazil to Paris (flight+hotel) costs 800 pounds.
    So firstly, if you are a burnout teacher and have that kind of money, you'd prefer a trip to Paris.
    Secondly, if you choose the conference, when you go back home 90% of employers don't know what IATEFL is. So, you won't transalate the investment to income in a million years.

    Regarding having to pay to present, bottom line is education, like any other business is about money. We, who think otherwise, are dreamers. As long as there are free speakers, why would they do it differently?

    I should as well mention TESOL France, which didn't charge presenter's fee not even for the commonly under-rated poster presenters like myself.

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  25. Clarissa and George - Very insightful and eye-opening to hear from two people who have been on the 'inside' of professional teacher associations and conference organising committees. It seems clear to me that as things stand such events are missing out on presentations from great teachers like Ania, who thankfully was able to attend TESOLFr and by all (tweeted) accounts gave a great workshop.

    Willy - Thanks for your comments. The trip to Paris does sound more appealing doesn't it? You make a good point - for us 'regular' teachers (I've used that phrase a lot today it seems...) we do the conference, go back to work and people don't even know where you've been or what it was about. Where's the recognition and long-term investment then? Will we see a poster of yours at ISTEK? Hope so!

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  26. Hi Dave,

    Sorry I'm late to the party! I think as more online conferences like the Virtual Round Table, Reform Symposium, Global Education Conference, CO11 and more become popular that organizations will have to rethink that conference fee. I understand that conferences are expensive to organize, but like you I think that the conferences are making money because we present. If all the presenters who have to pay a fee did not present then what kind of conference would there be? Who would pay to go to that? Moreover, I think you get your name out there more by presenting at a free virtual conference where you pay nothing to present, no fuel costs, and no accommodation. At an online conference you also get a free archive of your presentation for others to continually look at. The 2 conferences I did attend that didn't require speakers to pay a fee (ISTEK and TESOL France) were also 2 of the best ELT Conferences I attended. I met some of the greatest names in ELT.The ones I had to pay fees for, aside from IATEFL (which is also one of the best but will tackle this later), were not up to par. The keynotes weren't as known or really related to ELT. I was very disappointed and if not for meeting some Twitter friends wouldn't have attended. IATEFL is huge and yes I will continue to pay because they have incredible entertainment as well as great speakers and keynotes. Also, I get to see many friends I would never get to see. Thanks for this great post!

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  27. RE: Blindfolded through the venue (LOL!) - No, it's held at the Sheraton Hotel so all session doors are closed during the sessions themselves...wouldn't want any stragglers trying to get in from a session they left so they could learn something... :roll eyes here:

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  28. Right, I don't know when I'll ever be able to present at another TESOL, and international events are out of the question. And I imagine there are lots of presenters who'd be far more enlightening than I who are in the same boat.

    This is not a personal criticism of the (hard-working!) conference organizers; after all, "they" are "we." These conferences are organized by *us*. We do things the way they have always been done because that's the way they've always been done. But that doesn't work for language-teaching, and I don't think it works for conferences. I really feel strongly that we have to rethink how we are doing things and get serious about inclusion and accessibility. It's not just for the classroom.

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  29. Thanks for initiating what is becoming useful discussion, Dave. A big part of why this has never bothered me in the past is that wherever I've been working has picked up the tab for this kind of professional development. I do accept that I've been lucky and can empathise with those paying their own way.

    Now onto business...

    How many of those who've left a comment here have ever been involved in organising such an event? I haven't, but I've been close enough to those who have to know that any attempt by people here to simply 'add up the numbers' is going to be way off.

    Let's look at the welcome reception just as an example. How many of you, in addition to working out the cost of a few cups of tea and coffee, have factored in the insurance premium on having several hundred people in a confined area for such an event? How about the cost of having an ambulance on standby in case of emergency? To say that these things (and these aren't the only considerations) don't come cheap is putting it mildly, and the list goes on...

    So, you think it's only the likes of Bill Clinton that demand big bucks to give a speech? I know that the agent of one particular plenary speaker we'd have liked to have had at our conference quoted a financial demand in excess of $50,000 to appear. Sorry, you're probably feeling even worse about it now!

    I'd really love this theme to develop and all those of you out there who are involved in the organisation of such events give their side of the story.

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  30. I have been involved in conference organising and while what many have said is true, i.e., that venues cost a lot, that there are all sorts of other high costs involved, etc., it is worth mentioning the following:

    Most small regional conferences are put together by hardworking volunteer teachers who, more often than not:

    - are no financial wizzards
    - are not always properly equipped to decide who to invite
    - have little or no management experience
    - can make mistakes and often do!

    Paying speakers honoraria such as 50,000 dollars (must be an American speaker, I suspect) is just unrealistic when IATEFL never pays anyone - no matter how big the name - more than 250 pounds.

    And yet my local association invited someone (another American speaker..:-) they do know how to sell themselves to an unsuspecting board!) who was paid 2,000 or 2,500 dollars (plus travel, plus hotel and VIP entertainment) to deliver a paper during which she read her powerpoint slides out to us, which were a summary of an article she had already published on the web. Of course, this speaker did not have to pay a membership fee!

    Shelly, on the other hand, who delivered one of the best presentations amongst a multitude of mediocre rehashes, did have to pay a membership fee - and to add insult to injury, she was told she was not allowed to go into the Annual General Assembly meeting and vote! One has to wonder why? Was she going to spoil some broth that was being cooked?

    Teachers in Greece are paid 8 or 9 euros per hour, so I consider paying speakers these amounts of money actually quite offensive and disrespectful to our membership.

    While at the same time, people like Shelly and other great colleagues who add value to our PLN every day will never be invited or offered to be paid for their time and their work will never be featured or proposed as a keynote talk.

    There is an apartheid - George is right. And it is often a very local one, driven by affiliation, self promotion and self interest.

    Good speakers are important to a conference, there is no doubt about that, and some of them happen to be well known names. But they are not the only ones and this does bother me, too.

    But as Shelly says, much of this debate will become more and more irrelevant as conferences move to online environments where the costs are minimal and teachers can attend for free!

    Teachmeets, unconferences, roundtables and even conferences in Second Life will have to make f-2-f conference organisers have a very good rethink of what they charge people vis a vis what they have to offer.

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  31. Hi, David!
    The fact that I personally spent about 20 minutes reading the comments before reaching the spot to leave my own comment shows that asking speakers to pay at conferences is a “burning issue”!
    My belief is that there’s no conference without speakers and I strongly disagree with their having to pay for presenting. However, this is very common, unfortunately, and unless most conference organizing Boards reconsider their policies, they will surely find their audiences, and consequently their membership gradually decreasing.
    As a Board Member of my local TESOL association, I have experienced most of what Marisa describes in her second comment. I agree that Conference Organisers have to think twice before they choose which speakers they invite and sponsor since they insist on charging all the others!
    Ansa Lakioti

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  32. Shelly - Thanks for your opinions on this subject. It's good to have the perspective of soomebody who is heavily invovled with organising online events. I think online conferences are set to become increasingly important because of the advantages you mentioned and the chance for ordinary teachers to easily join in and present. Also, it's interesting how the conferences which don't ask the presenters to pay seem to be more hghly regarded in terms of the quality of their line-ups and the vent as a whole (TESOL France and ISTEK have got lots of mentions in this regard) - could it be because they are more affordable and therefore more accessible to the likes of you and me?

    Adam - Thanks for adding to the discussion from the 'other side' as it were. $50,000 ,s a ridiculous amount of money to ask. I can only the speaker and agent were never really serious about coming or they have been spoiled by money-is-no-object events in the Middle East and reached that unfortunate conclusion that many people do that Turkey is also a Middle Eastern country!

    Marisa & Ansa - Obviously, the situation with regards to TESOL Greece needs some serious reform. Sadly, it seems only a decline in membership and attendance at the conference (and therefore a drastic drop in revenues) will provide the necessary impetus for change.

    Reading through the comments, especially Clarissa's call for a rethink about how such events are organsied, got me thinking. Does each and every event really need multiple 'big name' speakers? Of course, having a well-known and respected ELT professor, author or coursebook writer is a great coup for the organsiers and a rare chance for teachers in that region to directly benefit from such a person's experience and knowledge but does every single event need such figures?

    Perhaps in Turkey, the desire to bring such speakers to many different events stems from the fact we have no Turkish branch of IATEFL or TESOL (although after hearing from our neighbours in Greece, maybe that's a good thing! :P). But take my employers event as an example (again!) - as I said before, TED teachers generally do the workshops and there is usually one plenary speaker flown in from the UK or elsewhere. However, the other plenary speakers are usually teacher trainers located in Turkey (last year, we had Kristina Smith from Pearson Longman) or representatives from the Turkish British Council office or the cultural attaché of the American embassy here (who did last year's closing keynote). Thus, we get talks from people who know about language teaching and general education here, much more relevant for those in attendance.

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  33. Hi again Dave, and thanks for the compliments & kind words!

    I agree that online events lack the interactivity you can get at a face-to-face workshop, although you can still benefit from that kind of thing even if you aren't presenting.

    I've no personal axe to grind with any organisation that charges speakers a fee to register, but I've yet to hear a convincing argument as to why a presenter who makes a contribution to the overall success of an event by providing their skills and labour for free should be expected to pay as much to attend a conference as a punter who just goes along to watch the show and enjoy the craik.

    I've never been involved in organising an ELT conference Adam, but I have been involved in organising other events & appreciate the hidden costs that can sometimes be involved.

    I've no idea how much public liability insurance costs in Turkey, but in the UK £1,000,000 worth of cover for a 3 day conference attended by 300 people would set you back slightly less than I paid to register for a 2 day ELT conference last year, to put things in a little bit more context...

    Having an ambulance on standby in case of emergency? Can't recall ever seeing one of those parked outside any of the conferences I've attended over the years tbh, be it ELT or otherwise. I know it's good to cover all the bases, but is it really necessary to err quite that much on the side of caution I can't help wonder, unless your planning on working fire eating or bungee jumping into the entertainment that's going to be on offer? ;-)

    Sue

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  34. Thanks for the post, David - as you've probably realised from all of the comments this is a topic close to most conference-goers' and in particular presenters' hearts!

    Pretty much everything has been said already really but I thought I'd clarify IATEFL's position on this.

    Basically, charging presenters a fee to attend is purely an economic decision. A conference has a range of costs such as the venue; marketing and publicity; if there's paid staff, their salaries; refreshments; and so on. Those costs need to be covered. At the IATEFL conference the situation is that of the ca. 2000 attendees about 400 are presenters. We therefore have to decide whether to make attendance for those 400 free and distribute the costs amongst the 1600 paying delegates; charge everyone the same, making it cheaper for the 1600 non-presenters; or choose something in the middle whereby presenters are charged but a smaller amount than non-presenters. We've come down on the latter in order to make it more affordable for more people. We know that the delegate fees are still prohibitive for quite a few people (especially when taking into account travel, accommodation and meals as well), but we hope that this balance makes it more affordable for some. We already try to offset as many of the costs as possible by inviting commercial companies to sponsor refreshments, events etc and with their support we already manage to drive down costs significantly, but unfortunately not entirely.

    On the theme of prohibitive costs, we're very pleased about our collaboration with the British Council on the Online Conference which is completely free to anyone anywhere in the world. As someone has pointed out it's probably not the same for most people as actually attending in person, but given the realities of most teachers' situation, we think this goes a long way towards achieving our mission of "linking, developing and supporting English Language Teaching professionals throughout the world".

    Speaking of linking and online: I totally agree that social networking is changing the face of peer-to-peer support and networking, and as such it's something that is influencing the nature and shape of IATEFL. All our SIGs already have e-mail discussion lists and this is a great start. We're in the process of bringing about a number of new online initiatives that will hopefully be useful and meaningful to EL teachers around the world. Hopefully we'll be able to make some relevant announcement at the conference in April - both face-to-face, and in the online conference :-)

    Hope that helps to clarify where we're coming from. Believe me that it's not an easy decision and it's one that we regularly discuss, and while we try to please everybody all the time, you know how the saying goes...

    Eric Baber (Incoming IATEFL President)

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  35. I'm really enjoying reading through all the comments to this post. Thanks, Dave, for initiating this.

    I've cobbled together something of a rebuttal over on my blog and I'd appreciate everyone's thoughts on the matter.

    http://www.yearinthelifeofanenglishteacher.com/2011/01/what-goes-into-holding-a-conference-and-why-you-should-be-happy-to-pay-for-the-privilege-of-attending/

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  36. One year at TESOL I was involved as sole or co-presenter in 5 presentations. But I still had to pay (not 5 times thankfully).

    Can I say that I entirely agree with the thrust of your complaint Dave, but find the comparison with apartheid distasteful? (I do of course realise that this was not your comparison)

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  37. I think Marisa makes some great points about "some" of the conference organizers not having the expertise in organizing a cheap conference. Dare I say that politics may also influence the election process of these organizations and sometimes the ones making the decisions about the conference are not exactly motivated by providing the best professional development for teachers. What if those who were passionate about it had the chance to organize the conference? This is one thing I noticed with ISTEK and TESOL France. The reason they were affordable was because Burcu Akyol and Bethany Cagnol were very passionate and had a vision about what a conference should be then implemented that vision. I noticed how they organized their teams, collaborated with them, and motivated them to make outstanding conferences. Therefore, these conferences were amazing! The entertainment, presentations, keynotes, and all the extras were phenomenal. I wonder what other conferences could learn from these conferences as far as cutting costs without cutting from the experience? If these 2 conferences and there are other conferences I can name do this, then I think that conference organizers should study various conferences that do accomplish these things and make it affordable for both presenters and attendees and an incredible experience. It has been proven it can be done and would it be possible for conference organizers to just consider this possibility and move towards achieving it?

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  38. Eric - Thanks for taking the time to come by and comment! It's good to have the perspective from IATEFL to add to the discussion. As I just commented on Adam's blog, I do feel there is a difference between international events run by teacher associations and local institutional ones. The scale of IATEFL, the fact that membership and the conference are (I assume) the main sources of income and the possibility of having 1 in 4 attendees presenting mean you have different factors to consider. Furthermore, individual sponsorship is easier to find. I'm sure if I told my school I could go to IATEFL and represent them there, they would contribute to the cost. However, I know they would not pay the fees for me to present at another institution's event in Turkey.

    Andy - 5 presentations? You must be super organised! As I said in my earlier comment (albeit politely), 'apartheid' is not the right word to use (discrimination maybe?) but I hope that does not ditract from the discussion.

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  39. Shelly - Super comment! This is what I've been thinking all along. ISTEK and TESOL France put on great events with affordable, accessible fees for delegates and no fees for presenters; my school takes a hit and holds the conference in smaller cities that don't always get such events so why can't more be like this?

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  40. I think that a lot of events suffer from an identity crisis. This relates to a comment left on my blog, so I'll go into more detail there. Glad to see the debate raging!

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  41. Shelly - I do like to think that we're passionate about the IATEFL conference as well! That's certainly not to take away from either Burcu or Beth's passion, energy and commitment - they both contribute fantastically to our profession and the TEFL scene benefits greatly from their work.

    This is probably a good time to mention that we're currently inviting applications for a volunteer for the Conference Committee - so if you've got lots of energy and want to make a difference to the IATEFL conference, now's your chance :-) http://www.iatefl.org/news/iatefl-news#volunteers has more details.

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  42. Just a question: How would everyone feel if future ISTEK and TESOL France events, just as examples as they've been mentioned, demanded a fee from presenters?

    Would those who've mentioned them be willing to present again?

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  43. Hey Dave,

    Sorry for taking so long to join in this conversation, I had been thinking about this issue too, but from a slightly different perspective which I'll write on soon and link to these (yours and Adam's posts) but... in the meantime I do want to throw in a question to Eric as while I do understand his points, I do know that there is a significant financial surplus in some of the SIGs.

    Why isn't some of this being put towards a fund to support freelancers attending and presenting?

    First of all, presenters do get the chance to go to other speakers presentations and those of us who are still interested in our professional development do indeed go to these, so I understand that there still should be some cost, after all it is training... but a nominal fee it is not.

    And by the way, I can't begin to count the number of paid-2-be-there presenters who sit around in the hallways "networking"... and don't actually go to any presentations other than their own... except, of course, to pop into the other big-names speaking or plenaries and then, oh let's face it, that's really more about being seen to be in the audience than being there to really to listen and learn, now isn't it?**

    The existing reduced fee is a very good gesture for some of the bigger conferences, however it is not, in any way, low enough to make it attractive to a vast number of incredibly talented professional teacher-trainers (who are often far, far better than those still trawling the circuit, bored but there, against those who are potentially offering real training rather than cliched repetitions of ideas and theories which serve not our students - because they don't even teach (SCANDAL!!) and despite fan-status have pretty close to zero idea what's going on in our classes.

    And while I really wouldn't go so far as to call it apartheid either, like others I do understand the main thrust of this argument, i.e. that there are the "haves" and the "have-nots."

    The paid-2-be-there and the paying-2-be-there.

    Scholarships are lovely and we are all grateful for the fact that those from poorer nations get the chance to come to IATEFL.

    But aside from the fact that they are aimed at the very poor they um, ironically, look mostly as if they are designed to make the "paid-2-be-there's" feel noble about their sharing their knowledge with these others... and on the otherhand, look like marketing (marketing of the IATEFL name as an organization and the marketing of its supporters) - fair trade, yes - however this gesture completely bypasses and ignores the "middle" economic reality of the majority of teachers and teacher-trainers.

    I do want to do more than rant however.

    My sincere suggestion to IATEFL would be to share the "available-scholarship-money" and extend this to provide an option for freelancers to be able to apply for a further subsidy or grant to help them cover the costs of getting to the conference/ hotel fees etc.

    The money is there.

    We get to hear about it in the AGMs...

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  44. I think of myself as probably overly cynical sometimes, but that comment is possibly the most cynical I've ever read Karenne.

    As someone who works for an IATEFL SIG which this year instituted a scholarship, I can assure you that this has nothing to do with making volunteers in the SIG committee feel noble (and by the way, aside from the Chair I think, all SIG volunteers are also paying-2-be-there). It was simply about taking a small surplus and trying to use it for something which supported the community (in this case of ELT leaders/managers).

    There's tons more cynicism oozing from that post, but I'll leave it at that.

    More constructively, let's imagine it was possible to do something for "freelancers". How are we defining a freelancer? Aren't most of the "great and good" freelancers typically? And don't most people who work on contract for language schools also have to pay their own way?

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  45. Hello from the snowy Istanbul,

    Thank you to everyone for mentioning the ISTEK conference:-)

    In my case, the school management supports the conference and we don't aim to make money from it. The only aim (from the financial point-of-view) is to reach the break-even point. Besides, the sponsors help me with that and asking for money from the presenters wasn't even mentioned during the planning period.

    As a presenter, I don't feel negative about paying the registration fee at the IATEFL conference because it is the biggest event of the ELT world and IATEFL is not a company, it is a teachers' association and they need to consider the revenue and expenses very carefully. But if a local conference organizer does the same thing, I prefer not to present there. They might have valid reasons for asking for money but as you said I cannot see a valid reason from my side to spend hours for preparation and then make a payment to be able to present there. If I am to pay for a conference as a presenter, it would definitely be IATEFL.

    By the way, I'm looking forward to meeting you at ISTEK:-)

    Burcu

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  46. And there I was Andy thinking that having taken a few days to reply that I would reply nicely. Shucks.

    Cynical, moi?

    Yeah. A little. Got eyes, got ears and invest time in critical thinking and not just the happy-clappy, let's all congratulate each other on how wonderful we all are.

    This is not a fair profession or even world we inhabit, dude, so yes, I do really get more than a little sick and tired of folks pretending that it is.

    This is an incredibly important post and I salute Dave for bringing the point up. This doesn't mean that I don't salute IATEFL as an organization. I do and hugely. I'd just like to see some redistribution of wealth is all.

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  47. Adam - How about we turn the question the other way? If some of these smaller, local conferences stopped charging presenters, how many more people would be willing to do workshops for them? Got one right here! o/

    Karenne & Andy - I'll just restate my position here that I have no big issue with organisations like IATEFL, mainly due to the scale of the event and the fact that it is run by a teachers' association rather than a private instituiton.

    Burcu - The way it should be! As I said in the original post, it never even occurred to me that I might have to pay until my proposal for one event was accepted and I was sent instructions on how to register. Good to hear that it was never even on the agenda for your event. :) It seems we are on the same page with regards to IATEFL v. local conferences so nothing more to add there. Looking forward to ISTEK as well - I'll be there whether as a paying delegate or a workshop host!

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  48. Karenne, to answer your question about using SIGs' funds to offer scholarships: that's a decision down to the individual SIG. Funds generated by a SIG can only be spent by that SIG. A number of SIGs do just that (offering scholarships to their own events and/or the main IATEFL conference) and it's something we encourage, but it has to be their decision.

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  49. Hi again everyone,

    Although I'm broadly in agreement with what most people have said about events like the IATEFL conference being a special case and I agree that it's well worth going to, I think another factor worth mentioning is that the location chosen for an event can sometimes play a big part in determining whether the cost of attending a particular conference is affordable or prohibitive... which leads me to suggest that perhaps the cost to delegates over and above the cost of paying registration fees needs to be given a bit more weight when deciding on where to hold conferences...

    To illustrate what I mean:

    IATEFL 2011, Brighton
    Beautiful historic city, horrendously expensive to stay in, transport connections a bit meh, not that easy to get to unless you live in SE England

    IATEFL 2012, Glasgow
    Vibrant capital city, relatively inexpensive to visit, good UK transport connections, easily accessible by air from many parts of the globe via Glasgow or Edinburgh airports

    just another aspect of the bigger picture that I think is maybe worth a ponder.

    Sue

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  50. Sue, you're right, but finding a venue in particular for the IATEFL conference is becoming a real challenge. We've outgrown one "tier" of venue but haven't yet grown into the next size. Finding a venue that can cater for ca. 2000 participants, has a suitably sized exhibition space etc is difficult on our budget, so additionally taking into account costs of accommodation etc narrows it down even further. What we do try particularly hard to take into account is ease of access to the city, both from within the UK and from overseas, and that's one reason why we try to choose different venues every year - access to e.g. Brighton will be easy from some countries but not from others, whereas flying to Glasgow will be easier for others again etc. So many criteria to take into account!

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  51. Dave, if we could turn things round I'd be delighted. I present about ten times for every one time I merely attend, so I'd love to get rid of presenter fees.

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  52. It's a great post Dave, courting controversy too!

    I think taking advantage of online conferences is the way forward for me. That said if it's an unbelievably good line up IATEL or nice (ISTEK) I might indeed be tempted to try. Previously I was lucky enough to work for a company that would pay my fees for attendance / presentations (local and once a year) and I never really thought about it and took it for granted. Facing the world as a freelancer it all seems much more daunting. Couldn't you ask your employer to cough up for you to enhance their reputation and contribute to your professional development?

    As an aside - I reckon this is your assignment sorted already for EDUC 70130 :O)

    As a final semi-related point do you think that the infomercials are creating this effect, or are creating confusion. For example I think there is a difference between a session on the new book that needs promotion in region x and yes a publisher should pay for it. Yet however, this is certainly less the case for individual presenters (quality enough to get accepted) who are interested in sharing....and perhaps a little, harmless, self promotion and chance to exapnd their PLNs in lieu of payment or expenses.

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  53. Sue: I think for people outside the UK getting to Brighton is much easier than getting to Glasgow. Yes you can fly to Glasgow or Edinburgh airports, but getting cheap flights into non-London UK airports is prohibitively expensive (unless you happen to live at the other end of an easyJet/RyanAir/Wizz/whatever route). I'm sure flying out of Glasgow is cheap but flying in...not so much.

    By the way, I think you'll find that Glasgow is not actually a capital city :-)

    (All this aside, I am very much looking forward to going to Glasgow next year)

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  54. Hi Dave, this is a very fruitful discussion. I really think it's outrageous that presenters ought to pay to share their contributions to professional development. each organisation (esp schools, unis) should allocate fees specifically for prof development and see it as a good investment for all who gain from the sessions. Presenters aren't asking for the world, 5 star hotels, assistants, further expenses paid, merely not to have to pay to present! It's absurd really. And I've seen the behind the scenes of in house conferences and with a keen person behind the organising, it doesn't need to cost the earth, surely the fees from the people attending plus the allocated funds for prof dev purposes CAN make it possible to give people who are giving up their time, sharing their hard work and nerves, a break and let them present for free!!!

    Thanks
    Neighbour with the teething baby:)

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  55. On a lighter note though, I have seen some sessions that I wouldn't want to be put through again,even if I were paid to attend:0 and some sessions where there was more promotion of new publications than interesting content. (both of these were not from little fish either)

    hmmm, maybe little fish should present for free and make the big names pay :)

    Andrea

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  56. Thanks, Eric & Andy, and I appreciate your points... and yes, you are definitely right about Glasgow, Andy (LOL! slip of the brain! :-D

    Lots of different factors to take into account I agree, and not easy to strike a balance that is going to work for everyone.

    Sue

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  57. Ed - My employer won't pay for me to present as they would rather spend the money to one of our other colleges to do seminars there and have me invovled in their own conference. They would be happy to cover other expenses but, as my HoD said, if I'm going to another institution's event to present, they are in effect 'loaning' me to that institution and would not pay on principle, just like I won't!

    Andrea - In full agreement! I'm not expecting all expenses paid, just exemption from a fee. Too much to ask?

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  58. Wow!

    After spending over half an hour reading all the comments it just got even better! The number of comments and the discussion it has become is just evidence that you touched a very hot topic Dave, one of great interest to many.

    I am by no means an experienced presenter. But I have done a couple of presentations in both national (Brazilian) and international conferences. And I've had to pay for the membership in some and the conference's registration in all. To some I've had financial support from the school where I work, in some it came from my pocket. I'm not complaining - much. :-)

    It was interesting to read the comments from the people who organize the conferences, such as Eric, an Sharon's post in response to yours. And I understand the reasons put by then. It does take a lot of effort, a LOT of volunteer work from many people to pull a conference. And I also see the personal benefit I get from presenting - the experience, contacts you make with the people who attend your presentation, how it adds to your resume...

    But I can't help agreeing with you Dave. What has always upset me the most about paying is paying for the equipment. At least the basic equipment that is used in almost every presentation should be provided without the presenter having to pay for it. I have been to conferences where that happened, but I have also had to pay for a projector and sound system. I think it undermines the presentation, since I have to admit I have toned down my intended presentation once or twice because of my budget.

    Maybe we could come to some kind of middle ground like it's been mentioned here? Like a lower fee for presenters, equipment not being paid for... Just throwing some ideas here...

    A worthy discussion Dave. :-)

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  59. Paying for registration is bad enough but paying for equipment?!? Shocking! As you say, that may well result in the presenter excluding something planned for the workshop because it would require some extra equipment - and then you may find out it either doesn't work properly or you are on at the same time as some well-known name who's agreed to do a workshop as well and you've only got a handful of people in attendance.

    On the plus side, it encourages a 'back to basics' style of running a workshop. You could call it 'dogme'... ;)

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  60. Should we start a "Dogme Presentation" Challenge? ;-P

    Shocking eh, about paying for equipment? The saddest thing is that I can't even say it's been just one or two - more like most...

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  61. "Should we start a "Dogme Presentation" Challenge?"

    I'm game... ;-D

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