Letting go: An exploration of conversation in presentations

In the wise words of Elsa from Frozen, “let it go”. This post is about just that, “letting go”.

This method guides our preparations for an upcoming session at the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Super Conference 2024, aligning seamlessly with the conference theme, “Get Loud.”

Get Loud symbolizes our commitment to civic engagement, recognizing the significance of libraries in promoting equity, diversity, and truth. As champions of education and democracy, libraries play a pivotal role in empowering individuals and building community. We acknowledge the challenges ahead, unsure of the exact demands our services will face or how our libraries will adapt and transform. 

Ontario Library Association Super Conference, 2024

We proudly signed up to present a session called, Navigating the Impact of ChatGPT on Higher Education: A Year in Review and we put it in the “conversation” stream. As far as I know this is the first time OLA has organized it’s sessions in this way. According to OLA, the conversation stream is a 45 minute on the topic of “a specific issue or service within library land? Are you looking to connect with others and share your ideas around that topic? The Conversations format is the ability to connect via a peer-to-peer discussion on a topic of importance to the library sector” (source).

Our plan is to provide some basic overview of the session, how we envision it going, and providing a quick overview of the past year with ChatGPT. This timeline combines major advancements with generative AI (mainly ChatGPT) as well as our own experiences with this emerging technology. For simplicity, we colour coded the timeline.

However, we will intend to quickly hand over the session to participants to discuss the following prompts.

  1. When did you first hear about ChatGPT?
  2. When did you first try/see ChatGPT in action?
  3. When did you first see ChatGPT impact the work we do in libraries?
  4. Think about the Fall 2023 term, did you feel ready to have conversations about ChatGPT?
  5. Does ChatGPT still concern you?

We have tried to cover all our bases for facilitating conversation including in person discussion, Mentimeter for anonymous live comments/discussion, and a WordPress site built on my 8 Bit Experiment platform, whose purpose I discuss in this post. Each discussion embeds the live Mentimeter results right within the site.

We also plan to focus on people’s feelings throughout the last year. Something I try and explain to first-year students new to research. This idea is based on Carol Kuhlthau’s information searching process (ISP).

This chart shows the feelings people experience in the information search process. Developed by Carol Kuhlthau.
Kuhlthau’s model of Information Search Process (ISP)

However, preparing for this session over the past three months has been challenging. Why you might ask?

Letting go is hard

Letting go can be a very difficult thing to do, especially in a classroom. However, this is one of the foundational lessons in my teaching philosophy. I feel strongly that we need to embrace conversations and self-reflection. With that comes the possibility of losing control. That’s what is so fun about it!

Libraries straddle the line of “order” and “absolute chaos”

Navigating this can prove quite challenging. Libraries are often perceived as havens of order, yet I suggest that we find ourselves teetering on the edge between “order” and “absolute chaos.” Personally, I’m comfortable relinquishing control during a session. It’s in those moments that I get the most insights about the topic at hand. Why should I dictate the direction of a presentation? While I could meticulously plan every detail, from learning objectives to activities, I prefer embracing spontaneous questions that arise from the audience.

Think of conversations like a box

I want to emphasize that I don’t embark on teaching commitments and presentations without some form of planning. I liken it to a box—a foundation with a basic structure into which I put items. However, much like encountering a bump or crossing a train track, the box may shift, causing its contents to become momentarily jumbled. When I finally get to where I’m going, I have to open the box and reorganize the contents and that is my role as a facilitator.

Photo of a closed cardboard box sitting on a wooden surface.
Conversations are like a box, they keep things together but the contents can get jumbled.

This mirrors my approach to both teaching and conversations. While bumps along the way are inevitable, we still manage to navigate from point A to point B.

My colleague seems nervous about “letting go” but I’m excited to present this session to our colleagues across “library world”. I will do my best to provide and updated post with the feedback we receive at the session.

See you at OLA SC 2024!

Header photo created by ChatGPT.

Box photo by Brandable Box on Unsplash

Leave a Reply