Nineteen different people attended the meeting, including sixteen in the morning, twelve at lunch, and fourteen in the afternoon. Some people only came in the morning or afternoon.
At the end of the day, I believe that the attendees met new people, enjoyed themselves, and learned. Of course, we always wish for more people.
Rosário Durão started at 09:15. She quickly started to demonstrate the active learning methods that she uses to teach at New Mexico Tech: minutes later, the attendees were already working in pairs, sharing with each other the work that they had just done by themselves.
A few minutes more and the attendees were working in groups of four, sharing their views and reaching consensus. The first exercise was an ice-breaker, chosen to introduce the group members to each other, while making them think about technical writing. The attendees took the challenge very seriously, even if it included talking about introducing themselves to an alien.
Rosário approached the groups one-by-one, listening to make sure that the dynamics of the group was producing the expected results. Asking the students to work in the class frees the teacher to observe, think, and intervene when necessary.
Finally, the three group managers presented the results of of each group to the whole class. The engagement of the attendees meant that the discussion might very well have proceeded for the whole morning, but Rosário kept the time and interrupted the discussions as needed.
Rosário then demonstrated how a teacher can turn a typical presentation-style class into an active learning exercise. The attendees were given copies of a book chapter, divided into four parts. In each group, people read and summarized the four parts individually, then interacted to understand the major points of the chapter.
And so we reached “the coffee break with a smile(y)”. We moved to the cafeteria, ordered coffee or food, enjoyed the conversations, and met some new people.
After the break, Rosário showed photos of engaged students, actively learning in poses that many teachers would find less than adequate. For Rosário, everything is fair game as long as the students learn and the facilities are fully preserved.
Janet Callahan from Boise State University did a 3-day workshop in 2013 that changed the teaching practice at New Mexico Tech. Janet characterized active learning as having an element of doing or observing, followed by reflective dialogue.
Of course, Rosário immediately started to practice what she was preaching. So, attendees were asked to write a topic for an active-learning exercise on a post-it note. The post-it notes were shared in pairs, and ultimately shared on the wall for everyone to see.
Rosário also told stories behind her three courses, TC 151, TC 211, and TC 361/561. Attendees were asked to pick apart the syllabus of the courses, looking for interesting properties to share with the group. Attendees also identified active-learning exercises that they could adapt to their own teaching practice.
Time was running out, so Rosário skipped the final exercises that asked the attendees to create a quadchart (an A4 page divided into four parts) that proposed an active-learning lesson, in effect proving that the attendees had applied the ideas to their own practice.
Lunch started later than expected at 13:00. Still, were were fortunate to still get a table for twelve at Restaurante Cinderela, where the immediate buffet and the varied deserts refreshed everyone.
After lunch I presented the results of the ISTC survey from 2014, directly out of Survey Monkey. As expected, the results generated interesting comments and conversations, as the attendees compared the survey results with their expectations and experience. Five persons turned in written comments.
Ana Figueiras showed off her classification of 200 visuals with examples, which generated the expected open conversation. She wishes to understand what works, and then to propose guidelines to create better visualizations. She would like to introduce storytelling in visualization.
The topic generated an interesting discussion. Ana focuses on visualizations published in the general media. At least The Guardian started to publish the spreadsheets behind the visualizations, creating the ability to experiment with alternatives, or to explore the data in further detail.
When questioned, Ana explored the cultural issue of empathy and emotion related to specific graphics. Graphics that create empathy in a culture create strong aversion in another.
The audience raised the point that visualization is important to clarify information for management, therefore supporting better decisions. This area might be more important than visualization for general audiences.
Rute Costa started by noticing that the knowledge about the Portuguese language has evolved very little in her lifetime, even though the tolls have evolved a lot. She does not believe in fully automatic translation; for example, Google uses statistics instead of deeper knowledge of languages.
Rute worked at the Portuguese Parliament for seven years. She told how her students took three months to negotiate a consensual definition of deputy.
INE could not find a criteria to distinguish between tourist and traveller. They ended up dropping the concept of traveller.
Rute also told several stories around her career as a member of ISO TC 37 since 2000.
Rute closed the event with a warning to translators. Knowing a language counts very little for a translator, because all translators know the language (especially English). You need something else: the ability to search for information, tools, more languages.
We cleared the room around 18:00, just a little concerned that we might be trapped inside a closed building. We continued the conversation outside for another hour until the last people left ISCTE.
(The two invitations for this event follow.)
The second invitation
Continuing our recent rush of formal presentations, we are pleased to announce our most ambitious event ever, before we go back to informal Summer meetings.
Have you haver felt bored in a class?
After becoming privy to Rosario's plans for next Saturday, I dare say that you will absolutely love the first hour of the day. Please bring paper and pencil or pen. And plan to arrive at 9am sharp, or you'll miss half the fun.
For the rest of the morning, you will learn how to simultaneously increase subject recall and student interest. For example, by allowing students to use chairs in unexpected ways.
Also, Aline Lopes prompted Rosario Durão to create a nice poster for the event.
The first invitation
- Saturday, 23 May, between 09h00 and 17h00.
- ISCTE-IUL, building “ala autónoma”, room “Afonso Barros”.
- Avenida das Forças Armadas — 1649-026 Lisboa.
- The participation is free, although you are expected to pay for your own lunch and refreshments.
- Rosário Durão, New Mexico University (9h00-12h00)
Reframing, or: how I learned to stop worrying and love putting students at the helm.
Our conversation will begin with an active-learning class. After the break, I will share my experience as an educator at a technical university in the US. I will talk about the contents of the visual communication classes I taught in the Spring 2015 semester and my teaching-learning methodologies. We will wrap-up the conversation brainstorming ideas for your own classes and workshops.
- Joaquim Baptista, Knowledge Management consultant (13h30-14h00)
ISTC Survey 2014: What can we learn from it?
The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (like APCOMTEC for the UK) did a survey to characterize its members. 203 people answered the survey, including 26 people from outside the UK. This will be a structured interaction where we will capture our reactions to each of the ISTC answers.
- Ana Figueiras, Digital Media PhD candidate (14h00-15h00)
The project's main goal is to help building a better understanding all the pieces that compose a visualization and to help detecting patterns in visualizations across different areas or disciplines. It is part of my research as a PhD student at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, in visual forms of storytelling and how to introduce narrative in visualizations.
- Rute Costa, Centro de Linguística da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (15h30-16h30)
On the importance of terminology.
Our conversation will start by characterizing both terminology and terminologists, including the ISO standards that bootstrapped the area in 1932. Then we will talk about the importance of terminology and provide examples. Finally, we will cover quality criteria for good terminology.
We propose to maintain tradition by having lunch at the nearby restaurant Cinderela (Av. das Forças Armadas 22), where a varied buffet lunch costs €8.50 plus drinks.
- ISTAR-IUL, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ana Remígio, APCOMTEC, email@example.com
- Carlos Costa, EuroSIGDOC chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joaquim Baptista, Knowledge Management consultant, email@example.com
PS: The presentations will be in Portuguese, but we will seamlessly switch to English if we have non Portuguese-speakers in the room.