Sunday, September 28, 2008

Selection of Seminar Topic

Rather than use the packaged seminars, a chapter may wish to develop its own. Suggestions for PDS (professional Development Seminar) topics can come from many sources. Committee members will have their own ideas. The chapter members can be surveyed by asking them to rank order a list of topics and to write in lists of their own. Frequently seen articles in trade publications are good candidates.

Many chapters believe that it is important for the instructor to be a nationally known figure, but they might also discover that members of their own chapter are doing very good work worth sharing with others. There is much appeal in a home-grown seminar - however, be wary of unknowns.

Don't try to teach a complete course in a PDS. A PDS should be aimed at current awareness and/or a survey of an area. This approach doesn't compete with universities and colleges and they may encourage their students and faculty to attend.

Sometimes more than one speaker is used (e.g., in a PDS comparing database management systems). If the PDS can be combined with a chapter meeting, ACM may subsidize travel expenses for a speaker who is a National Lecturer. Remember that the honorarium policy limits the amount of remuneration for the speaker.

Experimental topics can be tried; there is no requirement that all PD Seminars have universal appeal. One chapter ran a seminar called "Getting the Most out of Your Hand-Held Calculator". Another did "The Computer and the Brain".

It is very important that before contacting a speaker you know as much as possible about the speaker. Also, have the seminar topic, and possibly the title in mind. But it is important to allow the speaker the freedom to suggest a pew topic. It is preferable that the instructor should have conducted the course before. If this is impossible, the instructor should be secured well enough in advance to have time to prepare. A rough rule of thumb is that it may take 10 hours of preparation for each hour of class time. If the instructor is very familiar with the material and/or has prior outlines to draw from, preparation time can be cut in half. On the other hand if the instructor must research the topic and/or prepare student problems or quizzes, the time budget must be doubled.

Keep track of all the speakers you contact, as this information will help to develop long term associations, not just for the upcoming seminar you are trying to fill. If the speaker indicates that he/she would not like to speak, ask for recommendations on other possible speakers; ask if speaker would be interested in speaking at some future seminar and record all the answers.

The Speaker Contact form helps you to record information on the exact name of the speaker (Ph.D.?), address, office and home phone numbers, FAX number, committed seminar titles, dates the speaker can/cannot/insists on/prefers/requests, special equipment which must be provided, honorarium agreed upon for the seminar, lodging arrangements necessary, travel payments requested, W-9 form information, special dietary needs, etc. A summary of the conversations will remind you of what happened on previous calls and help someone new to present a consistent story.

When formally committing to the speaker, inform him/her that you will be sending them a confirmation letter with a copy of a seminar brochure so the speaker can model the outline that he/she needs to prepare. Mention the importance of an accurate course description, as it may encourage/discourage attendance.

Whenever necessary, the Program chair should work with the instructor regarding course content. The Program Chair should then establish a time table of due dates for the teaching outline, visual aids, and student handouts. It is not safe to assume that the instructor is making progress just because time is elapsing. Rather, delivery dates for products should be adhered to.

1 comment:

  1. This Section would b Useful 2 dose who r taking Seminar Topic for the First Time