Documenting Participation

Achievement-Unlocked-4950abYour participation in the Computers and Writing Conference shows your colleagues that you’re active professionally and that you care about improving your classes and research. When you apply for travel funds in the future, you’ll have evidence that shows you know how to share what you learn at a conference. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be given financial support, but documenting your participation and sharing what you learn will help make sure that your colleagues understand why you attend this conference. Try one or more of these methods to track your professional development at the conference.

  1. Make the Most of Social Media.
    Post everywhere during the conference. Send out Tweets. Post updates on Facebook. Pin resources on Pinterest. Share your photos on Instagram and Flickr. Like videos and other resources that are shared. Throughout the conference, listen for provocative soundbites, and share them with your friends and colleagues. Note how what you have heard influences your teaching or research. Wherever you post, be sure to use the hashtag #cwcon. Add any other relevant hashtags, like #grn or #ride2cw. Include the session number to help others posting about the session find what you have to say.

  2. Save Your Conference Program and Attendance Verification Forms.
    If you’re a presenter, use the listing in the program as proof of your participation. For sessions that you attend, use the program for details on the sessions you share with colleagues or talk about online. Be sure to pick up a copy of the addendum and corrections as well. In addition to the program, save attendance verification records in the form of certificates or other documents that prove you were here including your letter of acceptance, registration receipt, and so forth. These documents can help prove you attended and/or presented as well. NOTE: Some departments want to see the proof of your presentation on paper— don’t rely solely on the online version of the program. Be sure to hang onto your print copy.

  3. Record Details on the Sessions That You Attend.

    Write a log of your participation. It will help you remember ideas from the sessions and provide some evidence that you participated. List the sessions that you attend and the presenters who were there. Too frequently, attendance at a conference is a blur. Set up a simple template for yourself with these headings, and you’re ready to go:

    Heading What to Record Why Gather This Info
    Day/Time, Session # The specifics from the program So you can find the details later. You don’t want to write everything out in these notes.
    Speaker & Paper Title: Enough to remind you of the official label There are several speakers in most sessions. You’ll want enough details to tell which notes are
    about which presentation. Use names, not “speaker #1.”
    General Topic A few keywords (e.g., portfolios, staff training) Choose a few keywords to organize the information when you go back
    through your notes later.
    Notes & Applications Summarize what was discussed, and talk about how you plan to use the information. The more ideas you can get down about using these ideas while you’re here, the better. Note
    colleagues you want to share the info with as well.

    If you are interested in someone’s paper, ask for a copy. All you have to do is walk up to the speaker, and say something along the lines of “Hi. I really enjoyed your paper. My research is on a related topic. [explain in a sentence or two how it’s related]. Would it be possible to get a copy of your paper?” Be prepared to exchange email addresses. If the speaker doesn’t have a written paper, you might ask if the person has published similar ideas elsewhere.

  4. Share What You Learn With Others
    Share what you learn at the conference with others at your school or in your area to demonstrate what you gained by participating. If you happen upon a particularly good idea, pass it on to others—email it to your colleagues. Remember that one of the ways that school districts and departments justify supporting conference attendance is by asking that attendees share what they’ve learned with others. Be on the lookout for things that you can share and then follow-up after the event. When you pass the ideas on, you’ll please your colleagues, and you’ll demonstrate to your administrators that supporting your attendance at conferences and other professional development meetings is a good investment. As you pass on information, be sure to add some framing comments that explain out why you’re passing the information on and where the information came from.

  5. Drop Names and References When You Go Home.
    Your colleagues won’t know anything about the sessions you’ve attended unless you tell them. The point isn’t just to indicate that you’ve learned something but to indicate where you learned it. Start thinking about sentences such as “[Insert the speaker’s name] talked about just this issue at the Computers and Writing Conference” — then follow up with the details. If the name you’re dropping is one your listeners will recognize, that’s all you need. If you’re referring to someone they might not know, give a little more information: “[Insert the speaker’s name] (s/he’s a professor at U of wherever) mentioned something along these lines at Computers and Writing.” Remember that the point isn’t just to drop the name. That’s just pompous. Be sure your reference is pertinent to the conversation and add the details that explain the relevance.

  6. Plug Your Own Paper or Research.
    It’s not enough to refer to others; talk about yourself. When discussion in your department turns to what you worked on for this conference, you need to be prepared to say “I researched this topic for the paper I gave at the Computers and Writing Conference in May”—then to say more about what you found. Don’t be a bore. Don’t drone on about your paper when it’s not relevant, but if the conversation turns to something you’ve worked on, provide the footnote. Additionally, you can refer to issues beyond those that you’ve done formal research on. Think about saying things such as “We talked about this issue at Computers and Writing.”

  7. Arrange an Exchange with a Nearby Colleague.
    Here’s a relatively simple idea. You’re likely to meet someone at Computers and Writing who teaches at a nearby school, geographically speaking. The two of you can work out a little exchange. You go to the colleague’s school and lead a brown bag discussion about your research. The colleague does the same. You both get PR at your school or bringing in a guest speaker, and you both have another presentation line to add to your CV.

  8. Pick-up Freebies and Swag.
    Everything doesn’t have to be serious to remind folks where you’ve been. Your colleagues may be just as interested in your bringing back a computer-shaped stress ball as they are in seeing the latest article by the keynoter. If you have a friendly relationship, it doesn’t really hurt to share such things too.

  9. Watch for Handouts.
    Be on the lookout for handouts on the latest books, calls for proposals, and upcoming events. If you see something that a colleague might be interested in, pick it up, add a post-it note that says, “Saw this at Computer and Writing Conference and thought you might be interested,” and pop it in the person’s mailbox. Be sure to find a copy of the call for next year’s Computers and Writing Conference. Take it home, photocopy it, add another post-it encouraging colleagues to join you at next year’s conference and spread it around the department mailboxes. Alternately, save the trees by scanning the call or finding a copy online and emailing the information to colleagues. When time turns to the deadline for the next year’s Computers and Writing Conference proposals, sponsor a departmental get-together to come up with a panel or workshop proposal that includes everyone.

  10. Publish Your Presentation Materials and Reviews.
    Nothing says “I’m a participant” like publishing your work! If you’re lucky, an editor may speak to you after your presentation and ask you to consider submitting your work for a journal, an edited collection, guest blog post, or another publication. If you’re smart, you’ll approach an editor, briefly explain your project (if they weren’t in attendance at your presentation, or you didn’t present outside of the GRN), and ask if it’s something they’d be interested in publishing. Editors always need more good material! Also consider responding to the Sweetland’s DRC Call for 2015 C&W Reviewers. Check out the reviews from previous years to learn moer about the expectations.


This list was originally presented at the Computers and Writing Conference, May 17, 2001 in the "Getting the Most out of your Computers and Writing Conference (The Mentoring Program)" panel during the Opening Reception in the Muncie Center for the Arts. The original list was published as Traci’s 36th List of Ten: Ten Ways to Document Your Conference Participation.