Why I Brought a Hula Hoop to My Poster Conference

For an assignment this week, I am presenting my research topic at an academic poster session. My classmates are presenting along with some PhD students. Faculty and staff from our educational studies department have been invited and are bound to ask us hard-hitting questions that we have no idea how to answer. This assignment counts for 30 percent of our mark! This is serious business. So you might wonder why I’m bringing a hula hoop with me. I have come up with 10 reasons so far.

1. Because no one else would. The whole point of this exercise is attract people to your poster and then engage them in a conversation about your topic. (I will also have chocolate).

2. If no one does visit my poster, instead of standing around looking desperate, I can at least get some exercise.

3. It’s large enough to use as a frame for my poster.

4. I can demonstrate how I may have to jump through many hoops to get this research done.

5. I chose a poster template that has a lot of circles on it, so I might get extra marks for extending the theme.

6. I am using Thomas Sork’s question-based framework in my case study, it lends itself to a much more circular process than a linear one. Maybe even holistic. So, Sork-inspired circles.

7. My research will look at a particular planning process for a particular adult educational program. I have been invited to join the planning circle. Theme and metaphor!

8. I can put the hula hoop on the floor and ask people to step into my planning circle.

9. I have literally been going in circles trying to choose a research topic.

10. When someone asks me hard questions like: What is this a case study of? Why have you numbered the circles in your poster? Why are the numbers where they are and why run it counterclockwise? What are you measuring this against? Isn’t there a stark irony in using a poster to argue for the integration of technology into program planning? I can say, care to hula?

In case you’re interested, my research is called, Going in Circles: Developing an On-line Professional Masters Program. My burning research question so far is: Do new forms of program delivery require new planning processes?

If you can think of any more good reasons for bringing a hula hoop to an academic conference, please feel free to comment.


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