Catchy or Kitschy? Prepare to Submit Your Fusion 2019 Session Proposal

  • 5 Min Read

Are you thinking about being a presenter at D2L Fusion 2019 next July? We certainly hope so!

On behalf of the Fusion Steering Committee, let me formally invite you to submit your proposal for a breakout session at our biggest and best teaching and learning event of the year.

The Call for Proposals (CFP) is expected to open within the next few weeks. We’re a bit slower this year due to the implementation of a new software system to manage all the proposals. This new system will be slick; providing a greatly improved experience for the entire CFP process. However, there’s no need to wait until the system goes live, since I’m going to share all the information you need to get started on preparing your proposal.

Session title

A great title is one of the keys to your session. In my experience, a catchy title will be helpful in getting your session accepted and even more important in attracting a big audience on presentation day.

For Fusion 2019, your title is limited to 100 characters. Using the maximum number of characters is not needed, or even advisable. Shorter and to the point often works well. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Include something specific, such as “Everything You Need to Know about D2L Rubrics.” As opposed to something vague, such as “Everything I Know about Everything.”
  • Be catchy, not kitschy. A clever title can attract attendees. Trying to be too clever will often have the opposite effect.
  • Think about what makes your session unique. How does it stand out from the crowd? Now make your title stand out from the crowd.
  • Don’t make your session sound too specialized, and therefore not relevant to the masses, unless it is very specialized. “Engagement Strategies for PhD students in Political Rhetoric” is a title that most people will quickly pass over, unless they teach in a Political Rhetoric doctoral program.

Session abstract

If your title catches their imagination, then they just might start to read your abstract. Now you’ve got a real shot at getting them to attend your session. The abstract will be available to attendees via the online schedule and on the Fusion app. A Fusion abstract is limited to 300 characters, and yes, that includes blank spaces; so, it is incumbent on you to use your space wisely.

Here are a few suggestions for abstracts based on my handful of years writing presentation proposals:

  • Provide a sense of urgency. Inspire them to attend your session because they will learn things that they can’t afford to miss.
  • Make promises, and then keep them. Tell them about the resources that you’ll provide for their use after the session. Takeaways are very popular; tell them about the assets you’ll share.
  • Don’t use jargon that might not be understood by first-time attendees. Many Fusion attendees are new to the Brightspace platform and new to Fusion. Pull them in, don’t push them away.
  • If your session is geared to newbies, make that clear in the abstract. If geared to advanced users, also make that clear. Don’t fill the room to find out that you are talking way over or under the audience experience level.

Session Description

Think of the description as your long form sales job. You can use up to 3,000 characters in the description, which is not published for attendees to view. The people who do view the description would be the session evaluators who score each session and help determine which sessions are selected for inclusion into the final program. Members of the Fusion Steering Committee serve as the evaluators and will read through the long description to fully learn about what you plan to do during your session.

In your description, we recommend you:

  • Provide strong learning objectives. Sell the evaluators on the learning value that you will create.
  • Include data, if possible. If you have some innovative techniques, describe the evidence that you have that shows some sort of improvement in learning, productivity, or some other important measure.
  • Use your active voice, not passive. Sentences written in the active voice are energetic and direct; two features that will keep the reader engaged. Active voice sentences are also less wordy than those in the passive voice, so this tip also applies to the title and abstract.
  • Since the description is only read by the session evaluators, feel free to sell yourself as the type of presenter that we need at Fusion. What makes you uniquely qualified to talk about this subject? How up-to-date is your information?
  • How do you plan to engage the audience? If this is an old school “sit-n-git” presentation with only one-way communication, the evaluators will likely count that against you. If you are planning to make the audience part of the presentation, then explain how you’re going to do that effectively.

Picking a Slot

Something else that you can decide before submitting your proposal, is where it belongs in the Fusion program. We have three tracks and three labs.

The Extensibility Lab has been around for several years and is a popular place for people to hang out and learn about D2L Valence applications, LTI Integrations, and other examples of extending the Brightspace LE and other products. If you are writing a session proposal along these lines, you should submit it for inclusion in the Extensibility Lab.

This year we have added two additional labs. The Accessibility Lab will focus on presentations related to improving the web accessibility of online courses in the Brightspace platform. The Data Analytics Lab will be another popular room this July. Data Sets, Data Hub, Data Reports? Learn all about them or teach others what you’ve learned.  A full program of data analytics presentations and discussions will be available throughout the conference agenda in the Data Analytics Lab.

Don’t fret. If you submit a session for one of the labs, and there is not enough room to accept it into the program for that lab; it will still be considered for inclusion in one of the tracks.

The tracks are general presentation themes that will include a wide array of topics that fit nicely in the same bucket. Those tracks are:

  • Instruction and Design
  • Technical and Development
  • Leadership and Strategy

For more information of the many types of presentations that will be included in each track, check out the full Call for Proposals when it is published.

To summarize; now is the time to start working on your Fusion 2019 session proposal. You can start preparing the following:

  1. Session title, 100 characters
  2. Session abstract, 300 characters
  3. Session description, 3,000 characters
  4. Speaker bio, 500 characters

Join me and many more D2Lers at Fusion 2019 in Kissimmee, Florida. We are already working hard to provide another awesome learning and networking opportunity. All that we’re missing is your expertise and passion. Pre-register today (or before January 31) and we’ll take another $50 off your fee to attend, even if you’re getting the presenter discount!

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