First Timer's Guide - FAQs
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What are the Mobile Sessions? Do Most People go to Them?

Our call for presentations gives EDRA members an opportunity to propose Mobile Sessions local to the Providence area. These sessions are three or four hour workshop and tours on site at a particular domain location of interest. The Mobile Session takes you out of the standard hotel conference room and embeds you at the location you are considering.

Mobile Sessions are offered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons. If you attend a Mobile Session, it pulls you away from the hotel for the full afternoon missing two traditional paper sessions and one display session. The benefit of being at the domain may well be worth it to you if this domain fits your research or practice interests. Expect 10 to 30 others to attend this session with you. You may well find people with similar interests or practices at the session and the personal networking you achieve may equal the value of being embedded in the domain.

I have some ideas to make EDRA better. Who should I tell?

Please contact with any comments, questions or suggestions.

I am presenting a paper. What should I know about this?

EDRA is a friendly conference, so you should anticipate a friendly and helpful audience. If you ask people to provide feedback and suggestions after your talk, you will likely get some. Your paper session will have a Session Moderator. If you are not contacted by the Moderator ahead of time, feel free to contact him or her to inquire about presentation timing and about how Q&A will be addressed in your session. Feel free to forward any paper or presentation materials you have ahead of time as this may enhance the introduction made for you and may help the Moderator frame some initial post presentation questions.

We have prepared some materials here to help people design and give better paper presentations.

Giving an Excellent Presentation at the EDRA Conference EDRA is constantly working to improve the quality of our conferences. As part of that effort, we want to help ensure consistently excellent conference presentations. The following resources may be helpful for new presenters and for those who want to maximize the quality and impact of their talks.

As a special reminder: EDRA audiences include researchers, students, and design practitioners. Talks that offer real value for researchers and for practicing professionals will be especially successful. As you prepare your talk, you may like to consider how to meet the information needs of these different audiences by focusing on research methods and findings, and also on their application. Also, since EDRA conferences include individuals from many different disciplines, it is best to avoid jargon and acronyms that may not be familiar to all.

Making PowerPoint Slides. Avoiding the pitfalls of bad slides. International Association of Science and Technology for Development (2009).

Should I stay for the whole conference?

Many people look to save money by arriving late or leaving early. If you arrive late, you miss the Intensives, the opening reception, and the keynote address. By the time you arrive, the conference is in full swing; others who are new to the conference have already found each other and made conference buddies. You will face a more uphill battle as a newcomer to get integrated into a group and get to know people well.

If you leave early, you miss a very full and rich EDRA celebration banquet on Saturday evening, where we honor both longtime EDRA members and recognize the prestigious Great Places Awards recipients. This should be the highlight of the conference.

It is at this banquet that culture and tradition are passed along--some years culture and tradition are made. Career, Achievement, Service, and Student awards are presented at this banquet. There is entertainment. And it provides an opportunity to sit informally with people you've met over the past several days. Friendships are forged; work partnerships may be discussed; certainly, common interests are explored.

What if there are a few meetings I want to go to that overlap each other?

We try to locate Network meetings near one another so it is possible move from one to another. If there is a second or third Network meeting that you will miss, at least try to stop by there and make sure they put your name on their sign up sheet. Also, whether or not you make it to Network meetings, remember that you can sign up for Network membership in the member section of the EDRA website. Network membership is free - and you can join as many Networks as you like.

Is it important to go to the opening reception even if I don't know anyone there?

The reception may seem a bit overwhelming if you don't know anyone there. But do, at the very least, try to find some other people also at their first EDRA conference and compare notes. You may also find a few people to share Wednesday evening dinner or drinks with (though there usually is a pretty good spread at this reception.)

You may well see badges with recognizable names at the reception (especially if you are a student and have read some work authored by these people). Feel free to go up and introduce yourself. While everyone is an individual, the vast majority of these people will be open and friendly to you.

Find others and have dinner together after the reception--it is a great way to meet people informally.

Should I go to the EDRA members meeting?

Absolutely! This is the place to learn more about what happens at EDRA outside of the conference. And this is the place to become more involved. The EDRA general membership meeting is on Friday before the dinner hour. It is open to everyone at the conference. The EDRA Board will lead this meeting, which usually concludes with a lively question and answer session.

Where is the best place to get information while I am at the conference?

The EDRA registration desk is staffed through the entire conference. The people at this desk will be your best source for schedule and logistical information. We have people wearing Staff, Volunteer, and Organizer name badges. All of these people can answer questions.

What should I do for dinner on evenings where there are not planned activities?

If you have been networking all conference, you shouldn't have any trouble finding people to share dinner with in the evenings. EDRA tends to be a friendly and open community - although we do find that people sometimes stratify out and enjoy dinner these nights with those they met at their first few EDRA conferences. So, yes, the long timers may have other plans. But there will be many other first and second time EDRA attendees also looking to socialize and network. If you have been keeping track of faces at your Intensive, paper sessions, and Network meetings, there should be several very familiar faces by Friday who you can easily connect with. Be bold and ask.

How do I get the best value out of viewing display poster sessions?

Each display session is an hour long. Take a look through the program and proceedings ahead of time to target display posters that might be of interest to you and plan your route so you can spend some time at each of them - and interact with their authors. Bring business cards with you, as you may want to ask for background research - or you may find potential research or practitioner collaborators among the poster presenters. Also, others who stop at the same displays you stop at may well have research or practitioner interests similar to your own. Don't hesitate to engage them in conversation.

Take the room at your own pace. And take the time to walk by displays not on your initial list, as you may be surprised that a method or domain could turn out to be of surprise interest to you.

What is the book display?

Kathy Demsky from the EDRA Archives at Andrews University Architecture Resource Center (ARC) coordinates a display of hundreds of books of interest to EDRA researchers and practitioners. It is well worth blocking an hour early in the conference to browse through the display. Kathy will have order forms for most all of these books, many of them offered at a conference discount.

I am a student, should I go to the student network meeting?

Yes, of course. This will be a great time and place to meet other students. This year it is being held Thursday morning and the agenda will include some advice for getting the most out of the conference (but if you've read this FAQ, you can probably lead that section of the meeting!). EDRA has one student position on its Board of Directors. April Spivack, the current Student Board Member will lead this meeting. She will talk about different EDRA features geared toward students and possibilities for student networking during the year.

What are network lunch business meetings and should I go?

EDRA Knowledge Networks are collections of people with very similar research and practice interests who make it a point to get together every year to discuss their shared interests - and meet who is new in their own field. This - along with the Network Intensives on Wednesday - is the best place to meet people who share your interests. The Network lunch business meeting is the place where you can become part of the core of the community by volunteering to take on a role with the network. This is the best place to go from being an outsider to an insider.

What are intensives, and should I arrive Wednesday to participate in one?

Intensives are like regular conference sessions, but a small group of people will spend either half or all day on one particular topic. If there is an intensive in an area of interest to you, you definitely should attend. Here is why: this is the best way to meet people who share your deep focused research and practice interests. Spending all day with these people will give you a chance to get to know them, and they you. Talk to people on break; go to lunch with other Intensive participants; and by Thursday you will have made conference friends you can spend the rest of the week with. You will have also found some valuable long term networking contacts.

For example, the Work Environments Intensive is well established and about two decades old. Several long time EDRA members met each other at this Intensive during their first conference. Those sessions have led to lifelong friendships and work collaborations. Jump in and allow this to happen for yourself.


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