Maximize Your Educational Experience

Want to bring more value to your workplace from your Conference or Field Day experience?

One observation that puzzles me is how few attendees seem to record their talk experiences. Perhaps some people can retain everything they hear and see, but my brain sadly cannot.  Many things we hear at talks we have heard before, but we don’t want to risk missing out on those key new things that could make a difference to our operation.  We are always on the lookout for new research, products, procedures, concerns and experiences that we can apply to our job.  Improving product quality while achieving financial savings is really the goal of attending these events.

Paper and pen recording works fine, but these days all sharing of information will be done digitally, so transcription then becomes necessary. Entering info directly onto a lightweight laptop or notepad is far more efficient timewise.  Used i-Pads can now be had for $200, perfectly portable for this use.

Sitting alone may look unsociable, but can allow you to focus on the task without distraction.  However, discussing with a buddy what you heard compared to what they heard can be very valuable in verifying accuracy and retaining missed points. 

Location: Central seat up front for clear view and easy photos

Do what works best for you. Arrive early to find a seat up front with a clear view of the screen unimpeded by the speaker.  A good central seat will also be easier to take pics with your phone: critical visuals, instructions, results and contacts are worthwhile with the mute button on. 

My typing speed is slow, so point form data input is essential. Entering everything said is not necessary, just the “take home messages” of the who-what-where-when-how-why key points.  Of special interest to me are thoughts that hit me beyond just the straight facts: Personal experiences, discussions, cautions and ‘What-ifs’?

Details: Because you can’t write that fast

Concepts: Easier than explaining an idea

Here is an excerpt of my notes from a recent talk:

Manage growth rate with N:  Balance of density/traffic/temp/health > desired play surface
Excess N > thatch accumulate > scalping
Minimize N to minimize thatch inputs
Growth Rate a function of EPI: “Environmental Productivity Index”:
-light, water, temp, N  (LWTN) = EPI
Temp may be most relevant, but limits of any will slow growth rate
PAR = Photosynthetically Active Radiation
PPFD = # photon/sq.m/sec
Daily Light Integral:  # moles light/m/day
Question: Correlate N cost with net maintenance cost?
See: Rob W. about compost; Roch Gausson /Nebraska research on TD rate

Reviewing your data very soon after the event, while still fresh in mind, is important. If taking paper notes, getting these entered to digital format that night is really ideal before contexts are forgotten.  Some data will invite more research, typically by accessing websites suggested in the talk.  This will all result in data relevant to your use.

Contact: For follow up

When home, share your notes with your boss and staff. This is a time to inform, discuss and stimulate creative options.  Ideally we want to transform this data into actions that can improve product and save resources.  Bringing tangible value home from a conference or field day will certainly also justify to your boss the value of sending you to these events in the future. 

Stan Kazymerchyk
KPU Turf Management Instructor