After a number of years I’ve finally got the wherewithal to set up a Gasta page. Seeing my good friend and collaborator Tony Murphy get into the Blog water before me I decided that it has high time to get off the fence myself.
First of all, what is a Gasta session?
A number of years ago myself and Tony Murphy of the E-learning unit in IT Tralee responded to the Irish Learning Technology Association’s (ILTA) call to host its annual conference. The call asked ideas that could add to the conference. In the submission I suggested the idea of a quick 5 minute presentation that incorporated a lot of participation on the part of the audience. Not wanting to use the protected term Pecha Kucha and in keeping with the Irish nature of the conference I decided to use the Irish word Gasta indicating quick or fast or rapid. Although IT Tralee were unsuccessful in the bid, the idea of Gasta was incorporated into the EdTech Conference for the first time in 2014. The aim is to create an engaging and lively atmosphere that affords presenters the opportunity to raise awareness about their work in a short period of time and thus give as many people as possible an opportunity in a relatively short period of time.
Over the past few year I have slightly tweaked the format but if you are going to host a Gasta session it should follow these principles:
- There should be an emphasis on energy and engagement on the part of the MC and the presenters – it’s often a good session to have towards the end of the day when levels of energy and interest may be waning.
- While there are no specific requirements in terms of technology, presenters should be mindful of relying on technology and platforms where there are a lot of moving parts so to speak.
- Organisers should ensure that all the presentations are readily available to each presenter in order to make the changeovers as seamlessly as possible.
- The MC should remind the audience that these micro presentations are intended to just provide a ‘shout out’ about the ‘project/research/initiative’ and should members of the audience want further information that they engage with the presenters after the slot.
- All presentations are counted in (5 to 1 or 1-5); generally in Irish in keeping with the theme but where appropriate the MC can make the decision as to the language – that said the countdown should finish with a resounding GASTA! from the audience, at which point in time the MC leaves the stage.
- Presenters should be alerted when they have one minute left and when they have 10 seconds left.
- When the 5 minutes is up the MC moves back to the stage, giving the presenter 5 seconds grace. At 5.05 the MC and audience countdown from 5 to 1 and that is the END of the presentation! Ideally the Gasta should be times between 4.50 and 5.00 for maximum use of time.
- The 2019 edition of Gasta has an added twist. Rather than the conference organiser allocating a time for each presenter all the presenters are allocated an overall Gasta time with each presenter allocated a number from 1 up. Using a random number generator the speakers are allocated a slot one by one with the next speaker only called at the end of the previous speaker’s slot.
Gasta goes across the water!
It was wonderful to be invited to unleash the madness that is Gasta at the 2018 ALT Conference in Manchester although I must admit that I was a little worried to see if the ‘crowd’ would embrace the concept, as you can see from the video, I need not have worried, it was a great session with everybody getting involved. One of the presenters in Manchester was Clint Lalonde from British Columbia in Canada who took the message back across the water; as I write, it is great to see that the ETUG 25th Anniversary Conference in Thompson Rivers University, BC, Canada is featuring a Gasta session.