From the Annual Meeting 2006 column of the October 2005 Perspectives
New Modes of Presentation: A Glossary
AHA Staff, October 2005
As a way to encourage broader participation and to find more interesting and innovative ways of presenting scholarly thought, the AHA's Research Division has implemented some exciting new methods of presentation that participants will see at the AHA's 1120th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
Experimental Sessions: This format is intended to allow members to organize a panel using novel forms of presentation, which are not covered by the other session types. Members who wish to present experimental sessions need to clearly define the form and content of their panels, their ability to engage and to connect with an audience of their peers, and the potential costs involved. Example: individual session presenting a video on an oral history project; or two individual 20-minute poster sessions on teaching history through theater in primary school, with three panelists—two presenters/organizers and one chair/discussant.
Formal Session: The formal session is organized around a chair and a commentator, with two or three presenters speaking for 15 minutes. The Association encourages the informal presentation of research, instead of the formal reading of papers.
Poster Session: Poster sessions allow for the presentation of professional issues, original research, or work in progress through posted visual materials—such as pictures, photographs, and text—displayed on bulletin boards. These exhibits are intended to allow informal discussions between poster presenters and viewers during the exhibit. The poster session is the only exception to the submission of solo presentations. The program committee will review proposals, and accept those deemed worthy. If a sufficient number are accepted, these can be organized into more than one session slot along a particular subject or theme. While presenters may supplement their presentation with their own audiovisual or computer equipment, the presentations are primarily intended to use the traditional poster as a medium of presentation. The AHA cannot supply audiovisual devices for poster sessions.
Precirculated Papers: While similar to the conventional "formal" panel, these sessions will consist of papers circulated in advance on the Internet (on a specified page on the AHA web site). Precirculation will allow the audience more time for consideration and review, and is thus intended to facilitate active and engaged discussion during the meeting. Such sessions do not preclude audience participation by those who have not read the papers online, as the presenters will still be expected to offer a brief summary of their work. But the oral presentations themselves are expected to be briefer, to facilitate more extended audience discussion.
Roundtables: The roundtable—which can be used for the presentation of original research, work-in-progress, or discussion of professional concerns—offers short 10-minute presentations, a fluid organization (not limited to the chair/presenter/commentator structure), and ample time for discussion with the audience. Where possible, these should take place in a non-podium setting (with the audience gathered around the panel) to facilitate a more congenial exchange between audience and discussants. Roundtables may offer up to 5 presenters.
Workshops: Workshops provide the opportunity for a more focused discussion in which participants bring a common level of knowledge or skill to bear on a subject toward some practical end (such as developing a work-in-progress or new professional skills). Workshops can consist of either a single session or multiple sessions, and can incorporate a variety of session types. The 2004 workshop "Entering the Second Stage of Online History Scholarship," which consisted of two formal sessions and five roundtable sessions, is an example.