Reflections on IATEFL Glasgow 2012

Adam Simpson's picture

So, a reflection on IATEFL Glasgow 2012...


So, on to IATEFL. My role at the conference was radically different to that which I had enjoyed at previous conferences. I was neither presenting nor directly representing my university. I did, however, have responsibilities. Having been awarded the honor of Blogathon gold medalist by the British Council, I was required to write up the sessions I attended for the Glasgow Online website. Given that this is pretty much standard procedure for me at any conference, I didn’t see this as being too much of a chore. This was also the first time in many years that I’ve attended a conference without presenting, and the lack of stress was great!

When reflecting on the whole experience, what I'd like to focus on is the spirit of the event and how I now see it as setting the standard for conference-based professional development.

Why was it so good?

Perhaps the simplest way to put this is to say that IATEFL has clearly come to represent the connected generation.

I first attended IATEFL in 2006, and while it was an impressively organized event with many great presentations, I didn’t have a particularly fantastic time. I presented for the first time at a major international conference, I listened to a lot of people deliver great talks on a variety of subjects, but I didn’t really get engrossed in the experience. As someone who isn’t that social and who doesn’t revel in idle chit chat, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to find out what was going on, who to see, what to avoid and where ‘to be’.


This hadn’t really changed much by 2010 in Harrogate, when I next attended the big event. Whereas in 2006 I’d basically gone to whatever took my fancy, by 2010 I had started blogging and recognized a few more faces than previously. I was also following the blogs of quite a few people and was aware of what they were into and what they were going to talk about. It was clear at this point that opportunities to maximize the conference experience were now available at the click of a mouse, and what’s more IATEFL was picking up on this.


Apparently, IATEFL Online has been going since I first attended in 2006, but 2012 was when it seemed to really kick up a notch. Suddenly, presenters were able to describe their sessions in advance and make sure that their handouts and slides could be shared with everyone in one central location. Sessions were live streamed so that thousands of people who weren’t able to attend could still benefit from the knowledge and ideas being shared. We were starting to glimpse the future of the international ELT conference.