MET workshop day in Valencia, 21 April 2023

Facilitators, participants and organizers were all excited to be back at an in-person workshop day after a four-year enforced hiatus. Our venue this time was ADEIT, the University of Valencia’s University-Business Foundation, in the city’s stunning old quarter. Some of us met for drinks and a catch-up on Thursday evening before splitting into smaller groups for dinner.

Valerie Matarese and Nancy du Plessis kicked off the day with their parallel workshops on numerical data and vocal techniques, respectively.

Valerie Matarese
Nancy du Plessis

Photo credits: Emma Goldsmith and Wendy Baldwin

Valerie deftly alternated theory with practical exercises to teach us why accuracy is not the same as precision, why concentration is not an amount, and why we must pay attention to our use of spaces, slashes, dashes and significant digits.

Elsewhere, Nancy began by asking participants what daunted them about public speaking, before introducing a range of warm-up exercises. Correct posture and breath control greatly assist enunciation and voice projection, which Nancy demonstrated using tongue-twisters. Participants rose to the challenge and practised various techniques to help them speak out with greater confidence.

After a convivial lunch at a nearby restaurant, we knuckled down for the afternoon workshops on polymerase chain reaction with Katarzyna Szymanska and critical AI use with Elina Nocera, Theresa Truax-Gischler and Allison Wright.

Katarzyna Szymanska
Elina Nocera, Theresa Truax-Gischler and Allison Wright

Photo credits: Emma Goldsmith and Gary Smith

Katarzyna gave an overview of molecular techniques, pinpointing terminology and indicating where potentially careless use should be taken up with the author. Work on a series of real-life snippets highlighted the need to ask appropriate questions to do a text justice.

Elina, Theresa and Allison formed a mighty trio to tackle the constantly changing landscape of AI through a critical lens. Elina introduced the workshop with some background to AI and broached the thorny question of whether it would leave us without a job. Theresa then put this sea change into a historical context, and touched on bad actors and some of the choices we can make in this new scenario. Finally, Allison guided us through the tools she applied to translate a cultural text from Portuguese while never losing sight of the human element at the heart of the process. David Ronder has written an excellent review of this workshop, now available on the Hive; thank you, David!

We are also grateful to Kim Eddy, Thomas O’Boyle and Gary Smith for their contributions to the reviews of the other three workshops.

In the evening, we split up into smaller groups for a sociable dinner. Those of us still there on Saturday morning met for a walk around the old town and then through the cooler landscaped gardens in the old course of the River Turia.

Lifehacks 2022 presenters

Photo credit: Katarzyna Szymanska

Many thanks to our inspirational workshop facilitators and the wonderfully efficient on-the-ground team for making it such a productive and enjoyable couple of days. And we are indebted to our CPD chair, Mary Savage, and CPD assistant, Pam Barnby, for putting together such an inspiring programme of hands-on training.