Once you as the conference organizer are convinced that you want to move your education to more learner centric approaches, with a focus on the attendee as participant and learner, you may discover that your speakers do not respond with the same zeal.
In reality, speakers and attendees may resist the new approach both passively and openly in front of others.
Change can be frightening and it’s easier to keep things the way they’ve always been done. Change requires work and it’s often stepping out of our comfort zone. Unfortunately, the traditional way to provide education sessions is more speaker centric with little ROI for the learner. If we want to focus on the conference participant and their learning, we must change how we provide education.
Be Forewarned! Speaker And Leader Resistance Is Guaranteed
I can promise you that there will be speakers, staff, attendees and even leaders that will resist and oppose any moves to learner centered conference approaches. It is a common response.
Here’s the good news. Negative initial responses can be answered. Usually hostility diminishes as speakers become more confident with new approaches. Participants see the difference and often offer resounding endorsements.
Here’s the great news. Regardless of the resistance, participant-centered education works and your audience will see the positive results.
Why Do People Resist The Change To Brain Friendly Education?
The research, literature and personal experience illustrate that participant-centered education works when done correctly. The challenge is that most of us have grown up in education institutions where teachers told us everything we needed to know since first grade. Some speakers, staff, leaders and even attendees don’t appreciate having this support removed, even though that support did not result in immediate learning.
1. Participant-centered or brain friendly approaches mean more work.
Speakers have to design their presentation with the end in mind thinking about what they want their audience to learn and remember. It’s not about covering lots of content. It’s about covering the right content that one must know to do a job successfully. This is a new presentation planning process that requires work.
At the same time, attendees are now responsible for their learning. That can’t rely on the speaker just handing them notes and think they learned something. They now have to think about it and make some decisions about whether to apply it or not.
In both cases, this resistance is an objection to the hard work and time associated with thinking and learning. It’s a good resistance because it’s proof that these approaches effectively engage the mind of the participant!
2. Speakers and attendees resist because they are afraid.
Yes, it’s hard to change the traditional conference scenario that was reinforced in our educational institutions. Speakers played the predictable role of teacher as attendees defaulted to students. But these roles apply less to leaner-centric conference education. Speakers are the guide on the side not the sage on the stage.
This is about a lack of confidence. For the speaker, it’s about a lack of confidence in the learning process and their need to control. Unfortunately, their control of the information flow did not control the learning. They are afraid that delivering less information and letting participants get involved in exercises or discussions will fail. What they forget is that telling (lecture or the information dump) isn’t learning.
Both speakers and attendees should have more confidence in the learning process. That confidence increases the more they design for and leverage that process.
3. Participants are suddenly responsible for their learning.
The responsibility and ownership for learning shifts to the conference participant. Some don’t like that. They miss having things decided for them. They expect the speaker to tell them in black and white what to do. Now the speaker may offer the evidence but whether or not it’s applied and how it’s applied is up the participant.
4. Participant-centered education ultimately involves a loss of past certainty to new beliefs.
All learning involves growth. That growth means transitioning from what one thought was definite to something uncertain. Speakers and attendees feel a loss that has sustained them for years when they move to new beliefs. They may mentally understand they need to make the transition and the emotional feeling of loss may result in resistance.
What are some other reasons speakers, staff, leaders and attendees resist participant-centered education? What are some tips you have about helping make the transition to participant-centered education?
Need more information about participant-centered education, consider the following books:
- Design For How People Learn by Julie Dirksen
- Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes To Practice by Maryellen Weimer
- Mind Brain & Education by David Sousa
- Student Engagement Techniques by Elizabeth F. Barkley