It’s past time for conference organizers to learn about learning! Our conference success depends upon it.
We’ve got to stop saying that it is someone else’s job to manage the content, programming and the attendee experience of the conference. That all we do is work on the logistics of the conference.
If we want to increase our value as conference organizers, we have to understand the two primary attendee outcomes: networking and education (with a focus on improving on-the-job performance). This means we need to think about a different model for planning and implementing conference education.
Unlearning Old Patterns For Planning Conference Education
We’ve got to unlearn our old patterns of planning and implementing conference education.
And we need to relearn how to provide a more socially engaged conference education opportunity for our attendees, to paraphrase professor Cathy Davidson.
We must move our conference education into a more connected, peer-sharing, brain-friendly, neuroeducation engaged experience. If not, conference attendance will decline as registrants look for more relevant 21st century education experiences.
Hat Tips to Cathy Davidson for her insights, thoughts and research about education today which is the catalyst for this post.
Your Conference Education Should Help Attendees
Whether your customer is a trade or business professional, a client user or a professional society member, your conference education should offer relevant help and assistance. It should help them adjust to an ever-changing world. It needs to do more than just inform them! It must transform them!
Your conference education offerings must provide insights and support so your attendees can survive, thrive and navigate the world they live and work in today.
So does your conference education improve your attendees’ job performance?
Does it prepare them for the rapidly changing world of today?
Does your conference education provide learning opportunities for the future? Or is your conference education a relic of the past that provides learning from yesteryear?
Your Current Conference Education Prepares Attendees For The Past
Currently, your conference education actually prepares your attendees for mindsets of farming, the industrial revolution’s assembly lines, grades, multiple choice exams and the silos of work says Cathy Davis.
That’s not the world of work today.
Your conference education is stuck in an antiquated past where everything was departmentalized and categorized.
Lectures, panels, videos and demonstrations remain the strategies of choice for conference education. This is a major problem because we now know from the neuroscience and evidenced based education research that learning is social. It occurs through thinking, reflection, application and feedback. And it occurs with others, not alone. (You can’t get feedback if you’re trying to learn by yourself!)
Science has proven that traditional, lectures and panels are inefficient, ineffective and unengaging for real learning to occur. Telling someone what to do through a lecture monologue or panel dialogue doesn’t lead to change.
Time To Unlearn And Relearn Conference Education Models
It’s time for conferences to focus on improving the attendee’s education experience.
That means focusing on the learning design—what the attendee will do during conference education besides sit and listen.
It’s time for conferences to apply the research about the biology of learning to their conference education.
It’s time to stop passing the buck for conference programming and step up the plate demanding a better conference education attendee experience!
Where should a conference organizer start if s/he wants to move their conference education into a 21st Century model for learning? What are some of the 21st Century models of conference education that we should offer?