Snack Bite-Size Learning Rules The Roost At Conferences

2014.04.25_Snack Bite-Size Learning

Blogger Karla Gutierrez gives five reasons why bite-size learning works at Shift’s eLearning blog.

Here’s one key point all conference organizers and speakers should know and implement:

Chunk Content In 10 Min Sections

Bite-size learning as well as bite-size instruction improves an attendee’s psychological engagement. It prevents cognitive overload and mental burnout. It also encourages us to process information and consider its application.

It is impossible for us to focus on any one thing for an extended period of time. Our natural rhythm of energy and motivation ebbs and flows through out the day. Chunking content in smaller segments follows that natural rhythm.

Dr. John Medina recommends chunking content into 10-minute sections.

10 Minutes Plus Activity Increases Retention And Learning

Instruction specialist Abreena Tompkins has developed a brain-friendly course model based on more than 300 research articles. It works for both classroom and online instruction.

Her model recommends that attendees focus for approximately 10 to 20 minutes, such as through a mini-lecture, followed by a two- to three-minute break such as discussion, reflection or other type of engagement. Of course the break can be longer to increase engagement.

Physiologically, your neurons are keen and alert for no more than 20 consecutive minutes. At the end of those 20 minutes, your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to total collapse, and it takes two to three minutes for those neurons to be completely recovered and back to the total alert state. ~ Abreena Tompkins

So mix up the instruction with attendee activity. 10-20 minutes instruction followed by two-ten minutes of activity. They lather, rinse and repeat.

Don’t Omit The Audience Interactions

TED-style presentations, Ignite, Pecha Kucha and other short presentations follow the limits of our working memory. These presentation methods work at reducing cognitive overload. However, they all three omit the importance of attendee interaction and engagement.

Remember, as Dr. John Medina says, your attendees can’t focus on listening and focus on thinking at the same time. It’s one or the other.

They need to think to learn. And if they can’t think, they can’t connect it to their own situation. Nor can they recall that information to apply it later because they didn’t learn it.

Snack learning plus attendee activity with that content is the key to memory retention and learning. Go all the way with bite-size learning plus attendee interaction or you’re just cramming information via smaller chunks!

Read more from Shift eLearning Blog.

Why does most conference bite size learning applications still focus on one-way transfer of information while omitting the attendee engagement piece? What tips do you have about implementing “snack learning” for conferences?

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  1. Jeff, I, too believe in bite-sized learning, and that’s why I am a fan of Gloopt-created one-minute videos that are framed in descriptive text, so people can glance at the topic to see if it matches their interests, plus see where they can learn more. For my topics, mutuality mindset, connective behavior, storyboarding in-person experiences, and quotability, see 7 short videos in the lower left side of my home page
    Plus see some by others here
    Imagine that a conference team, as previews of the upcoming meeting, posted speakers’ tips via this format AND asked attendees at the meeting to point their smart phones at each other, with the video on, to ask, “What tip from anyone at the meeting is most relevant for you, so far? Then asked their name. And the “crowdsourced” videos were posted on the site for the meeting as one vivid way to know what was most meaningful to them and for other who visit the site to learn and re-learn ideas that bubbled up from the conference

  2. Apologies Karla, I did not look closely enough to realize that these great tips are from you rather than Jeff. I looked you up, and what a fount of insights you are

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. IMO, Gloopt is one of many current social tools that meeting professionals can use. Others include BOB TV, CNTV, Animoto, Google Hangouts, Topi, Slideshare, CommPartners, YouTube, Vine, Skype to name a few. Some are using elearning recording and editing tools like Adobe Captivate, Rapitivity, Camtasia and others to create flipped conference sessions. Here are 80 similar tools. The concept is sound. The tools varied. And some conference organizers have already started using short video clips as previews to conference sessions too.

  3. What a great list Jeff, plus “stitch” by KlabLab. Equally important to the technology, are the ways that attendees are
    – being encouraged to use them to foster their shared learning, – _ – discovering sweet spots of mutual interest,
    – recognizing strongest overall interests
    – participating in sharing the conference ideas with more people who were not at it

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