Do your conference learning opportunities—from the general session to networking to breakouts to deep dive workshops—empower registrants to participate in their own learning journey?
Or do your conference education sessions motivate participants to see the finish line? Their learning stops once the session ends.
Authentic learner-centered conferences foster a connection between the participant and the learning taking place. The participants develop a deep understanding that they are witnessing and participating in something transformational. They know that their learning does not end once the session is finished. It is just the beginning.
The Finish Line Of Learning
So exactly how do conferences promote learning as a finish line?
You promote collecting continuing education units (CEs) over life-long learning. Participants attend your education just to collect CEs to gain or maintain certification requirements.
You promote relevant tried-and-proven, take-aways from successful practitioners. Participants attend education with the goal to discover quick easy-to-implement DIY ideas.
You promote letters to participants’ supervisors on why their employees should attend your event and how it will benefit them. Participants feel forced to attend to satisfy their supervisor’s request.
Learning For Life
When your organization’s learning opportunities act as a gateway to ongoing, continuous improvement and growth, the participants have the ability to see the forest amongst the trees. This is a skill that will serve them forever.
Your conference participants will embrace and leverage life-long learning as a journey when:
- They actively observe their own learning as it occurs.
- They asses and evaluate their own thought process during that learning.
- They can reflect on the learning’s higher purpose during and after the workshop.
Professional Development Versus Professional Learning
Professional development is something we do once or twice a year attending conferences or workshops.
Professional learning consists of us learning every day individually and collectively with our peers. Professional learning is more than just participating in education sessions. It is ongoing, not once a year at a conference.
Life Long Learning (LLL)
Life long learning (LLL) consists of ongoing, continuous improvement and learning over the course of a career and throughout life. It involves learning, unlearning and relearning. In includes reskilling and upskilling as our skills and knowledge become outdated.
In order to succeed in the future, every one of us must perfect our skills of LLL. In some professions—like medical and education—LLL is a duty and an ethical obligation to all practitioners.
When your conference fosters, develops and models that learning is an ongoing process, not-a-one-stop-drive-through, participants embrace learning as a life-long journey. They become practicing and supportive life long learners.
What shifts should conferences make to provide education that promotes LLL over learning as a finish line? What happens to a conference when it only promotes gaining CEs for certification purposes?