Who is more important at the training conference – speakers or visitors? Who are the organizers targeting? Do they perceive visitors as learners who come for new experiences, or spend more time attracting experts and speakers, concentrating all their attention on them?
Learning – is a process, not a product
The right approach to organizing a conference is creating the conditions for participants so that they could gain new experience: lectures and speeches must go beyond superficial limits. The task of the speakers is to provide comprehensive and motivating knowledge. This is a strategic mission for organizers of such events.
Over the past 10 years, the gap between the audience and the speakers on the stage has been significantly narrowed. The most valuable are the conferences at which the intellectual and practical achievements of the participants are transformed into an understandable and accessible educational experience for visitors.
The first thing to do is to dispel the outdated notions of what true learning is and what is not:
- Training is a process, not a product. This requires the learner to understand and apply these concepts to their problems and context. Learning should not become a mere presentation of “best practice”.
- Training should develop, activate the biological and chemical processes of the brain.
- Training is not what is done for the visitors. This is what they do. A visitor of a conference or lecture analyzes how to adapt the information to his tasks or capabilities, and takes into account the consequences of the application.
Features of Effective Learner-Oriented Conferences
Learning-oriented conferences provide the conditions in which learners act as participants of their learning. In the process of getting familiar with the program and lectures, participants gain new knowledge and meanings that can be applied in their practice. At least 50% of the time of the event is devoted to learners analyzing the information received through discussion, reflections or practical exercises.
Unlike speaker-oriented conferences, special attention is given to experts in this field and their knowledge. Speakers often work quickly and try to cover a lot of content, as a result of which participants reach their limit of cognitive load.
At learner-oriented conferences, organizers engage speakers and organizers who focus on developing real educational processes. They help participants to actively create their knowledge based on discoveries, experience, and common activities.
A training event is not only a “bare theory”, but also a sufficient amount of practice. It is better if participants can apply the acquired knowledge on specially prepared simulated situations and examples.
The participant-oriented conference is not only about high-quality lectures. It is a global ecosystem of content creators, participants, organizing teams, speakers, sponsors, contractors, equipment suppliers, and volunteers. All of them make their contribution to creating high-quality conditions for training.
Training conferences are a community where participants review, evaluate and practice new concepts, and also train new mental models. The knowledge gained allows them to more efficiently carry out their work and solve the necessary practical tasks.
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