A learning conference "prep course" - what would you make of it?

I have the privelage of being the chairman of the 20th annual Israeli learning conference, in February 2013.

The conference sees some 1,000-1,500 participants from all the spectrum of learning and development roles, industries, experience level, etc.

One of the ideas that we thought of is making an elearning "prep course" that would be available on the conference website before the event, and that would allow people who are interested in the conference to learn a bit more about it, as well as offer some relevant content regrading the topics and issues that are going to be discussed at the conference. We feel that this may draw more people to the conference, and help those who plan to attend understand better what it is about - each according to their interest and level of experience.

The major theme of the conference will be "The changing role of learning in organizations".

Hence the challenge I put forward to the talented members of this community: if you were given the taskd planning and producing this elearning "prep course", what would it be like?

Of course any other valuable feedback or thoughts on the idea are most welcome. And if any of you happens to be around Istael in February - you are more than welcome to join us!

Thanks,

Amir

6 Replies
Bruce Graham

Hi Amir,

I would get every single Presenter create a "Pecha Kucha" version of their presentation.

20 slides, each 20 seconds - no more no less.

That would give people an introduction to the topics that will be covered, and allow them to make a better choice of topics to attend.

If someone is dull in 6 minutes 40 seconds I am not sure I would want to sit through 30 - 60 minutes of presentation!

How often have we sat in the middle of the middle row wishing we had planned a better "escape route" from a conference presentation!

Would love to be able to come over - many great memories of Hod Hasheron....(although I still hate humus!)

Hope the conference goes well.

Bruce

Amir Elion

Hi Bruce and thanks for the reply.

I like Pecha Kucha. I actually lead a Pecha Kucha session on Learning Innovation in this conference some 4 years ago - it was a blast!

Not sue if this can work for the "prep course" though for a couple of reason.

  1. Timing - I would like the e-learning to be ready about 2 months before the conference. At this time not all speakers are confirmed and those who are probably still don't have their prezos finalized.
  2. I do not think of the prep course as a conference preview. Actually the idea is to get people ready for what they will see at the conference. So if a less experienced professional wants to attend a session on say social learning, they would get some background and baseline info on the prep course - about the trends in the learning world in general. Also - the prep course as I see it should also prepare them on how to make the most out of the conference - come prepared, give them a task to perform before hand, send them on a task at the conference itself, etc.

That said, I do believe some preview of the content should be incorporated into that course.

Please keep the idea coming.

Amir

Bruce Graham

Hi, 

In that case, I would set out a Template for all Presenters.

Get them each, (for example), to create slides on:

  • The background to their subject.
  • WHAT ROLES would find it useful - AND WHY!!! (or they will just say "everyone...").
  • Their mandate for the presentation (why are they there - no subtle adverts allowed!).
  • Some "Pre-Work", or links to information.
  • What specific problems are solved by their subject matter area.
  • Questions for pre-submission.

Doing it this way, (or similar) will stop certain people "grandstanding", and put everyone on a level playing field.

Whatever you do - it must make sense to, and be relevant to the learners. SMEs have to realise that they are not the focus of attention - the focus has to be  on what the Conference can offer to the LEARNERS, they all (mostly) are attending because they want to solve some sort of problem.

Bruce

Melani Ward

Hi Amir,

I agree with Bruce's suggestions, especially about the template. 

One other thing that has proven to be effective in getting people excited about different sessions is to have part of your prep course include a sample of the kind of activity each person will be able to DO as a result of attending each session. Hypothetically speaking let's say one of the sessions is called Designing Interactive Learning for Kids. The template Bruce described would be followed and it would also include a sample of what learners will be able to do at the end of the session. For example the presenter could create a small interaction such as the one Jeanette posted a couple of weeks ago at http://community.articulate.com/forums/p/18771/105029.aspx. It would give attendees a concrete example of the kind of work they will learn how to do at each session and it will get them excited about it as well as give them a taste for the person's presentation style and tone. In creating their pre course this is also a great cue to remind teachers about what learners will be able to do. As Bruce said, "mostly all learners are attending because they want to solve some sort of problem." 

Best of luck in designing this. It sounds fabulous!

Amir Elion

Thanks both for the creative ideas.

We'll play around with those.

Another thing which came to me as I was reading your suggestions is to ask track leaders to shoot up to 30 seconds of video detailing the track and what's in it for those who'll attend.

This can be incorporated in the e-learning as a video section or as part of each short presentation of the track.

This should cover  the presenting of the conference itself.

However, my original idea was to use this prep course as a tool to cover a couple of more things:

1. Learning and development fundamental concepts and approaches

2. Hot topics and trends in L&D

Any ideas for "stories" or frameworks that can support these too subject areas?

Thanks,

Amir

Melani Ward

Hi Amir,

Designing E-learning is like building a house from the ground up, right? So, your event is just a microcosm of that. When it comes to building that house there are pieces of information we need to know before we ever lay the first board or hammer the first nail, which attendees will be learning to do at your conference. (Can you tell I have home building on my mind?) Whenever I am going to deliver content at a live event I always think about the kind of information attendees need in hand FIRST in order for them to get the very most out of it, especially when you are dealing with a big event where people will be walking through the door with varying degrees of comfort and proficiency. 

I could see doing something fun like building a house/laying the foundation in your prep course where each of the main rooms in the house represented some of the L&D concepts and approaches that you really want people to know before they walk in the door and then have fun with the "bonus rooms" where you introduce some of the hottest topics and trends. 

This does a couple of things:

1) It helps get people on the same page and it helps you and your trainers know what they may be coming in with.

2) For the people who already know a lot about L&D concepts, then they are benefiting from seeing how you have designed a really cool and interactive prep course. After you create the course you could even create a glossary of all of the interactions or tools you used in building your sweet house prep course with links to tutorials or screen casts of how you did each module.

But, then again that may be way beyond the scope of this prep course, in which case you can just back pocket that idea for another project:)