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Public Education and Your Conferences

So, what the heck does today’s public education have to do with your conferences? Perhaps nothing, perhaps a lot.


So, what the heck does today’s public education have to do with your conferences?  Perhaps nothing, perhaps a lot.  It depends on the age group.  No, this is not about generational differences. This is about the differences in education and what happens when a 20-something comes to your conference after going through today’s education system in Ontario.

The Toronto Star recently ran a series of articles on education in Ontario—private versus public. The first of which, can be found here.

Essentially, we have decided one method fits all. We are using standardized tests to see where our kids fit in the grand scheme of things.

When we plan educational conferences, we create different scenarios to reach many different types of learners. That’s pretty much the opposite of what kids are taught in school today. So, they grow up, get to your conference and you give them many choices:

  • Webinars
  • Use of Twitter to determine topics
  • Workshops
  • Facilitated learning versus talking heads

Will these people be able to decide what is best for them? Or should we go back to building educational conferences directed at one type of learner?

I don’t think so! Let’s show them how we can break out of the mold! Let’s design our educational sessions using different setups (no school room); different ways of learning, such as world cafe; open space; learning from each other, or even try a charrette. Be unconventional.

I don’t suggest you try an entire conference this way. Perhaps start with one session and evaluate it accordingly. See how it goes. You will likely get push back. If you are right and have carefully looked at your audience and what their educational objectives are, you will become a star.

It takes hard work, but we can be architects of new ways to learn. And when it all comes together, it’s a wonderful sight to behold.



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