Deep Learning Experiences

Frameworks can be extremely helpful to conference professionals who are shifting their focus from planning and programming to designing attendee experiences.

Several years ago, our team developed the EPIC framework – Experiential, Participatory, Image-Rich and Connexity. This attendee-centric framework has been very useful for boosting creativity as committees are charged with reimagining their annual conference and improving education and networking value.

We have recently developed another framework called 4D Conference Experience design. The four Ds stand for:

  • Deep Learning
  • Deep Connection
  • Deep Play
  • Deep Reflection

The 4D participant-centered framework is intended to help conference organizers shift from passive consumption and transactions to more authentic and immersive experiences. The articles and links in this newsletter address the first D, Deep Learning.

Deep learning takes effort. In order to get something out of a learning experience, participants first need to have a curious mindset and the adaptability to learn, unlearn and relearn. Secondly, they need to understand that if they don’t wrestle with the content and connect it to their past experiences, learning and sense-making doesn’t happen. No learning means no application, no ability to solve problems, and no on-the-job improvements.

Conferences will deliver better learning value when the participants, speakers and organizers all better understand the biology of how the adult brain learns.

July 2017
What type of conference education are you serving your customers—shallow learning, advancement learning or deep learning? Do you even know the difference between the three? Do you know which would lead to authentic, transformative learning experiences?

Successful Conference Pros Understand, Design And Offer Deep Learning Experiences
Traditionally, the goal of conference education is to deliver as much information as possible as fast as possible to as many people as possible.Today, many meeting professionals focus on distributing content through traditional and unusual formats—TED style, Ignite, deep dives, talk-show, monologue, panels, etc.

We've succeeded at delivering information. We’ve excelled at designing shallow, surface learning experiences. However, we’ve failed at fostering deep learning—learning that results in changing mental models, attitudes, behaviors and skills. 

How are your conference attendees learning? We’ve got to confront the ineffectiveness of our conference education approaches! We must begin to offer effective alternatives to the traditional “sit and get” lecture. If we want to increase conference participant ROI and loyalty, we’ve got to just stop accepting speaker proposals, assigning speakers a time slot and then offering CEs to attendees.

Have you ever walked out of a conference education session and said, “Now I understand,” and then can’t remember the main point? Sure you have.

You've been a victim of superficial knowledge. You have a false sense of security that you “got it.” Then when you try to talk about it, you can’t remember the main point. It seems lost.