Last week I facilitated a session at the ASAE & The Center conference on "Knowledge Strategies for Better Meetings." We talked about how to move from simply pushing out content to our attendees to really facilitating knowledge creation. We focused on four strategies: filtering, feedback, context, and connections.
Filtering: Extracting from the information masses only the relevant information for a particular audience. Filtering adds value because you save your members time by filtering out the inaccurate, irrelevant or excess for them or providing them a way to filter for themselves.
Here are a few examples of ways to filter:
- Identify the level of learner targeted for the event or in a multi-session event, each session (e.g., novice, expert)
- Use conference tracks, tags, or other labeling system to enable learners to easily find what’s likely to be relevant to them
- Encourage all content leaders to provide recommended resource/reading lists
- Host unconferences or unsessions that let the learners choose what they want to talk about (filters out the rest)
- Host a conference blog and have speakers/content leaders post/converse about their session content (giving more information and helping learners better judge the appropriateness of the sessions for them)
Feedback: Offering a constructive and informative response to the results of an activity. Feedback adds value because members don’t always know what they don’t know; and you are helping them to discover it. Feedback during learning ensures accurate learning occurs.
Here are some examples of how to use feedback to enhance the learning at conferences:
- Offer self-assessment following the event that assesses the extent to which learners grasped the intended learning objectives and then provide recommended resources
- Extend the meeting with online communities (or discussion lists, wikis, blogs) for each session in which presenters participate and answer questions participants thought of once they got back to their workplaces (and participants exchange ideas)
- At the end of each day have roundtable discussions with each of the content leaders at tables brainstorming with attendees how to apply the concepts/ideas from the sessions
- Encourage content leaders to include in their session opportunities for learners to interact and provide feedback on each other’s ideas
Context: Adding meaning to content by relating it to specific circumstances. The value of context is that it helps to makes content relevant and helps learners to convert that content into knowledge.
Here are ways to add contect to you events.
- Have more issues discussions, less formal presentations
- Offer open discussion / Q&A sessions with content leaders following their presentations (if the presentations are planned to be more formal)
- Plan comprehensive cumulative programming rather than independent chunks (e.g., for social media – what are the social media options, what technology do you need, what are successful models, etc.)
- Encourage content leaders to use case studies and to build in time for learners to discuss their with each other how they might apply the session ideas to their organizations
Connections: Bringing together individuals with common interests, issues or expertise. The value connections add is that members that are connected can share information, ideas and solutions.
Here are ways to connect your conference attendees.
- Via registration process, query registrants on issues of importance and identify comment threads and plan networking events around
- Enable opportunities to network pre-conference via social media (blogs, wikis, Twitter, discussion lists, ASAE & The Center's directory)
- Set up peer groups of conference attendees (learning teams) and schedule time during the event where they can get together and discuss what they have learned so far and build upon each other’s ideas
- Design an environment conducive to communities (comfortable conversation areas, brown-bag or provided lunches so members don’t need to run out to restaurants, as examples)
- Schedule informal issues discussion sessions as part of conferences and meetings
- Embed peer-to-peer discussions into educational session through cases and problem-solving activities
Here's a video ASAE staff captured after the event. Keep in mind that I'd been at the conference for five days and my brain was, well, done. Seriously, just shortly before the take, someone had asked me what hotel I was staying at....and I totally blanked. So, I'm pretty surprised I could even make a point. You may argue that I didn't. :-)
We covered a lot more during the session. Look for the next issue of ASAE & The Center's M&E section newsletter for more comprehensive coverage.