Sunday, May 08, 2011

90 minute institute and conference sessions

When I worked with SLIG, several instructors asked for 90 rather than 60 minute sessions. While the suggestion was not approved by the UGA Board, I've thought about the impact a longer class session might have on the learning process. Last week a friend posted a link on FB about how our brain works and rethinking how we conference. I lost the link but another friend Tamura Jones found the online article for Ol' Myrt here:

Rethinking how we 'conference'
How to design a conference with the brain in mind

Dr. Rock feels that the current paradigm of conference attendees sitting through a 60 minute lecture, followed by a quick break is counter-productive to the learning process.  I've attended conferences, where by the end of the day my brain was mush, so I could relate to Dr. Rock's comments.

He writes "For conference organizers (of which I am one), there is a conflict between wanting to fill seats (which requires having a large number of presenters and topics covered), and wanting to create the best possible experience for participants (which requires something else entirely)."

Typical 60 minutes sessions with the 10 minute questions and answers period doesn't permit our brains to digest the info presented.

Change to a 90-minute session, including 20 concentrated minutes of the presentation followed activities and discussion (perhaps in smaller groups, some presenter-moderated) may allow our brains to internalize the concepts. Dr. Rock thinks  "There's more involvement, more ‘generating' of the ideas by the participants, which is one of the key requirements for embedding learning." Dr. Rock points out social networking benefits when scheduling such additional time so conference attendees can to talk, rather than rush to the next classroom.

Roger Moffat writes "This link shows what we at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society did last year with Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak as our speaker - 75 minute sessions (the second one was 105 minutes) with at least 45 minutes between. By and large this was very well received by the attendees.

RootsTech 2011 had "unconferencing" sessions, but since they were unpublished, they were too informal -- and too much of a big jump for the usual family history conference goer. The basic sessions held at RootsTech were of the typical 60-minute "old style". Perhaps making the break to the "new style" needs to be brought to our attention during each day's opening session, so no one gets left behind.

I've got more to say tomorrow, but would like to give my DearREADERS time to read Dr. Rock's article, and think how his ideas may benefit your society upcoming conference.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.