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A conference presenters’ haiku:

less is always more
tease with a taste and a link
questions the reward

from Mike Goudzwaard, a colleague of mine at Dartmouth and learning designer, teacher, techie, runner, cyclist, yogi, and worm farmer.

Mike wrote this haiku while we were attending #ELI2014.

His verse captures both in form and substance the persistent problem that we have not been able to solve in conference presentations (outside of that low-key and super cheap TED thing we keep hearing about).


We don’t go to conferences (at least I don’t) to take in tons of new information. We go to conferences to have new thoughts.

Making new thoughts and ingesting lots of data are two distinct activities. In fact, the latter might actually inhibit the former.

The best conference presentations make me think.

They make me question something that I had previously thought was true.

They make me curious to learn something else.

They make me want to get to know the presenter.

How many conference presentation explicitly set out to accomplish these goals?   

The reason that conference presentations are so dense is that we want to give the folks their money’s worth.  

The session social contract seems to be that the speakers’ job is to have information and the attendees job is to receive information.

The problem with this approach is that it goes against so much that we are figuring out about how people learn.  Maybe we can do better at our learning technology conferences?

I’m not sure that I’ll have the guts to follow the advice of Mike’s haiku in my next presentation. I hope so.

How about you?

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