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Ed Bernacki on conference design, innovation and ROI

Conference Design Idea Factory

Ed Bernacki - Wednesday, November 26, 2014

‘Then it dawned on me. These audience members were so intent on flexing their social media muscles that they missed 95 per cent of the message. Technology had turned them into stenographers – and not particularly good stenographers.’

If you want conference learning, tell participants not to use a computer!

The meetings industry has little to help planners design more effective events. There is very little research to help. Too many decisions are promoted by suppliers claiming lots of unproven benefits. For example, do you want participants using iPads and computers?

If so, you may be turning participants into typists rather than learners and explorers of ideas. That’s what new research tells us. A new academic study was done on tech savvy students listening to TED presentations. It concluded with this chilling thought: ‘Laptop use in classrooms should be viewed with a healthy dose of caution; despite their growing popularity, laptops may be doing more harm in classrooms than good.’ Students were put in a series of experiments with some using a notebook and others using a computer. They were tested on the facts they could then remember and also on their understanding of the overall concept of the presentation.

In an article called, ‘The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking’ authors Pam Mueller, Princeton University and Daniel Oppenheimer, University of California, Los Angeles concluded with these findings:

  1. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. This is the degree of distraction as people connect to emails and social media instead of listening.
  2. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing.
  3. In three studies, students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand.
  4. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.

Keep in mind these university students grew up with technology. This is a powerful conclusion. Conferences Apps are the rage but to what end? Assuming everyone has access to the same technology; they can replace your conference programme and offer some unique benefits. This does not mean they are useful for other uses. For a copy of the paper email info@wowgreatidea.com

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