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Ed Bernacki on conference design, innovation and ROI

Are paper-based journals and books still relevant?

Ed Bernacki - Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Many technology companies are pushing the latest technology. We need to keep focused on the issues of bridging the gap. Technology expert David Hornik wrote about the power of note books and journals. The author observed …

‘The typical executive these days needs to deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of data points across dozens of services each day. While we all find ways to consume this huge amount of information, isolating the truly important stuff remains a big challenge. And this is where the notebook comes in.

‘Notebooks have certain enviable characteristics. They are instant on – even faster than a laptop with a solid-state drive. They have virtually unlimited storage – just boot a new notebook when the pages are filled. And they perform better than tape for archival storage. Direct sunlight is no problem for a bright white piece of paper. And power management is rarely a problem (although your pen may run out of ink). Notebooks don’t require any connectivity.

‘Given all of the analogue goodness of notebooks, it is no surprise that there has been a resurgence of paper … when it comes to keeping track of priority information, it would appear that notebooks are becoming the tools of choice for technology’s elite.’

What about conference technology?

Ed Bernacki - Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Conferences 2.0: Taming the beast

Published Successful Meetings magazine, USA

Ed Bernacki explains how meeting planners can use technology to add value to events.

Marc Stoiber was speaking at an environmental meeting. He noticed something about the audience. ‘About 90 per cent of people never looked at the stage,’ he says. Instead, they were speed-typing the content of the speeches into their tweets or blog entries. I was impressed, thinking I was witnessing a glorious mass communication revolution. That was until I peeked over some shoulders and saw what they were typing – posts like, “Speaker says green is here to stay” and “Green is good for business.” A pretty anaemic version of what was actually being said.’

Stoiber continues, ‘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. There was no synthesis, no analysis, no thinking. I’m certain the writers felt they were making a difference. But they were, in fact, adding little more than chatter. And that, I believe, is a problem.’

This is my fear of the current focus on conference technology. It sounds innovative yet I often wonder if we define objectives for using technology. Here is my point: If you want to use electronic tools, make sure it is strategic in terms of adding value to the event.

You can find the remainder of the article at Successful Meetings.

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