Why your last CE was awesome (or not).
Do you know what audience members love about your sessions? Have you ever taken time to actually listen to someone's critique of your teaching? Can you articulate exactly why you keep seeing the same faces time and time again - or why you never have repeat attendees?
In this research, interviewers sought high detail feedback from a group of continuing education leaders. CE leaders are responsible for their own continuing education and providing for the education of others. Therefore, it’s critical for them to seek out the best CE events for themselves - and to know what makes or breaks a CE experience in the eyes of the participants.
I mean, we all want to be invited back, right?
Recent interview research of continuing education leaders points out five things needed for effective continuing education experiences. Here the findings are summarized and expanded with takeaways for your next teaching event:
- Respect for a wide variety of backgrounds. Continuing education leaders specialize in a wide variety of subject matter, and often attend conferences to learn something outside their field. Speak plainly enough so that an outsider can keep up without it seeming like you’re speaking to kindergarteners in the eyes of your intended audience.
- Each attendee has different motivations. You’ve probably heard that most conference attendees are either hostages, vacationers or overly eager. Most will stay interested if you offer new, useful ideas. If someone on your staff wants to present, make it easy for them by offering to pay for them to attend and present. Offer some release time from regular work for them to prepare their materials.
- Offer a variety of experiences. Live presentations are not the only game in town. Presenting effective webinars minimizes time away and expense. But it also limits focused learning time and networking opportunities. Learn the differences between what works well in person and what works well in a webinar – webinars are a different world.
- What constitutes a good experience. These interviewees noted that the best sessions helped them improve their work performance. This is the essence of professional development - filling in gaps in work performance. Plan your next teaching session with a specific performance goal in mind for your learners.
- What constitutes a bad experience. Don't be guilty of these things. Keep in mind that a bad experience will stand out more in a person's mind than a good experience. Bad experiences are more likely to be talked about year after year. Bad experiences mentioned by the interviewees:
- Presentation slide decks were outdated or looked outdated
- Presentations were too institution-specific
- Bad speakers with no public speaking training or experience - think, "um, uh"
- Audience members knew more about the subject than the presenter
- Sponsored sessions only pushed products, not information
- Resistance to doing new things once the attendee was back “home”
Margaret Bacheler (2015) Professional Development of Continuing Higher Education Unit Leaders: A Need for a Competency-Based Approach, The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 63:3, 152-164, DOI: 10.1080/07377363.2015.1085799 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07377363.2015.1085799