From time to time, I evaluate workshops designed for faculty members to share best practices and ideas with each other. Here is a list of general recommendations I've gathered through the years. I think these recommendations can enhance any face-to-face workshop or conference.
- Provide targeted, technical presentations. There is a group of attendees who enjoy and need to know the more technical ends of a discipline or the field, appeal to them as well.
- Make hands-on sessions longer. With the technical sessions, participants would like to really get involved with the subject. An hour or even and hour and a half is not enough time, provide some half day, in-depth sessions.
- Have different “tracks” through the conference/workshop. Maybe an LMS Administrator Track, an online learning track and a stand up teaching track. Also consider an “Advanced Track” and a “Fundamentals Track.”
- Have a group session at the end for evaluation. In this session, conduct a focus group. You can also oversee the completion of evaluation forms on a computer perhaps right there before they leave. Have computers available at the end of each day for attendees to complete evaluation forms.(yes do the evaluations online)
- Consider creating a session that helps identify and bring different parties together for possible collaborative partnerships. See if two or more organizations can discuss issues and then team up to collaborate as a result of the discussions. Maybe have certain topics available around which schools can collaborate.
- Encourage the sharing of content among instructors. Perhaps have them each bring their best lesson or something to post.
- Create, before the conference, a way of knowing who was attending in order to form special interest groups and arrange meetings during the conference and afterward with social networking software.
What ideas do you have for making face-to-face workshops or conferences better for the attendees? Please let me know.
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