A new way to hold conferences

‘Flat conference’ nixes talking heads, lets participants build own learning
By Lyndsay Green
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/19/2005

It’s been said that a 19th century time-traveller wouldn’t recognize much in the 21st century except for the classroom, where she’d feel right at home with the “chalk and talk” approach. She’d be equally familiar with conferences, where, apart from PowerPoint, the “sage on the stage” design has received little updating over the centuries.

The time for new models is long overdue, and Learning 2005, which took place from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Orlando, Fla., used effective techniques to adapt the traditional forum to contemporary needs.

The conference organizer was internationally renowned trainer, speaker and writer Elliott Masie. His objective was to maximize learning by reducing the hierarchy between experts and participants, and emphasize collaborative learning between individuals and among communities of practice. Masie called his conference “extreme learning.” Another way of categorizing the result is “a flat conference for a flat world.”