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The ”Learning Meeting” and Simple Techniques for Participant Involvement. Ib Ravn and Nina Tange Learning Lab Denmark, Danish School of Edcuation, Aarhus University, MPI PEC-NA, Houston, TX, USA Feb. 3, 2008. 1. The Professional Conference: Problems. The way it is Drawbacks

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The learning meeting and simple techniques for participant involvement

The ”Learning Meeting” and Simple Techniques for Participant Involvement

Ib Ravn and Nina TangeLearning Lab Denmark, Danish School of Edcuation, Aarhus University,

MPI PEC-NA, Houston, TX, USAFeb. 3, 2008

1 the professional conference problems
1. The Professional Conference: Problems

  • The way it isDrawbacks

  • One-way presentations Most people are two-way

  • Sit and listen Use it or lose it

  • Q and A ”See me!” ”I’m clever, too!”

  • Breakouts Mini-conferences

  • Panels Congestion on One-way Street

  • Networking? You’re on your own!

2 the empty container model of learning
2. The Empty-Container Model of Learning


  • Conference-goers come empty

  • They want to be ”filled up”

3 learning as human co flourishing
3. Learning as Human Co-Flourishing

  • People have potentials, interests, projects. They want to flourish

  • They go to conferences to get inspired by others

  • The conference as a forum for learning, mutual inspiration and human co-flourishing

4 design principles for a learning meeting
4. Design Principles for a Learning Meeting




1. Concise presentation


2. Active interpretation

3. Self-formulation

4. Knowledge


5. Competent facilitation

5 the design principles for your own reading
5. The Design Principles (for your own reading)

  • Concise presentations. Fewer, shorter, more provocative.

  • Active interpretation. There must be processes that help participants actively relate what they hear to their own experience. Time to digest, think and talk.

  • Self-formulation. There must be opportunities in pairs and small groups for people to talk about the personal interests and projects that brought them to the conference in the first place.

  • Networking and knowledge sharing. Facilitated activities that help participants discover each other as resources.

  • Competent facilitation. The facilitator must create a safe and trusting learning atmosphere where people will want to go along with the new learning processes.

6 research into the learning meeting
6. Research into the Learning Meeting

  • Learning Lab Denmark with Radisson SAS, Nyborg Strand, Odense Congress Center, Hotel Legoland and Danske Bank

  • 18 months. Funded by Danish Ministry of Economics

  • 30 meetings and conferences (100-300 people)

  • Corporate, association, professional education

  • We redesigned the program with meeting planners and coached meeting facilitators

  • Observations and measures of subjective outcomes

7 learning techniques tested
7. Learning Techniques Tested

  • Concise presentation: Break it in two. Do it as an interview.

  • Active interpretation: Mini-dialogue. The constructive opening question. Silent reflection. Question cards. The speaker’s cornered.

  • Self-formulation: Participants direct the speaker. Two consultants, free of charge. Participant construction.

  • Networking: Meet people. Six-person tables. Find a new seat. A networking lunch.

8 research results
8. Research Results

  • Mostly small changes proved possible

  • But they made a big difference

  • Generally, 60-70% of participants were satisfied

  • 5-10% were dissatisfied: “The professional movie theater”

  • Meeting planners and hosts were highly satisfied

  • Mini-meetings almost always successful

  • The facilitator must be attentive, trustworthy and persuasive

  • Progression and variation

  • Kinds of folks that like learning processes…

  • Cultural factors: Danish egalitarianism!!

9 question for your consideration
9. Question for Your Consideration

What inspired you in the presentation?

  • Think in silence for a minute

  • Tell the person sitting next to you

10 learning techniques used
10. Learning Techniques Used

  • Meet people: Mingle to create a friendly learning space (56)

  • Divorce your colleague: Everyone makes an effort with a stranger (58)

  • Short presentation, or break it in two: Enhances attention (64)

  • Constructive opening question: What inspired you in the presentation?

  • Silent reflection: Jot down your thoughts (70)

  • Mini-dialog: Share with your neighbor (72)

  • Sample the answers: Produces inspiration and energy (76)

  • Speaker’s cornered: Q & A in the lobby minimizes irrelevance (80)

  • How to use today’s input + First steps: Learning and action (86)

11 task for triads
11. Task for Triads

How can I use this in my own work?

Help each other decide on a couple of first steps

  • Think for a minute

  • Form triads

  • Present and get feedback; all of you (taps on glass)

12 resources on learning meetings
12. Resources on Learning Meetings

  • Steen Elsborg and Ib Ravn: Learning Meetings and Conferences in Practice. People’s Press, Copenhagen, 2007, 92 pp.

  • Ib Ravn and Steen Elsborg: Creating Learning at Conferences Through Participant Involvement (paper with research results,, click Publications)

  • The Learning Meeting Module: Web-supported tool for meeting planners, with facilitator’s manuscript and individualized learning cards for participants (

  • Ib Ravn: The Learning Conference, journal article (

  • Ib Ravn: The Learning Meeting, brief magazine article (, a magazine article)